To Curse the Darkness (Coalition, Confederation)
Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Mar 12 2022 12:09am

The Meeting


As Thracken began his next deflection, a bit of commotion to the side caught Bei's attention. Radagast was borrowing a datapad from the aide sitting between them, and he started typing something on it. She did her best to ignore him, focusing on Thracken's words and demeanor.


It mostly sounded like nonsense, but it was definitely meant to incite. Restitution for the Azguardian Union to become part of the Dominion? Like, they were going to conquer the Azguard, and then charge them for the privilege of being conquered?


Luckily Radagast seemed too involved in what he was doing to notice.


Thracken offered “proof” though, and more information was always better than less in these sorts of situations, so she decided to take the bait. “What sort of -”


Radagast had reached over her aide and tapped her on the shoulder with the datapad, completely disrupting her flow. She looked over to him and he seemed quite earnest, so she took the pad.


He is tapping H – E – L – P. Over and over again.


“And what about you?” Radagast asked before Bei even had time to process the message. She looked up to see Radagast addressing the unfamiliar alien beside Thracken. “Do you speak, beyond the word 'truth'? Is it all you can say? Is it the only word of his tongue that your pet has taught you?”


Well fizzlesticks, this wasn't going to work out well. “Mister Radagast,” she began calmly, hoping to put a lid on things before they escalated.


“She speaks!” he railed, pointing to Bei, acknowledging that she had spoken but ignoring the content of her speech. “This one speaks!” He pointed to the woman sitting between them, who had loaned him the datapad.


Bei only knew Mister Radagast in passing, but he was a senior White Knight, hand-picked by Regrad when the order was founded.


“Uhh, hi,” the aide said softly, waving uncomfortably at the foreigners. “Hello.”


“We all can speak! Even your manservant speaks!”


He was an exemplar of the Coalition and all it stood for.


“Mister Radagast!” Bei exclaimed.


He gestured at Thracken, his attention still focused solely on the strange alien. “Do you make him speak . . .”


Whatever his personal – oh.


“. . . your poisoned words . . .”


Oh silly girl, of course!


“. . . because you think -”


“That is quite enough!” Be shouted, rising to her feet and tapping the end of the pad on the desk for emphasis.


Radagast stood and squared off with her, his rage apparent and apparently quite real.


“You've done more than enough,” she said evenly, giving the table two more quick taps with the datapad. The sound drew his attention to the pad in her hand, and his demeanor softened somewhat. “Miss Peddigrew will show you out,” she added. “Miss Peddigrew?”


There was a bit of a ruckus behind Bei as the local Frozian guide maneuvered her considerable frame out of the human-sized chair, but Bei kept her attention on the White Knight as he slowly nodded and then stepped away from the table. “Y-yes, Ma'am,” Miss Peddigrew said, perhaps only to prove that she, too, could speak.


Bei watched the two of them leave and waited for the door close. “My apologies,” she began, handing the datapad back to her aide before returning her attention to the Dominion delegation. “Tensions are certainly high at the moment,” she fixed her focus on the unfamiliar alien, addressing him/her/it directly, “but mister Radagast's behavior was simply . . .” she made a show of closing her eyes and shaking her head, “. . . unacceptable.”


Eyes open, attention returned to the alien, she retook her seat, spreading her hands out flat on the table. “Are you prepared to continue, or would you prefer a recess?” She gestured to the exit. “There are ample commissary facilities in the adjoining area, if you would prefer not to return to your vessel.” She smiled the practiced smile so essential in her line of work. “In matters of state import, it is imperative that we maintain a clear head, and not allow such unpleasantness to disrupt our work. A break may be in order.”


It wasn't much, but it was the best she could come up with in the few seconds that Mister Radagast had bought her. Whatever the fuddlemuffins was going on here, she had to split up this dynamic duo. And however the heck-fire she was going to do that, she would probably have to figure out what this weirdo's deal was first!




* * *



Siskeen System, Azguard Expeditionary Fleet


Now it's a party.


Admiral Ion from the West, Admiral Panacka from the East, Knight-Defender Ruuvan from Mon Calamari, and Damar Roka: the Chief of the Cooperative Council of Defense. Those Cooperative folks sure had some funny titles, but Lord Zaytar understood it was basically equivalent to the Minister of Defense.


The rest of Coalition High Command was unavailable. Because the capital was under siege. They were hoping to raise the Prime Minister soon, but there was no time to waste. It was best to act on Admiral Blakeley's orders now, and allow the Prime Minister to veto their actions if he wished, and if they could contact him in time.


“I cannot leave the Siskeen System unguarded,” Zaytar explained. “We have not had time to install planetary defense shields. Without a fleet, these worlds are defenseless.”


“I can order Manda's full contingent to reinforce you there,” Councilor Roka said, his hologram shimmering quite nicely next to all the others, “and call in reinforcements from the Cooperative's Southern and Western worlds. It'll take them a little while, but they should get there faster than the Eastern forces. Then Panacka won't have to bolster his Southern expedition, and can hold more ships in reserve at home, in case of an attack there, or . . . or on the Cooperative's core.”


“I'd rather send a secondary force to Brentaal and help you cover that so you can keep more ships at home,” Panacka said, very intentionally avoiding the thing that nobody wanted to say: if the Quelii Sector came under attack, the only direct path for reinforcements to get there was through Reaver Space.


“Did Admiral Blakeley forget about us?” Ruuvan asked. “I mean, I know we're kind of 'new again' and all, but the Dac Republic has a defense fleet.”


“Your core worlds are pretty isolated too,” Panacka said. “We should redouble patrols along the Dac Pipeline and dispatch scouts to ensure the secondary routes are still clear.”


Ruuvan nodded. “We need the Prime Minister to initiate a mutual defense policy, but in the meantime I think we should pledge to . . . well: to look out for our neighbors.”


“Agreed,” Councilor Roka said. But of course he agreed, as the Cooperative had planets spread out all across the rim of the galaxy.


“Absolutely,” Ion agreed.


“Where was all of this camaraderie when I was fighting the Dragons?” Panacka complained. No one seemed to appreciate the comment. “Alright alright, fine. Admiral?”


All attention turned to Lord Zaytar, who still just wanted to be called by his proper title. “I'll depart from Siskeen when the force from Manda arrives. That should put us at Loraire about the same time as the contingent from Ketaris arrives there. We'll form up the fleet there and jump for Azguard as Admiral Blakeley ordered.”


“Sounds like a plan,” Panacka said. With so many members of High Command missing, Panacka was the most senior member present. “Alright. Let's beam all this to our waiting Azguard messenger, and get moving.”

Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: Mar 26 2022 2:52am



When Sellis awoke he saw the Sith woman looking at him from her corner but with less wariness.  As he blinked trying to shake the fog from his mind, his stomach rumbled. 


“They do feed us, yes?” he asked, and the woman’s lips pursed trying to prevent a slight smile as if convey a common observation that women have been making about men since the beginning of the universe about men and their stomachs.

She stood and walked along a wall until she reached a mid-way point and pressed a corner of a rectangle indentation.  A covering slid away revealing a tube of something brown and pasty and a tube of something hard, like packed birdseed.  She pulled one of the tubes out and walked over, handing it to Sellis.  He sniffed the birdseed composite and frowned.


“It seems they do not take pleasure in eating,” he remarked reluctantly opening his mouth to nibble a bit.


This comment elicited a smile from her.  She sat down next to him.  Sellis clamped down on his natural defensive reaction to dark side users. It was like letting sitting next to a feral tigress but other than her understandable reaction in the beginning, she did not seem like your typical murdering Sith psychopath.  Then again, what did he know?  He rarely spent any time with females let alone murderous Sith psychopaths.


 Those hellcats were Ruuvan’s brand of flavor!


He smiled at the thought of his fellow White Knight and the woman smiled along with him misinterpreting his reaction.


“What are you?” she asked and he turned to her sharply.  While most reptilian races had trouble showing emotional expressions, Azguardians had not such problem.  Probably not as expressive as humans but for one who could read Azguardian body language, Sellis was practically shouting and waving his hands in incredulity.


“I am an Azguard,” he said a little confused as if it were common knowledge.


The woman reddened, embarrassed sensing his confusion.  “I have not travelled much, most of my life living on Corellia.” She confessed.


Sellis pointedly looked at her medallion.  “Are you a Sith?”


She reddened further, “I thought I was...” She started and paused as if considering, “…I said all the right lines and boasted all the hateful remarks about Jedi that I could think of.  I think I convinced myself that I hated them but, honestly, I never met them.  My father who was my mentor used to subject me to all manner of pain but upon reflection, after all my time here, I just think that is how he was brought up into his organization.”


“Was he a part of the Sith under Lupercus Darksword?  I am sorry, I am not sure how many Sith organizations there are.  There was the Naboo Sith Order but I don’t know if they are still around, if their the same as the Sith on Xa’Fel or something new?” the White Knight admitted.


“I was not a part of any organization,” she admitted too.  “It was more like I hung around but was not on any membership rolls.  Darksword ruled Corellia but my father had told me to stay away from Lupercus and his palace.  Especially his dungeons.  But I do not really know if Lupercus had his own Order.  It is hard to tell Sith Hierarchy without the Rule of Two.”


“So your father will be looking for you?” Sellis asked wondering if it would be the Cree’Ar or and enraged Stih father that would skewer him with something pointy.


She looked away, saddened.  “No.  He was killed.”


How anyone could be sad about the parent that tortured them?  But he guessed torture was relative.  Where --… ??


“By the way, what is your name?” Sellis asked.


  “Traya,” she replied. 


Traya Honey-Murder, his addled brain thought off the cuff before returning to the thoughts he had before regarding torture and it being relative.  Where Traya had been tortured with pain, with him, his mother had tortured him making him memorize his multiplication tables.  While hers was more painful physically, both methods left them with indelible memories forever etched on their brains amid tears of frustration and anguish.  Yet we still love our parents.


“My father was not liked by other Sith.  He was a member of the Sith Brotherhood or Brotherhood of the Sith, I forget how it goes.  His Master, Sith Ahnk, was betrayed by his followers but my father refused to participate in the betrayal so others looked down on him.”


“Ahnk?” Sellis thought.  The name was familiar but somehow not.  “I do not remember where I’ve heard that name.” he admitted.


“He decided to join the Jedi but his people did not feel the same,” Traya added.


Sellis snapped his fingers.  “That’s it!  He joined the Jedi.. no wait!  He was a rogue Jedi Order he joined?”


“Something like that.  But from that man, my father was trained along the belief that only through pain and suffering can one truly learn and ultimately discover their power.”


“And what does that teach you?” Sellis asked aghast.


“It teaches us that we all have the capacity to endure,” she gestured throughout the room.  “We are all faced with the darkness that life throws at us.  Eventually, that pain and suffering builds up because our natural reaction is to either bottle it up.  Put it in a mental box and throw away the key.  But eventually, it builds up.  Those little mental boxes get full.  The rooms those boxes are placed in get full.  It gets to the point where it can no longer be ignored so we crumble.  It eventually breaks us.  But if you are purposefully subjected to the pain, purposefully subjected to suffering, the way you deal with it, the way you endure it begins to change.  Suddenly you become numb to the experience, suddenly you know longer recognize it as such and, instead, being to welcome it like an old friend.”


The White Knight leaned back thinking about it.  In a weird way, it made a sort of sense.  He may not like Mon Calamari Opera as it sounded like off-key wildebeests having an argument with Onyxian geese.  He supposed if he continued to subject himself to multiple operatic performances, it might start to make sense, begin to resonate with him on an emotional level and finally eagerly attend them with appreciation.   Perhaps that’s how Sith get ‘made’ in the Brotherhood?  Or were made? 


Or the whole thing turned them into murderous thugs.  But a father doing that to his daughter?


As if knowing his thoughts, she continued, “I think father was more worried about other Sith than he was about Jedi.  The Jedi do not torture or so I am told.”


“Not as a rule, no.” Sellis agreed.  “Though some Jedi break off and become what is called ‘Dark Jedi’ which is not Jedi but not Sith either.  But Dark Jedi would not seem to have your best interests in mind either.”


“How is it?” she suddenly asked pointing to the tube of birdseed.  “Do not worry about eating it all.  There is always a new tube in the box,” gesturing towards the containment area where she had pulled the tube out from.


“You know what an oscillating power distribution coupling for a YT-freighter is?” he asked.


“No.” she replied frowning, “though I know what a YT freighter is.”


“Well, Traya, this,” he shook the nibbled tube of birdseed, “this tastes like the box those parts are packed in.”


She laughed, surprising herself and pleasing the White Knight.


A little laughter spruces up any dingy torture chamber room!






Korah watched the massive Cree’Ar leave his craft.  They were meeting on a small moon as a neutral location.  The Contegorian detected the confidence radiating from the other and he felt a hesitation.  


Was he doing the right  thing? 


The visions of the Void were becoming more and more frequent.  It could not be the madness.  It was too soon!


But to save the Confederation, sometimes unpleasant actions were required.  At least that  is what he told himself.


“Tell me, man of the Confederation,” a voice boomed, “Why should I not kill you now?”  the voice was strong and penetrated into Korah’s mind as if the Cree’Ar was standing right next to him.


“Yes, I know you are hunting my kind, but I believe we may be of assistance to each other.”


“And what makes you think you have anything I would want?  Other than you, yourself?”  Korah could feel the calculating mind behind the words but, in his growing anger, his hesitation seemed to burn away and he took on a defiant stance.


Korah smirked, “I have no idea why my kind are so important to you but there is a choice before you Cree’Ar.  You could stretch out your hand and have me, one person, or you can choose to listen and have hundreds if not thousands.  It is my word against yours!  It is not my goals verses yours but simly the certainty of mathematics.  But,” he waved at the large creature before him, “by all means, take me in if you feel I am that important.”  He spread his arms wide.


Varro Kai was both repulsed by the insolence but also intrigued.  “And in return for this bounty of numbers?”


Korah’s smirk turned menacing.  “I would like you to attack Kashan to provide a distraction to their forces.”


The Cree’Ar considered this request mentally filing through the inventory of his forces to see what could be detached.  “I may be able to send some Song Ships to attack.  They should be distraction enough.  But what exactly are you offering?  Besides nebulous numbers?”


“Instructions for making clone force users.  If you wish to chase them across the galaxy, that is your business but what would your superiors say if you were able to create at will without having to scour the galaxy searching?”


Varro Kai’s eyes narrowed and he stepped up to the human, “If something is too good to be true and usually is.  Where is the hidden blade?”


“What?” Korah was confused.


Varro Kai frowned, “Where is the hidden blade?  What is the catch?”   Whenever a human promises the sun, moon and stars in one hand, they are usually holding a blade to your gut in the other.


Korah smiled in understanding, “The ‘catch’ as you say, is that the created force users will eventually  go mad.”


Before the Cree’Ar’s anger could take over, Korah hastily added, “But there is a key, I believe, to addressing that problem.”


“And that is?” Varro asked bitterly and Korah’s smile turned predatory as if he were selling used landspeeders to travel the galaxy in.


And so Korah explained his visions of the Void to the Cree’Ar and what he felt they meant.  And, what Varro Kai could do to aid the force user in his fight against this.. Void.


He is not asking much, the Cree’Ar thought sarcastically.  “If you know the key to this problem, why not find it yourself and confront this ‘Void’ yourself?”


“Because, there is no more time for me.  For you see, I myself feel the encroaching madness I do not know how long my sanity will last.  For there is one who has overcome this flaw to prevent the madness.  Or so I have come to understand but I do not have the time to search the galaxy for this person.  And if you agree to be my sword in this, I will tell you this person’s name for you have only begun your conquest of this galaxy and so you will have the time.”


The Cree’Ar stared silently at the human debating the validity of his claim.  Still the solution was doable.  Was the risk worth the reward?


“So who is this person?” he finally asked the human.


“So, a distraction for the Genetic Rennovation Program and my request for your sword against the Void for the key.  Do you agree to my terms?”


“Yes.  I agree.”  Is an agreement made with an inferior binding?


“I do not know if this person is alive or where he is, but he was known as the Sith Ahnk, Andrew Rashanagok!”


The Cree’Ar thought about the task of finding one human in a galaxy of many?  While the force-user may already be mad, what did he have to lose?  What was asked of him still complimented Lord Artanis’ strategy.  Didn’t it?







Globulus Arkanius – Ship of Life


Artanis strode down the corridor with Parrow-Lin lining the hall on either side.  The vessel had just joined his fleet and had completed docking with his Command Ship with various Arbiters holding position at strategic points around the connected vessels.  


“Carrow-Cree” a rather large yet graying Cree’Ar greeted when Artanis entered the Room of Gathering.   Seeing his old comrade, Artanis felt more at ease that the rest of his purposes would be carried out satisfactorily.


“Carrow-Mar” he replied gripping his comrade’s arm in the more informal greeting of close acquaintances.  The older Cree’Ar was known as Bendar and he commanded the Globulus Arkanius, also known as the Ship of Life.  Its purpose was as the name described, a “collector vessel” and was sized accordingly to house all manner of life.

“The hunt goes well?” Bendar asked, his fingers tingling with excitement.

“It has just started,” Artanis admitted, “though I was hoping you might have more Creanti in season?  I only had three with my fleet and Strategy suggested at least two more.”


“As long as it is successful strategy,” Bendar replied.


“With your four, it shall be,” Artanis challenged and the two stared at each other until Bendar bowed his head and gestured an arm wave to nowhere specific.  “Lord, they are yours.”


Though not required from a leader of his stature, Artanis nodded his head in acknowledgment. 


Raising Creanti was not an easy task and that Bendar had four to spare spoke well of his talent and that of his crew.  The Creanti were space dwellers and not considered sapient, as such things are measured according to the Coalition but, unlike the Coalition, they were entirely peaceful.  They went where they wanted, when they wanted and did whatever they wanted heedless of borders, sensor buoys and quarantines.  They claimed nothing and merely satisfied their more basic of needs.  The need to feed.  The need to move and the need to procreate.  They were able to be tamed for a time but the closer they were to benig “in season”, the harder it came to confining them.  Eventually they would break from their confinement damaging whatever was holding them.  It was always the smarter move to simply release them when they came in season or the greater damage to whatever facility was holding them experienced.  They were essentially large, armoured whales that lived in space.  They could be killed with enough force to shatter their hardened carapace but it was not usually worth the trouble.  They were, however, attracted to power generators and outputs which was why the vessels that housed them and operated near them had their reactors shielded.  Still, they were not by nature hostile.  A “Creanti Peace” was an old term from the Cree’Ar galaxy that had, for the most part, gone extinct as it required many Creanti to enforce.   In ancient eons, an advanced civilization would stop warring factions from fighting by simply inundating those factions with Creanti.  Soon the powerful energy outputs of warship, war machines and weapons would attract the Creanti and they would gather in the locations where these great engines of war were made since great power and energies were needed to create the items that expended great power and energies.  Soon, such manufacturing locations were untenable with so many Creanti gathered and the cost of constantly moving such facilities outweighed a species need to continue warring with their fellows, thus the Creanti Peace.  Some primitive races were undeterred and continued to expend the money, effort and energy to slaughter but eventually, this would only bring about the “Creanti Judgement”.  For these space-dwellers would either grow in size and population to the point that systems were affected for their main sustenance was from the stars.  Even a stellar ecology can be affected over the course of time and whether or not planetary dwellers great and small admitted it, they were a part of that Stellar Ecosystem as well.  Now, the Creanti were all but extince in the Cree’Ar home galaxy but the Cree’Ar were nothing if not caretakers of their charges.  Having become the dominate power in their own galaxy, they acknowledged their responsibility to care for that galaxy after the damage done by the war that laid them so low as well as the war that made them the apex of species.  The Ships of Life were the preservers of life as well as the spreaders of life.  They moved unchallenged throughout the universe seeding distant locations or locations who had not seen such life in an Age or two with new.  It was not cloning but, rather, more like a zoo or preserve who would, after building up their numbers, release life into the wild where it may prosper and flourish.

“I am fascinated by your description of these ‘Force Users’.” Bendar started, walking alongside Artanis, “though I am unclear if they endangered or not.”


Artanis grunted, “It seems to be unclear to the people of this galaxy as well.    Tradition seems to suggest that there are two main species or factions of force users that once numbered in hundreds or even thousands until one faction decided to reduce their numbers to simply two.”


“Self-extermination?” Bendar shook his head.  “The taking of one’s own life is one thing but for a species or faction to devour itself is quite another.”


“It is not without merit,” Artanis relayed, “It is a concept called ‘Survival of the Fittest’.  Since these two main factions warred, the one turned on itself to force itself to grow stronger, more powerful intending to have a singular warrior crush a multitude of weaker carrion.  It is a flawed concept but it would produce a fine warrior.  One of note.”


“And a strong bloodline.” Bendar added thinking. 


Artanis turned to Bendar.  “What did you do?”


“I thought to bring in a male and female into captivity to protect their numbers.  It seems even the people of this galaxy are not sure of the exact numbers of force users.  Some say they are already extinct and yet another group of them is announced.  Rogue Jedi?  Jedi Enclave?  Order of Golgotha?  The Naboo Sith Order, the Sith Order, Brotherhood of the Sith, Jedi Corps… there are so many groups how can anyone know force-user population numbers?”


Artanis seemed amused, “Especially if each group slaughters the other with glee.  Sith and Jedi younglings are encouraged to duel each other to prove their prowess to the ’Masters’ within their group.  The waste is incredible.”


Bendar agreed, “Well, I tried to see if I could set aside two hoping they would mate and thrive behind protective barriers.”


“What happened?”


“The female killed the others when the males tried to mount her and even when they didn’t.  Apparently, they were from a differing group or faction she disapproved of.”


“It is hard to identify their complex and illogical array of loyalties and prejudices.”


“Well, she hasn’t killed the latest male.  I could not find a Jedi Knight but we did capture a White Knight.”


“I have not  heard of that force-sensitive group but it seems all of these creatures have inflated opinions of themselves.”


Bendar agreed.  “Well, it will eventually happen.  If not them, then others.  We would not want them to completely self-exterminate.”  The older Cree’Ar gestured over a projection of the Azguard system.  “What will you do here?”


Artanis glanced at projection and felt a glimmer of satisfaction.  “This group of force users are more organized  than any other reported by Zeratul.  I wish to offer them a place in the Greater Dominion and use that organization to our advantage.  It helps us and it helps them.”


“To thrive?”


“To survive.”


Bendar was surprised, “Do they understand the honor of such an offer?”


“I doubut it.  The denizens of this galaxy are woefully short-sided.  I will give them the choice.  Either they will have the privilege of furthering our goals or they won’t.” Artanis’ hand clenched into a fist. 


Bendar nodded at the purpose.  “I have found that these creatures rarely do what is expected.  It can be frustrating.”


Artanis nodded sagely.  “I agree.  Their egos are fragile things but the important thing with handling them is that once you close off all other options, they end up doing what is expected of them.  Even if done grudgingly or if they resign themselves to it, eventually they can convince themselves it was a direction they wanted to go all along.”


“Sounds delusional.  They may bite the hand that feeds them.”


Artanis shrugged as if it was of no material concern, “It will be their choice.  It will merely be cause and effect.  Their fate will one chosen by them.”


“Actually,” entered a new voice of that of the Cree’Ar Master Scientist, Vejuun.  “It is a trait of the younger races and according to my calculations, this galaxy is so very much younger than that of the Red Sun’s.”


“I expected you here yesterday,” Artanis chided the scientist.


Vejuun waved the complaint away.  “The realities of space travel, Lord Artanis.  The splinters of the oh-so-great Empire are still irritatingly troublesome.”


Bendar grunted, “You chased the rats from their nest and now that they have gathered and established new nests, they deign to hiss and bite back.”


“Their core was rotten but their industrial centers still hold.  Tentatively but they do hold.” Vejuun remarked.  “We captured a great many vessels when their capital fell but even with half as much, these splinter cells may prove as irritating as a small pebble in one’s shoe.”


“Do they even know what is happening?” groused Bendar.


“I doubt it,” Artanis growled, “but it will be done.”


“The most advanced faction that Zeratul and our Vanguard found stumbled upon the concept,” Vejuun answered.  “They called it Forced Evolution.  But the lesser beings only realize that their  banana was taken so they pound the ground, beat their chests and howl into the wind. Purely reactive.”


“They consider the worship of Borleas as akin to their own worship of items made of stone, wood and gold.  As if the divine required such ministrations.” Artanis scoffed.


“Such ministrations do not seem to upset Raktus,” Vejuun slyly pointed out.  Artanis turned sharply to the scientist but could not completely hide the amusement in his eyes.


“A god descended from a primate is prone to have some unflattering traits,” the Cree’ Ar Leader commented. 


“He is the trickster god, after all,” Bendar interjected.


“I do find it strange that the example of the Black Dragon Imperium went unnoticed.”


“Not unnoticed,”Artanis disagreed with anger.


Vejuun bowed, “Forgive me. I should have said, unrecognized.  And so they will pay for that lack of recognition.” He sighed, “It is unfortunate that one must go through much pain to gain such insight.”


“It is our Calling,” Artanis agreed.  “It is messy.  It is tragic but, ultimately, they and we will be better off for it.  We will Uplift this galaxy out of the mire.”


Bendar’s eyes gleamed with a growing fervor.  “And what is your ultimate vision for this star system?” pointing to the representation of the Azguard System.


“After everything has been done, at the end of the day, this star system will become a Preserve.”


“Emtaro, Artanis!” Bendar shouted into their minds before raising a hand, “Release the Creanti!”

Ship of Life indeed!




The Meeting



Thracken eyebrows rose as the elder White Knight stood up pointing to people acknowledging that they had the ability to, in fact, speak based on the empirical evidence of those people uttering sound.  Was he a moron?  An Azguard rage monster?


Thracken could tell he was angry and while the Minder was annoying, it wasn’t his speaking that annoyed the Corellian but his presence.  He wondered if the Coalition diplomat would catch on or would she simply go through the motions simply to pass time before the shooting started.


Maybe they knew all they needed to know and had no interest in whatever Thracken had to say?  While Artanis or these Coalitionists (bastards all!) may not give a whit about the life and times of one Thracken Sal Solo, he certainly did!  He very much gave a whit!  A hundred thousand million whits!


“Do you make him speak your poisoned words?”


What kind of name is Radagast?


The elder Knight was pointing at the Minder but, so far, all the bastard alien had said was ‘Truth’.  Since when is ‘truth’ poisoned?  Didn’t the Coalition champion Truth, Justice and the Azguardian way?  Truth is in there somewhere, no?    His lips pressed together since the Azguard was liable to simply stab him in the heart if he responded with snark.


Beady-Eyes shouted drawing his attention from the constipated Knight.


And then Beady-Eyes threw out a lifeline... “Are you prepared to continue, or would you prefer a recess? There are ample commissary facilities in the adjoining area if you would prefer not to return to your vessel.  In matters of state import, it is imperative that we maintain a clear head, and not allow such unpleasantness to disrupt our work. A break may be in order.” 


Bless you, Beady-Eyes!  Bless your Charming, Good, God-Damn Beady-Eyes! I could kiss that droopy nose six ways to sundown!

Thracken leaned back nonchalantly and turned to the Minder.  “Would you mind getting the proof and having it ready for display?”


The alien stared at him for a minute before silently rising and walking out of the room.


The moment the doors closed, Thracken seemed to slouch in his chair and exhale slowly in relief.  “Damn glad to get that bastard away from me!” he exclaimed and flashed a grin, “and I would very much like a stiff drink.”


He stood, “If you would like to escort me to your commissary facilities, and, honestly, put as much distance between myself and the Minder, I would appreciate it.  Once he finds me, I will have to display the more disagreeable parts of my personality so for as long as you have me, ask me what you want to know.  If I know it, I will tell you.”   

Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Mar 27 2022 11:01pm

The Meeting


The Minder, huh? Well, that was certainly interesting.


Of course, Beiwi K'Vek wanted to ask Thracken Sal-Solo the nature of his relationship with the Cree'Ar. She wanted to ask him how he'd come into their service, what had become of Corellia, how far the Dominion's power had spread through the Core . . .


And of course, none of those were the priority. Snapping her fingers, she pushed her index finger against the top of the table. “Mister Moss will stay behind and inform the Minder that we've gone to the commissary.”


“Uhh, yes Ma'am,” the last of her aides said, obviously uncomfortable with the assignment. He had stood up to leave with the group, but slinked back into his seat when the order sunk in.


Bei gestured to the exit, regarding Thracken. “By the time this Minder returns, I'm sure we'll be done in the commissary and you'll have insisted on a tour of the broader facility, yes?” She let the cat-and-mouse implications of the question go, leading the way out of the room with her last aide in tow.


“Miss Daystar, if you wouldn't mind?”


“Yes, Ma'am.” The last aide rushed off ahead of them to save what time she could at their destination.


Bei proceeded down the hallway at a quick pace, but the trappings of her station prevented her from breaking into a jog. It was possible, of course, that this was a ploy. Maybe the Dominion wanted to see how they'd react to an apparent defector. Maybe it had all been scripted out well before the Corellian ship touched down on this Azguardian world. It didn't' much matter, though.


“Thracken, this is all very fascinating and it's certainly unexpected, but I need to know: is there a way to avoid war with the Dominion?”


Beiwi K'Vek's job was the same either way.




* * *




Relay One


Stealth Intruder Relay One reverted from hyperspace to the sound of an incoming priority message. The pilot opened the comm line to relay her orders only to hear the booming synthesized voice of the Watcher's AI: “TURN AROUND.”


I've got a priority message-”


Yeah, we've already heard it all,” the AI cut her off.




Relay Two beat you to it. It's already returning with an update from the Provincial commands.”


Oh, well in that case -” Another notice sounded off as the AI transmitted a data package through a parallel channel.


“Your orders have been updated,” the AI explained. “I took the liberty of calculating a return trajectory for you. You are to hold position at the destination coordinates and serve as a communications relay between the Azguard System and the Watcher network.”


“What? Will that work?”


“Sure, sure,” the AI assured. “I'll calculate the hypercomm window between you and me, then your nav computer can dedicate the entirety of its teeny-tiny brain to maintain communications with the Azguard System. We're dropping you out in interstellar space, well away from the hyperspace routes, so unless their planning to interdict the whole system, you should have a clear shot to Azguard. Now go!”


The pilot was already turning the vessel around, maneuvering to the preset departure point to execute the Watcher-calculated hyperspace jump.




* * *




Coalition Combat Information Center


“I've got something.”


It was Citadel, wedging its way into his CIC again. “Let's hear it then.”


“I think I can detect Dominion wormholes.”


The chatter in the room died down, and Blakeley himself perked up a bit. “Well, out with it!”


“We can't spot the gravity effect directly at faster-than-light speeds, but our long-range sensors do experience some interference from concentrated gravity sources. I've conscripted several Azguardian industrial AI's to comb the raw data from our sensor network and flag anomalous reading.”


Blakeley wasn't impressed. “So it's a needle in a . . . solar system full of haystacks situation. Got it.”


“It's not perfect, but it should cut the detection time down to several seconds instead of as many minutes. If we can detect the anomalies fast enough, we can reassign long-range scanners to spot and track the emerging ships before they move away.”


“It's a good plan,” Blakeley admitted. “Coordinate with my comms team to pipe that data straight to us. I want so see everything you see as soon as you see it.”


“Understood, admiral.” And then the Citdael Guardian was gone again.




* * *




Varn System


It was happening, then. With Admiral Neychev away, Vice Admiral Gorn was essentially the acting commander of the Cooperative military. He had decided to make the Tirahnn-Varn escort fleet the backbone of the Cooperative expedition to Brentaal. He assigned one of his senior captains to command the mission, and transferred over a few more of his diminished fleet's numbers to fill out the expedition.


Already, what remained of the Penance Fleet was moving to link up with the starships of Varn's defense force, consolidating the forces that would remain in system. The Council of Defense had issued a heightened state of alert to all of the Cooperative's Free States, requiring them to bring their own defense forces to high alert and issue real-time defense status updates to the remainder of the Cooperative. For his part, Gorn issued a guidance of his own, encouraging planetary defense forces on more isolated worlds to coordinate with any Coalition members in the region whenever possible.


They were recalling the patrols from Reaver Space. Most of those ships would be returning to their planets of origin, but since formalizing its military the Cooperative maintained a standing national fleet that answered directly to the Supreme Commander of Cooperative Forces. Most of those ships were with Admiral Neychev, but the few still assigned to anti-Reaver duty would be routed to Varn, to be incorporated into the Penance Fleet for the time being.


There would be a gap, though, between when the Brentaal expedition departed and the recalled Reaver forces arrived. Gorn didn't like it, but then again he didn't like much of anything these days.


He had queried the Executor for guidance, but Smarts offered him only silence. He considered reminding the droid starship that he retained the authority to conscript military-grade starships in a time of crisis, but thought better of it and decided to leave Smarts to his work.


Whatever the Executor's problem was, Gorn had more than enough problems of his own already.




* * *




Guardian Prime


It was happening, then. The Dominion had decided to attack Azguard directly. There was a possibility that this would not be an isolated strike, but merely the initial move of a larger coordinated offensive. There was simply too much uncertainty regarding the Dominion to calculate a reliable conclusion, but even great degrees of uncertainty could provide insight for formulating certain responses.


The fleet was not complete, but it was ready. Armed with medbays, food synthesizers, bacta tanks, and medical droids, it represented the pinnacle of Guardian Prime's potential, the reification of the Guardian ideal. Others would not understand or approve. Even its fellow members within the Synthoid Collective could not comprehend its motivations.


But Guardian Prime had both a plan and a purpose, and it would see them through to whatever end.

Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: Mar 28 2022 12:41am

The Meeting


Thracken grinned as the diplomat caught on and alerted her people to delay the Minder.  As they walked toward the commissary, he pondered her question.


“Madam Ambassador, surely you know of the Dominion declaration of war upon force users?  If someone intentionally puts themselves in the line of fire, then any escalation that stems from that decision is the fault of  that someone.”


He paused.


“With your fortifying of the system and the amount of warships  you have here, it seems you are what is called in Sabaac, doubling-down.  Given this stance, a battle will be forthcoming but if you are asking if this battle can be averted, I assure you, it can.  We did it on Corellia.  But it does mean sucking up one’s pride and yielding.  But that presumes your droids will head your orders and actually stand down.  The Dominion will accept your yielding but what they will not abide is betrayal.”


He pointed to himself.  “If the Minder was here listening to what I was saying to you now, they may very well consider it a betrayal and my life would be forfeit.  You see, the Minder is not for you but for me.  To determine that I fulfill the task given to me, namely to offer admission to the Greater Dominion to the Azguard.  That is why I was hoping you would figure out a way to separate the Minder from us.  So we can talk frankly. “

Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Mar 28 2022 1:44am

He was a slippery so-and-so, that's for sure. They could argue about fault and “escalation”, sure, but it would get them nowhere. Not in the time they had available to them, anyway.


“'Surrender or be destroyed.' Is that what you're saying? The Dominion is unwilling to consider any alternatives? Their victory at Coruscant was a terrifying display of power, but they don't really think they can conquer the entire galaxy, do they?”


They had arrived. The “commissary”, such as it was, consisted of a fairly large break room with a number of tables and chairs organized semi-regularly across the open floor. There were several food vendor booths built into the left wall, though all but one was closed down at the moment. Several small shops along the right wall were likewise empty and locked down. In truth, this whole wing of the spaceport had been closed off for the meeting with the Dominion's Emissary.


Miss Daystar was waiting for them near the door, a glass bottle of dark liquid in hand. “In case you were serious about that drink,” she said lightly, holding the bottle out for Thracken. Noting his reaction to the rather uninspiring label on the bottle, she added: “This is a professional work environment, mister; you should be glad I could scrounge anything up on such short notice!”


Miss Daystar, for all her gifts, didn't pick up on the serious nature of the conversation she'd just interrupted.

Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: May 13 2022 11:19pm


Thracken scowled to himself as the Coalition diplomat very diplomatically started to panic.


“’Surrender or be destroyed.’ Is that what you’re saying? The Dominion is unwilling to consider any alternatives? Their victory at Coruscant was a terrifying display of power, but they don’t really think they can conquer the entire galaxy, do they?”


He let out an exasperated sigh, grabbing for the drink Ms Daystar offered even if it was a rather cheap brand.  At this point, he’d be happy with starship fuel.  “I think she needs a drink too,” he mentioned to the oddly cheerful assistant while pointing to the Caamasi.


“Look Madam Ambassador.  Before you go tying your robe into knots, let me see if I can alleviate some concerns,” he smirked, ”or maybe make you more frightened, but be aware that I am no trained diplomat,” he grinned, “which I am sure you can tell.  While you may be so trained, I am used to dealing with smugglers, crooks, freedom fighters and others some would consider scum of the galaxy.  However, you also seem, like me, as just someone who was thrown into this mess without any prior warning.  Now, I do not know what the Jedi or Sith did to piss these guys off, but THAT is their focus.  The problem with the Coalition,” he paused thoughtfully, “and the Empire come to think about it,  is you do not seem to separate the two.  Yes, they caught the Empire off guard by invading Coruscant but the Emperor of the Empire is a Sith Master or whatever and you will note that they did not invade the entire Empire, just the Emperor’s seat of power.  Given the galactic strife, there certainly were no other governments condemning the act.  In fact, many probably cheered at the prospect of the Empire brought low.  I know I took advantage of the chaos and tried to break Corellia free from the Empire, especially with Lupercus and his fleet gone.  We almost succeeded but then one of Park Kraken’s minions drew the Reavers into our system and we had no choice but to activate Centerpoint and cut ourselves off.  The Reavers did not go away but it did slow their advance.  The Cree’Ar cut through the interdiction and offered to remove the Reavers from the system in return for control of the system.  I guess I could have refused but they simply would have waited until the Reavers were done with us and then walked in over our corpses.  The Dominion always offers a choice even if, in your heart of hearts, you know there really isn’t one.  The Cree’Ar do not dwell with gray areas or games.  And now here, in the Coalition, you have the single greatest concentration of Force Users in the known galaxy in this very system.  They may not be called Jedi or Sith but this is your capital is it not?  If all decisions and actions of any government can be laid at the feet of the governing capital, then this is the seat of Coalition power and it is in the hands of force users, same as the Empire was, so naturally, to their alien eyes, there isn’t much difference between you two.  So first, they remove Azguard’s anonymity which force users have always used to great effect.  Now they are here but they have not immediately attacked which may mean they are recognizing the subtle differences between you and the Empire and is also probably why I am being directed to offer admission into the Greater Dominion rather than absorption by force as with Coruscant.  Or Corellia.   Their intent seems, to me, to be the breaking of the force users power in the  galaxy.  When they  took Corellia, they did not really interfere with the operating rules of the world so much and instead focused setting up schools or educational centers and trying to root out Sith influences.  The Cree’Ar are strict, but they are not the brutal bastards Lupercus and his ilk were.”  He sighed, “At least not yet.  Do I like the idea of the Dominion being my overlord?  Not really but I did not like the Empire or Sith being my overlord either and, if I were honest,” his grin widened, “I probably would not like Coalition oversight as well.  But where the Empire made it a point to let you know they were your overlords and never let you forget it, the Cree’Ar simply act as if it is a matter of fact, a galactic absolute if  you will.  And the onus on remembering that absolute is on you.  They will not remind you or give you notices or warnings that you are stepping out of line.  For example, I was trying to rally the Sons of Corellia to take over but when the Cree’Ar came, I could see the growing inevitability of our situation but some of my compatriots could not or would not.  They tried to rebel but it was a purely reactionary act.  They thought they could continue the Union tactic of hiding their fighters in groups of civilians but that did not stop the Cree’Ar.  In their mind, if someone is hiding behind you with a gun and you do not want to get shot, move.  After a while that sank in and the civilians turned on the Sons and you had family members turning in insurgents.  The main reason why I did not fight when the Dominion showed up at Corellia was because they were not after me or mine.  They were not after Corellians but were after the Sith Temple and anything having to do with Lupercus Darksword.  He took off with his fleet and I sure as fuck was not going to die to save his legacy.” 


“I am not a well-liked man, I know” he put a hand on his chest, “but, I am a survivor.  I also do not give two shits about the fate of the Jedi or Sith.  It is hard enough to stay alive in a galaxy of warring powers as a simple, normal person rather than worry about the fates of people with strange magical powers that can move objects and influence others with their minds.  Do I like Dominion rule?  I am not particularly fond of it but that is just me not liking their scrutiny.  I would imagine that type of rule would be no different on a Coalition world since doesn’t everyone live under scrutiny every second of every day?  Aren’t we being watched now,” he gestured to a camera in a corner, ”by your A.I.?  In my opinion, you’ve already conditioned your people for a seamless change to Dominion oversight should you decide to accept it.”


He took a drink.  “Look, I am not telling you what to do.  I am just Thraken Sal Solo.  What do I know?  I am just reassuring you that they are not going to enact genocide if you do end up yielding.  Whether yielding is on the table of choices for you or not, just know that it is an option.  I know what you’re thinking though, Yeah, Solo, but what if we do not yield?  Will they enact genocide then?”  All I can say is that depends on why they are here and what they want.  They have not started hostilities .. at least not yet but they also do not consider invading your space a hostile act in itself.  At least, not with the Coalition.  Because you have been doing it to them.  That proof I mentioned earlier that the Minder is out there getting, what he will be bringing is a Coalition navigation buoy.  One of many that have been found in Dominion territory.  You see, in their effort to neutralize any threats to them, while the conquest of Coruscant was big and public, it was not their only conquest.”  He leaned forward, “You may not know this, but where the shattering of the Empire was complete with fanfare and Declarations, the conquest of the Imperium was noteworthy in its silence.  The Black Dragon Empire has been absorbed and is now part of the Greater Dominion.”



The military advisors walking with the diplomats were keenly interested in this bit of news but also uncomfortable realizing that the balance of power had shifted in the East and brought new worrying thoughts.  The Dragon Imperium had always been an insular power though they could cause great devastation if they stirred from their little corner of the galaxy.  The expansion in the East was partly driven by the Imperium’s retreat from the galactic scene choosing to remain behind their borders.  It had been speculated that the Reaver Scourge had started within Dragon space and had wiped them out but there was little political will to gather concrete data.  They had enough problems without going out looking for more.  But was there another reason the Imperium pulled back into their borders?   Were they attacked by a power from the other end of the galaxy? It was rumored that the Dominion was an extra-galactic power but there was no evidence to support the gossip.  At this point, they were the boogeymen hiding under beds and stealing children.


“When was this?” one advisor asked.


Thracken raised an eyebrow and turned to the ambassador, who nodded slowly.  “I do not have an exact date and time for you fellow, but it was before the attack on Coruscant.”


The advisor cursed and the small group of military men began speaking among themselves, getting rather agitated, “They are eating the galaxy piece by piece!”  “We are being surrounded!”  “Surely we would have seen evidence of a war fought on the other side of their territory?”  “Would we?”  “Mon Calamari is the only asset out that way..”  “Dac,” came a correction.  “Oh, go fuck yourself!”  “Anyway, the planet’s barely been put back together!”  “It’s the new frontier but even a frontier world would have seen some sort of evidence of a conflict.  The Imperium did not strike me as a nation that would go quietly into the night.”  “Is the Dominion that powerful?”  “Why didn’t you tell us?!”


Thracken took a step back, raising his hands, some cheap liquor spilling from his glass.  “Woah, It’s not like we yielded Corellia and suddenly they spilt all their secrets to us.  And the Imperium was absorbed by their own choice.  There was no conflict.  At least as far as I know but again, they do not tell me much!”


“They seem content to allow you to represent them!” came an accusation and the Corellian choked on his next sip.


“I do not represent them!  I am merely a being used to deliver an invitation to join the Greater Dominion.  Believe me, I do not want to be here!”


“Then why are you here?!”


“Skywalker’s ugly step-child!  Look, this isn’t like they are asking me to do their laundry and I can simply say ‘I’m busy and can’t get to it!’  When they order you to go to the heart of the Coalition and present an invitation to join their Dominion, you say ‘When would you like me there?”.


In the lull, he asked softly, “What do you think when you hear Thracken Sal Solo?”




“Sell out!”




“Wow, tell me how you really feel,” murmured the Corellian.  “You seem to be under the impression that I have any power on Corellia.  That may have been true if my little revolution had succeeded and maybe for a couple of days I may have.  The Cree’Ar let the fear of the Reavers override our good sense but the Reavers are damned scary.  You know!  You guys probably know more about the Reaver scourge than anyone since you tried to solve the Reaver problem and I am sure it was not without tragedy and loss.  We could have simply given up and gone back to the Empire where there would have been reprisals for our rebellion because, you know, they don’t like that sort of thing, or we could have simply waited for the Reavers to reach us with no idea of how to stop a Scourge and our system would probably be a burnt husk of a system now or we gamble with an unknown alien overlord who hasn’t demonstrated any ill intent towards us with the exception towards force users.  And we were only so happy to turn over the Sith on our world, Lupercus’s minions and sycophants, to the Dominion.”  He stopped an eyed the advisors.


“I see you are not shedding a tear for the dear departed Sith?” Thracken threw out sarcastically.


“Are they?” the Caamasi asked softly.


“What?” Solo asked taken aback.


“Departed?  Are they dead?””


Thracken grimaced, “I don’t know.  They are taken off world but to where, I have no idea.  It’s not like they are shooting them in the streets or anything like that.  There are no mass graves being dug.”



“But you see our concern?” she asked.  “Will the Azguard depart if we accept admission into this  Greater Dominion? Will they be taken away to Gods know where?  Will they be killed?  We are talking about billions of lives here!”


Thracken scatched the back of his head nervously with one hand while handing his glass back to Ms. Daystar for a refill.  “Ahh.. a point of clarification.  The invitation is directed towards the Azguard, or the Azguard Union; not the Coalition.”


The military advisors suddenly seemed angry at the exclusion, but Solo did not believe they were now clamoring to join the Greater Dominion, but angry at the Cree’Ar presumption that the rest of the Coalition was not somehow as worthy as their Azguard brethren. 


“Their Declaration of War is against Force Users.  Besides the Jedi or the Sith, the Azguard are the single largest group of Force Users in the known galaxy.”


The Coalition people paused to reflect on this.


“What do you get out of this?” Bei asked.


“Unfortunately, I don’t get anything,” he replied, finding himself truly sad about that.  “As I said before, my experiences in any type of negotiating is done on lower levels, in shadows.  More of ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ type of agreements.  I only hold any importance as that recognized by the Cree’Ar.  In the beginning, Corellia was already running itself due to the bureaucracy established by the Empire, probably the only good and efficient thing they ever did, so what to do with an out-of-work revolutionary?  They tasked me with rounding up Force Users on Corellia.  After that, I was given a greater area to cover, namely the Sector Corellia was capital of or those Imperial Worlds that were leaning towards joining Coruscant’s Empire under the Dominion and not Kraken’s or any other contender’s Empire.  The Cree’Ar have a rather annoying habit of rewarding accomplishment with more responsibility rather than riches or concubines.  I was not really enthused with the work but it eventually got done and so with each task, I am given a higher, more public assignment.  When I went to other planets in search of the bounties placed on known force users and I had to pick them up.  I was given a military detachment of the Cree’Ar soldiers known as Parrow-Lin.  They escorted me about and I tried to make the best of it.  Now, with this assignment, I am shackled with a Minder.  The only thing I know about this species is that it comes from wherever the Cree’Ar come from and it is telepathic.”


Everyone shifted uncomfortably. 


“Not in the way that you think,” Thracken said quickly noting their reaction.  “They cannot read your minds or my mind for that matter.  But it does have the ability to detect…”


“Truth,” Bei whispered ruefully and Solo pointed a finger at her, “Exactly.”


“Have you ever heard of humans being born as twins and that they have some sort of extra sensory perception when it comes to each other.  Like when one twin gets hurt, the other may feel it or something like that?”


When the others nodded, “Well, with the Minders, whatever one twin sees and hears, the other twin can see and hear as well.”



“So, they are spies!?” one military advisor exclaimed and Thracken snorted.  “Have you seen these guys?  How can they hide their bulbous head and silvery, chromed cloaks that goes from their necks to their ankles?”


The advisor grumbled, nodding.


“As you said before, they are ‘minding’ you,” Bei concluded.  “But why?  Aren’t you, by your own admission, gaining more responsibilities?  You do not seem to seriously mind being ruled by the Dominion.  If you court death by talking to us outside of their..err.. monitoring, why risk it?  What do you gain?”


The Corellian looked at the Coalition people before him and sighed.  These people have no idea.

“I am a survivor.  I’ve lived in the Republic, then Empire, then New Republic, and then back to Empire and now Dominion.  During these times, I have lived and thrived doing deeds considered… extra-legal,” he smiled a tired smile, “or outside strict legal parameters.  I couldn’t have lived as long as I have if I simply took the road open before me.  You have to keep all of your options open and sometimes, rather than waiting for opportunities to fall into your lap, you have to create opportunities.  When a planet is invited to join a greater organization, that organization always puts their best foot forward.  The Empire always did it and I am sure you do it as well.   INS never told the whole truth so forgive me if I am skeptical of the Dominion bringing in a new Golden Age for the galaxy.  Everybody is always the second coming of Skywalker until they aren’t.  I do not know the grand Dominion plan but you probably have a greater grasp of the galactic situation than I do.  At least you have more avenues for information gathering than I do.  I know some things you don’t and vice versa.  Is the Cree’Ar occupation of Coruscant the same as Corellia?  I am not sure.  The Empire is nominally still around albeit now as the glove over the Cree’Ar hand.  Is Emperor Gevel someone you can work with or is he a die-hard believer in the Dominion, I don’t know.  People do not switch sides quite that fast on the inside but perhaps he is ultra self-serving?  Yet the Cree’ar do not give people many chances for mischief.  So one must take them where one can.  If you decide to accept the invite, then the Azguard will be in the same situation as myself and the Empire but maybe with so many members, we become able to alter the course of the Dominion to our favor?  If the Coalition in its entirety wants to join, maybe that will surprise the Cree’Ar?  Rarely do people reject notions that end up being for their benefit and I do not see the Cree’Ar as any different.”


His eyes narrowed.  “Or you fight.”


He saw the fire in the military advisor’s eyes but saw sadness in the Caamasi’s eyes.  How could so much emotion be conveyed in eyes that rarely blinked?


“And maybe we find our circumstances changed by the outcome of such a fight?”


Bei turned to the assistant, “Miss Daystar.  Please show Ambassador Solo to the Port Gardens.  I need to confer with my people for a a few minutes to process what you have told us.  While I may personally find it unpalatable, I do appreciate your honesty.”




Sellis groaned as he started to stretch, waking up in his armor once more.  His captors did not seem all that worried about him having it, especially since their scanning devices located all of his hidden weapons and potential for trickery.  He wasn’t even sure his armor would protect him from a Cree’Ar-made blaster but he also did not want to test it.  Having the armor was a tactile link to where he was from and to his duty.




A small word that signified a much larger responsibility.  He had talked to Traya a little about it softly, both facing each other to prevent as best they could any eavesdropping through audio or visual means.  He was not technically a soldier so did the duty to escape by any means really apply?  Traya was of the opinion that it did since she too craved escape.  Her desire was not out of any sense of duty but, rather and no less important, because she did not like being caged.  It might be explained because she was a Sith and they did not do well in prisons.  At least, not as well as a Jedi might for they would take the opportunity to meditate while a Sith would pace relentlessly, each step growing their agitation until they could take it no more.  Still, he could not fall into the trap of attributing what were essentially rational personality traits upon the alter of Sith-cultured thinking.   Especially given her treatment at the hands of the Dominion so far.  He certainly could not fault her for her desire to get out of there, Sith or no.


He was not necessarily a spy though he did usually go where no Coalition citizen would be allowed to go.  Though, when he went across borders into enemy or foreign territories, he did have the presence of mind to remove his identifying armor so, in that sense, he did seem a spy.  But he was not tasked with entering other territories to obtain their secrets.  He considered himself a troubleshooter, investigating issues, actions and activities that usually took place or started within Coalition borders but whose investigations led him on galactic whirlwind adventures until he or his superiors’ felt matters resolved.  Where the Coalition did not need a spy but did not want to send an army, the White Knight was skilled just enough to get the job done.  It was an odd organization where they were at once visible due to their distinguishing armor and yet no one knew exactly what they did when they were seen.


Right now, he wanted information.   That was his duty.  Overnight, it seemed, this Dominion struck crippling the Empire with just one blow but they were not down for the count.  The Dominion hold on Coruscant may be strong, but Coruscant’s hold on the rest of their planets was sketchy at best.  Some Protectorates may be hanging in there following Gevel’s lead of keeping their head down but this was the time of the Four Emperors.  Or was it still Five?  No one knew what had happened to Emperor Hyfe but for now, Emperor Gevel sat in his seat.  Emperor Kraken was already marshalling his forces, not an inconsiderable force, just waiting for an opening.  Emperor Thorton had quieted down and no one seemed to know where he laid his head at night.  Or was it Tracta?  The odd one out was the Empress Skygg.  She seemed to be another Sith alcolyte who directly served Emperor Hyfe but had taken advantage of the Empire’s fractured state to make her own bid for power but out of all of them, the only well-positioned “Emperors” who might do damage to the Dominion cause was Kraken and Gevel.  Kraken from the outside and Gevel from the inside.  However, given they were both contenders for the same throne, the Dominion needn’t worry about the idea of them joining forces.


Just like Sith and Jedi!


A Sith wouldn’t even spit on a Jedi if that Jedi was on fire.  Especially if they were on fire!


And that was probably the secret to the Dominion’s success.  The competing and backstabbing between nations and sects.  If the Sith couldn’t bring the Dominion down, they sure as hell didn’t want the Jedi to succeed. 


A clang sounded at the door and Traya jerked awake, having fallen asleep next to Sellis.  He could sense her tension even through his armor and he tried to ready himself for whatever came next.


He did not expect the six limbed, massive creature towering above them that stepped into the room; its mouthless gaze falling onto the two inhabitants.  Traya bared her teeth whispering in a heated voice, “Cree’Ar.”


Sellis’ attention snapped back into focus as the features of the being before him coalesced in his memory.  The same features as seen on the holonet broadcast of the Declaration.  He had seen images of a Cree’Ar as well as other beings of unfamiliar race or origin around them but he never really knew their relationship.


This is the enemy.


Or was it?  Did an attack on Coruscant necessarily make the Dominion enemies of the Coalition?  Did a Declaration of War on Force sensitives?


The Cree’Ar was muscular, almost beast-like in its radiating of raw physical power but it’s lack of mouth gave it an almost contradictory calming presence.  His large eyes glowered at them, as if expecting, nay demanding them to object to the reality of their situation and the inviolability of his presence.  Sellis could sense the fear growing in Traya and he placed himself in front as they both started to stand up.


“You did not kill her.”


The voice in his head, in both of their heads as he saw her start in surprise as he turned to look at her, was a deep rumbling sound.  It was not a question but a rather obvious statement since she was, in fact, alive and standing behind Sellis.  But even then, the statement seemed to demand an explanation.  In any event, they both knew the voice was from the Cree’Ar before them.


“Neat trick.” He murmured.


“If you consider communication a trick, then by your own definition, the utterances from your protuberance are also a trick.”


Traya frowned despite her wariness, “Is he joking?”


“Why are we here?  Why did you torture my friend?” Sellis barked out and the Cree’Ar simply stared at him as if he was a nerf braying incoherently while dribbling urine on the floor.


“We are at war,” the voice stated patiently.  “She,” Gesturing to Traya behind Sellis, “is a prisoner of that war.  She has been subjected to a variety of stimuli to determine the strength, range and ability of her power.  Given that we are at war, we require data on our enemies and their potential strengths and weaknesses.  You, “referring to Sellis, “are here because an overzealous soldier attributed your ‘White Knight’ designation to that of a ‘Jedi Knight’.  There are many different sects and, unfortunately, we have not yet catalogued them all.  However, it has been determined that you are not a force user and so you are free to leave.”


Sellis was taken aback and Traya’s hand shot out and clenched his shoulder.  His imagination had him pitting his wits against his Dominion jailers, rescuing the damsel in distress, and saving the galaxy from certain doom.  He did not expect himself to be labeled a mistake and simply let go.


But he couldn’t in good conscience leave Traya to face an uncertain fate by herself.  He tried a different tact, “Why are you at war with force users?”


“To bring peace to the galaxy.” Was the simple reply and Sellis’ mouth curled up in contempt showing sharp teeth.


“Interesting road to peace.  What are you going to do, turn the galaxy into a desert and call it peace?”


The Cree’Ar answered seriously, “If we have too, yes.”


“That’s insane!” the Azguard shouted.


The eyes of the Cree’Ar narrowed, “What is insane is perpetuating a war that has gone on for thousands of years with no resolution in sight.  A war that most of the great powers of this galaxy support in one fashion or another.  So….Enough!  Since none of you have the ability, will or even the desire to once and for all put an end to it, the Dominion decided it would rise to the challenge.  We will take the reins and force an end to the conflict.  How many billions have been butchered in the name of this conflict?”


Sellis spread his hands wide, “We are not at war.  We have no quarrel with you so why would you start a war with the Galactic Coalition?  With the Empire?”


A look of disgust crossed the Cree’Ar’s features.  “We did not start a war with you lessor powers.  We declared war on the Force Users!  Why can you not understand this?  We war on your masters!”


“We do not have masters!” Sellis bit back indignantly.  “We are a democratic..”


“With those whom you pay allegiance to, if you prefer.” The alien interrupted, his patience wearing thin.


Sellis shook his head, “I.. we don’t….”


The Cree’Ar lowered its head to stare Sellis in the eye, “I believe your designated allegiance to them is refrred to as:  Lightside? And your mortal enemies are referred to as:  Darkside?  Is that not correct, White Knight?”

Sellis’ mouth shut. 






It started as a rumble and a slight vibration shaking his personal effects and scattering them to the floor.  Tolan groaned as he lifted an arm over his face, trying to keep the prying sunlight out of his eyes.  The shaking had dropped the blanket he had set across the window as a makeshift curtain of sorts letting in the offending light.


“Uhhgg.” He mumbled to himself as the bed jiggled slightly and then stopped.  Through the closed window he could hear several sirens blaring.  It was as if the universe was conspiring to keep him from sleeping and his eyes blinked open when the couple living in the apartment next to him started arguing.  As their volume rose, he blew through his lips in frustration and he slapped his hands down onto his bed.  Sleeping late was just not in the cards.


He sighed and got up, moving slowly around his pet’s chew toys towards the Caff-o-matic. 


The arguing voices next door also woke his pet up causing all manner of barking noises and snarls.  In the Tolan House, they were not early risers.  “Come.  See the Coalition transformed before you eyes as the wonders of modern technological achievements are unlocked.”  He mocked the tourist brochure.  Their commercials had been running non-stop all over the network in an effort to stem the tide of locals moving off-world.  At least, those that could afford it.  With Varn becoming the refugee capital of the galaxy, they were inundated with all manner of displaced peoples.  People without homes, without money, without jobs.  The A.I.’s were excellent builders so the homeless soon had homes and the people were grateful.  The people were hungry so the planetary stores were opened up and they were soon fed.  But different species calls for different dietary requirements so the planetary stores could not meet every requirement.  Add in the dietary requirements for religious or social structures and it was evident that something else had to be done.  So massive food production facilities were built.  Again the A.I.’s were tapping those areas they were exceptional at.  Building projects on a global scale to combat the mounting housing crisis, sustenance crisis all the while maintaining the minimum standard of living requirements which required support systems for energy, water and the like.  What this created was a World of Welfare.  For these species to find work in a mechanized society, they would need the skills so, again a massive educational system had to be put into place because while everyone lived in the age of star travel, not everyone living in a desert could come across a YT freighter and instantly know how to fly it.  That was the stuff of holonet adventure movies and obviously not based on reality.


Not everyone has a cutesy droid following them around.  Some droids are friggin ugly as sin!


To distract himself he grabbed a slate and activated the holo-broadcast.  Or at least tried too.  The only thing that came on was a spinning holographic logo of the station channel with a big, red, ERROR indicator plastered in the center of the logo. 


“World of Wonder,” he murmured.


“I wonder when the bloody repair-bot will be fixing this..” 



Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Jun 12 2022 9:52pm

The Pages of Time: SmartWatch


The following passage has been extrapolated from the historical archive of the Coalition HoloNet database. Each discreet entry will be indexed to the related historical marker.




The Long Road to Freedom


“I'm Kaleb Morbin, and this is SmartWatch!” The stage was one of those flashy, gaudy things meant to reference traditional news programs while simultaneously differentiating itself from them. In truth, eighty percent or more of the presentation was virtual, artificial backdrop and live-feed color modulation designed to present the presenter “as he wished to be”, not as he actually was. Perhaps the large, curved table itself was real, or perhaps it too was a virtual skin overlayed atop a mundane, ordinary piece of furniture.


“In association with the New Media Alliance, SmartWatch aims to bring you live, unvarnished coverage of our newest and most prominent public official, the 'independent droid starship' Smarts!” He really laid into the name, flashing a toothy, exaggerated smile across his youthful face. “Who is he, where does he come from, and what – pray tell – is the meaning of his new official title: 'Overseer'?”


The young man was quite handsome, early-twenties, whose appearance and diction seemed a little too reminiscent of a certain galactic hero. “I mean: this droid-man rallied an international volunteer fleet, took on the Cavrilhu Pirates, liberated Varn, negotiated a bi-national settlement between the planet's government and its indigenous people, and then ferried us into the Coalition, all before I could get this stage set up! How about that.”


Not to put too fine a point on it: he could have been Luke Skywalker's next door neighbor, if that next door neighbor also happened to be his long-lost cousin.


“Talk about too good to be true. But here we are, and you don't know this about me yet, but I'm not one to pass judgment quickly. So here at SmartWatch we're going to do just that. We will watch, and depending on what we see, we will pass judgment. The Cavrilhu are on the back foot, Varn is a member of the Coalition, and our world's two new governments are already talking about the 'Cooperative' that binds them together. So let's wait and see what our new Overseer manages to oversee.” He cracked another smile, staring straight into the recorder for a long moment. “Maybe he'll surprise us.”




* * *




The Meeting


As Thracken Sal-Solo approached the exit at the far end of the room, Beiwi K'Vek held up a hand. The rumble of advisors and liaisons who had accumulated over the course of her conversation with Thracken sputtered to silence. The door shut; she stepped away, turning to regard the assembled mass of clingers-on.


“Explain yourself,” she demanded from the head of the military contingent.


“This could all be a charade,” the human man from military intelligence said, not flinching from the Deputy Minister's glare. “I'm not prepared to reveal anything to that man.”


The Coalition had known about the Dominion's presence in the former Black Dragon Imperium for some time now. The worlds were scouted by Coalition stealth ships in the early days of the Reaver invasion, and the strange alien craft they found around several Dragon worlds ended up matching sensor records acquired from the Battle of Coruscant. This was all highly classified, of course, but Bei's senior Foreign Ministry position meant she'd been read in on the situation shortly after taking office.


That the military brass was so on edge they'd put on that show of ignorance, though . . . “Naturally we can't assume he's acting in good faith, but we can't foreclose the possibility either. If we can convince Thracken he has more to gain from us than from his association with the Dominion -”


“Ma'am,” the officer cut her off, “our only priority now is to delay them for as long as possible.”


Bei shook her head, not willing to follow the man down his intended line of reasoning. “He said the Minder left to fetch a Nav buoy. If that's true – and why would he bother to lie about something minutes from being proven – then he's talking about the Dac Pipeline. And that means Azguard isn't the only place under threat. We have to maintain dialogue and attempt -”


“They aren't here to negotiate and they aren't here to posture: they've come to conquer Azguard.”


She didn't like being cut off mid-sentence, especially not by a paranoid clown. “Now who's taking Thracken Sal-Solo at his word?” she chided the man.


He didn't like her dismissive retort, either. “They've isolated the system, they're holding the bulk of their force beyond our effective sensor range -” Bei rolled her eyes, an exaggerated gesture meant to ensure the human could read her alien facial cues. “AND,” he persisted, more forcefully, “their only offer is one that they know we can't accept.”


That last bit hit home. As unpleasant as dealing with these military-types was, she knew he was right. “Issk.”


The man nodded. “The Azguard devotion to their gods is unshakable, and the Dominion must know that. Offering submission to an empire that hunts Force users is a non-starter. There's no amount of cultural misunderstanding or psychological mismatch that can justify their supposed ignorance.”


“Thracken . . .”


“What he knows or doesn't know is irrelevant, Ma'am. He's here because they wanted him here. Even if he's placing his own side bet, he's still playing their game.”


“As are we, it seems.”


The man nodded in agreement. “There's more, but I'd rather not have to say it.”


She tensed up, locking eyes with the military man, studying his typical human features intently. “Psychics do tend to hinder diplomatic endeavors.”


“Especially if Thracken is lying about the extent of its abilities.”


She nodded, still studying the man. “Plausible Deniability” was a powerful tool for people like her when they found themselves in situations like this. But then, she couldn't very well say that and keep the deniability plausible, now could she? She searched her recent memory, choosing her words carefully. “If their offer, dubious as it may be, really is directed to the Azguard, then I should send for a representative of their government. Though I should probably confirm their intentions with the Minder first; we can't be having any more misunderstandings.”


“That'll take some time,” the officer noted, saying more with his intense stare than with his words.


“Important things often do,” she replied, nodding. “It's best I proceed alone from here.”


She headed straight for the Port Gardens, placing a couple of quick comm calls while on the way. She strode in to find Thracken and Miss Daystar in mid conversation, the two of them falling silent upon her appearance. “Thracken, the Minder is on its way back to the conference room. If we leave now, we can beat it there. If you'd rather prolong our private conversation, my staff can delay the Minder and I'm sure I can show you to another local point of interest a little farther out. Or . . .” She hesitated for a moment, her own instincts conflicting with the intelligence officer's half-spoken advice . . .


“You asked us for 'help'. I don't have the unilateral authority to grant you asylum, but if you ask I can place you into Coalition custody and guarantee your safety until your case can be reviewed. You may not like us, Mister Sal-Solo, but the choices we offer aren't illusions. I like to think that counts for something.”


If she had to play their game, she was going to invent some of her own moves.

Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: Nov 28 2023 1:40am

The Siege of Coruscant

Year of Cataclysm


The throne room was in a state of muted chaos as military advisers and those that comprised the bureaucracy that got things done behind the scenes rushed in and out, each intent on their area of responsibility as if the fate of the very Empire rested upon their shoulders.  It was a belief rooted in reality as their activities scurrying too and fro under the shadow of an invader’s guns was akin to ants scattering from the blaze of a magnifying glass’s eye.

The Regent scowled at them from his seated position viewing them with contempt at their understated panic and yet he acknowledged that these people were a necessary evil.  While he blamed his contempt on their fear, he also knew that they were untested and had been complacent for too long. The Military Headquarter’s bureaucracy were not front-line troops, nor were they necessarily battle-tested.  Since Coruscant once again became Imperial Center these military folks had had it easy passing along the orders from their betters to the galaxy at large.  They were never in danger existing under the cloak of the Emperor and his peace.  Now the enemy had showed up at their doorstep and put their feet to the fire.  Now they had to actually work with all the little realities that front-line soldiers and fleets lived on a daily basis. 


“Maybe they will work off their fat,” he murmured to himself as he went back to the papers and schematics laid out before him.  While he tested the military administration with the comment that “there were no bad ideas”, he looked down at the results of several aide’s rush to put before him every idea and weapon dreamed up by the various R&D departments noting that the dumbshits had actually taken his words literally.  He blew out a heavy sigh as he tossed a schematic onto a table positioned near the throne.


“How the fuck are we going to build this under the guns of the enemy?” he spit out exasperatedly.


One aide swallowed and pointed to some part of the schematic, “Well, Sire.  We obviously cannot build it from scratch but we have several ships in various stages of construction and with a few alterations, we might be able too…”


“What the fuck is the point?  To give the enemy a larger target to blow up before turning their undivided attention to us?  Let’s say we can cobble together an Eclipse Class Star Destroyer just for shits and giggles, how the hell are we going to man it?  The enemy would still be between our source of personnel and the yard where the thing would originate?”

“Well..” the aide started when Zell waved him away in disgust.  “Get the fuck out of here!”

“They get younger every year,” whispered Aeacus from behind the throne.

Zell turned to the guardsman who seemed to materialize behind the throne from some secret passage that those tasked with protecting the Imperial leaders only knew about. 

“Each year they get dumber,” the Regent growled.


“Welcome to progressive prosperity,” chuckled the guard as several troopers walked a group of young men and women in.

“What the fuck is this?” Zell barked out irritated at the interruption.

“Apologies, Regent.” The lead trooper started gesturing to the line of people behind him, “We caught these … citizens…blocking ground traffic interfering with emergency services.”

“We were NOT!” shouted a couple of the young people indignantly.

When a few seconds of silence passed after the outburst the Regent narrowed his eyes, “Well, what the fuck were you doing?”


“We were protesting!” a young woman stepped up, the front trooper’s fingers twitching as he held his blaster across his chest, pointed up.


“We are all protesting!” Zell barked out.  “The alien scum that is attacking us needs to be shown that we will not back down and that we are going to fight for every square inch of this planet!”


“We are not protesting the attack,” a young man clarified.  “They have a right to attack if they wish.  We are not taking away their agency.  We are protesting slavery!”


“What.  The. Fuck?  And how are you protesting?”


“Sire,” a trooper behind the group chimed in, “we caught them throwing their citizenship chips into a mobile incinerator.”


“And this accomplishes...what?”  Zell was a little confused.  “You do realize that slavery was abolished in the Empire years ago?”


“Mandatory indentured servitude ..” the young woman started, gearing up for an argument.


“..applies to non-humans,” Zell interrupted.  “What the fuck are you protesting?  You are not affected.”


“But we are not human!” the woman replied sharply back.  “And now, without the chips we are free of the shackles of citizenship.”


Zell turned a questioning eye back to Aeacus who shrugged his own lack of understanding.


“Well, you fucking look human.” The Regent finally said because he was simply at a loss to say anything else except strings of curse words.  He silently signaled for a medical technician to be brought in immediately.  Within moments, a man came rushing in not wanting to keep the Regent waiting as people had been shot for less.


“Sire?” he inquired breathlessly.


“Scan these yahoos,” the Regent ordered gesturing to the young people.  “Find out if they are shapeshifters or have been altered to spy on us.”


At hearing this, the troopers gripped their blasters tighter.  Being labeled a spy during an invasion was a good way to get oneself killed.


“If we were spies, why would we bring such attention to ourselves?” another young man asked.


“I did not say you were smart spies,” Zell murmured as the technician began to run a portable scanner over the young people in line.


“They read as human, Sire,” the technician concluded as he scanned the last person.


The young woman of the group shook her head as if denying the claim of the technician.  “If you want the truth you need to only ask us.”


The medical technician opened his mouth to refute the young lady when the guardsman, Aeacus, spoke up, “What is the truth?” he asked in curiosity


“We,” the young woman started proudly pointing to her group, “identify as wookiees.  So you see, your machine got it wrong.”


The technician stared at the group trying to digest the comment, opened his mouth and then closed it again as if he still needed more time to come to terms with what was said.


Zell stared at the young people in silence, his derision stymied for once. 


“You identify as wookiees,”Aeacus stated as if by saying it he would come to understand it.


“In doing so, we draw attention to the plight of “indentured servants”,” the first young man answered.


The young woman’s chin jutted out, “It is our truth!”


“So in destroying your citizenship chips?” the guardsman prompted.


“Well, wookiees are not citizens,” the woman stated.


“Ahh,” Aeacus replied as if his mind were opened up, “quite right…quite right.”


Zell’s eyes went to the trooper up front and he felt a slight pity for the soldier.  Ever since the invaders had appeared in the system, people seemed to be going mad.  There were riots in different parts of the planetary city over power, water, food and now, with the evacuation notices going out, rioting over who gets to go first.  The enemy had yet to penetrate the planet’s shields and already the masses were starting to panic.  If not for the strong military presence, he wondered how quickly the order that had been mostly maintained would have lasted.  And the longer the siege went, the longer the evacuation went on, the worse it would get military presence or no.


So how to deal with this insanity?  Young people were morons!  Entitled morons, but morons nonetheless.


This is what happens when battles and conflicts take place lightyears from where one lives and their only exposure is from holonet highlights.  And people who only get their news from INS.


He snorted inwardly.  Now there was a thought. 

Maybe INS was too effective?


Well, whatever the delusion, it was time to throw a bucket of reality onto their…truth.

The Regent turned his attention to the troopers.  “By claiming to be wookiees, you are claiming to be  part of the Contegorian Confederation, an government opposed to us and considered an enemy of the state.  Therefore, you are to consider yourselves duly under arrest.  In fact, as self-proclaimed agents of the enemy, we can rightly consider you spies and treat you accordingly.”  The troopers silently transmitted a request for reinforcements.


“You can’t do this!” the woman shouted.  “We have rights under..”


“Citizens have certain rights!” shouted the Regent back.  “You yourselves claim not to be citizens and destroying your chips, you are now denied the rights and benefits that come with it.  Such as medical health access, housing, education and the financial aid that are provided.  You have erased it all!”


The young people stared in shock as the Regent made his pronouncement.


Turning his attention to the lead trooper, “Have these idiots transported to a polar mining station.  Maybe they can prove to be useful to true citizens of the Empire in our time of crisis.”


“The.. the polar mines?” a young man stammered.  “But w..we.. will freeze to death!”


Zell lifted a finger, “Ahh.. But that is where you are incorrect.  You see, wookiees can withstand artic temperatures for quite a long time without freezing.”  Turning to the trooper, “Be sure to put them with their fellow wookiees.”


“We are not covered with fur!” the woman shouted back.


“Oh, I would not dare impose my own definition on you.  Obviously, you see and recognize yourself as a wookiee so who I am I to reject…your truth.”  Zell’s voice became hard, “Especially since it was so passionately relayed to me in front of witnesses?”


The young people began to all stammer and shout at once but the Regent tuned the yammering out as so much Kashyyyk barking.  Their pleading faded as the stormtrooper reinforcements arrived and took them away.


Zell started to chuckle but then turned to the guardsman, “You did not do some sort of force-user mind trick on them did you?”


Aeacus laughed softly, “No, Sire.  That was all them.”


“Unbelievable,” Zell snorted.  “I almost hesitate to ask, but what’s next?”


As if on cue, in walked the ugliest alien Zell had the displeasure of seeing in recent months.  That this alien was also escorted by several troopers caused his ire to rise but before he could start hurling insults the alien’s way, he felt the guardsman stiffen.  Anything that would make the guardsman take notice was worth taking seriously so Zell reigned his usual abrasiveness and simply inquired, “What is this?”


“Regent,” the alien spoke in a rather deep, silky voice, “I am Lord Snoke, leader of the First Order movement that is currently halting production in Middling Sector.”


Zell tried to remember where the Middling Sector was on Coruscant and what an interruption there would mean.  Zell turned to Aeacus, “What is it with everyone committing treason?” he calmly asked knowing that there was really only one sentence for the charge.


Aeacus frowned and addressed Snoke, “You are a force-user.”


The alien smiled a wicked smile, “I am.”

Fucking Fairies and Sith Shit!  What the hell? 


Zell wondered if the guardsman could take the alien in a battle of force powers?

With me in the fucking middle!


But he only asked, “What do you want?”


He felt Aeacus’ and the alien’s surprise at the quick arrival at the question.

What?  Did they think I would dick around with a fucking force-user?

When Hyfe’s away, the rats come out and try to take over the damned universe!


The alien stared at Zell intently.  “Power.” Was his one word response.

“And if I refuse?”


The alien chuckled, “I have quite a few followers and we will defend the Middling Sector despite the great amount of collateral damage such a defense would create.  And your continued life would be in question.”


As he was talking the troopers around him snapped up their blaster rifles and pointed them at the arrogant cuss of an alien.  There was no reaction or fear from the trooper’s movement.


“Hmm..” Zell murmured to himself as he drummed his fingers on the arm of the throne.  Did everyone wake up with big-dick syndrome this morning?


His mind was working furiously, his first instinct to simply order everyone shot letting the chips fall where they may.  He would die cursing his enemies and the temptation to let someone else take on the responsibility of dealing with this invasion was so very great. 


But to die to someone named… Snoke?  Really?


That was just absurd.

  His gaze shifted from the alien’s eyes to the troopers wondering if the force-user was in their minds already or not?  He tried to gauge if Aeacus could take them all.  Would the bastard know if Zell used any of his emergency switches or buttons on the throne to summon more help?

I need a fucking drink!


His eyes roamed the room and fell to the table with the schematics and papers the aides had brought and an idea sparked in his mind.  His frown turned into a sly grin and he started to laugh.


He continued to laugh causing the confident demeanor of the alien to turn into a scowl and then to surprise as Zell waved the troopers who were pointing their rifles at their charge.  The troopers hesitated a little but Zell waved more vigorously for them to be gone.


“You want power?  I’ll give you power.”


Aeacus shifted nervously.  “Sire,” he started but Zell held up a hand silencing him.


He leaned forward.  “Here’s the deal, Smoke.”


“Snoke,” corrected the alien.


“Whatever.  Now look, we are opening an evacuation corridor from Coruscant’s orbit to the edge of the mass shadow and once ships hit hyperspace, the invaders won’t be able to catch them.  So I will give you several transports for you and your people to escape.”


“You want to send us away?” the alien sneered but Zell interrupted, “You are damned right!  You will also be provided with materials and supplies to make a start of your new mission.”


“Mission?” both Snoke and Aeacus asked in unison.


“Yes,” Zell replied firmly.  “You are the answer I have been looking for.”  He gestured to the table.  “Take a look at these plans.  This is not something that can be built easily nor will they be quick.  But I think you have just the gumption to make it work!”


“Make what work?”


“The salvation of the Empire, of course.” Zell replied.  “Look around.  Look at the fear of these people who have never faced a straight up fight.  What do you really think our chances are of coming out ahead and actually beating off this siege?”


“You think you are going to lose the planet?” the alien asked surprised.


“I have to think in such terms.  I am the Regent of the Empire.  I can be as arrogant as I want and swing my big dick around all I want but at the end of the day I also need to be realistic.  What happens if we do lose?  What becomes of the Empire then?”


“What are these?” the alien pointed to the schematics.


“What will bring you to power and at the same time deliver vengeance for us!  This is..” he looked at the plans reading, “Starkiller base.  The next evolution in Death Star construction.”


Snoke lifted his head again in surprise. 


“And here are the construction plans for what is called… a Mega-Dreadnaught.  The biggest, fucking baddest ship in the galaxy.”




“Look Smoke.  I am a pragmatic.  I could simply have you and your followers killed and maybe you kill me and maybe you don’t.  But you and your followers will die and the defenders of this world will go on and the Empire will go on…but hurt.  Now I can view you as a hindrance or I could view you as a galaxy-given opportunity.  Now get out of here, go get your people together and let me know how many transports you need because we do not know how long these invaders will let us keep the corridor open.”


“You think they will let us open a corridor?  They are enclosing the planet!”


“You don’t think we’d issue an evacuation without a plan to let your people get the hell out of here do you?  Come here, look at the tactical situation.”  Zell got up and with Snoke walked to a holographic terminal, Aeacus following. 


“As you can see, their ships are systematically bombarding Coruscant but they are spread out and our planetary shields are strong.  But if they can weaken them or penetrate them, they may just be able to land troops and try to establish a beach-head.  In order to establish the corridor, we are going to allow them to attempt that beach-head but on the opposite side of the planet.”


Aeacus and Snoke looked surprised.  “And how are you going to do that?”


“Look at their ships!” Zell pointed out.  “How many troops do you think they will need to overcome defenses and set up their own for that beach-head?  Now, how many troops to you think their ships can carry?  What do you see?”


Snoke frowned.  “Their ships are not very large.” Snoke reflected.


“Their ground soldiers are spread out throughout their fleet,” Aeacus answered.


“They will have to move most of their fleet around the area they want to assault so how do you entice that?  We lower a section of the shield to let them attempt it.  To let them have it, if necessary.”


“What!!?” the force-users cried aghast.


“Oh please,” Zell scoffed.  “It’s the only way to get them out of the way for us to set up the corridor.”


“But they will be able to directly attack the planet!”


“This side of it,” Zell pointed to the hologram of Coruscant.  “Don’t worry.  It’s the shitty part of the planet.  It’s not like I am opening up a critical area.  But with all that arrayed against us, these beggars can’t afford to be choosy so they will take whatever we give them.  So with their fleet on one side and ours on the other, the final outcome will be decided on the surface.  The Imperial Fleet will stay on its side to protect the evacuation.  While our ships cannot both protect the evacuation and attack their fleet at the same time, nor can their’s initiate troop landings and go after our ships at the same time.”


“Whatever is decided, it will happen here.” Zell pointed to the ground.


“How do I know this isn’t a trick?” Snoke asked skeptically.


“You wound me, Smokey.  You are the fanciful force-user are you not?  What does your insight tell you?  Here, keep these schematics.  Remember,” Zell pointed to the schematics on the table, “these are huge constructs so while the plans to go into what and how much materials you will need to build them, you are the ones that will need to acquire them.  So go somewhere out of the way.  Go to the Unknown Regions.  But you need to make preparations now.”


“Why give this to us?  Surely you have your own people who..”


“Of course, I have my own people.  But if the planet falls to these invaders, how long do you think it will take for them to suss out a military expedition intent on avenging us?  You and your peole are not in our system!  You are not a part of our military establishment so these invaders will not know who you are and only you will know your destination.  They will not know from where your blade will strike!”


Zell grinned, pleased with himself and Snoke thought about it or a moment before coming to a decision.  “My people and I will go,” he announced.


The Regent nodded, “And please try not to fuck up the Middling Sector as you leave.  I wish you luck.”


Snoke nodded and left with his schematics and a new purpose.


After a few minutes, Aeacus spoke. “What was that?” his voice amused.


Zell signaled for someone to bring him a drink.  “That was fast-talking salesmanship.”


“But you gave him the plans to build his own Death Star and a dreadnaught?  Aren’t these top secret?”


Zell snorted, “Everything dreamed up by the R&D departments is classified as ‘top secret’ whether it is a stealth probe or a zero-g toilet.”


At Aeacus’ questioning look, Zell relented.  “Look, these plans are for things that are much too big and too impractical to be useful.  Yes, they are powerful items but they have glaring weaknesses.  That is why we passed on the plans.  It is like the designers and engineers always think the better super weapon is a bigger super weapon.  Take Starkiller, unlike the Death Stars, Starkiller is immobile.  Yes, it can destroy a system rather than a single planet but it can only be aimed in the direction that the planet is pointed at within its gravitational rotation and orbit around its primary.  It has a very limited aiming arc and I bet they start building it on a planet with no view to where they will be shooting the bloody thing.  If they are total dumbasses, they will finish the damned thing and find that there is no clear shot at anything worthwhile to shoot at.  It’s like they have to aim down a hyperlane to hit anything.”


“And if they do complete it and it can hit something?” the guardsman warned.


“Who the fuck cares?  Look this construction is so massive that it will take decades to build and deplete entire systems of resources, funds and personnel.  If they are not bankrupt by the end, who the fuck are they going to attack?  The invaders should they win here?  The Republic or Galactic Coalition if they are still around?  The Confederation?  Again, who the fuck cares?”


“And the ship?”


“The Mega-Dreadnaught?” Zell laughed, “A ship big enough to carry the entire First fucking Order aboard?  A virtual floating city or base?  Its very size is a weakness!  The lesson we learned with two Death Star destructions?  All the money, resources and personnel all gone in a blink of an eye.  Twice.  Hell, we did it to Fearson’s once!  The bigger something is, the easier it is to penetrate its defenses.  Again, let’s say they build both.  Who are they more than likely going to use it against?  Us?  Or the invaders?  The Republic, Coalition or Confederation?”


“And if they do attack us?”


Zell grinned, “Well, we designed the bloody things so who better to know where the weaknesses are?  Where the kill-switches are?”


“And if we are all dead?”


“Then we really won’t give a fuck.  Now, here’s that drink!”



Azguard – Present


“Guardian Protocols enacted,” came the monotone announcement as the aging Azguard walked the hall of the Fang, an Azguardian battleship stationed at the edge of the capital world’s mass shadow.  Outside the observation windows he could see the battlegroup forming up as their strategic computer analysis outlined more effective or efficient deployment positions.  It seemed, in its own way, computers also got nervous the longer the waiting took.  An axiom of war was that it was the waiting that usually took the most toll on a person rather than the conflict itself.  This was usually because, in comparison, the conflict was over relatively quickly.  What would a being rather experience?  Hours of sinking dread or a few minutes of abject terror?


He frowned as he noticed an ammunition tender streak past the Fang on its way to a defense gun emplacement and he felt a sharp burst of anger.  The accommodating engineering corps had misread his treatise on the development of the weapons in that they had begun to construct actual, albeit on a smaller scale, actual galaxy guns.  He had flown into a rage when he found out and the department heads were all scampering around trying to reassure him that the power of the weapons was not enough to destroy stars or planetary bodies but that they were designed to eliminate enemy capital vessels.  That was all well and good but a good energy based weapon would have been just as good and not shackled to rearming tenders because those defense guns that were designed after Palpatine’s old weapon (imagine that!  Azguard defenses taking their cue from the Imperial Emperor Palpatine!) and therefore designed with a need for physical ammunition.  Who used physical ammunition nowadays?  Not only did they now have to worry about keeping the weapons stocked with ammunition, they had to worry about loading and reloading the bloody things all while in the midst of combat!  Perhaps the Guardian system can compensate but he hated for this to become an experiment especially when it was the defense of his world and system at stake.


“Lord Regrad!” a voice called out and he turned to see a young reptilian Azguardian serviceman approach in a hurry.


“Yes?” the former Prime Minister asked controlling an urge to sigh.  What was the problem now?


“Lord!  You are summoned to Combat Command!”


The iciness of his cold blood permeated throughout his body as his hearts pumped faster anticipation bubbling up from within.  Perhaps the waiting was now over!





Azguardian Frigate, Seachean

Located outside Hurok space


“Sir!  Guardian is extrapolating …”

“What!” growled a grizzled Azguardian Captain at his rather enthusiastic underling.  “Is the bloody thing going to give us the enemy dispositions and numbers?”


The underling stopped short.  “Well, no, Captain Greche.  But it may have extrapolated the timeline they are using to coordinate their assault!”


The Captain’s mouth opened slightly in shock.  “The Guardian figured that out?”


The under-officer shook his head, “It is not a definitive conclusion because it does not yet understand the enemy motivations but based on the sensor and historical evidence so far, there are several factors that may contribute to their timeline so, while their actual attack plan is unknown, we may be looking at..”


“When, as the humans say, the party will start!” conclude Greche, clearly interested.  It may be a computer’s conclusion but at this point, he’d take anything to break up the monotony of sector scanning.  “Send an encrypted signal to our stealth fighters that we will be moving position towards Hephastus.”


As he moved away from the Under-officer, he noticed a Scanning Ensign fidgeting in his seat among the Sensor Team.  "Troubles, Ensign?" Greche inquired interrupting the young sailor's thoughts.


"Sir!  No, Sir!" the Ensign barked but then pointed a claw at a monitor, "We are supposed to be testing for gravitational anomalies, using the guidelines set out by Citadel AI and I am trying to calibrate the equipment."


"And?" the Captain prompted.


"Well, Sir.  I needed to verify the readings so I positioned a scanner towards Arun connecting to the sensor network to see if my readings match what is in our database."


"Did it match?" Greche asked.


"No, Sir.  It seems the planet reads denser than what we have noted in the record database."


"Well, Ensign, a gas giant is probably not a good example to use as a control for calibration.  The initial record is probably hundreds of years old and gasses have burned off or been harvested and replenished in that time.  You need to use as a calibration control measurement an object whose mass will not change."


"Like what, Sir?"


"Well, like a  moon.  Measure one when we reach Hephastus."





Admiral Blakeley


“Admiral!  Guardian’s conclusions are coming through..”


The Admiral stared at the output from the Coalition’s defense super computer.  He stared at the summary on his holographic representation of the system.  He had held the printout of the system in his hand using it as a sort of “cheat sheet” to note fleet dispositions for future orders and yet he realized that seeing the holographic representation added a new element to the equation.  His hand closed into a fist crushing the paper as he realized a mistake he had been making in his own thought processes.


“Admiral!  Lord Regrad is calling.  He says it is urgent!”


Blakeley tore his eyes away from the spinning projection, frowning.



The Meeting


Thracken Sal Solo looked into Beiwi K'Vek’s rather kind eyes and hated what he was about to say.  Because he wanted to grab what she was offering.  Desperately grab onto the lifeline but he dared not.  At least, not yet for she was also a diplomat and she might end up changing her mind.

He sighed.

“If the offer is still open after what I tell you, I will accept.  However, if not, I… I understand.  This is the time where we all have to make hard choices and it is not our place to judge another’s decision.  Because, we all want to survive.

On our ship, the Minder is retrieving a navigation buoy.  Your navigation buoy set inside the borders of the Black Dragon Empire.  The Minder is not going to harangue you about it nor will he condemn you.  That is not the Cree’Ar or the Dominion way.  You see, the Black Dragon Imperium has joined the Greater Dominion so Imperium space is now Dominion space.  The navigation buoy is simply a subtle notice to you that they know.  They know you’ve crossed the border, their border, and…look, I don’t know how many ships you have doing that or what they are doing in the former Dragon sphere but just understand that the Dominion knows.  They are not reactionary.  At least, I have not seen them act in such  manner.  Even so, they do not seem to understand the concept of deniability.  What I am saying is, diplomatically, if you were to deny the buoy was yours or if you were to deny that the ships crossing the border were Coalition it would not matter to the Cree’Ar.  They know so they will act upon what they know and not based on what you claim.”

Vek shrugged, opting not to deny it, at least to Thracken, “The ships have not been harassed.”

“There is purpose to that.  You see, when Raktus and his daemun followers chose to be a part of the Dominion, they moved their technological infrastructure.”

“Where?” the GC ambassador asked but Thracken could only shrug his shoulders. 

“Only the Cree’Ar know.  I do know that Raktus was promoted to the pantheon of Dominion gods but what he actually does or doesn’t do, or what his responsibilities or powers are within the Dominion structure, I do not know.  Suffice to say they pulled everything back from their borders with the Galactic Coalition.”

“We noticed,” Vek murmured.  “It is why we investigated.  With the advent of the Reavers, for all we knew the entire Dragon Sphere was overrun and we would not have known until their scourge spilled over our borders and into our worlds.  We were trying to be proactive!”

Solo held up his hands, “Hey!  I get it!  It is just that they will turn a deaf ear to any of your complaints to their crossing of borders into your space.”

“Because we did it..” Vek whispered, a little disgusted.  “But the reasons and the difference in scale..”

“Doesn’t matter,” Solo interrupted.  “It set a precedent.”

When Vek started to open her mouth to protest, Thracken made a chopping motion with his hand.  “It does not mater,” he stated flatly.  “Continuing to dwell on it only wastes time.  Your time.  The Cree’Ar have a plan and they are acting on that plan.  It involves their fleet and it involves the Azguard.  Now, they are populating the outer system and looking inward.  You and the Azguards are prepared to defend against the incursion.  And so you ask, is conflict inevitable?  It is not, because while I am here, I am not here to distract you or waste your time.  The Cree’Ar have offered the Azguardians essentially the same offer they gave to Raktus and the Imperium.  The offer to join the Greater Dominion.”

“But only the Azguardians?” Vek asked, seeking additional clarification.

“The Cree’Ar are fascinated by force users and the Azguardians are rumored to have some connection to the force.  I personally do not know what it is or even if it is true but whatever the case, the Cree’Ar believe it.  That makes the Azguardians a step above other Coalition members.”

“Lucky them,” murmured the ambassador.

“Maybe,” agreed Solo.

“What if,” started Vek, her eyes narrowing, “What if the Azguard agreed to join the Dominion.  What if the Dominion fleet came in closer to seal the deal which gives our reinforcements time to arrive.  Our numbers will have grown and the Cree’Ar fleet is out of position and we strike!?”

Thracken grinned, “That is rather dastardly but I get the appeal.”

Vek’s eyes fell when Solo sighed.  “Let me tell you another story:


I never had personal contact with the Dragons but I understand that their technology was a tier or two above others and they had unmatched sophisticated abilities.  It was these abilities that probably attracted the Cree’Ar to them but I digress.  The Dragons had elevated their technological prowess to such an extent that they developed a type of techno-religion content in the supremacy of their elevation.  But with any mechanical framework, as I am sure you can attest with your own AI’s, logically, there will be, or should be, progression.  There should be continuous improvement.  Advancement.  Dragon technological advancement was, at first, based on replacing the biological with the synthetic.  They started from a foundation of biological and synthetic being two separate entities where one would eventually replace the other.  Eventually, their science started to restructure this foundational thinking and instead of viewing the two as separate and in “either/or” fashion, they began to ask why the two could not merge.  A complete meshing of both the biologic with the synthetic.  Instead of one replacing the other, they would be two wholes of an even greater whole.  At least, that was the concept initially and it was from this concept, the Dracconis were born.  These were beings that seamlessly merged biological material with synethic material and they were very different than the Daemuns.  The Daemuns were complete a replacement of the biological by the synthetic and as such, by their very nature, they became bound by artificial means.”

“You mean ‘external means’,” Vek interrupted and Solo nodded.

“The Dragon Imperium’s governing Matrix, for example.”

“Cyborgs?” Vek asked.

“Not as crude.  Separate the mechanical from the biological on a cyborg and it cannot survive.  The Dracconis were to be something greater.  But, unfortunately, for Heir Raktus, the Dracconis were not quite as… in lock-step with the Daemuns.  You see, the biological nature of the Dracconis pushed their boundaries of thought beyond the accepted strictures of the Imperium.  In layman’s terms, they no longer blindly accepted a thing simply because ‘God said it was so’.  They had to ask, ‘why?’.”

“Trouble in Paradise,” Vek concluded.

“If Heir Raktus was God and the Daemun were his faithful Angels, the Dracconis were their Demons.  Like all pure Dragons, they were subjected to Forced Evolution and yet bound by the strictures of their Matrix.  They were not necessarily opposed to their god for they did fight and die for the Imperium but it took much more work to convince them to fully embrace all decisions emanating from the Dragon throne.  Their personal identities were not laid out in such a black and white, straightforward manner as the Daemuns. They were more nuanced and, as such, were more sophisticated and complicated.  The decision to join the Dominion made by Heir Raktus would have easily been supported by the Daemuns but the Dracconis were another matter.  In the end, Raktus made the unilateral decision to make the move without the Dracconis effectively cutting them off from the Imperium and the over-arching support of their guiding Matrix.”

“They were cast out of Paradise,” Vek whispered.

“On the synthetic side, it was if their great abilities were now crippled with the lack of an operating system.  On the biological side, without their higher functions, they could only respond with the more base of emotions of pain and rage.  A lack of identity, a lack of purpose, full of pain and anger at the rejection, their technological strengths were turned outwards.”

He looked at the Coalition Ambassador, “They became Reavers.”

“At first, they were like a disease.  A biomechanical disease but a disease nonetheless.  With no purpose, no memory, no identity, an ability to replicate and motivated by emotions of rage and pain, they first sought to spread.  To expand.  With access to material resources they still had a drive to Forced Evolution but only now it was no longer a ‘controlled’ evolution.  The Reavers rapidly expanded, advanced and improved but in a total random and chaotic manner.  The disease grew to become a galactic pandemic and eventually a galactic scourge.  When they assimilated hyper-capable ships, they were able to spread much faster.  In the beginning their were different cluster groups who would spread at different rates, at different speeds but when they assimilated Skynet, they found the ability to sync across galactic distances so that all Reaver cluster groups gained the same experiences, adaptabilities and capabilities.  They became much harder to defeat.  The Coalition has had the most success in combating the Reavers using military adaptations whereas the Republic has seen a limited success in adapting medical science.  In any event, you asked about backstabbing the Cree’Ar by feigning acceptance into the Dominion, the Dracconis were also recalcitrant and ended up being the bane of the galaxy.”

“So you are saying they will turn us into Reavers?” Vek asked amused.

“The Reavers came to be by simply being denied acceptance into the Dominion.  The Cree’Ar have technologies and creatures whose capacity for harm we still have no idea of.  To unilaterally decide on a course of action when you do not even know your enemy is the purview of the foolish.”

“As fascinating as this information is, in the here and now…” Vek began.

“Pardon, Ms. Ambassador, but I will tell you something else.”  He took a pad and drew a circle.  “This is a planet.”  He then proceeded to draw an even larger circle around the first circle he drew.  “This is the planet’s mass shadow.”

Vek nodded her understanding, not sure where he was going.

“Let’s say the edge of the pad is the system boundary.”  He drew a second set of circles a few inches away from the first.  “This is another planet and its mass shadow, farther out.  Let’s say the first set is planet number two in the system and the second is planet number three.”  When Vek again nodded, Solo continued, “A ship coming into the system from interstellar space,” he put an ‘X’ right at the edge of the pad but in line with both sets of circles.  “We are presuming that the incoming route outside of the pad is free of stellar obstacles and are part of a hyperlane from the next system over, for illustration purposes here.  Now,” he pointed to the ‘X’,” the ship would not be able to reach the second planet in the system, or the first set of circles because…” he looked up at Vek.

“Because the third planet, or the second set of circles is blocking the route.  It is in the way.”

“Exactly.  The ship would come out of hyperspace here,” he pointed to the edge of the outer circle of the second set. “

“When it encounters the mass shadow of the planet.” Vek concluded.

“Right.  Now typically two planets will not orbit a star  in line with each other as I have drawn here.  Planets orbit at different speeds and travel on shorter or longer orbital trajectories.  So there will be instances where the planets will align where the inner planets will be blocked by outer planets from ships arriving by hyperspace causing delays and lengthier arrival times.  At least if their destination is an inner planet.”

“So you are saying that if an enemy were to want to attack a planet, they have to take into account that their incoming vector is not blocked by any of the outer orbiting planets.”

Solo nodded, “Or any other celestial body such as a comet or asteroid field or dense cosmic debris that would interfere with hyperspacial navigation.  Normally, we do not worry about this when travelling because such navigational issues are handled by astromechs that feed the realtime data into navigational computers.  But when you are planning an attack, this information needs to be accounted for.  The galaxy, solar systems, planetary bodies, heck all celestial bodies are in a constant state of movement so if someone wants to attack planet number two here, a window of opportunity will only last for so long until the route becomes blocked by obstacles moving into the path at any point between the origin coordinates and the destination coordinates.  With everything in a constant state of movement, it could be one obstacle or one hundred obstacles that move in the way of the route that would delay a fleet past the point of optimal arrival.”

“So..?” Vek frowned.

“The Cree’Ar are not hampered by mass shadows.  Their wormholes can pass through this third planet and its mass shadow and arrive inside the mass shadow or even in orbit of the second planet here.” He pointed to the first set of circles.  “That is an incredible advantage.”

“I can see that,” agreed Vek.   “But,” she added, “If the defending fleet is situated around a planet in orbit, the enemy still has to come to them.”

“I would agree,” Thracken grinned.

“But?” Vek asked.

“But, what if you are defending more than one planet in a solar system?  You see, if there is only one planet to defend, then yes, you can infer that bringing your ships in close, into orbit to protect it, would be a good move since you know the enemy, if they want to attack the planet, will have to reach it and therefore come to you.  If there is a second world you are also defending and your ships are in orbit of the first, they will have to cross the radius of the mass shadow at sublight speeds.  Once they reach the edge, they can microjump if they have a trained and exceptional crew, to the second planet, coming out of hyperspace at the edge of the mass shadow of the second world and follow again at sublight speeds to get to the enemy.  You would be counting on the planet’s defensive stations, platforms or ground-to-orbit weapons and planetary shields (if any) to delay an attacking enemy as long as required for your reinforcing ships to arrive.”

“So,” Vek pointed to the mass shadow edges, “defending fleets, if there are more than one planet being defended in a system, should be positioned at a mass shadow’s edge.”

Thracken smiled, “An enemy fleet can arrive farther outside a mass shadow but that is an attacker’s prerogative and it is nearly impossible to guess a location.  However, the farthest in they can arrive is a mass shadow’s edge.”

“Unless they are Cree’Ar,” Vek determined in wonder.

“Now you see the problem your people are facing in defending this system with five planetary bodies to protect.  Standard doctrine puts fleet dispositions at edge of mass shadows giving them the best flexibility of movement but the Cree’Ar fleet can bypass those positions and arrive inside the mass shadow, closer to the planet and the defending fleet would have to turn around and chase them on sublights.  It would take time and the enemy would have a window to wreak havoc on planetary defensive installations or even infrastructural installations before a defensive fleet comes into range.”


“What if you split the difference and have half of a fleet in orbit and the other half at the mass shadow so that both areas are covered?” Vek asked.

“So you have the attacking fleet and a defending fleet.  Since we have five planets, to defend each one we have to divide our fleet into five parts.  And to defend both planetary areas, as you suggest, in orbit and at the edge of the mass shadow, you now have a big attacking fleet against ten much smaller fleets at each planet.  Now the enemy does not have to attack all five planets at once.  Seeing the defending positions they would probably attack as a whole using their overwhelming numbers to defeat each smaller fleet in detail before moving onto the planets.  With no defending fleet anymore, there is no longer a time constraint and the attacker could afford to take their time with each assault.”

“Hmm.. .This military thing is a lot harder than I imagined.” Vek confessed.

“Which is why I have to ask, Ambassador, knowing this, will the Azguard accept the Dominion’s offer or will they fight?  If you are doing to fight, I will ask for asylum but if they are going to accept the offer as the Dragons did, asylum would not do me any good here.”






Sellis glared at the massive creature before him.  “Why?” he whispered.  “Why this need to insert yourselves into what clearly does not concern, does not involve, does not even affect you?”

The Cree’Ar stared silently at Sellis for a while before replying, “WE are here.  We are Cree’Ar and we have no doubts.  We ARE here.  And in this galaxy, one cannot swing a Sullustian cat without striking the sensibilities of some offended cult.  We are HERE.  This is reality.  The time to question this reality, to weep over it, to denounce and deny it have passed.  There is only to accept and acquiesce or fight and die.”

Sellis eyes hardened but his devil-may-care attitude flared and his sharp teeth showed as he started the mantra, “There is no emotion, there is peace.  There is no…”

The Cree’Ar backhanded the White Knight and he flew against the opposing wall, sliding to the ground knocking Traya back in the process.

“Reality will eventually take root,” the alien observed.  “And the reality is:


There is no emotion, there is Dominion.

There is no ignorance, there is Dominion.

There is no passion, there is Dominion

There is no chaos, there is only Dominion.

There is no death, there is…only everlasting Dominion.”


Sellis’s eyes cracked open as Traya rose from the ground crying out as she stretched out her arm to the Cree’Ar in an attempt to crush its massive neck.


A vain attempt, as it turned out for the creature drew out what looked like an onyx, stone-like hexagonal pylon about thirty centimeters in length.  He held out the pylon towards Traya, his mental voice growling with a harshness:  “Sith..” it spat.


“Your peace is a lie, there is only your ineffectual passion.”

He pushed the pylon rather roughly toward Traya causing her to scream as it began to glow absorbing the power she was hurling at him…her power…

“Through your misguided passion, I gain strength.”

The glowing grew in intensity and her screams became feral, her body locking up as if of its own accord, lifting off the ground and beginning to shake.

“Through your waning strength, I have become power.”

Her voice trailed off as she lost consciousness.

“Through the final vestiges of your power, I gain victory.”

Her body began to shrivel and her eyes rolled up inside her head, the wail becoming a low moaning slur.

“Through my victory, you are broken.”

The low slur became a gurgle as flesh, blood, muscle and bone began to dissolve and the alien’s voice became a boom of finality.

“You are free of the Force.”

The Cree’Ar reached out with his other hand and grasped what was left of the suspended body and hurled the remaining husk at the wall above Sellis.  It shattered like so much kindling, brittle pieces rained down on the White Knight.  It happened so fast that his mind could hardly process the event.  But staring at the black, solid eyes of the Cree’Ar, Sellis felt an anger build up and his eyes burned with a hate at the casualness with which her life was snuffed out.


The Cree’ar bent his head down close to the Azguardian knight, his monotone voice barely a whisper.


“The Dominion is Eternal.”


The Cree’Ar left the room and the cell door closed.  He had never seen such galactic denizens who so ably lived in their own little worlds of manufactured lies.  It would take extreme measures for the realities of this new Age of Dominion to take root and sink in. 




Admiral Blakeley


“Lord Regrad,” acknowledged Admiral Blakeley as soon as his hologram appeared.


“Admiral,” responded the Azguardian leader.  “I apologize for imposing upon you but I fear we have a problem.  Can you sync your tactical display of the system to Guardian projection #217.”


Blakeley nodded to an Ensign who adjusted the terminal and the familiar solar system view changed, zooming in on the planetary bodies, each planet identified by name:  Krakken IV, Azguard, the Twins:  Binary planets Graks and Renzokain, Hurok , Hephastus and finally Arun, the gas giant.  Around each planet was a transparent blue sphere that extended well outside the high orbits of those worlds.  Outside the orbitals of each planet but within the blue sphere different icons began to populate and Blakely realized they were defensive positions of various vessels, bases and the defensive weapons platforms as well as the pseudo-galaxy guns.  The guns were highlighted.  There were the completed five battery placements but also another five which were listed as also battery placements but color-coded differently.  Citadel augmented the view with the latest tactical data that could be gathered.


“What am I looking at, Lord Regrad?” Blakeley asked.  "Or, rather, what should I be looking for?"


"Citadel and Guardian Programs have come to a variety of conclusions with regards to the timeline of their possible attack.  However, only the most recent conclusions reach over the 85% threshold needed as actionable.  The majority of other conclusons are merely derivitaves of these.  Citadel estimates a timeline for an attack is within one to three days.”


The Admiral nodded as he had seen the Guardian’s estimates as well.  "Based on giving the Azguard authorities a day to respond to their offer to join the Dominion."


Regrad nodded,  Yes, that was a factor.  But not the only one."  He gestured to the system hologram.  "As you can see, if you lay the system map flat, Krakken IV is roughly  North of the primary, Azguard is to the East, Hurok is to the South, the Twins and Hephastus is to the West and Arun is also South.  This positioning is important because we find ourselves with access to our worlds hampered by mass shadows in each other's way.  It limits access from units incoming from outside the system."


"Reinforcements," Blakeley concluded.  "The inner planets are blocked by the outer planets or theprimary.  For example, the Coalition is to the West of us and incoming forces from the West will not be able to jump immediately to Azguard."


"Well, if they stopped to adjust their trajectory, they might be able to-"


"Not if we lock up the system defensively.  In order for them to come in, Citadel would have to open gaps into our defensive line to allow a temporary hyperlane transit of ships through.  We would have to know where and when they would arrive to minimize our vulnerability time." Regrad pointed out.


Blakeley agreed, “Our people are already gaming several scenarios.”


Regrad’s teeth showed in an Azguardian equivalent of a grin, “Citadel estimates when the first of our reinforcements will arrive is after the three day mark.  If the Dominion waits any longer, they chance our defesive numbers growing,"  The Azguard leader paused, "But, I am not here to interfere with your command, Admiral.  However, what you and they may not have taken into consideration in our defensive positioning are these highlighted defense batteries I have noted on the display.”


“What do you mean?”


“The instructions to the engineers were to design a static high orbital defensive battery, along the lines of a galaxy gun but for capital warships.  They ended up making a smaller version of a galaxy gun complete with separate, physical projectiles.  I wanted them to be energy-based weapons like our planetary batteries.  I figured this would be obvious, but I was wrong.  When I found out about the mistake, the machinery was retooled, and the weapons redesigned to be an energy-based battery but the result is we now have defensive positions that are essentially two different types of batteries.”


The Admiral frowned, “I can see that is odd but is it really pertinent?”


“Admiral, the guns that fire projectiles rely on sending them physically towards a target at hyper-velocities.  If the enemy attacks within the next three days, the planets will be at their closest and there will be mass shadow fields interfering with the gun's vectors so…”


“So the projectile either will not be able to reach hypervelocity speeds or, if it does, it will quickly reach premature hyperspatial terminus when it encounters a mass shadow field rendering the platforms useless.” 


Regrad nodded his head, “Exactly, Admiral.  Guardian needs to account for this in its positioning.”


“Why wasn't it done before?” demanded Blakeley.


"Time, Admiral," admitted Regrad.  "Time is not on our side.  The five batteries of energy weapons are online but these you see that are designated differently?  These are actually more skeletal structures than fully fledged batteries.  They are basically a launching framework for the projectiles.  They cannot soak up enemy hits and they are so flimsily wired like a Prayer Tree on Life Day that any sort of harm would either overload or short the blasted thing!"


"And Guardian, Citadel, did not know?" the Admiral demanded.


The Azguardian adopted the human expression of a shrug.  “I submitted my original requests into the Guardian system, the only data missing being the number of platforms that could be constructed within the designated timeframe.  The engineers merely submitted the number of weapons produced and the discrepancy between munition-based weapons and energy-based weapons fell, as you say, between the cracks.”


The Admiral grunted, “Better we found out now than later.”


“I agree, Admiral.  This flaw will not be present if the enemy decides to attack later.”


“So is it just the time given for the Azguard decision to join the Dominion and the estimate of when our reinforcements will arrive that point to the attack coming in a day or three?” Blakeley asked pointedly.


“Citadel,” the Azguard called out, "can  you show the Admiral what you have postulated regarding the enemy ranges?"


CITADEL:  Enemy uses non-standard hyperspatial transits which project gravitational anomalies that our sensor net has been reconfigured to scan for. 

A number of dots started to populate the map, as the AI program removed the defensive platform and ship positions.


CITADEL:  An audit of the anomaly positions detected reveal that none fall within the spherical perimeter of Arun which would indicate that they are of enemy origin.  However, the static display shown now is not realtime and only reveals where such anomalies were detected.  However, the majority of the anomalies appear and disappear when put through a time-code filter.  Further auditing through the time-code filter revealed a promising lead.


Several sections of the anomaly positions were highlighted and expanded upon.  There was no real data of what was represented by the anomalies or, if they were distributing enemy warships, how many?


What was interesting, was that after the AI removed whta it considered erroneous anomaly positions, a pattern emerged.  With the time-code overlay, Citadel's sensor net had captured several anomalies appearing and disappearing at the same time.


Blakeley narrowed his eyes, "Citadel is connecting these anomalies since they seem to appear in sync."


Regrad's teeth widened, "A begining of a wormhole and and end."


"Indeed!"  The sensor net could only catch the activities near the solar orbit of Arun with the detection range dropping off exponentially the farther out from Arun the scans went. 


CITADEL:  Scanning networks have not been able to get reliable information on anomaly positions coming towards Arun from Asteriod Belt or going back out to the Belt from Arun.  The scans remain unreliable.  However, anomalies closer to Arun's orbit that circumnavigate the system have been detected and, if the synced anomalies do represent the start and end of a wormhole transit, we are able to extrapolate a range for these wormholes.  It is by no means extensive nor intent to level a min/max specification regarding the technical characteristics of this enemy technology, but it does give us a foundation to build upon.  By collating all incoming data, we can be reasonaby sure that at least five planets are currently within range of this type of transit.  After three days, the number of planets in estimated range drops to four.  While we cannot be sure if any world besides Azguard will be attacked, it is Azguard that will fall out of range if the origin point is Arun.


"So whle they are staying on their side of the line they are getting closer."


CITADEL:  Correct.  Hoewver, we can only detect the anomalies themselves, and only those of a certain size.  We expect those that are appearing and disappearing are transits of smaller vessels and those anomalies that remain fixed, are doing so to hide a greater number of ships.  The gravity shifts prevent us from getting an accurate reading on the ships, their type or numbers.


"We do not know if they outnumber us or if their numbers are inferior ," The Admiral grumbled. "Still, knowing the numbers would probably not make much of a difference at this point." 


“Militarily, probably not.  But I was curious about the parameters Guardian uses to justify its proposals for defensive placements.” Regrad asked.


“I imagine its proposals are based on the most optimal factors that lead to a win,” Blakeley answered.  “I am no programmer but I would think that is the overall goal.”


“I would tend to agree Admiral but what is a win in Guardian’s mind?”


Before Blakeley could respond, Regrad continued, “Let’s say we end up destroying all the enemy ships and they end up destroying our entire defensive network, ships, bases, platforms, etc..  What if, in the process, they destroy all orbital infrastructure, bases, platforms, shipyards both civilian and military?  The planets themselves remain free but we lose everything else, would Guardian still consider that a win?”


The Admiral thought for a moment.  “Well, since Vahaba and the debacle with the Avenger Protocols, Guardian was programmed to put a higher value on life. So its decisions and proposals are based on ensuring the largest number of survivors as possible.  As long as the people are alive, who cares about anything else?”


Regrad nodded.  “I expected as much so I would like to propose that should the enemy not attack within a day, we take measures to save the civilian orbitals and perhaps the military yards as well.”


“What exactly are you proposing?”


“All of the orbitals have maneuvering thrusters.  We move them out of planetary orbits and propel them ballistically into solar orbit.”


“Solar orbit?”


 “Not too close that the orbitals would be in danger.  Just a far orbit.  The space in the zone beyond the primary up to the biozone is free of stellar debris since the greater gravity pull of the star pretty much keeps the area clear.  Also, the primary's output is much stronger than typical so the solar radiation may help to interfere with sensors and maybe even their wormholes.”


“It is strange,” Blakeley observed, “that other systems have planets closer to their star, just one or two in the habitable zone and a few more beyond.  The Azguardian system is the only one I know where there are no planets near the sun, six within the habitable zone and only one gas giant beyond.  There is alot of space to take advantage of but what do you base your inference on the efficacy of the solar radiation and its effects on the enemy?”


"I do not have verifiable data but if it causes us grief with our systems, it stands to reason it may do the same to the enemy.  Their technology is different, impressive even but there are also similarities between us with regards to concepts in stellar travel."


Blakeley nodded, "You have a point but Citadel warns against basing any action on unreliable information."


“This is my home, Admiral.  It has been over a thousand years since our worlds were invaded and some of the orbitals are over five hundred years old.  Saving them saves our heritage but saving them also will, in a practical sense, save our technology base and economy.  And that is worth some effort. “


The Admiral nodded, “I agree.  We will also need to send a few ships to defend the group because if the enemy slips a cruiser or, gods forbid, a battleship behind our lines, they will have a field day with those orbitals.”


Regrad smiled, relieved.  “Thank you, Admiral.”


The hologram flickered out and Blakeley stared at the console for a while, thinking.  "Citadel, why are you projecting Arun as an origin point of an attack?"


CITADEL:  The anomalies detected around Arun's solar orbit are small in nature and the vessels that have been spotted seem to be fighters in nature and do not represent enough of a force to invest in a planetary attack.  The larger anomalies seem to be situated beyond Arun.


The Admiral grunted, "Well, if we see the anomalies come closer, we know where they are headed.


CITADEL:  Unless their anomalies can be masked.


"Now there's a thought," Blakeley murmured as he moved away from the Comm Station.


Just what are you bastards up too?





The Siege of Coruscant

Year of Cataclysm


Regent Zell pounded the table in front of him giving a shout of joy as the holographic display showed him the conflict on the other side of the planet that was taking place.  A Dominion warship had just split apart helped along by the gentle persuasion of a couple of planetary batteries.  A section of the planetary shield had been lowered allowing the enemy to fire openly onto the surface as well as land troops but conversely also allowing the defensive batteries on the surface to reach out and touch the enemy. 

Since the enemy utilized wormholes to connect waiting troops aboard their ships directly to the planet’s surface, there was no influx of landing craft littering the overhead airspace that would split the attention of the defenses and so they were able to target those capital ships that came into range.

Still, Invisec was taking a pounding.


“It is confirmed, my Regent.  They have landed troops within the Protection Zone,” an aide replied, holding a comm device to his ear and receiving the latest report from the front.

Zell frowned as he expanded and contracted the holographic representation of the sector.  “I am loath to send our boys into that maelstrom at this point.  Perhaps the Civil Defense can step up?”

The aide barked out, “They will do it or die, my Regent!”

Zell chuckled to himself, “No.. No. No need for that!  It is the Civil Defense Corps after all.  If we did that, no one would volunteer.”

The aide looked suitably abashed but helpless, “I am at a loss, Lord, of where we can get more personnel.”

Zell turned and walked over to a lounge chair he had had brought in since he seemed to spend most nights in the palace rather than his residence.  He sat down, tapping a finger against his chin, “Did I ever tell you the story about General Chau Ming and the Race to Freedom?”

“No, Sire.”

“Well, you see, Ming had arrived with his fleet at Correl-7 which was the home of a particular vicious breed of fowl called the Qualicliks.  After a day of orbital bombardments, the blasted birds would still just not surrender.  It was the damnedest thing.  He vaporized an entire continent and I have to say, the land smelled like a holiday roast but the bloody Qualicliks would still not surrender.  It turned out that the beasties were just not wired to simply give up even when faced with overwhelming firepower.  The birdies needed to feel that their capitulation was the result of their failure.  Not our superiority.  With Ming blasting them from orbit, the birds could not even get on the gameboard.  They were not a space-faring species, after all.  So eventually the General came down with all the pomp and ceremony he could imagine, spit-polished troops and TIE-fighter flyovers, with music and dancers, feathers and flowers!  He pointed to one of the birds and asked him to run a two kilometer path.  The beastie puffed up at being singled out and took off at a run with Ming timing the run with a large overhead, holographic, digital clock.  All the Quilicliks in attendance saw the runtime as that little birdie finally came back and Ming put forth a simply proposal:  They would pick two of their number to run the exact two kilometer path and if either could be the first Quiliclik’s runtime, he would leave and they would have their freedom.  The birds were ecstatic and what followed was a week of celebration and birds from all over came to compete with each other to be one of the runners.  The competition was not just of running but the birds actually fought with each other and I am not talking about fucking boxing but bloodsport.  Like I said, these beasties were hardcore vicious and many competitors died.  Well, the day finally came when the two chosen would run the Race to Freedom.  Again, there were feasts, dancing and singing and Ming even invited their Grand Poomba to sit with him to welcome the runners back.  He fitted a collar on each runner to record their runtime and off the little bastards went.  After a whole day of eating, drinking and waiting, the runners still had not shown up.  The time had expired hours ago but Ming feigned concern along with the birds and ordered a hundred of them to go run the route to find out what happened to the runners and, again, of the little buggers went.  When they came back, they reported they had found no trace of the runners and eventually their families, hell, their lineage was shamed and put to death.  Their abandoning of the Race to Freedom cast a dishonorable shadow over the entire race.  Chau, in a great display of magnanimity forgave their dishonor and instead of calling for their outright surrender, asked if they would simply agree to swear fealty to him giving him respect as their honored patron.  They readily agreed and another week of celebration commenced.  I think to this day the General is still worshipped by the birds.”


“So what happened to the runners?” the aide asked.

Zell sat up and grinned, “Well, when the little bastards were far enough away from the crowds, Chau sent a signal to the collars activating a plasma charge which vaporized the little beasts in their tracks.  No one could find any trace of them because there was no trace.”

“So you want to..?”

“Take a page from Chau Ming.  Tomorrow, we go to the courts!”




The courts were an eye opener as Zell and his aide drifted from room to room interested in what the masses found to do with their time.  In one instance, a woman tried to take a man to court because he identified as a woman, was able to apply and compete in women’s sporting events and come out victorious.  The woman was a fellow competitor and just could not beat the stronger he-who-was-now-a-she.  The man was hailed a “Woman of the Year” on several digital publications and was the hero to many of those who are left leaning.  The woman, being vilified for objecting to being beaten by a he/she, left in a huff.  She eventually reemerged identifying as mentally disabled person and joined the special Olympics and ended up victorious in every contest she competed in.  She was hailed as ‘Disabled Person of the Year”.  Unfortunately, those left leaners did not like what she had done and again vilified her.  She sued them for harassing a mentally disabled person and they were arrested.


Good for her!  You might as well play the game to your advantage if everyone else is going to be a dumbass!  Let’s hear it for the retards!


He turned to the Advocate. “So what is the verdict with those harassers of the mentally disabled?”

The Advocate smiled, “They are in prison.  Their appeals are put on hold indefinitely and people are not in a forgiving mood, especially with tensions running high with the invasion and all.”

“How many people like that do we have in the courts and prison system?”

“Convicted of social crimes?”

Zell frowned, “Of being dumbasses!”

The Advocate laughed, “Oh, too many to count.  People are in a litigious mood with everything going on.”

“Let’s put them to work earning a pardon,” Zell stated.

“What do you have in mind?” the Advocate asked.

“With the invasion going on, let’s invoke some Emergency Powers Act over the Imperial Judicial Process and allow prisoners to earn a pardon.  Let’s include murderers, rapists, thieves…anyone who is not impaired.  Even these dumbasses!  We stick a blaster in their hands and give them a section of Invisec to defend.”

“And if they run away?” the Advocate asked dryly.

The aide perked up, “I know!  We put a collar on them!”

Zell patted the youngster on the shoulder, “That’s the spirit.  We give them a section to defend and tell them not to retreat from that area or their head will be blown off their shoulders!  If they hold, they get a pardon!”

The Advocate nodded, “Elegant.”

Zell rubbed his hands together, “If only all problems could be solved so easily.”




The Military Command Officers surrounding Regent Zell cheered as the remaining prisoners-turned-soldiers blasted down the last of the invading troops.  It was a long, bloody affair but in the end, the desperation of the former prisoners with exploding collars had given them that extra impetus to claw their way to victory.  Just as those of the Military Command were celebrating, so too were the fighters, riding high on surviving the battle and secure in the knowledge that they had earned their pardon for whatever crimes they had been incarcerated for.

 The defending fighters were still dancing and juking too and fro when an explosion enveloped them, the entire ground they were celebrating upon crumbling beneath them, falling several levels lower.  The projection cleared as the smoke and debris scattered away with the urban winds.  The bodies of the defending fighters twitched an moaned as their minds started to recognize the fact that they had been grievously injured. 

“What the fuc..” Zell started but from out of the darkened halls that led out into the damage came the armored soldiers of the Dominion projecting a battle-cry that left no doubt as to the coming fate of the injured.

It was a slaughter.

“Send the signal,” Zell snapped and several of the collars that were not damaged in the collapse exploded casting some of the enemy about like rag dolls.  It was not nearly enough.

“Their people topside were the fucking decoys!  They sold their lives so the enemy could reposition and flood the lower levels!  Fuck!”


They had a beachhead!




Enroute to Azguardian System

Confederation Sixth Fleet, Command Cruiser Revenant


“Five minutes and we enter the Azguard Sector, Admiral,” the vessel’s Commander informed his superior his eyes leaving the console where the warning indicator was chiming. 

Corise Lucerne watched the tactical display of his fleet’s disposition.  It was not a real-time representation since the tactical display was inoperable in hyperspace, but, rather, showed the fleet prior to making the jump.  Hopefully, theoretically they should still be in formation when they came out of hyperspace but not everything went according to plans.  Engines lost efficiency, parts broke down, wore out, became “gummed up”, maintenance fell behind… any number of things could happen in transit that would cause a ship to fall out of formation or exit and leave the group entirely.  He was pushing them relentlessly because he did not want to arrive and find an Azguard burned to cinders and the flag of the Dominion flying overhead.


But what more could he do?


They had used the transit time to run “red alert” drills, damage control drills, zero gravity drills…basically anything and everything he could think of to make his people fluid, sharp, efficient and fearless.  If his crew knew what to expect, trained for what to expect, then they would feel the apprehension of that expectation ebb.  He must have studied the tactical display a hundred times and he still was not satisfied.  It was not his people, he knew.  It was the black hole of nothingness stretched out before him.  He did not know what they were walking into but, to be fair, he had not announced to the Coalition that he was coming.  It was possible others did in his stead but it was immaterial.  They would arrive when they arrived, and he would assess the situation then.

“Battle Stations,” Corise ordered and everyone slipped into the familiar rhythm of a vessel readying for battle.

Energy weapon capacitors were being charged, missiles loaded and torpedoes primed as the work temp increased. 


“Battle stations throughout the fleet acknowledged.”


Corise turned to the ship’s master, “Commander, when we exit, I want—”


The Revenant shuddered slightly as alarms began to blare throughout the vessel.  “Premature hyperspatial terminus!”

“What the hell?” the Commander growled out, holding onto a nearby station console.  “We need –”

“Shields!” shouted Admiral Lucerne followed by, “Evasive scatter!”

The ship pitched to port, the sublight engines struggling to break the ship from its inertia and overcome the momentum only to buck and buck hard.

“Enemy ships, Z plus 90 degrees!  They are on top--!” the sensor operator had too many words to say and not enough time to say them in as the Confederation Fleet was suddenly bombarded from above.  The tactical computer was still in the process of updating when hundreds of torpedoes rained down upon them.

“Decks two through five show damage! Loss of atmosphere on Deck Four!  We have five crewmembers unaccounted for!”

“Assign medical and damage control teams to the area,” the Commander barked out as Corise focused on the status of the fleet.  They had divided their formation down the middle, some going left and some going right in an attempt to extricate themselves from the onslaught.

“Shields holding, down twenty percent!”

“Carriers to emergency launch their fighters.  They need to give us some breathing room!”

The tactical display solidified, and the Commander silently cursed.  Corise did not blame him for above their formation looking straight down at them was a whole mess of capital ships.


And we were pulled right under them!


Interdictors.  A husband coming home to find his wife in the arms of the local garbage man could not evince more of a ruder awakening than a damned Interdictor!


They trapped us just outside the Azguard System!   


In that empty sea of interstellar space.   


There were two of them and they were too far away to be in weapons range and if he corralled the fleet to deal with the fleet above them, he would have to send his fastest fighters to try to chase them away.


He cast a sorrowful at the flickering tactical knowing his obsession with the formation of the fleet was now blown to hell. 


The display flickered again and then shut off.


“Sensor nodes are overloading!”


Anger surged through the Kashan as he had had enough.  He took a final look in the direction of Azguard as if he could pick out that system’s star. 


Hold on friends.  Comrades.  We are going to be a little late.


He shook his head, “Enough of this!  Turn us into the enemy fleet!  Emergency power to the shields!”


With the sublight engines burning brightly, the Revenant completed a wide loop, picking up Confederation warships at the flanks and swinging back up to face a starfield full of the enemy.


“Give me full speed, 110% on the reactor!  Take us down their throats!”


The limbs of the helmsman flew back and forth as the Revenant dipped and dodged turbolaser beams and proximity detonations from the myriads of missiles and torpedoes hurled at them. 


The Navigation Ensign gasped as she looked up to find computer icons from her mini-terminal replaced by the menacing vision of enemy starships intent on their utter destruction.


“They.. They’re Imperial!” she commented in surprise.


“They will be wreckage soon enough,” growled the Commander.  He had somehow gotten a cut above his right eye but his demeanor shouted he was too busy to bleed.


“Ready all batteries!”


“Classification coming in… They are Torpedo Spheres!”





Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Dec 26 2023 5:59am

Enroute to Azguardian System


The Cooperative Fleet, Lucrehulk-class Battleship Guardian


Interdictor ambush by Imperial Torpedo Spheres while approaching the Azguard System was a scenario that any reasonable person reviewing Guardian's threat assessment tables might call an “imperceptibly remote possibility”. But however reasonable it may have been, Guardian wasn't a person.


Reality had forced itself upon the joint Cooperative/Confederation force, and so Guardian was forced to react.


The Confederation fleet had taken the brunt of the initial salvo, the Cooperative forces coming out of hyperspace with the Confederates largely between themselves and the Imperials. Cooperative forces were fanning out perpendicular to the Imperials, following standard evasive protocols for forced reversion during a high alert status.


Fast Attack wings break off and vector for the interdictors,” was Admiral Neychev's first order, issued as soon as the sources of the interdiction field were identified. His voice was firm and even, eyes boring into the tactical display as it began to propagate with more precise information.


Guardian knew what was eating away these precious handful of seconds, the dilemma in the admiral's mind that had to be resolved before any other orders could be issued. It also knew that intervening in the admiral's deliberations would only further delay the inevitable.


Guardian, detach primary point defenses fleet wide, and redeploy them to safeguard Confederation forces. Fleet element Steelguard will break for the Azguard System.” He allowed himself a deep breath and another full second of silence, surveying the expectant looks from his bridge crew with a grim determination of his own. “The remainder of the fleet will match the Confederate maneuver and close with the enemy. Fleet elements will form up as able and engage at best possible speed.” He took another quick glance at the incoming information. “Let's kill some Imperials.”


Complying,” was Guardian's only response. Confirmation of orders received and enacted flooded in as other ships and fleet elements moved to comply.


The Cooperative was best positioned to burn hard for the edge of the interdiction field and press on to Azguard. Without knowing the status of the system and having stumbled into this ambush, that might be the only hope that Azguard had. But the Confederate Fleet was only there because the Cooperative had convinced them that they were a common people fighting a common foe. To break from them now without consultation would all but complete the Dominion's work for them: the final sundering of the alliance between the Cooperative and the Confederation. And that couldn't be allowed.


Even if the cost was Azguard, it might be a price worth paying.


So the Guardian Fleet of the Galactic Cooperative of Free States split, and maneuvered, and redeployed.


The Cooperative didn't have the martial experience of the major players in the galaxy. Its navy was a hodgepodge of refit older ships, inherited Onyxian vessels, standard Coalition designs, military-grade hardware contracted from major domestic shipbuilding corporations, and a small but growing complement of cutting-edge warships designed and produced exclusively for Cooperative use. The Guardian Program was devised in part to compensate for the Cooperative's lack of experience. Another significant intention of the program, however, was to provide a robust and flexible framework on which to assemble this grotesquely nonstandard military.


The Guardian Fleet was subdivided into several pre-established fleet elements, organized by a combination of vessel type, combat role, and crew compatibility. When combined with standardized procedures and the broader Guardian Program's organizational philosophy, the system provided a degree of responsiveness and coordination that otherwise wouldn't be possible for its forces.


The fleet's two Fast Attack wings, composed of Longsword Frigates, Claymore Battleships, Birds of Prey, and Cicero Enforcer Corvettes were some of the fastest capital ships in the galaxy. Even from the Cooperative's rear position, they had more than enough speed to overtake the Confederates and be first to engage the interdictors. Their pulse shielding and high maneuverability also gave them the best chance of surviving beyond the fleet's main defensive line. And if they could take out those interdictors, it would open up some options for the joint Cooperative/Confederation forces.


Detaching the fleet's dedicated point defense ships was wildly out of the ordinary, but not beyond Guardian's capabilities. The lighter frigates and escorts were significantly faster than the Cooperative's heavy capital ships, and the forward position of the Confederate fleet meant they would be leading the charge all the way in. Any help the Cooperative could give to blunt those barrages from the torpedo spheres was worth the risk to the better-protected Cooperative formation.


Fleet element Steelguard was a mix of refit automated Separatist warships and irregular manned vessels dating back to the formation of the Cooperative. The lead ship Steelguard was an Assault Frigate Mark II, backed up by a Star-Destroyer-sized Guardian-class Hive Ship. They weren't going to tip the balance of a major fleet engagement, but they should be more than a match for any hostile scout groups they might encounter. Admirals Neychev and Lucerne both needed intel on the status of Azguard, and on the off-chance that there was a secondary interdictor line, Steelguard might have enough firepower to punch right through it and clear the way.


As the Guardian Fleet transitioned from its evasive fan into an all-out assault, other fleet elements grouped up into their smaller formations, each repositioning in the short time it had to maximize its own impact on the fleet-wide attack.



This interdictor trap had spoiled the secrecy of the Cooperative/Confederation deployment to Azguard, but it also confirmed that they were right to come. Azguard was in tremendous danger. Until these interdictors went down, the officers, crews, and fleet-spanning droid consciousnesses of the joint Cooperative/Confederation fleet could only guess at how long it had left.




* * *




Admiral Blakeley


“Haven't we been through this already?”


The holographic image floated, immobile, in front of the Supreme Commander of Coalition Forces: a giant C, wrapped around a medium-sized O, encircling a smaller G. The Citadel/Oracle Guardian. COG. It was exactly the sort of thing that Admiral Blakeley expected an Azguard to find funny.


“I wouldn't implement High Lord Regrad's plan without your approval, Admiral,” Citadel said. “Now that you've stolen the Azguard fleet, you're the only person in the system who could move to protect these space stations if we move them away from the planets.”


Blakeley waved the emblem away and returned the holoimager to a representation of the Azguard System. “Any move we make at Hurok is likely to be discovered.”


“I agree. Its orbital facilities are mostly military in nature. Even if the Dominion doesn't have clear sight of its orbital activity from Arun, their envoy is likely to notice any major changes when they inevitably depart.”


Blakeley nodded, zooming in on Hurok.“The shipyards and transit hubs are still shut down, holding position in the lowest possible orbits.”


“They are positioned to be within the defense radius of the planetary shield, should it be reactivated. The Dominion may be able to circumvent the planetary shield, but if we move our orbital defense installations into low orbit as well, we can force the Dominion to choose between bombarding the shield, unmolested, from above; or engaging in close combat with the awaiting defenses of the planet.”


“Unless they attack somewhere else,” Blakeley said. “Then all of those Defense Grid elements are completely out of position.”


“We are at a marked disadvantage,” Citadel admitted. “The bulk of our martial power is found in static and low-mobility defensive installations. We cannot strike at the Dominion, even if we wanted to. Wherever they attack, we will have to hold, for far longer than we would like. We will have to buy time to maneuver the remainder of the Integrated Defense Grid, perhaps through multiple hyperspace jumps around gravitational obstacles, into positions of effect. We must make the most immediately destructive options for the Dominion as unpalatable to them as possible, and we must extend the duration of that unpalatablity for as long as possible.”


“That's . . . gruesome,” Blakeley said.


“The alternative is surrender, and the Azguard will not surrender.”


Blakeley hated that Citadel knew he needed to hear that. “I've been thinking a lot about Krakken recently.” Krakken IV was farthest out from the Dominion fleet. According to Citadel, it was likely out of range of the Dominion wormholes. If Citadel was right, it had no use for its own orbital defenses.


“Are you prepared to do what is necessary in the defense of Azguard?” Citadel asked. “Are you prepared to accept what that means to an Azguard?”


There was a long moment in which Blakeley didn't answer.


“Admiral, what is the Coalition? What are you 'Supreme Commander' of? What is Pro Moon trying to be 'Prime Minister' of? What is the House of Representatives, which meets on the imagined homeworld of my imagined existence . . . what is it for?”


The silence stretched on and on and on . . . Blakeley looked around, but there was no one else present. This wasn't the CIC; he'd withdrawn to his cabin to try to get some sleep while there was still an opportunity. This fucking robot wanted him – it needed him – to admit something. There was no point in fighting this fight, unless he was willing to fight it on behalf of the Azguard. To fight it like an Azguard. “Evacuate the orbits of Azguard and Krakken IV, in accordance with High Lord Regrad's request. Assign them the maximum of your suggested escort.”


“What of Hephastus and Hurok?”


Blakeley shook his head. “Fortress protocol for Hurok. Pull all orbital assets into the defense radius of the shield. Hephastus has limited orbital infrastructure, and a maneuver sunward might draw the Furen's attention. We leave Hephastus as-is.”




“Prepare all other assets of the Integrated Defense Grid for Operation Meteor Shower.”


“Yes, Admiral.” It was fake, that gentle affirming inflection in Citadel's voice, but it was also real. It really did mean that Citadel approved – in whatever way it could – with Blakeley's order.


Blakeley clicked his commlink and brought it up to his mouth. “Vice Admiral Atom, we are executing Operation Meteor Shower. Make all necessary vessels of the Coalition First Fleet available for interference operations.”


“Understood, Sir,” came the short reply.


Operation Meteor Shower was an absolutely bat-shit crazy idea that Citadel had cooked up sometime between when the Dominion fleet was first detected in the system, and Citadel estimated the range of their wormholes.


The Integrated Defense Grid relies on precision hyperspace maneuvers between planets inside of a single solar system. The weakness of this scheme is that the vast majority of objects in a solar system with enough mass to produce a meaningful gravity well lie in or near a single plane. At any time, any number of planets may be obscured by the gravity well of other objects. Normally, a planet's Shield of Faith would provide it ample protection while other elements of the Integrated Defense Grid maneuvered around obstructions, giving Citadel time to coordinate the simultaneous arrival of multiple Defense Grid elements coming from different origins.


The Dominion appeared to be able to circumvent planetary defense shields, though. So Citadel needed to be able to deploy the Defense Grid faster than maneuvering inside the plane allowed. The solution: redeploy the elements of the Integrated Defense Grid above and below the plane of the solar system, pre-compute hyperspace jump coordinates for every planet in the Azguard Union for every element of the Defense Grid, and then shower down like meteors onto the Dominion wherever they emerged. Light, raining out of the darkness between the stars.


There was a chance that the Dominion might spot so many hyperspace reversions near the Azguard System, so the Fleet was going to provide them cover. Operation Fly Swatter was another discarded Citadel plan. It involved the rapid deployment of as many ships as possible randomly throughout the solar system and nearby space. A ship would revert to realspace, execute a wide-band sensor sweep of the environs, and then jump to another location in or near the system. By random chance, the fleet operating at scale would likely encounter hostile, unidentified vessels, assuming there were such vessels operating beyond the effective sensor range of the Azguard's orbital and planetary sensor arrays. Once found, ships could be tracked and followed at a safe distance. Blakeley had decided the risk wasn't worth the reward, but now the reward was something entirely different.


The heavy warships of the fleet would remain in position in high orbit of Azguard. Its fast attack vessels, scout ships, and about half of its fighter compliment would be committed to fly swatting. Hopefully, so much activity over such a wide area would conceal the redeployment of the Integrated Defense Grid. This mad scheme relied on one crucial assumption being true. They needed the Dominion's sensors to be as limited as their own, so they could watch Hurok as it prepared for siege, but not see the other worlds discarding their own defenses.


It was a desperate gambit, certainly. It might also be their only hope.




* * *




The Meeting


If you are doing to fight, I will ask for asylum but if they are going to accept the offer as the Dragons did, asylum would not do me any good here.”


Bei smiled, but it wasn't a sincere smile. “You've just described to me – in some detail – what a precarious position the Azguard find themselves in. It would seem, in your opinion, that the Dominion has the upper hand. Are you sure that you want to seek asylum among the people you expect to lose the coming fight?”


Her commlink had started beeping before she'd finished the last sentence. “The Minder's coming back. There's . . . ah, some kind of a problem.”


“On my way,” Beiwi K'Vek snapped into action, power walking back toward the conference room, motioning for Thracken to follow.


She arrived to find the room empty, but there was a commotion further down the hallway. As she approached, she saw the White Knight Radagast squaring off with another Azguard, their argument blocking the way from the Minder who stood just beyond them. Just before she got to them she saw Radagast's shoulders slump and he turned away, head bowed slightly.


“Radagast, what is this?”


“Forgive me, Ma'am,” was all he said as she shuffled past, making some sort of ritual gesture over his chest as he left.


The stranger was squaring off with the Minder now. “Excuse me,” Beiwi insisted, rushing forward.


“Invader,” the stranger said, holding up an arm to bar the Minder's way. The voice boomed with an otherworldly eeriness, and Bei realized that the man was wearing clerical robes, Azguardian religious garb. She stepped around the man, looking up to get his attention.


His eyes shone with pure white light. “I speak now with the voice of Yunos, Lord of Light and Life, First among the Gods of Azguard. Our children will not kneel to your dominion. Their brothers and sisters on these worlds will be held in our paternal embrace, and sheltered from the ruin of their enemies, from now until the ending of the Light.


“This. Is. Truth.”


The light in his eyes winked out, he stumbled back a pace, and the holy man stared into the middle distance, at least as shocked as Bei. She looked back to see Thracken Sal-Solo just behind her. “Well,” she managed weakly. “At least we know the Azguard's answer.”

Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: Jan 2 2024 6:16am



Sellis lay on the floor, his mind swirling in misery and a sadness.  These Cree’Ar were not like any enemy he had ever faced before.  Rather than remain content to stay behind the borders of their space, they stretched out inserting themselves onto the galactic stage with an almost maddening confidence in their ability to overcome whomever they set themselves against.  He wondered if striking the Imperial stronghold had given them a false sense of accomplishment?  So much so that they now set their sights to the former stronghold of the Galactic Coalition?  He heard the door to his cell open but he felt to tired to open his eyes and glance at the intruder.

“White Knight, you are free to go,” came a soft voice.  Human. 

The Azguard lifted his head, his mind not comprehending the words.  “Y..You are letting me go?”

“You are not a force user.  The Dominion has no issue with you.  You, therefore, are free to go.”  The human looked to be in his sixties, kneeling down to gently raise the White Knight up.

Anger surged through Sellis’ eyes as he gestured to the remains of Traya, “Then why?!  What was the point!?”

The older man’s eyes clouded as they looked in Traya’s direction.  “She was a Sith,” he remarked as if that answered all.  And perhaps it did.

“You will eventually answer for your contempt of life,” Sellis murmured.

The older man smiled.  “And here you are defending a Sith.  At any other time, in any other circumstance, you would be at each other’s throats working to destroy each other’s way of life but here, now?  Facing something far greater than yourselves, namely the Dominion… Here you are defending each other.  Isn’t that amazing?  How your ideologies suddenly fall away when faced with something unequivocal, uncompromising and dare I say, brutal!  What is the point of your conviction if it is not a real conviction?”



Sixth Fleet Ambush


Torpedo Spheres was a misnomer.  The Attack Sphere was one of the earliest space superiority craft designed during the Empire’s earliest reorganization efforts after the Civil War and one of the designs predating even the Wrath Virus.  As such, it was an old class of vessels and part of the Empire’s massive reserve fleet that rarely saw active service anymore.  Even so, as a warship designed by the 2nd Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Daemon Hyfe, it was a rather solid vessel, boasting fifty heavy turbolasers, fifty heavy ion cannons and forty warhead launchers (where the nickname “Torpedo Sphere” was derived).  So, when you had six of them lying in wait that suddenly opened fire on an unsuspecting fleet, one might think that, with only six ships, the damage they could do would be minimal.  But that one would be ignoring terms such as “space superiority” and “force multiplier” which were integral parts of designs created by a then-Admiral Daemon Hyfe.  The numbers that would concern an unsuspecting fleet would be 300 heavy turbolaser shots, 300 heavy ion cannon batteries and 240 torpedoes begin hurled at them at a time!  With each discharge, the amount of destructive power exponentially growing leaving an enemy few choices.  Either take the damage in favor of running a gauntlet or evade and charge though the closer one came to these craft, the less likely they were to miss.

And that was the deception of there only being six ships. 

Six ships allowed a decisive commander like Corise Lucerne to issue a snap command reacting to the implementation of the trap unfolding around them without realizing just what kind of trap it was.  Six ships overhead, firing down at them as they were pulled from hyperspatial transit?  Charge!

And then the heavy weapons fire intervened and Admiral Lucerne had a vision that this would take a little longer than he first thought.  The sister-Seraph cruiser next to the Revenant split in half, both pieces flying wildly away in different directions as the heavy weaponry of the enemy found targets.  The more maneuverable of his fleet evading and darting upward to face the Imperial Spheres while the heavier ships of his fleet slowed directly under and behind is ships in an effort to cover the more vulnerable of his fleet as well as the Coalition ships.  The faster Coalition ships darting forward in an effort to catch the two Interdictors that were moving steadily away.  It was as if the Imperials were forcing the allied Coalition/Confederation fleet to stretch like a material where, in a galaxy far, far away and far off into the future, would come to be called “Taffy”.  Of course, the closest thing in this galaxy in the here and now was a substance derived from Ewok Jelly Root they called, “Yub Yub Jub” which does not quite roll off the tongue. 

The heavier vessels of Corise’s fleet, the Pegesus Mark II’s and a Revanche Star Defender’s turrets began to elevate to target the the Attack Spheres above even as the concentrated fire of the six vessels rained down on top of them, their shields taking a pounding attempting to soak up the raw destructive power being hurled down at them.

And yet something still nagged at the Contegorian Admiral and it all had to do with the timing of the ambush.  They were still 20-30 minutes away from the Azguardian System at lightspeed which was too far away for the enemy to support their ambush.  Why didn’t they simply wait to ambush them right at the system’s edge where any ambush could be supported by forces already set up within the system?  The enemy might have been able to defeat the Coalition/Confederation Fleet in detail rather than simply .. delay it.  As it was, even with six space superiority ships, there was no hope of defeating the incoming allied reinforcements.  At best, they could only delay them before being destroyed themselves.  And a delay that did what?  Ultimately?  Even counting the amount of damage and destroyed vessels the Imperials inflicted upon the allied ships, the Imperials would still be defeated and the allies would move on to arrive to support their friends.  It was almost as if the Imperial ships were being sacrificed..


But why?  Or, rather, to what end?


And as the Allied ships began to zero in on their attackers and their defending fire became more coordinated, the battlespace began to reshape.  As the Interdictors moved farther away, the Attack Spheres remaining in their ambush configuration unmoving and the Allied fleet being stretched along their arriving vector more icons began to populate the tactical interface in that space between the advancing Coalition ships chasing the Interdictors and the area directly under the Attack Spheres where the massive battleships gathered to take the pounding all the while protecting the rest of the fleet that continued on after the Coalition swift-runners chasing the Interdictors.  Not as fast as the advance craft but not as slow at the battleships protecting them from overhead against the hundreds of heavy penetrating fire.  And yet,with the tail-end not moving and the forward position moving farther away, the fleet was being stretched and as those new icons began to take shape, the Allied Fleet leaders realized what they were.   The fighter compliments of all the Attack Spheres.  Over three thousand TIE Devils swarming around the sparsely populated stretch of space that the allied fleet was strung out within.

The Confederation Admiral could not fault their tactics even if he still could find no justifiable reason for the strategy.  But only the Imperials went to war thinking their enemies were fools. 



Azguard System – Swatting Flies


The plinth flared as the system battle-space suddenly took on a life of its own.  Artanis waved a hand over the controls as information began to unfold before him.

“The enemy acts,” a Second, Vorath, commented unnecessarily, stepping up to the platform. 

“They do not like being blind within their own star system,” Artanis reflected. 

“Probes?” Vorath asked, confused.

“Of a sort,” the Cree’Ar leader replied.  Pointing to the flares on the system tactical display, “These are active scans.  But they are intermittent so they may be ships rather than scanning probes.  If they were probes, they would not need to switch the scans off.”

“They are all ships?  That… is impressive.”

“Coordinated,” Artanis answered. 

“But… how?” Vorath asked, as more information began to highlight.

“Each race brings its own gifts.  And the gift of coordination comes from…” Artanis finger moved into an interior portion of the system and highlighted a section in a planetary orbit.  “..the Cooperative.”

“There is a danger, lord,” Vorath warned.

Artanis eyes showed amusement.  “There is.  It is said that no plan survives contact with the enemy.  Which is why we do not plan.”

The War Leader of the Cree’Ar turned to subordinate, “We purpose.”






“Invader, I speak now with the voice of Yunos, Lord of Light and Life, First among the Gods of Azguard. Our children will not kneel to your dominion. Their brothers and sisters on these worlds will be held in our paternal embrace, and sheltered from the ruin of their enemies, from now until the ending of the Light.


“This. Is. Truth.”



While the statement from the Azguard God went out over the frequencies of the defenders giving them heart, within that room on the station, the Minder’s expressionless eyes stared at the possession.


“Truth,” the Minder’s monotone voice followed.


And while the signal went out over the conventional comm systems boosting the moral of the defenders, the Cree’Ar on the Globulus Arkanius stared at the Minder’s twin, their telepathic link showing the other what the one experienced.  Conveyed telepathically to their Cree’Ar Masters, the entire experience was viewed by Artanis as if he was there within the room.  As if Yunos was speaking directly at him.

It was unsettling.

It was unexpected.

It was… Interesting.


“It seems there is substance behind the Azguard’s Faith,” Artanis murmured, looking back to Veejun, the Cree’Ar scientist. 


“Was there a doubt?” Vorath asked.


“With what we have seen of this galaxy’s inhabitants, we were prepared to find their faith nothing but ashes and dust.  To shatter at the first instance of opposition like so much brittle glass,” the Cree’Ar leader replied.

“But… you believe?” Vorath asked, surprised.


“They believe!” Artanis pointed to the heart of the system.  “The Minder determines if the speaker speaks the truth but it does not validate the veracity of that truth.  These Azguardians may believe their sun revolves around their planets and say so with the strongest of convictions with the Minder will also verify that they are, in fact, speaking truthfully as they see it.  That does not make what they say, in a factual sense true.  The Empire believed they were the indestructible edifice in which all their enemies could beat themselves against to no avail but we found their… faith .. misplaced.  We found no substance behind their faith in their superiority.  We found their faith.. blind.”


“But we still arrived here with the forces we have because the question still needs to be answered, ‘Is there nothing behind the faith of these peoples?’

“You were expecting… something of substance.”

“Yes,” Artanis replied.

“Based on what?”

Veejun the scientist walked up and turned a knowing look toward the Cree’Ar leader.  “Issk.”

Artanis nodded.  “Issk.”

Vorath frowned, “The collaborator?”

Artanis’ eyes turned to the Second, “I will not have our prisoner disparaged.  We stripped his mind of the information we wanted.  We isolated him from his people with our Declaration naming him as conspirator and, yet, as a prisoner, isolated and hated by his own people, he still does not bend.  Such faith does not come lightly.  And it is something to acknowledge and respect.”

“Your strategy is based on Issk’s faith?”


“The Dominion is eternal.  It is not eternal because we wish it so but because we deal with the universe as it is.  Not as we want it.  That is the secret to our success,” Veejun commented.


Vorath turned to the scientist, “But faith is not a scientific principle.  It is subjective.”


“It can be.  Faith is like a hypothesis.  A theory the validity of which is only as strong as the substance it is based upon.  We are testing the theory and the utterance of this god Yunos..?  Well, we just uncovered something of substance here.  And we can be like the peoples of this galaxy and choose to ignore that which does not conform to our universe-view or we can..” he turned to Artanis.’


“We can acknowledge it, respect it and .. use it!”


“Bendar,  release the Creanti!”




Admiral Blakeley


“This. Is. Truth.”


Well, Shit!


A feeling overcame the Coalition Admiral.  A feeling that hadn’t been experienced in decades.  Not since he was a boy back in the village of Ethos on his homeworld.  He was on a cliffside staring down at the blue, clear water below his wet bathing suit clinging to his body as he shivered.  Not from the wind against his body but from the slight vertigo as he glanced down at where he was to jump.  Shivered at the anticipated thrill of the fall, the exhilarating freedom of the leap.


Well, Shit!


That moment a step was taken away from the cliff, the split second of weightlessness before gravity took hold and you sped to the watery bottom.  That point of no return where there were no takebacks!  No going back to the safety of something solid underfoot.  That moment where you were committed, whether by conscious thought or not.  They had put a foot forward and now had stepped off.


The entire system was now committed. 





Attack on the Azguard System


It was not until after the attack that the truly horrendous nature of the Cree’Ar strategy was revealed.  For it was not just an attack on the solar system itself but became an all out war against the very belief system of the Azguard as a people.  It was such a system of total war that called into conflict the very essence of what made them… well, them!  Their hopes, dreams, fears and failures.  Their pride, their rage, their achievements and their negligence.  Their hate and, yes, their Faith.

While the attack on the system represented just the beginning of an era that would surpass the Year of Cataclysm, never had the fate of the galaxy been beholden to a singular star system as what was brought against the Azguard.  Where a faltering step would signal the demise of everyone for the next thousand years..


The first casualty of the attack came …



“I wish I was in a stealth Intruder!  Those pilots get all the primo jobs!” crackled the comm unit in Strella’s ear.  “Raptor Squad’s the Ugnaught of the Fleet!”

Strella grinned at her fellow-pilot’s rant, as she punched in the new coordinates from Guardian for her search area.  “Raptor Three, moving out.” She confirmed as the computer beeped as the final digits of the coordinates were inputted.


Manual scanning was so inefficient.  It was the reality of organics but as they said, ‘Beggars could not be Choosers’.  Guardian preferred the shortened version, however.  ‘Needs Must’.  Even with hundreds of starfighters being launched and scattered throughout the system to scan,  it still amounted to less than 10% of total spatial area covered because, well, space was big.  The scanning signals were being collated as they came in and--..


Raptor Three disappeared, its scan not even activating.  Guardian followed up with a recall signal but it was as if Raptor Three was no longer…there.


Suddenly another starfighter disappeared from the network but before Guardian could extrapolate a course of action, a partial collated picture began to emerge. 


There were groups of enemy fighters above and below the system elliptic plane that were becoming visible as the return scans were retrieved.  All enemy units were on or outside the orbital sphere of Arun but they were edging closer, though no quite crossing as yet.  And while the numbers of groupings were small overall, Guardian had to acknowledge that only 10% of the space had been covered.  Guardian concluded the groupings were enemy units because it knew where all the allied positions were so anything outside those parameters had to be the enemy. 

And as this information was forwarded to Admiral Blakeley’s CIC, Guardian reviewed the collated data and while details on the enemy were sparse, the quick scans focusing on locating rather than identifying, it zeroed in on a slight discrepancy not in the scan content but in the transmission rates from each random location.  The rates were low, within tolerance so within specifications but it was something odd and something not seen outside control conditions.  The difference could be associated with the differences between function in a controlled environment and function within real-world conditions but something new was something new.  A submind was created to investigate and monitor as more coordinates were allocated.