Plagueis Special Forces Run On
Run-on Competition: The Chain of Duty
This will be a unscripted runon event. Each unit will have two teams: the special forces runon, where only members of the special forces may post, and the regular runon, where all members (even those in the special forces) may post. The Special Forces runons will be the official submission for qualitative judging.
1. 250 word minimum per post.
2. 1000 word maximum per post.
3. Players must post a minimum of 2 times.
4. Players may post as many times as they desire.
5. Edits may occur on a post until a follow on post has been made (follow on posts include "reserving" a space). Only the author may edit their post on the forums. Admin use on the forums during the run on is expressly prohibited for participants. (Email Sarin and myself for anything)
6. Members may reserve post, but no posts can occur until after the reserved post is written.
7. The event will be graded by Raken, Sarin, and Muz using a rubric that focuses on creativity, plot development, realism, and grammar.
8. (Special Forces) Only two members of the Special Forces will be permitted to sit this event out.
9. Members failing to post 2 x times per phase will be disqualified and will not be given credit for participating in the event.
Loro Babis system
Rendezvous Point beyond outermost planetary orbit
Ronovi Tavisaen never liked staying too long in space.
She never understood how some people enjoyed being suspended in a vacuum. Granted, she had, indeed, just become Dread Lord of a house that spent all of its time in space, either cooped up on their ancient space station or aboard ships going from planet to planet - so much for her preferred style of living. But she had at least, from week to week, been given a chance to go planetside and enjoy a drink in a tavern surrounded by a natural atmosphere rather than a filtered one.
Out of all the Sith Worlds that Plagueis had scraped spoils away from - Nfolgai, Khar Delba, Ch’hodos - Athiss was the very first planet where Ronovi would not be able to immediately send out ground forces. Unlike previous engagements, the One Sith had seen fit to protect their territory with more then ground troops. So for now, she was forced to stay on her very own bridge, watching as the intel came in from the recon wing pairs of XJ X-wings off of the Predominant.
The guards shuffled away to allow Solus Gar to approach. The former Wrath held himself calmly, sternly, and would not give away emotion. Not even Ronovi’s abilities with Force sensing could give her any entertainment from Gar’s true feelings about her. He could mask any contempt he could possibly have - as long as he catered to her, it wasn’t worth debating.
“Ah,” the Epicanthix sighed pleasantly, beckoning for Solus to come closer. “My prized naval expert.”
“Only because you can’t manage it yourself,” replied Solus curtly, yet smoothly. He was the same man to her, no matter what.
The two approached the holopod, and some taps of his fingers brought the glowing grid to life. Already, coordinates were whirling in Ronovi’s mind. Specks, graphs, and lines assaulted her visually. She preferred to let Solus speak.
"As you can see, the One Sith are not occupying Athiss without naval support,” he explained. “We’ve detected twenty enemy ships, mostly Imperial types, with at least six classified as likely destroyer or better.”
Ronovi clicked her tongue. “So not a romp in the park,” she muttered. “I suppose we’ll have to rely on you-know-who?”
“With Sadowan aid,” replied Solus, albeit with some noticeable reluctance, “we should be able to push the enemy aside. There’s no knowing how many will attempt to retreat...”
“Perhaps they will give us a few other opportunities,” Ronovi cut him off.
“You sound like a woman with an idea.”
She sneered. “When the time is right I might even share it, Gar.”
She paused at the sign of a smile tugging at the corner of the Sith’s lip. They moved away from the holopod then, maneuvering back to the main bridge. The hum of the space’s stations seemed to grow louder with each step - a sound that Ronovi still had to grow accustomed to.
“Make contact with the Harrower and the Terminus,” she ordered Solus. “As our primary strike forces, they should not only take point but also plan to have their teams board. The Predominant will enforce the offensive - it’ll blow a big enough hole for our ships to slip through when necessary.”
“You’re adorable when you try to sound like a skilled admiral,” Solus said. “But I have a plan already in mind - for our ships and our squadrons.”
Ronovi bit back a snarl and replaced it with a smirk; even after so many years working with Solus, she still had to swallow excessive taunts, for fear of causing a scene. It was more than difficult, and it made her itch to pre-emptively begin drinking from her flask of whiskey before operations even officially began. Still, Solus was on point - Ronovi wasn’t well-equipped to handle naval operations, and most likely everything she had just rattled off to sound competent was simply off-point given the fleets themselves.
“Well, then,” she mused. “I suppose you’ll be making yourself comfortable on the bridge.”
“Consider me the brains of the operation, and you the vocal cords,” Solus retorted. “That is, of course, if you give your permission for me to jointly command your fleets.”
It was all too convenient for him. But she had no choice. She nodded the affirmative, just as the transmission from the Sadowan fleet was received.
"They are ready, my lord," Solus reported with overt formality.
"Then by all means," she said, waving a hand.
Solus issued orders to the bridge crew and the stars outside the viewports briefly elongated into starlines for the short jump into orbit around Athiss.
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
The cloud-marbled globe of Athiss grew in the viewports with the sort of seemingly unrealistic speed only seen during hyperspace reversion. One second it was a speck, the next it was a massive orb filling the entire sky.
"We have reversion," the sensor officer reported. "Enemy ships in sector 24, they are launching fighters and moving to intercept."
"Clear our squadrons to launch, lieutenant," Solus ordered, taking in the information on the tactical display that projected a hologram of the battle before him.
The enemy force was anchored by matching trios of Impstar and Victory deuces protected by a screen of smaller vessels. A boxy escort carrier hung at the back of the formation with most of her fighters already launching, now likely to steer clear of the main engagement. Solus brought up information on three vessels that resembled metal bars with bulges at each end hanging toward the rear of the enemy formation of frigates where they were in position to screen the larger destroyers trailing behind.
"Captain Ranin, relay to the Harrower and Terminus. Their primary targets are those Lancers," he instructed. "They need to take them out in order to free our fighters for attack runs."
"Aye," Ranin replied, issuing orders to her crew.
"Sadowan ships reverting to realspace in the starboard quarter," the sensor officer reported again. "Elements of the Council fleet emerging several thousand kilometers astern."
"Status?" Ronovi barked.
"The Sadowans are engaging, Council ships maintaining position."
Ronovi shot Solus an inquiring look, but Solus didn't wait for her question. "They're going to let us take the beating, they'll only intervene if it becomes necessary."
"Sticking to their overall pattern," she flippantly replied.
Solus went back to ignoring her, concentrating his attention on the oncoming fleet. Their corvette screen was just coming into range of the long range weapons aboard the Ascendancy, probably unaware that the Destroyer was so equipped.
"Gunnery, target the lead corvette and fire," Solus ordered.
The quartet of long-range turbolasers clustered at the Destroyer's bow sent a torrent of emerald energy leaping across the intervening space separating the enemy formations. The power drain of the weapons was enormous, causing even the lighting aboard the bridge to dim in time with the thrum of weapon discharges. Before the target ship could react, the incoming fire slammed the ventral hull just forward of the engines. Several of the eleven engines blasted free of the ship before the expanding fireball from the detonation of the drive section overtook their progress. In no more than a heartbeat the ship went from being an engine of war to an expanding debris cloud.
Solus was about to order another target when he saw more green fire flashing out towards the enemy and realized that Naga Sadow, not to be outdone, was duplicating the Plaguiean tactic. The enemy ships were beginning evasive maneuvers, so the Sadowan fire was not nearly as instantaneously devastating. Instead of taking the ship outright, the first few shots merely battered down the ship's shields. The corvette's master, likely an officer with little in the way of front line experience given his actions, must have diverted power away from his engines to shields. He did not live to realize his mistake, however, as the Sadowan's next volley tore through his ship and blasted it in two amidships, both sections spinning away. The ship did not explode. Instead, power in both sections failed simultaneously, taking the inertial compensators and gravity systems with them. The force with which the accelerating bulkheads then hit anyone unlucky enough to survive the initial assault reduced the suddenly motionless crew to superheated pulp in less than a thousandth of a second.
It wasn't nearly as spectacular as the ship the Ascendancy had engaged, but the result was the same. Two of the enemy ships had already been destroyed, and the battle had hardly even been joined.
"Enemy starfighters closing to combat range," an officer in one of the crew pits called out.
"Redirect weapon power to the main systems, prepare to barrage fire along incoming vectors," Solus ordered. The long range weapons had done their job, but now the ship needed her main armament to thin the oncoming swarm of enemy starfighters. "Order our screen to remain aft until the enemy is within half a klick, then clear them to engaged. Once our fighters do so, release batteries to local control."
"At once, my lord," Ranin said.
Solus allowed himself a slight smile as the weapons systems erupted to life. The officers and crew of the Ascendant Fleet might have sworn fealty to the Dread Lord Ronovi, but they were still his as much as anyone else's. He had trained them, he had fought with them. Captain Ranin had served at his command as far back as the Orian Incursion against Naga Sadow. While Ronovi had been drinking her whiskey he had been leading them against the One Sith at Nfolgai and Khar Delba.
Not only that, but neither Ronovi or her Wrath would know what to do with a force like this if it fell into their laps. Which it basically had in this case. Ronovi was a skilled fighter and a powerful Force wielder, but she was a brawler. Ka'Hava'Ve was even less experienced, his entire time as a warrior comprised being a desert bandit on Kapsina. He was so outside of his skill set in space that he would likely get lost in a nebula and have his enemy sneak up behind him by coming up from underneath. He was still indispensable to both of them, and he would make sure that they would not soon forget that fact.
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
Arden crossed his arms as he peered out the forward view ports of the Harrower’s command deck. It seemed awkward for him not to be in the command chair of the ship that had been his since House Plagueis had acquired it. He’d been moved to what was supposed to be a more important job, but he couldn’t help but miss the simplicity of commanding a ship. Hence, when the orders came to claim another prize for the Iron Throne, he could think of no better place for him to be.
“Orders from the Ascendancy. We’re to engage the screening Lancers and clear the way for a fighter attack.” The commanding tone of Captain Grant, the Hapan woman who was the Harrower’s senior non-Sith officer echoed out from the center of the command deck.
Arden glanced out the viewport and barely made out the forms of a pair of Lancer-class frigates. A Strike Cruiser lurked just behind them, barely discernable in the shadow of Athiss.
“Very well,” Celevon calmly answered before proceeding to give his orders. “Set an attack course, and ready the torpedo tubes.”
Arden snapped around from his forward position. “Torpedoes aren't all that effective against a Lancer. Plot course to bring us into a broadside position and ready the main batteries. Have the Anguish and Curse pull into a screening position and focus their efforts on enemy bombers.”
Grant looked for a moment to Celevon, but ultimately responded. “M’lord is correct. Helmsman, move us to Turbolaser range and keep our fighters close.”
Celevon shot Arden a look but said nothing as the crew carried out the Overseer’s command. A split second later, the Harrower’s sublight engines kicked up to full power, the acceleration being enough to throw the standing Arden off balance for a moment. Steadying himself on a railing, he started walking back towards a tactical console. Staring at the colored lighted shapes moving on the screen, Ardren reveled in the moment of the calm before the inevitable chaos. Those long couple minutes as fleets moved into position. Millions of tons of metal hurtling towards each other with their only goal to destroy their enemies. It was all that simple in the end even though the dance that was about to occur was quite complex.
The Ettian wasn’t sure how long had passed until the Hapan captain's voice pulled him back to the task at hand.
“Enemy fighters incoming, Commander. Two squadrons of early generation TIE Interceptors followed by a squadron each of TIE Bombers and a heavy fighters, Preybirds, by the look of them. “
Arden reacted first. “Ready point defenses. Loose our fighters to engage. Have the gunships focus on the bombers for the moment.”
Celevon was more than a bit flustered by Arden continuing to give orders and actually stood up from his command chair. Grant didn’t wait for a protest from Celevon and gave the instructions to comply with Arden’s order.
“What are you playing at, Arden?” Celevon snapped at the former commander of the Harrower. “This is my ship now, in case you’ve forgotten. Focus on your job, and I’ll focus on mine.”
Arden straightened up looked the slightly taller Obelisk straight in the eye. “I’m the Overseer now. I’m overseeing. Fits into the job description. And besides, I’m not letting you blow this ship up the first time you take her out. Are we clear?”
Celevon glared at Arden for a moment before nodding slightly as he headed back to his chair. A moment later, the thud of torpedoes impacting the cruiser's shields could be felt.
“Those bombers are getting through, Captain,” Celevon stated the obvious “See to it that no more do. Time to firing range on the lead Lancer.”
Grant looked down at her console and responded. “Forward batteries in fifteen seconds, port batteries in eighteen. And the Curse has been hit by a torpedo aft and is taking cannon fire. Holding together fine, though.”
Arden seemed satisfied with that report. “Open fire as soon we’re in range, Captain, and continue until she’s not shooting back. Then move on to the second one.”
“Understood, m’lord,” Grant replied as a few more laser cannon shots from the enemy fighters rippled off the forward shields. The Lancer grew ever larger in the viewport of the Harrower. The Sith couldn’t help but wonder if the crew of the Frigate knew what was about to happen, or how little time most of them had left to live. He would have loved to just drink in the fear that they must be feeling.
“Fire!” the Hapan shouted over the comm as the cruiser moved into position.
Arden looked on as bolts of viridian plasma lanced forth from the forward turbolasers of the cruiser. As the first few crashed into the shields of the much smaller Lancer, the assault cruiser's port side lit up as her main batteries came to bear. The first volley pounded the shields of the Lancer, which was rolling to try to present another shield arc to the cruiser. It didn’t do much good, as another volley of turbolaser fire overwhelmed the frigate’s starboard shields. As the shields dropped, the port ion batteries aboard the Harrower raked fire along the length of the Lancer. The ion discharges danced across the smaller ship's hull as its systems, including a number of tower mounted quad laser cannons, explosively overloaded.
“Target is slowing, m’lords. Weapons all but gone. Main targeting arrays destroyed. Orders?”
Arden nodded to Celevon, who gave the one order that they both seemed to agree on.
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
Tra'an Reith sat in the captain's chair, drinking from his flask of Whyren's. Silent paced back and forth across the short area behind the command stations in the forward portion of the bridge, eyes slit in concentration as the enemy Lancer frigate grew larger in the viewport.
"Prepare to open the broadsides as we come abreast. I want that ship shuddering under every impact!" the Obelisk barked as he strode back and forth, though most of his commands were highly redundant and occasionally incorrect. The Shi'ido shared a look with Captain Zikri before deciding that it was time to intervene.
"Enough, Silent. Let the man captain his ship," Tra’an insisted. This comment was chased with another sip of Whyren's, the golden liquid burning its way down the former Dread Lord’s throat, making him smile. His eyes locked upon that of the Clawdite, their mutual dislike firmly evident. Stretching, Tra’an stood up and braced himself as the initial barrage slammed into their shields.
Unprepared, the Vassal of Ajunta Pall slammed into the nearby console, a grimace crossing his face and disappearing quickly, as the orders for the Terminus to return fire were given by its captain. Claymore and Glaive squadrons worked to run interference and destroy the enemy frigate.
"You're not the Dread Lord anymore. You don't get to give me orders!" roared Silent.
As he stood braced properly, Tra’an felt the scar across his right eye twitch at the reminder of his failure. A concept that Silent, of all people, would be familiar with.
"You forget that the only reason that you're even here is because Ronovi drove out Alaris,” Tra’an replied in a smooth and steady voice, distracting the Clawdite as the fighting dwindled, the engagement having taken merely two minutes with proper execution. “I'm here to make sure that you don't do anything foolish, like trying to give commands on a ship with a far more experienced commander."
The reptilian humanoid vaulted through the hologram in the middle of the bridge, crossing over to within lightsaber range of his former Commander.
"Say that again. I dare you,” he hissed.
His words seemed to imply threat of harm, his posture indicating he was ready for combat. Stepping forward faster than Silent could react, Tra'an grabbed him by the throat with his right hand and squeezed, his left snatching the curved saber from its place on the Clawdite's hip.
"I will speak to you as I please," he responded coldly, an indifference backed by the will that had raised Plagueis from the depths. "I am your superior in every way. I speak with the Dread Lord's voice. If you disobey me, be aware that you do it at your peril. I will not hesitate to execute you."
Silent struggled to break free, only to find that Tra'an could always counter him. As the lights began to dim, Reith threw the fool against the bulkhead. He retained Silent's lightsaber, however.
"Zikri, I believe the ship is yours to command."
The Bothan nodded, the next target already being plotted. The fighter squadrons that had made a complete wreck of the defenses of the Lancer were already returning to formation to assault the next ship.
Silent stood up slowly, his composure returning even as his rage surfaced with it. Not bothering to retrieve his lightsaber, the Exarch left the bridge, nursing his bruised pride.
"So," muttered Liska'ia, "how long before he tries to kill you?"
Tra'an chuckled darkly, another swig of Whyren's overpowering the bitter taste of being reduced to a babysitter.
"He'll try soon. And fail yet again."
With a nod, the Captain continued to arrange his forces for the intercept of the next frigate so that the Plaguiean fighters could assault the enemy formation unmolested.
"If nothing else," Tra'an continued, "it'll keep things interesting, and keep him from interfering with your command. I'm not concerned with keeping him alive. Just as I have no illusions that I can better command your ship."
"Sir!" an officer called from the navigation station. "A Victory-class destroyer is moving to intercept. They're moving to protect the final Lancer!"
The Victory's grid was enhanced on the holographic display, showing the time to intercept. As Tra'an watched, the man he'd hand picked for this assignment after their raid on Ord Pardron proved why he'd gotten this particular ship.
"Order the HLAFs to run interference and swat aside their TIEs. I want a clear firing solution on that Victory. Let's remind her why they were relegated to the scrapheap!"
With a chorus of acknowledgements, the ship's crew moved as one. As the two ships met at the point of intercept, the first blasts of turbolaser fire began to burn against shields. The navigational display shrank back to the combat area as the fire intensified.
"Steady as she goes. Thirty seconds to discharge." Captain Liska'ia ordered, reinforcing the fire discipline of his crew as they waited. The HLAFs were battering aside the fighter screen in anticipation of the torpedo launch. When the firing vector was cleared, the Bothan gave the command.
"Give them a broadside, Mister Gerald!"
The Corellian's fingers danced across his station as launch reports flashed across his display. Outside the ship, twenty torpedoes leapt into space and lit off, screaming through empty space towards their target. The shields flashed nearly opaque with the mass explosion, the released energy rolling along the expanse before they collapsed. Two trailing torpedoes slid through the dissipating explosion to detonate against the hull, rending armor from the superstructure and sending it spinning away.
"Target maneuvering!" Mister Gerald yelled as the enemy began a roll to hide her damaged shields and foredeck.
"Dispatch Claymore and Glaive squadrons. Claymore to finish off the rest of the enemy fighters, Glaive to deliver another round of payload with my compliments."
Satisfied that all was well, Tra'an headed aft, Silent's lightsaber hidden in his robe and a smile upon his face.
Loro Babis System
Athiss planetary orbit
Arturis paced the main engineering corridor, the Chief Engineer directly on his heels as the engineering crew worked feverishly to maintain the Harrower’s systems as torpedo after torpedo hit. The shields absorbed most of the impact, though the kinetic force could still be felt within the ship.
“Secondary conduits connected to primary battery array, sir!” one of the technicians yelled out as he typed away at one of the consoles. “Command notified, forward batteries are now at full power and port batteries are reaching power capacity in three seconds.”
“Shield capacity?” Arturis asked a female technician as he hopped up onto her shoulder.
“Seventy-eight percent on the starboard shields, sir. Enemy bombers have done some moderate damage,” she responded.
“Reroute power to the forward shields and angle the deflectors.”
The technician quickly nodded her head as she typed away, the visual console showing power shifts within the Harrower as the starboard shields rose back up to ninety-four percent, the aft shields dropping from ninety-six percent to eighty-nine. Two large energy reserve windows on the left side of the console suddenly dropped in percentage as the Harrower unleashed a powerful volley.
“Lancer destroyed,” another technician announced as he glanced around the engine core’s console. “And your presence is requested on the bridge, m’lord.”
Arturis bowed his head forward as he hopped on to the Chief Engineer’s shoulder, who had begun to walk towards the central console systems. “Have things here?”
“Always do, sir.” he responded with a smile. Arturis hopped down and took off towards the lift at the aft of the compartment.
“We have a Strike cruiser approaching port and a pair of Nebulon-B frigates moving on attack vector starboard,” Captain Grant reported.
Celevon shook his head negatively and let out a deep sigh.
“Fighter squadrons detected and closing. Forty-five seconds until they reach firing range.”
At that same moment, Arturis scurried onto the bridge and bounded up onto the back of Celevon’s chair, his tail crossed over the edge of it. “You summoned me, m’lord?”
“Yes. In your dossier, I saw that you have naval combat experience. Is that correct?” Celevon asked.
Arturis gave a brisk nod as he looked ahead through the windows.
“Take over the primary BAC station,” the commander of Karness Muur ordered.
“Excuse me?” Arturis murmured. Both Celevon and Arden looked at him stoically,.
"The Battle Analysis Computer," Arden scoffed.
Arturis moved over to look over the shoulders of the two crewman controlling the BAC system. “All right, then. Enemy time to optimum firing position?”
“Two minute, seventeen seconds,” the technician replied. “Fighters have begun engagements with the strike cruiser.”
“Set a course between the two Nebulons. Keep our screen in place and load the torpedo tubes. All twenty. We have just over a two minutes to get rid of these flies before the main course.”
“Torpedo bays prepped, sir. Enemy starfighters are locking on...”
Arturis smirked. “Fire defensive batteries.”
Point defense guns lit up the surrounding space with flurries of emerald light. The three Plagueians looked pleased at the number of fighters that were destroyed.
“Enemy cruiser moving into our aft, sir. Detecting additional fighter squadrons launching.”
Arturis nodded. “Lock torpedoes on primary targets. Prepare to fire, staggered pattern.”
Suddenly the remaining enemy fighters split into two groups, one going to port and the other to starboard as the twin Nebulon-Bs opened fire on the Harrower with all of their weapons.
"Denying us gunship support while trying to take us down. Very well, then,” Arturis mused as he hopped down from the chair. "Bring us in closer to the enemy.”
"How close, sir?" the helm officer asked.
"Right down their throats," Arturis retorted with a dark smile.
“Arturis?” Arden demanded. “What are you doing? We don’t just charge straight in, you should know that.”
The Harrower began to take a heavy beating as volley after volley of turbolaser fire pounded the forward shields. As the ship began to move into position between the flanking frigates, residual energy from the turbolasers began to pierce through the shields.
“Forward shields down to eighteen percent. They will not take much more, sir!”
“Steady on course. Set launch delays on torpedo bays three, seven, fourteen, and nineteen to follow in two second increments of each other. Are we close enough for an indirect targeting lock through their shields?”
“No direct lock, but yes, si - ” the technician was suddenly cut off as the Harrower violently shook as turbolasers breached the forward shield and slammed into the hull directly. “Damage reported across multiple decks sir, flank shields are gone.”
“Arturis!” Arden yelled.
“Now. Fire torpedoes port and starboard, coordinates from my station! Have the delays follow the same pattern, each one raising its yew by forty three degrees as it approaches.”
Sixteen missiles shot out from both sides of the Harrower, each one in direct succession as they started to trail behind each other towards their targets. Some were picked off by laser fire, but a majority of them continued on. Then followed the torpedoes from the remaining tubes, each one two seconds after one another. The first volley smashed into the flank shields of the twin frigates, the final ones tearing breaches in their shields. The trailing pairs shot through the gap, one after another, detonating at the midpoint of the connecting spar between the forward and engine sections. The torpedos blasted open the hull while the trailing weapons plunged into the interior and detonated within. Neither ship's back was broken, but power to the forward section was immediately cut off as the power connections were severed.
“Fluctuations detected in their energy array, sir. Weapon and shield systems are offline for the moment.”
“Disable them completely with the ion cannons,” ordered Celevon.
“Aye, weapons free,” Arturis gleefully responded.
"Sir!" the sensor officer called. "There is an Imperial-class destroyer moving to support the Strike cruiser aft!"
Loro Babis System
Athiss Planetary Orbit
“Wonderful,” the Assassin drawled, glaring at his Executive Officer. “Now, if only we still had flank shields we could probably stand a better chance against these two. Captain, prepare to evade and reload to - ”
The ship shook with impact as numerous lights started flashing on the board for the aft section of the Harrower.
“Damage report!” Arden barked at the officers.
“Something struck our side, sir!”
“No osik, mir’osik besom,” the Onderonian spat in Mando’a at the Lieutenant. “We’re being boarded. Overseer, you have the helm. XO, stay here and learn something. Have that area quarantined as best as you can. I’ll go in with Hell’s Fire and take care of our uninvited guests.”
“Why do you call those two Wraiths that nickname when they work together?” Arden asked curiously in an aside.
“I had nothing to do with the name. That’s what they told me to call them,” Celevon smirked slightly before making his way out of the bridge.
“Don’t you hate it when he does that?” Arturis asked, his fur literally bristling in indignation.
“Consider yourself lucky that you don’t work for me,” the Rollmaster snarled, clenching a fist. “Though, to be on the safe side, you should still keep your mouth shut unless you want to be punted into a cage.”
The Priest bristled in annoyance, though he remained silent, glaring out towards their enemies.
“You summoned us, m’lord?” one of the figures queried as they stood shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the hall, slipping to the side in order to step behind the Commander.
“Rayes, Hunter. We have some di’kutse who have decided to force their way onto this ship, so we get to crash their party,” Celevon smirked, subconsciously slipping into the habit he had picked up from his former Master long before the man had been sacrificed by the Arconan Consul. Xathia had quickly pushed down the unfortunate habit of speaking a blend of Basic and the Mandalorian tongue.
“Good. It’s been far too long since you’ve let us have fun,” Hunter replied, the raspy inflection of his voice sending chills down the spines of their slaves on board.
“What can this pair of Reapers do to help, m’lord?” Rayes asked, his Coruscanti accent still present despite all he had been through.
“Just what we’ve practiced,” the other Reaper continued, answering his partner.
In an eerie pattern, Rayes finished the statement with a chilling smile. “Strike hard, strike fast, and leave chaos in our wake.”
“Good. Let’s get started, lads,” the Assassin grinned, pulling his lightsaber from his belt.
The three of them strode towards the section of the ship that had been closed off on Celevon’s orders. The Wraith team pulled out their own weapons and followed the Onderonian as the doors shot open upon their approach.
“Sorry, friends. I must have missed the notification about the party,” the Templar intoned as he ignited his lightsaber, diving straight towards the center of the group.
A spray of arterial fluid erupted as Rayes and Hunter did exactly what they had been trained to do: kill.
The Overseer had been paying little attention to the holo that had showed the three men dissecting the boarding party with methodical, ruthless efficiency. Arden’s job was simple: Try to keep them alive long enough for help to arrive or for them to get in a lucky shot, destroying both enemies. For the last few minutes, at least, it seemed to have been working.
“They’re getting closer,” Arturis murmured as the ship shook in the aftershocks of the Star Destroyer’s ion cannon blasts, a hint of fear appearing only for a moment.
“But we still have enough distance to evade them. That will be enough, my furry friend,” the Sith growled, grumbling under his breath about ‘idiotic animals’.
“What’s the situation, gentlemen?” the Onderonian asked, his holo-projected image appearing to lean against a turbolift wall.
“You’re already finished...of course. Why should I even bother to ask? We are successfully evading them for the moment, but we won’t make it far, Edraven. Our shields are still weakening, despite how much power we draw into them.”
“We’re going to die,” the XO whined under his breath, though the other Summit members heard him.
The doors to the aft turbolift opened, and Celevon strode towards the command console. As if on queue, a turbolaser volley leapt across the space that separated the Star Destroyer and assault cruiser. The depleted shields couldn't hold against the energy that cascaded across them, the shield arc collapsing. Another volley of fire raked across the port side of the Harrower, liquefying armor and blasting metal from the ship's flank. The bridge rocked under the impact, knocking several officers off their feet. The turbolaser barrage was followed immediately by ion cannon fire that took the ship just aft of the bridge.
Blue arcs of ion energy raced through the bridge and moved forward, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Several of the bridge consoles exploded as they overloaded, sending shards of metal and transparisteel slashing through the air like knives. An officer at the helm station was unlucky enough to be in the path of most of the debris, as it tore through him without seeming to slow. Blood began to stain his uniform as he dropped to the deck, the life ebbing from him before he completed his fall.
"Karn!" Celevon shouted as he picked himself up off the deck. "The helm!"
Arden moved to the helm to take control of the warship's course, the chaos of battle momentarily overriding Celevon's breach of protocol in giving orders to his superior.
“Sir, ships are vectoring in from our port side!” the sensor officer reported. “Hail incoming from one of the ships...they're Sadowan!”
“Looks like you Plagueian boys could use some help,” Korras’ amused baritone voice rumbled over the intercom. “Continue on behind us. We’ll handle it from here.”
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
The Myresi knew why he was on the bridge of the Predominant. He understood that it served three rather important purposes; putting the Wrath where he belonged, providing Ronovi a Dark Jedi she could expect to follow orders in technical command of one of her most powerful ships, and introducing Kave to fleet command, even if he had only given a single order.
Follow any orders you get from Solus unless I say otherwise. Outside of that, I assume you know your job better than I do - his entire time on the bridge.
That in no way changed the fact that he did not belong anywhere near the command of a large ship. Commanding a group of fighters? He could think in three dimensions just fine. A large ground force? He wouldn't be the greatest commander, but he knew he would be able to extract decent enemy casualties. Small ground teams? That was his element.
On board the Predominant? He had taken to watching the unfolding battle like a Holovid. He took mental notes and even tried to guess whether his Atoan captain had made an error or not. Half the time, however, Kave was just lost.
When the Sadowan ships came in, however, he took note. Before he had been somewhat worried that he would lose the Overseer and the leaders of Karness Muur. With the introduction of the Sadowans, however....
Kave walked up behind the Captain.
"Ten credits says we get in a fight with Sadow."
As Kave watched, the Sadowan ships moved into the center of the battle. They fired on ships the Plagueians had already engaged, pounding them with turbolaser fire and cleaning up the scraps. He could see the Ascendancy moving into the engagement zone, her fighters swatting aside those of the enemy forces.
"Sir!," one of the bridge officers called to the captain, "Parts of the enemy formation is disengaging. Looks like they're moving towards an escape vector."
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
"It looks like they're trying to get away," Ronovi said as she rose from the command chair, a predatory grin on her face. "Captain, signal the Predominant. Order them to power up the gravity wells."
Solus spun around from where he was standing at the aft tactical console. "Belay that order, captain."
Ronovi turned back to face Solus, and he felt like prey under a Rancor's gaze. "Why?" she asked coldly.
"The planet beyond is our target," Solus explained. "Our objective isn't to destroy the enemy fleet. It is to neutralize them as it pertains to our ultimate goal. Any energy and equipment we expend fighting an enemy that is eager to withdraw, we will be deprived of once we begin the planetary assault."
Solus could see the captain, himself out of Ronovi's eyeline, nodding in agreement.
"So what you're saying is that if they want to run..." she began.
"We should let them," Solus finished.
"Never let it be said that my bloodlust blinds me to the ultimate goal," she said, injecting the last two words with a tinge of sarcasm in echoing Solus. "Monitor the enemy withdrawal, captain. I'm going to drink to my first naval victory."
Solus watched Ronovi resume her seated position, pulling a flask from under her coat. He listened with half an ear to the reports of hyperspace entries of enemy Star Destroyers as Ronovi took a long pull from her flask with a look of self satisfaction framing her features.
"Sir, all of their Impstars have jumped away," the captain reported to her. "Along with a number of their screening vessels."
Solus strode over to stand over the shoulder of one of the sensor officers so he could see the man's display first hand. It looked like the remaining ships, centered around the three Victory destroyers, were assuming a combat formation.
But that doesn't make sense, Solus thought.
"My lord, detecting an interdiction field powering up," the officer reported as Solus saw the fuzzy outline of the gravity well spring to life on the display.
"What, are they trying to make sure we don't follow them out?" Ronovi asked offhandedly.
"No," Solus replied, seeing where the boundary of the interdiction field lay. His stomach felt as if someone had just dropped a cold, lead weight into it.
The globe of gravitational energy was emanating from the remaining Strike cruiser, itself now obviously modified with at least one gravity generator. The field stretched out for several thousand kilometers in every direction. One edge of it was directly astern of the ships of the Iron Throne that waited just outside the engagement zone.
Before he could order a warning sent out over the comms, flickers of pseudomotion surrounded the Dark Council ships. Imperial destroyers, two Nebulon-B's, and a Strike cruiser, the enemy ships that had jumped away, sprang into existence. The enemy ships, themselves nearly atop their quarry, let loose torrents of fire. The friendly vessels, not even given time to angle their deflector shields to face the newly arrived threat in their aft, were ravaged. Shields imploded, hull structures buckled, and in less than a minute, it was over. All that was left were asteroid sized chunks of metal spinning away from the rapidly dissipating explosion clouds.
"What happened? How?" Ronovi asked, first staring at the captain, then Solus.
"Naval strategy," Solus explained slowly, "They jumped out so they could jump back in, their own gravity well bringing them out precisely where they needed to be."
"They didn't even have to wait for targeting solutions," the captain continued, "They could just use targeting vectors plotted before the jump and come in firing blind."
Ronovi looked back and forth between the two men. "So now what?"
"Now, we're in for a slugging match," Solus answered.
"Sir, we're receiving a holomessage from the lead Imperial-II," the comm officer said.
Ronovi nodded at him, and the signal came up on the main holodisplay. The face that resolved from the holographic static was one that both Ronovi and Solus were familiar with.
"Drax," Ronovi hissed between gritted teeth.
"You still remember, Tavisaen. I cannot help but be touched. I, of course, remember you," Xander Drax said mockingly.
"What do you want, Drax?" Ronovi demanded.
"Oh, I merely wanted to give you a chance to surrender before I am forced to destroy you. It would be a shame to waste one with potential such as yours."
"Not bloody likely, slug," Ronovi barked.
Before she could elaborate further, Drax's transmission cut off.
"I guess he wasn't that interested in our surrender after all," the captain mused.
Ronovi ignored him. "Solus, any ideas?"
Solus was still staring at the now vacant holo display.
"Solus!" Ronovi prodded.
"He's better than I am at this," Solus said quietly. "He's an admiral with decades of experience. I don't know if I can best him."
Ronovi looked contemplative for a moment, and then seemed to come to a decision.
"You have a plan?" Solus asked.
"Remember when you said I looked like a woman with an idea?" Ronovi countered.
Solus nodded his head.
"It seems the time is right," she announced. "If you're not going to beat Drax your way, it's time we went with my way."
Ronovi moved to the holopod and activated it for fleet wide broadcast.
"This is the Dread Lord. All ships move to close engagement with the enemy and prepare all assault forces."
Ronovi caught Solus's eye, the Sith thinking he saw a light of near lunacy behind her gaze.
"Away all boarders!" she ordered.
"She's insane," the captain murmured from where he stood at Solus's side.
"That very well may be so," Solus replied under his breath, "But you'd be amazed by how often it works for her."
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
I swear, The Force was listening to me earlier.
Kave was unable to think of any other explanation for the order; the Myresi didn't even wait for Ronovi to finish relaying her boarding orders before he ran in the direction of the shuttles. Though he didn't let it show, he was giddy. This whole operation meant close quarters combat with no room to run but straight towards the enemy. He was built for this type of situation.
Most other Dark Jedi were away either on other ships or in the midst of naval battle, though he sent out an alert on his way to anyone that happened to be on the Predominant, as well as requesting as many Ravagers as the ship could spare. There was no way this was going to be anything but an all out assault, and he wanted to be ready.
I hate turbolifts, Kave decided as he waited in his. He had to keep himself from bouncing on his feet as he waited for it to reach the hangar bay. The Myresi didn't know how his companions stood it; they fed on these emotions, fueled their power with them, while he made active efforts to suppress them.
He breathed in and out, slowly, deeply. Emotions mean mistakes - mistakes get you killed. Meaningless prayers in his native language flitted through his mind. He hadn't believed in the shamanistic spirits of his people since he was a child, but he knew the benefits of repeating their prayers.
The lift shuddered to a stop, and as Kave stepped out of the small space, he knew that all his efforts to calm himself were wasted. He could sense the desperate, last minute preparations for battle coursing through his mind like water. Though he was able to school his features into a flat, stoic expression, he knew that he could only look calm on the outside, rather than feel reserved internally.
Kave was Wrath, and he intended to live up to his name.
Aboard the captured boarding vessel Trinity
Loro Babis System
Athiss planetary orbit
The Templar grumbled to himself as he lit a cigarra, lightsaber gripped tightly as he sped his way towards a Victory-II Class Star Destroyer. Unfortunately, boarding ships were still undergoing repairs from the last battle at Ch’hodos, so his team was forced to use the Trinity.
Celevon would have liked to have taken more than two teams, but they could only fit so many in the vessel. Arturis hardly took up space, considering his size. There were seven others on board that he had chosen. One was the Twi’lek he had “convinced” to be the Assassin’s personal pilot. Hunter and Rayes were, of course, the rest of the Onderonian’s team. The Kushiban would be a team of his own, considering that he was the only one who could quickly move throughout the maze of air ducts that covered every room in the destroyer, leading to every floor.
The other team consisted of Alex d’Tana, Nariah Jadon, and Shadowkind. The three usually worked together, training to function as a cohesive unit beyond the subtle nudges they felt through the Force, preventing “friendly fire” of any kind.
“We’re two minutes from impact, Commander,” Nerin Blaask, the pilot, reported in a monotonous tone. “Be prepared to brace yourselves as we board the Contention.”
“Thank you for the warning,” the Kushiban mumbled, trying to figure out how he would go about “bracing himself,” considering that Arturis would pretty much fly about the vessel if they struck the hull.
“All right, lads...and lady. We’ve trained for this, and we’ve proven time and again that we can handle whatever is thrown at us. Be prepared the moment we’re in and try not to get yourselves killed with idiotic heroics or foolishly attempting to one-up each other,” Celevon spoke up, catching the eyes of each and every one of his teammates, purposely glaring at Nariah and Shadowkind at the end. The duo had been roughed up in the last battle for playing a game with the enemy. They had called it, “Who’s the better killer.”
“Quick weapons check and brace yourselves for impact. Stay frosty.”
Arturis was a little rusty and blinked as he caught sight of the practiced efficiency of the others. It seemed to him as though the six merely glanced at their weapons before putting them back. His ears twitched as he watched the Assassin pull a kerambit out of his sleeve.
“Have enough knives there, Cel?”
The Templar smirked at his XO. “Enough to do my job. Might want to go strap yourself in, mate. Otherwise we’ll be scraping you off of the transparisteel later.”
The Kushiban cheerfully flipped Celevon off before hopping off to the co-pilot’s chair.
The Onderonian grabbed onto one of the beams with his left hand, dropping his cigarra to the floor of the ship before smashing it beneath his heel. It seemed as though seconds had passed before a sudden shift in their velocity and a metallic slam made the group tense. Within moments, the screech of protesting metal could be heard as the door flashed open, revealing a two-man patrol.
The one on the left, a Human with a scar above his lip, had clearly been through a lot as he instantly drew his repeater carbine and pointed it at the Assassin. The moment the patrol began to squeeze the trigger, Celevon was already moving, the Force guiding his hand to reflect the bolt into the shooter’s chest. The Templar appeared to blur as he increased his speed, the cobalt beam of energy that was his lightsaber slashing downward in a killing stroke.
A warning screamed through the Force, halting the motion as the Kushiban stabbed his lightsaber through the other patrol. Celevon’s blade was less than a half foot from Arturis’s neck, the moment seemingly frozen in time for several seconds before the second corpse dropped to the floor.
“You kriffing di’kit! What the frakk do you think you’re doing?!” the Commander growled in tones as cold as interstellar space.
The Executive Officer could only squeak in response, not having expected the hostile response from his friend despite his actions.
“The next time you decide you have a death wish, inform me and I will have you jettisoned from the air lock. Get your ass in that duct and get on with your part of the mission,” Celevon finished in a sibilant whisper, glaring at his XO.
Arturis deactivated his lightsaber and walked off to the ventilation hatch that continued to gently suck in air, clenching his teeth as he did as ordered, climbing into the duct only to disappear from sight seconds later.
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
From the bridge of the Terminus, Tra'an remained wired in to the overall battle. One thing Ronovi hadn't been foolish enough to do was to remove his command net access. He may not have been the naval tactician that Solus was, but he still had more than enough command experience to remain in the loop and contribute. His eyes remained glued to the hologram floating in the center of the bridge.
"Sir! Orders from the Ascendancy!" The lieutenant's voice called out crisp and clean. "They're taking the Predominant and their gunship screen to engage the enemy group in our aft. The Sadowans are sending the Damnation and her Warrior screen to assist. We're to lead our remaining ships and support boarding actions against the first enemy group!"
"Then let's get to it, shall we? I want reports of what our troops are doing and how well they're doing it."
Tra'an smiled as the crew returned to their jobs with a will, and without excessive cheering.The remaining Plagueian fleet turned its teeth upon their enemies as the Sadowans ships took the lead. The combined fighter support of both units served to devastate the enemy cover, shredding it to pieces to clear the way for boarding parties. The Ravager launched so many craft that it seemed as if the order to abandon ship had been given. The vast majority headed for the trio of Victory-class destroyers, as the remainder sought out the smaller enemy ships. Some of the swarm made it to their destinations; others intercepted turbolaser bolts and were blasted out of existence. As the chaos unfolded, cluttering the space between ships, Tra'an watched it all with a knowing smile.
"Sir, we're receiving reports from the boarding parties!" said the communications lieutenant.
"Let's hear it, then!" Tra'an replied.
Grath Tarsh wielded his expended blaster rifle like a club, smashing in the head of the Ravager that had attempted to use an armor covered arm as a bludgeon to brain him to death. Turning to face the next screaming, blood covered slave, he felt an axe slicing into his arm, tearing it away. As his arteries spurted crimson onto the stained deck of the hangar, he saw the horde of Plagueian slaves and despaired for his brothers that lived.
CRV Razor's Edge
Frip Lesk'ta raced away from the hangar, fleeing from the sounds of combat that echoed everywhere. The smell of blood from the dying stormtroopers made him green to his ears. The Bith skidded around a corner, running full tilt for a turbolift far away, passing hallway after hallway where droids eviscerated and pincushioned those who were supposed to be professionals at killing. The hundred battle droids that had forced their way aboard had easily overpowered the overmatched defenders.
Just around the corner from safety, the technician made a tight turn and slammed into the back of a group of B2 battle droids. As he fell backwards, hands and feet struggling to push him away, only one thought survived in his mind.
I did not sign up for this shavit!
Large eyes grew larger as blaster barrels swung in his direction and emptied, leaving behind a charred stain on the formerly immaculate deck.
ESC Red Death
Explosions rocked the bridge of the carrier as a boarding shuttle latched on just down the superstructure and forced its way in. As the sounds faded, they were replaced with a harmony of humming before the power died, leaving the bridge bathed in emergency illumination. Not a moment passed before the hissing of durasteel being melted could be heard throughout the command deck. As the seconds passed, the multi-color tips of luminescent plasma became visible as four different color weapons finished the destruction of the blast door, sending it careening to the deck.
As the heavy piece of metal slammed into the steel beneath it, eight shapes darted forward and laid waste to all before them. Blood sizzled as it was turned into superheated steam among the screams and shouts of the formerly living. The human captain cowered in the corner, babbling incoherently, as the power he'd come to fear from his own masters came to end his life from another place.
As he was hoisted by a power he didn't understand, the soiling of his uniform could be heard throughout the destroyed remains of his command. Laughter spilled forth from his executioners as they toyed with him, cutting off one limb at a time, taking a moment to enjoy the destruction of those who opposed them, even as the saboteurs rigged the ship to explode.
"Make him scream before killing him. I love the sound of agony.”
The voice was revealed to belong to Kuro in the hard, flared light of the broken bridge. His team cheered in joy, all dragging tips of their lightsabers across the captain’s skin before slicing his head off, the agonizing scream broadcast across all frequencies.
"The enemy ships have been boarded. Now we must do our part to neutralize those that remain. We will carry the day!"
Tra'an's words were heard by all Plagueians, serving only to reinforce the zeal and determination of the living, and the killing programming of the droids. Nothing would be suffered to live, and what could not be salvaged would be destroyed.
"Send word to the Dread Lord. Let her know that victory is within our grasp," Tra'an ordered
Plagueis would ascend over the corpses of the dead and dying, for nothing else would be left behind them.
Loro Babis System
Athiss planetary orbit
“He’s going to pay for calling me an ‘idiotic animal,’” Arturis grumbled to himself as he pulled himself through the small vent shafts. He disliked showing signs of weakness and foolishness to the house, much less the summit, but had little choice in the matter. It was a direct order from the Dread Lord Tavisaen. He climbed upwards at a junction, narrowly keeping himself above a spinning fan just below as he pushed with his limbs and tail.
He paused briefly and held himself in place as he examined a datapad hidden away in his tactical gear. “All right, should be almost there. Just need to go past the main cooling systems and through the upper engineering corridor. That should get me past all three checkpoints and drop me straight inside.”
Suddenly a holographic figure of the Quaestor appeared on his datapad. “Schulen.”
“Dread Lord,” he murmured as he closed his eyes and bowed his head. He heard Ronovi scoff.
“Now that you’re away from the peering eyes of the House and Dark Council, commence Operation Menchi. You know what to do. Don’t screw it up.”
Arturis grinned from ear to ear, his eyes glowing with a soft red hue. His utility pack almost gave off a soft whimper as he placed his datapad back inside and continued through the vents. Finally, he thought to himself cheerfully as he pulled himself up into another larger horizontal shaft where he could pick up bits of speed as he scurried along with minimal sound. As he reached a giant cylindrical chamber, Arturis looked down at the large fan and coolant system just a few hundred feet below, then back at the passage on the opposite side.
He placed his feet on the edge of the vent shaft and leapt across, grasping hold of the vent on the opposite side as he climbed inside and took off sprinting through it. At the far end, he spotted an opening and slowed down as he came up to it, getting a clear view into the engineering corridor. He opened the vent grate and jumped down while no one was present, running down the corridor to a locked blast door. He reached into his belt and pulled out a decent sized sack, then knocked on the door as he climbed inside and zipped it shut.
One of the engineering technicians activated a camera and looked outside, spotting the bag. He opened the blast door and knelt down, examining it as he picked it up.
“Emergency Food Supply?” he mumbled, reading the text on the bag. Arturis reached out with the Force and left a strong impression that the bag had some foul smelling creature from Nal Hutta in it. “Ugh. When will the chief stop eating this kriffing exotic, so-called food?”
“Hughes, what the Hell are you doing!?” another technician yelled as he ran towards him. “We’re on lockdown while enemies are aboard the ship! Why do you have the door open?”
“Cookie left this for the chief, mate. He wanted to get it in here and to his office before something happened to it.”
“Oh. Right, good idea.” the technician murmured as he looked at the bag. “The chief was pissed last time. Take it to his office and shut that stang door.” He then returned to his station by the shield controls.
Technician Hughes pressed a button on the wall and, as the blast door closed, he carried the bag into the Chief’s office and placed it down by his terminal. Arturis unzipped the bag from inside and hopped out, taking a seat on the chief’s desk as he typed away at his keyboard.
“Let’s see. Engineering System Administration. Reactor Schematic Control. Ah, here it is. Diagnostic Network Control.”
He reached into his pack and pulled a small datacard, which he inserted into the chief’s terminal as a security login screen came up. Just as quickly, the screen faded as he executed the program. As he stood up, the door opened as Hughes and another man, most likely the Chief, entered the office.
“I’m just as curious what it is to the - ” the chief suddenly stopped mid-sentence as he and Hughes both spotted the Kushiban sitting on his desk. “What the...?”
Arturis let out a raspy hiss, baring his teeth as he stood up and dove at Hughes, sinking his teeth into his neck as he latched on.
“Graa! Get this vampire rabbit thing off me, chief!” he screamed before Arturis jerked his head back and ripped out the side of his neck, including his jugular vein. The chief stepped back as Hughes fell to the floor, the now blood-soaked Kushiban turning his glare towards him.
As Arturis leapt onto the Chief and started ripping away at his chest with his claws in a bloodthirsty rage, klaxons around the ship started going off. Technicians fled in horror trying to escape the engineering bay, but to no luck, as all of the blast doors were sealed shut. An electronic voice came across the communications system as the chief fell to the floor, the Kushiban lifting his head out of the large hole he had made in the man’s chest.
‘Warning. Reactor status critical. Five minutes until core breach. Evacuation bays activated. Engineering sector sealed.”
Dozens of technicians stood in front of the main blast door, horrified at the sight of the chief’s heart dangling from Arturis’s jaw. He crushed it between his teeth and dove into the group of technicians, snarling loudly as they screamed in terror.
Five minutes later, the mound of corpses building, the electronic voice counted down to zero. And nothing happened.
“Core breach aversion failed. Systems reset to normal status and ship capacity restored.”
Arturis grinned and burped as he plopped down in front of the pile of dead bodies.
Operation Menchi was a success. The destroyer was theirs.
Loro Babis System
Athiss planetary orbit
Xander Drax stared intently at the tactical console before him, and he didn’t like what he saw at all. Damage indicators flickered all over the display, and far too many of them were on his ships. His gambit had worked initially - the Brotherhood rear lines were in disarray and their main formation had been disrupted, but only for a short time. He’d expected a more conventional response, thinking that the Brotherhood forces would regroup, giving him the chance to encircle their main force. There was one thing he couldn’t count on, though, an element he hadn’t considered.
Some said, in Sabacc, that it was more difficult for a skilled player to play against an unskilled opponent than one of equal or nearly equal ability. People who knew the game reacted in predictable ways - you just needed to figure out what approach they were taking. Unskilled opponents didn’t know the conventions of the game and were far more likely to take approaches that all the conventions and experience in the galaxy simply couldn’t account for. They also tended to take risks that, while often uncalculated, could lead to victory through either sheer gall or simple dumb luck. Battle could be much the same way at times, and Tavisaen was not skilled at naval combat. She’d taken the big risk of sending boarding parties at the time she did. It was a rookie mistake, a plan that should have led to disaster.
There was only one problem: The mistake wasn’t a mistake at all. It was working.
“Admiral, enemy heavy units closing on our port flank. Fleet effectiveness is estimated at forty-seven percent. Enemy fleet effectiveness estimated at sixty-nine percent. Orders?”
Drax had already figured what the yeoman had just told him. The situation was deteriorating. Most of his ships had been hit - several destroyed, burning in space, or repelling boarders. The tactical situation was degrading rapidly, and it was time to consider force preservation. Despite his distaste of it, there was only one reasonable option. He took a deep breath and delivered the order.
“Signal the fleet. Reform and proceed to exit point Kappa. Full withdrawal.”
The yeoman looked confused, but he did as ordered without question. It was the only way he would survive, in more ways than one. As the massive Star Destroyer lurched into a turn toward clear space, the ships of the One Sith fleet that could move followed suit. It would be a few minutes before they could jump, but it was a start. What came next was predictable, though that didn’t make it any less irritating.
“Lord Stevan on holo for you, Admiral.”
Drax rolled his eyes as he gestured for the yeoman to put the transmission through. He didn’t even look at Stevan’s image as it appeared before him. The rage in his voice was clear, his features twisted in a sneer.
“Lord Drax, why are you withdrawing? You know your orders. You are not to abandon Athiss!”
The Fondorian turned to look at Stevan, his expression cold and serious.
“I’m withdrawing because we risk destruction if we remain. You know as well as I do that this conflict with the Brotherhood won’t end here, no matter the outcome. Svolten and Ashas Ree are under attack as well, and we need to preserve what naval forces we have left to have any hope of a victory in the larger war. Besides, it’s not like you don’t have a plan for when they arrive planetside.”
“The bioagent? You know it’s untested. How do we know it will even work?”
Stevan was clearly baiting him, but Drax would have none of it .
“That fool Zoraan did a number on the Brotherhood with a bioagent, and your own reports are clear that they learned little from that experience. The rest is up to you.”
“I’ve had enough of this, Drax. Lord Esoteric will deal with you.”
“He’s got six minutes and twenty-three seconds,” Drax muttered as he turned away.
Stevan’s face tightened into a scowl as he cut the transmission in a huff. Less than a minute later, the holographic image of a shrouded Esoteric appeared. Drax glared at him in a manner that suggested he didn’t have time for him.
“So you’ve finally decided to grace me with your presence, Esoteric, even from your ‘undisclosed’ location. Shoot any underlings in the face today?”
“How dare you be so insolent to me, Lord Drax! You’ll cease this foolishness now and finish the Brotherhood fleet!”
“I don’t answer to you, Esoteric. I answer to Krayt. What should I tell him for you?”
“You insolent coward! I’m warning you, if you abandon us here...”
Drax didn’t let Esoteric finish his empty threat. “I’ll live. You might die. Both seem like positive outcomes from my perspective. Goodbye, Esoteric.”
As he finished, Drax reached down and keyed off the holo before Esoteric launched into another rant. He crossed his arms and looked out the viewport in front of him.
This wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.
Loro Babis system
Athiss planetary orbit
“M’lord!” the captain called out. “The lead Imperial-II has begun to withdraw! Other operational enemy ships are following suit.”
“Brilliant,” Ronovi whispered, a glint of gold lighting up in her amber eye as she stood next to Solus.
From the viewing portal, she watched the enemy fleet, those that were still operational, disappear one by one as they left a ribbon of stardust behind. Those ships that remained, of course, were those soon to fall under the control of Plagueis. The operation, despite failing to eliminate the persistent Xander Drax once again, had been a complete success.
And they had doubted her. The idea that Ronovi had introduced was a risky one, surely - one that could have meant the casualties of several elite members of the Ascendant Fleet, as well as unsustainable losses of slaves and loyal officers of the house. But it had worked. Solus, no matter how much skepticism he had harbored, had stepped back and allowed the naval neophyte to take the helm. The results were more than satisfying.
Hearing a beeping from the main console, Ronovi pressed a button and heard the high-pitched, maniacal intonation of a madman’s voice.
“Macron Goura,” she declared. “I take it you are speaking on behalf of Korras?”
“Yes!” the Son of Sadow cackled. “Yes. I speak for all those who ally with the Clan of the Dark Lord Sadow! I come bearing good news of our grandiose accomplishments! The enemy has fled, and we, the Brotherhood of Darkness, stand victorious in the midst of slaughter!”
“Erm...” Ronovi raised an eyebrow. “Yes. I am well aware of the success of the mission.”
“Tavisaen!” Macron continued to crow, as if he had not heard her. “Together, Naga Sadow and Plagueis have proven once again to the pestilent One Sith that we are indestructible! With our powers and shadows combined, we cast a dark and perilous shroud over our antagonists. The Battle of Athiss will stand as a beacon of the dark side for all those to gaze upon. We are making history, the Brotherhood rising as brothers, turning the tide in our darkest favor, ripping away the hope and faith of those who dare to - ”
“Annnnnd that’s quite enough of that,” the Epicanthix muttered under her breath as she stabbed the comm control with a finger, cutting Macron off mid-speech.
As silence settled back onto the bridge, Ronovi shifted her attention to Solus. He was already looking at her, with a cocked head but a straight face.
“Our darkness will drive our dark enemies into the darkest reaches of dark space?”
“Shut up,” Ronovi growled as she turned to the captain. “Captain, signal the Dark Council.”
“Of course, my lord. What message will I convey?”
She sneered. The viewing portal displayed a cluster of enemy vessels, those now under he control or those that soon would be. They were all of decent caliber - worthwhile trophies gained by Plagueis. But now Ronovi had a better use for them. She pointed to the scene for the captain to observe.
“I can see that the Dark Council has lost some of their toys during this particular skirmish. I want you to let them know that they have no need to worry... I have replacements.”
The captain paused for a moment before nodding. “Understood.”
“Why are you giving the Dark Council the seized ships?” Solus demanded as Ronovi started walking away from the viewing portal. “You hate them.”
Ronovi stopped moving, pivoted on her heel, and flashed Solus a very knowing smile. At some point, he would have to learn to follow her game more thoroughly.
“There’s a Huttese proverb that I just absolutely adore,” she remarked. “You would appreciate it.”
“And what’s that?”
The lights of the bridge glowed against the Quaestor’s exposed teeth. “Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the Hell out of your enemies.”
She then waved Solus off, moving toward the guards that flanking the doors to the aft turbolift, leaving the Sith to oversee the mop up operations. She could sense his eyes on her as she slipped away from the battle, his gaze burning into her back with a question she could almost feel palpable need to ask.
“Oh, and I’m actually going to have my victory drink now,” she declared for all those to hear just before the turbolift doors closed, leaving his question unasked. “With no interruptions. Excuse me.”
Above Athiss, a cold, harsh brew would be poured.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, OUTTAKES!
(Arturis Post 1)
“Yes. In your dossier, I saw that you have naval combat experience. Is that correct?” Celevon asked in a direct manner.
Arturis looked confused for a moment before responding, “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”
(Solus Post 2)
"Away all boarders!" Ronovi ordered. "I shall lead the boarding parties personally!"
"Actually, according to Starfleet Regulation Section 12, Paragraph 4, the commanding officer of a ship is barred from leading an away mission," William T. Riker, the ship's executive officer stated matter of factly.
(Arturis Post 2)
As he reached a giant cylindrical chamber, Arturis looked down at the large fan and coolant system just a few hundred feet below, then back at the passage on the opposite side. He then started talking to himself, starting in a weirdly rural tone, as if imitating someone.
"A Sith doesn't take a dump, son, without a plan."
Arturis then switched back to his normal voice.
"So, how am I going to get the crew off a Star Destroyer. They'd have to want to get off. So how do you make a crew want to get off a Star Destroyer? How do you make a crew want to get off a hypermatter-powered star..."
Arturis' ears perked up and he got a smug look on his face.
(Arden Post 2)
Drax didn’t let Esoteric finish his empty threat. “I’ll live, you might die. Both seem like positives from my perspective. Good day, sir.”
"Drax!" Esoteric thundered.
"I SAID, GOOD DAY, SIR!" Drax barked back.
(Arden Post 2)
“How dare you be so insolent to me Drax! You’ll cease this foolishness now and finish the Brotherhood fleet.”
Drax turned his head to give Esoteric a proper glare. “I don’t answer to you, Esoteric, I answer to Krayt. Do you have a message for him? We have a tea time in twelve hours. Korriban Pines Country Club. Very prestigious.”
“You’re leaving me to die so you can make your golf game? I didn’t even know you played.” Esoteric seemed both angry and confused.
“Please. I’d let you die for a Klondike bar. “