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Sgt. Slaughter

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  1. Fleet Asset Units Missile Destroyer Group One Experience Status: Use for number of battles fought, if currently suffering from “Heavy Casualties” Battle Honors: Asset Denial Force One Experience Status: Use for number of battles fought, if currently suffering from “Heavy Casualties” Battle Honors: Fleet Command (Fidelity) Experience Status: Use for number of battles fought, if currently suffering from “Heavy Casualties” Battle Honors: Fidelity is one of the most veteran Star Cruisers of the Rebel Alliance, having participated in the Battles of Onderon, Coruscant, and Dark Sun Station. Her delaying actions at Coruscant prevented Mandalorian raiders from breaching Coruscant’s defenses for days, allowing billions of civilians to evacuate from the planet before its moon finally crashed into the surface. At Coruscant, she led a decisive advance once her sister ship Steadfast was destroyed, decimating the overwhelmed Black Sun defenses and throwing its fleet into chaos while the Jedi escaped with the Imperial Head of State Raven Zinthos. Upgrades: Meditation Chamber: Force Users can use these specially designed rooms to increase the efficiency of their forces, either gaining an additional Starfighter action or allowing two task forces to choose the same target for focus fire without penalty to damage. Ship Class: MC90c Star Cruiser
  2. The next few weeks were not kind to Admiral Slaughter. On multiple occasions, senators of the Galactic Alliance begged that he divert forces to the defense of their home sectors. Slaughter’s response to these requests/demands were to glance at a plaque that a junior officer had recently affixed to the wall of his office, grind his teeth, and quietly growl in the back of his throat while resisting the urge to hang up on those self-important bureaucrats and return to the work that mattered: getting his battered fleet into drydock so it could be repaired in preparation for the next campaign. That plaque was a slab of plain durasteel engraved with two words: “Be nice.” Repairs completed, next step was to seize control of the Black Sun’s captured vessels that had remained in orbit under the guns of a twitchy Rebel fleet. Commandeering a Victory II-class Star Destroyer was a daunting task; each vessel was home to upwards of six thousand sapients and a brigade of shock troopers. The operation of seizing the bridge and engineering compartments of the heavy cruisers was likely to cost the lives of scores of Alliance soldiers if the Black Sun was determined to resist. Admiral Slaughter took up his station on the bridge. Fidelity rested at point-blank range to Red Hussar, her broadside aimed squarely at the primary hangar of the Victory II-class Star Destroyer. In a moment, he could give the order to unleash a volley of turbolaser fire that would detonate the smaller vessel’s ammunition reserves, cracking Red Hussar in two--killing most of the crew in an instant and leaving the Rebel Alliance with nothing more than a hulk that would take months to salvage. A Twi’lek yeoman approached with a dataslate and a mug of caf--extra-hot and slightly-viscous, just like all good navy caf. “Remember, Admiral, be nice.” Slaughter’s jaw worked in annoyance for a moment, then he took a sip of caf and hailed Red Hussar. “Red Hussar, this is Fidelity Actual. We are taking possession of your vessel. Direct your marine complement to remain in their barracks and prepare to receive a command crew. ” “Acknowledged, Fidelity. Ah… I can’t guarantee that my men will comply with that order. They’re a bit nervous about what will happen to them after they surrender.” That yeoman glanced across the tactical pit and mouthed the words Be nice. A strangled growling sound began to issue from the back of Slaughter’s throat. “Captain, Dark Sun got ugly, but it was an honest fight. That’s war.” Slaughter forced a deep breath. The Rebel Alliance was in no position to house thousands of prisoners of war in its current state; he obviously couldn’t hand that information to an opposing officer, but conducting dozens of courts martial was a waste of time and resources. “Tell your men that they’ll be debriefed, then they will be free to go wherever they like as long as they swear to never take up arms against the G--Rebel Alliance. And if any of them are willing to listen, we can always use talented soldiers.” Minutes passed. Slaughter considered the prospect of having a squad of marines cut into the command superstructure. The response finally came. “My men will stand down. Don’t let them down.” Once Red Hussar began lumbering towards Nar Shaddaa’s overworked shipyards, Silent Spring surrendered control to the Rebel Alliance with fewer dramatics. Over the next weeks, the two Victory II-class Star Destroyers completed a transformation into heavily-armed missile cruisers that bristled with racks of assault concussion missile tubes and concussion missile emplacements. They would sacrifice the bulk of their turbolaser complement, but what they sacrificed in their broadside they would gain in a massive first-strike capability. ____ Two days later, Slaughter checked on the progress of a project that he had directed Fidelity’s engineers to immediately after Dark Sun. Time and time again, he had encountered fleets whose fire control and starfighter coordination capabilities outmatched his own--whether through some esoteric Force technique, or the combined calculations of billions of droid brains. If the Rebel Alliance was going to function as an effective resistance, it would need command and coordination capabilities to match those of the Sith in order to launch coordinated hit-and-run attacks. That would require the assistance of the Jedi Order. No one in the Rebel Alliance actually knew what kind of facilities a Jedi required to deploy Battle Meditation; there were only a few Padawans and junior Knights in its ranks, and none of the Rebellion’s engineers were Force-Sensitive. Still, they vowed to give the project their best efforts. Admiral Slaughter stepped into what had previously been one of Fidelity’s smaller conference rooms and was astonished at its transformation. The moment the stocky man set foot within the meditation chamber, as the engineers were calling it, the sounds of the ship became muted. The silence left Slaughter uneasy; he was accustomed to the ever-present hums and unidentifiable creaks of an operational warship. The ceiling of the room had been lifted by two meters and an enormous tactical holoprojector had been situated in the center of the chamber. The fact that his engineers knew nothing about the Force, however, soon became apparent. Masses of multicolored crystals--almost certainly synthetic, grown in the last month--were situated around the room in patterns that he supposed conformed to the dictates of some foreign philosophy of spatial arrangement and energy flow. Those ancient ideas of architecture were obviously outmoded, but it was all they had to operate on without access to the Jedi archives. Bruce stopped before a pillar of synthetic amethyst and stared. “This is supposed to be… helpful?” “Ah… amethyst is supposed to help concentrate energy? And the jade helps soothe extreme emotion and helps with balance?” The explanations from his chief engineer came out as questions. Slaughter sniffed and caught the scent of something burning. Something… woody. Not unpleasant. Almost like a perfume that his late wife used to wear… “Is that incense?” “Yes! It helps to cleanse the air and…. remove--” “--Remove impurities?” The two Rebel officers finished at the same time. “Chief, you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing, do you?” A helpless shrug was his response. “I’m going to ask the Jedi for help on this one.”
  3. Pleasantries, well-wishes, salutes--at least between the men-at-arms--and then departure to the Fidelity. The meeting could have been more productive--most likely would have been, if Draygo hadn’t derailed the proceedings with her personal crusade against collateral damage. By the time that Slaughter had returned to the Galactic Alliance’s surviving MC90 Cruiser, his second wind had worn away and the weariness of weeks of constant action had begun to seep in. He began to doze intermittently on the shuttle. “Slap me,” he murmured when the forward jolt of the gunship’s landing had roused him from sleep. “Sir?” “I mean it, soldier. Put some shoulder into it.” The marine happened to have been wearing plastoid gauntlets, but nonetheless obeyed the command. The slap spun Slaughter around and the stout Admiral was pitched to the deck of the shuttle. Pressing a hand to his stinging cheek as he picked himself up from the deck, the Admiral saw blood on the tips of his fingers and knew that the blow would leave a mark for some hours. That was fine; the pain would keep him awake for at least a few more hours and the rush of adrenaline would make that precious time more useful. “Thank you, soldier. I’ll be in my office.” ___ When Admiral Slaughter arrived at his office--more accurately, the office of the captain of the Fidelity--some anonymous yeoman had already fetched a pair of canteens of insta-caf. Slaughter nodded in approval--that was two liters of liquid energy. Slaughter summoned his staff and settled down for a long night of analyzing engineers reports--or a long morning, he wasn’t entirely sure what time it was. All over Nar Shaddaa, hundreds of Alliance surveyors were scouring the moon for potentially suitable sites for the nerve center of the joint Imperial-Alliance coalition. Even as he scanned reports of potential sites with regards to their infrastructure, security status, modernity, proximity to potential military resources, cultural value, (not least important) cost, and a hundred other critical variables, yeomans and junior officers filed into the room with armfuls of dataslates. The little grey tablets piled up and the miniature columns began to spread to fill the room. Eventually, the tiny office began to resemble the hideout of a crazed librarian with a hoarding problem, and they had to carefully step around the room to avoid toppling over one of the piles. The abridged transcript of their committee could be summarized as follows: “No. No. No. Its in the middle of a residential block--if that gets hit… No. What the stang are you thinking? No. Damn. Out of caf. Ensign, could you--thanks. No. No. That area is a warzone, look at the murders per cap. At least it would be training for our men. Eh, put it in the maybes. No. No. Too expensive. No. Where is that Ensign? Nah, its on the opposite side of the moon from the shipyards. No. No. There’s a tribe of Jawas fifty klicks away--are you serious? No. No. No. No… give me that dataslate again.” It was another hour of carefully reading, re-reading, shouting at his similarly exhausted staff officers about the merits and downsides of the site in question--mostly downsides, he would later acknowledge in hindsight. It was an abandoned Hutt casino, rendered defunct by the collapse of the more legitimate enterprises of the repulsive invertebrates at the height of the Empire. Decades of being picked over by scavengers had stripped it of virtually anything useful and reduced the structure into a husk of republican glory, but that was ironically useful to the Galactic Alliance--their engineers would have needed to remove all of that obsolete and substandard wiring. Besides, the structure was remarkably inexpensive, as it had been condemned and slated to be demolished by construction droids. He sent the terse message to the Captain leading the survey. Yes. Exactly what we need. It’s perfect. Do whatever it takes to purchase it. And the surrounding neighborhoods. The Admiral then sent communiques to several officers to further investigate The Red and Black and secure it, lest his engineers were about to stumble upon a nest of rakghouls or something even worse. Ten minutes later, he collapsed, his short-shaven head buried under a pile of forgotten data slates. The snoring could be heard from outside the office.
  4. Hundreds of kilometers above Nar Shaddaa, the leadership of the legitimate governments of the galaxy and their monastic defenders were discussing their counter to the forces of despotism. On the moon’s surface, an equally-critical mission was being carried out by a less storied dramatis personae; these were the anonymous professionals of the broken Galactic Alliance. Hundreds of shuttle pilots, engineers, quartermasters, and protocol droids were scouring the surface for a suitable location for the nerve center of the Rebel Alliance. As unlikely as the Smuggler’s Moon seemed as the location for the headquarters to the resistance against the Sith Empire, the moon was home to tens of billions of sapients and hundreds of species who had known persecution under the Sith Emperors; the Imperial Remnant’s military shipyards would be a critical resource in prosecuting the war; and perhaps most importantly, Imperial Remnant’s aggressive reconstruction campaign had freed up vast acreages of the urban landscape; The former residents and vagrants of these regions had been evacuated to make way for the inexorable march of the Remnant’s construction droids. The armies of these bipedal behemoths would then plow through the urban jungle, razing entire city blocks and leaving the dust of urban decay in their wake. What was left behind was transformed, modernized ecumenopolis, fully constructed and ready to receive the tenants who could afford the new neighborhoods. It was a cold, unsentimental approach to urban renewal, perhaps, it was difficult to deny that razing abandoned tenements, glitterstim dens, and millenia-old infrastructure and replacing them with structures worthy of pre-Faust Coruscant was progress. One of these projects, however, was placed on indefinite hold. A Lambda-class shuttle landed at the foot of a vast, domed structure in the midst of one of these urban wastelands, disgorging a score of engineers and archivists. Eight Alliance marines armed with carbines accompanied them; Nar Shaddaa may have been friendly territory, but this structure, for all they knew, may have been populated solely by spice-fiends, scavengers, and rakghouls. In centuries past, this domed edifice had been The Red and Black, an opulent casino favored by the Hutts before their business empire. Its architecture had been an imitation of the conspicuous consumption of space on Coruscant--the casino rose above the heights of the surrounding skyscrapers, and the Hutts had purchased the air rights of the entire region to ensure that no mere tenement would ever tower over their jewel. The interior of the casino was no less wasteful in its use of space, and its vast acreage was clad in genuine marble--actual polished stone, all the better for the locomotion of the oversized slugs. For centuries, The Red and Black had been a gem in the diadem of the Hutt business empire. Those days were over. The Hutt cartel had been broken. The Red and Black had been abandoned for nearly a century, and scavengers had picked over the frame of the casino for every useful piece of scrap. Neglect and time had eroded the casino until it was an eyesore in an equally decayed neighborhood All that was left for the Alliance engineers was a durasteel husk, lit only the occasional ray of sunlight that penetrated the cracked dome and their own spotlumas. At least nothing more dangerous than a few spice-addled vagrants inhabited the casino. Still, there seemed nothing to recommend the structure over a half-dozen suitable locations on the Smuggler’s Moon--even if The Red and Black rested atop a major hub of turbolift traffic and vast swaths of urban landscape were readily available for conversion to anchorage and barracks, the enormity of the task of reconstructing The Red and Black seemed prohibitive. Minutes after the twenty-eight surveyors packed up their equipment and boarded their shuttle for their next destination, their Lieutenant received a brief message from above. Way up above, as it so happened. Yes. Exactly what we need. It’s perfect. Do whatever it takes to purchase it. And the surrounding neighborhoods. ____ Days later, the threshold of The Red and Black was swarming with activity. A small army of engineers and astromech droids had descended upon the abandoned casino and littered its circumference with shuttles. One of the many-appendaged droid skyscrapers hunched over the arch of its dome, its durasteel claws stripping away eroded durasteel and the last fragments of centuries-old wiring that the scavengers hadn’t removed. Other portions of the dome were aglow with white-hot flame as the gargantuan droid welded forge-fresh durasteel armor, the product of the recycled scrap. Hundreds of meters below the droid, every unsecured tool rattled in tandem with subaudible vibrations as the Alliance engineers plumbed the kilometers of its foundation and subcellar with seismic sensors. As it so happened, its foundation had withstood the test of centuries and was safe for inhabitation. Four more shuttles landed from the fleet in orbit and deployed their marines. The Red and Black stood atop a network of long-abandoned turbolift shafts and there was no telling what creatures had been residing with subcellar for the past decades. For the next week, that inhabitation would be limited to two rooms. Its cavernous lobby became littered with cots and the engineers’ equipment. By day, it was evacuated save for a few armed guards as the reconstruction proceeded; by night, it was lit by welding torches that cast a pale, flickering glow on the sapients below while a score of their number hung from the rafters and continued the project of reinforcing the dome against bombardment. A nearby auditorium became strewn with cables that led into a briefing holoprojector that had been salvaged from a captured Victory-class Star Destroyer. Nearby, a second construction droid pulverized an abandoned warehouse and rebuilt the lot into a facsimile of a landing strip. A barracks, a briefing room, and a landing strip wasn’t much to start a rebellion, but it was a start.
  5. It was the briefest of instants, but Armiena Draygo’s feelings betrayed her and she shot Tobias Vos a glance of pure venom. She resisted the urge to clench her fists; she couldn’t indulge in her fantasy of teaching the aspiring war-criminal a remedial lesson in rules of engagement through blunt-force trauma. Dark Sun Station had been rendered useless as a business asset the moment the Galactic Alliance and Jedi fleets arrived--business required predictability and security--and there was no need to sabotage the station. The only objective he had succeeded in was muddying the morality of the Jedi Order--and in fighting a popular resistance, perception of morality counted for so much. She turned away and whispered into the ear of one of the passing medtechs. A few seconds later, the Twi’lek returned with a medical chart and she began to study the medical scans of one of the Black Sun prisoners of war. Admiral Slaughter hadn’t missed the glare across the room. He couldn’t allow this meeting to descend into ego-driven infighting or Jedi platitudes--what mattered right now was guns, men, and steel. Let the Jedi worry about ideology. Taking a deep breath, he felt a peculiar edge sidle somewhere behind his left ear. The Admiral let it in and felt some of the weight of the last forty-eight hours retreat. But it was not a wholesome energy. It was a sense of cold purpose, ready to release itself like a mountain’s worth of fresh powder on the brink of an avalanche. He seized Zinthos’ eyes. “The Sith may have a significant advantage in the Core, but we have the resources to wage a very potent resistance. Bilbringi is still in operation. Borleias holds. Anaxes holds. We have numerous training facilities across the galaxy that have been inactive since the last war. And there are dozens of species that remember full well what life under the Sith Empire was like. Zinthos, the Sith whipped us hard, but this ain’t over and not by a long shot.” “I agree--full partnership. Merge it all--our fleets, armies, everything, unified command. Let necessity determine who commands what. No turf wars, no bull over unit cohesion. Leave it to the engineers to figure out how to rack TIEs in a Mon Cal or X-Wings in a Star Destroyer. Stormtroopers? My people will learn to see them as their comrades. We’ll set up headquarters on Nar Shaddaa--there’s bound to be a dozen suitable structures we can fortify for our needs. “And as for where to strike next… we currently have ten thousand Black Sun prisoners of war under our guns, stuffed to the ribs with cybernetics and Force knows what. They don’t all want to be there--some of ‘em are gonna be slaves, or coerced, or forced into contracts. That’s a huge intelligence coup. Fact is that Black Sun is vulnerable right now and we can inflict some serious damage if we move quickly.”
  6. The hours mounted. In hyperspace, it was impossible to communicate with the rest of the fleet and confirm which ships in the squadron had survived and what casualties had been suffered. Slaughter knew that the cost was high--perhaps even higher than he was prepared to pay, even for the single most powerful head in the galaxy. There was no taking that back, the Admiral told himself while mulling over what he was going to say when he finally met the Head of State. Could only go forward--to the next battle, to the next maneuver, to the next shot. Immediately upon re-entry to realspace, Slaughter issued a few prefunctory orders for the fleet to form an antistarfighter screen around the Fidelity and Misericordia. He then boarded his shuttle to transfer to Justice's Mandate, the Jedi Star Destroyer to which Zinthos had been recovered. Exhausted and still trying to decide what he was going to say to the Imperial Head of State, he ignored the chatter from the cockpit--they were apparently in the orbit of a miserable planet named Nal Hutta, but the significance of the name failed to penetrate the haze of purpose and exhaustion that filled his mind. Guided through the corridors of the unfamiliar ship by a Mon Calamari aide, Slaughter was eventually deposited at the entrance to the ship's medical wards. His stomach dropped at the sight of the familiar ensign above the portal--Zinthos must have been badly wounded. His stomach also dropped when the Admiral saw who was standing guard just outside. He rubbed his hand blearily against his eyes. It was Draygo--or Darkfire, it was impossible to tell what she was calling herself. Her left arm was bound by a sling around her neck and her right hand was clutched around a ceramic mug. The veteran Jedi gave him a dismissive glance. "What happened to you?" "Dislocated shoulder. My fault." That was all the veteran Jedi had to say. In an unnerving manner not entirely unlike an overgrown bird-of-prey, Draygo just stared into the doorway. Her only motion was the occasional rise and fall of the steaming mug of synthcaf. Bruce sighed and just moved forward into the Medical Ward, guided to a back room where the Imperial Head of State was being treated. Slaughter's first inclination was shock--not simply at how visually spectacular the Head of State's injuries were, but how young she was. Both her and Alluyen. But Zinthos had taken control of the Empire on numerous occasions when inaction invited ruin--at the Death Star, and then driving the Sith off of Carida and inviting their reprisals. Physically, she might have appeared wounded, but within that tiny frame was a stern commander that Slaughter would have hesitated to confront. "Grandmaster. Head of State. I've heard Jedi healing can sometimes be as good as bacta." He gave a small nod to the Jedi Grandmaster before plowing on with the subtlety of a provoked bull-nerf. "There is a war to continue. We've taken terrible losses, but I intend to make the lives of the Sith as miserable as possible." Somewhere behind him, the smell of that synth-caf followed in and with it Armiena Draygo.
  7. ((Bruce Slaughter)) The conclusion of the battle was a terrible sight. Steadfast, her commander having signaled to abandon the ship, was blooming with miniature flares as escape pods and shuttles fled from the ship. The airspace around the Mon Calamari Cruiser developed into a dozen individual dogfights as Alliance starfighters fought to protect their rescue shuttles from Sith and Black Sun raiders. Under the fire of two Sith Kyber-class Star Destroyers and countless strafing starfighters, Steadfast was beginning to break up. Running lights along the hull began to darken and the last few manned batteries spat out a few paltry salvoes against the fleeing Totenkopf in hopes of knocking out its gravity well projector. Her sister ship Fidelity streaked across the front of the Alliance formation to cut off the retreat of the battered Victory II-class Star Destroyers, both flanks delivering a fresh dose of hate against the Star Destroyers on her port and the fleeing ships on her starboard. No sooner than when Fidelity and Chrysaetos, her Majestic-class escort cruiser, cut across the bows of Red Hussar and Silent Spring at point-blank range and leveled their broadsides at the superstructures of the overmatched Star Destroyers, a plaintive transmission for mercy was received by Fidelity. The Admiral was out of contact--the ruin of Steadfast was casting out so much radiation into the void that his shuttle couldn’t respond to hails--but the transmission was responded to in the affirmative. “Received and accepted,” was the terse response from Fidelity’s captain. “Drop shields and follow all instructions from our helm. Any deviation will result in your destruction.” _____ At that moment, Slaughter was shouting into a wired comlink dangling from the ceiling of his command shuttle, as though the venom in his voice could penetrate through terajoules of radiation that was reducing the shuttle’s transmissions to static and obscenities. “Doesn’t matter--dammit, doesn’t matter, make sure that shuttle reaches--reaches Mandate. Just kill that Interdictor and go right through ‘em. She held her fire?” A vein pulsed in the Admiral’s forehead and ugly red blotches began to break out over his face as he silently cursed the unprofessional, unpredictable Jedi. He took a deep breath and looked away from the comlink. When the red haze in his peripheral vision began to recede, the Coruscanti found that the airwaves were much more clear as the shuttle escaped the wreckage of the flagship. “Get Zinthos out. Go wherever the Imps want ‘er. I need to see her face to face.” Muffled by armored bulkheads, he could barely make out the conversation of the shuttle’s pilots--and a shouted curse. The Admiral couldn’t inspect the damage to his flagship, but he could imagine the kind of havoc that had racked Steadfast. All contact had been lost with the forecastle and several magazines had been breached--it was entirely possible that the entire first third of Steadfast had been blasted away and was drifting as a bulbous, burning piece of flotsam. At the moment that he heard the pilots curse, Slaughter knew that Steadfast was gone. Her reactors had gone singularity. For a brief few milliseconds, the primary reactors had overloaded and the sudden influx of hypermatter into the reactor chambers had temporarily given birth to a miniature, shortly-lived black hole. The entire hull of the Mon Calamari cruiser crumpled up visibly--perhaps no more than a meter or two--and deformed under the gargantuan gravitational pressures her own power plants had just generated. Batteries and magazines exploded all throughout the ship in a mass eruption of destabilized nergon-14 charges. Ground assault vehicles and starfighters twisted in her hangars like the toys of a rampaging child tyrant...and then the unstable singularity collapsed. The sudden whiplashes of forces cracked her hull like a corusca gem whose shatterpoints had just been struck. The next major detonation--a turbolaser blast, a torpedo bombardment, would have finished her off. Instead, it was her own engines that finished the job. Still driving the ship forward, they broke free of their cracked housings and drove several meters into the hull of the ship. The resultant chain reaction of explosions blasted Steadfast apart from the inside, starting from her stern, then proceeded to travel throughout the ship until all that remained was a small piece of her forecastle that drifted through the void. Slaughter spent the remainder of the transfer to Kalidor in silence. _____ It was the Imperials who chose the destination of the Galactic Alliance fleet. Still under fire from the Bleeding Kyber, Misericordia re-oriented herself with the kind of terrible grace that only a Star Destroyer was capable of. She transmitted her destination to the remainder of the allied fleets, and then disappeared into hyperspace. After retrieving her K-Wing bombers and ensuring that the Jedi were oriented to escape, the survivors of the Galactic Alliance would follow their retreat. Summary: Steadfast is dead. Some debris is left to be salvaged, but little remains of her. As per OOC conversations, Red Hussar and Silent Spring are captured by the Galactic Alliance. Please correct me if I am misremembering and I will edit this post. Misericordia retreats into hyperspace. The remainder of the Galactic Alliance can be assumed to retreat along with the Jedi.
  8. ((Bruce Slaughter)) Still the Sith came on. Misericordia, in a self-sacrificing show of fealty to their Emperor, refused to yield to Super Star Destroyer that bore down on it. She traded volley after volley with the Bleeding Kyber, but the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer escaped the majority of the Sith flagship’s wrath, whose turbolasers were rendering the Adi-wan to a cloud of steel vapor and charcoal. All but stationary, her shields struggled to withstand the answering fire--emerald bolts breached the Imperial ship in sectors, demolishing one of the turbolaser octets beside her superstructure and shredding the pylons that supported one of her primary shield generators. The globe drifted away from the superstructure in a manner akin to a child’s toy before it met with the next turbolaser volley and bathed the entire bow of the Star Destroyer in a fiery explosion. Steadfast fared even more poorly. Engaged in close quarters with both Victory-class Star Destroyers at close range, her shields were overwhelmed and emerald fire played across her bow. Already weakened from the debacle at Coruscant and her battering by the Black Sun, the fire penetrated deeply into her vitals. Fires ripped throughout her entire hull as fuel lines were hit--shrapnel pockmarked her exterior as turbolaser batteries were demolished. A proton torpedo battery was struck with an armed warhead still in the launching tube, blasting deeply into her hull like a mining charge. Her answering volley to Red Hussar would be no less devastating. At this close range, Steadfast’s could not possibly miss and her turbolasers and ion cannons would play havoc along the length of the smaller vessel, now able to pinpoint batteries and warhead launchers for destruction. The Alliance flagship, however, was woefully unprepared for the incoming fire of the Black Sun’s Star Destroyers, and Incisor, already battered by enemy fire, was of little use help against the fighters that raced along the ship in a score of personal dogfights and strafing runs. Kalidor, a Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser accelerated and attempted to shield it from a portion of the incoming fire. The incoming fire breached her shields and blasted away armor, but Steadfast was dealt her mortal wound. Multiple warhead and tibanna magazines were detonated by the incoming fire, and it appeared for a terrible second that her keel bent and arched when a tibanna magazine exploded. All over the ship, lights began to flicker and her next volley against the Red Hussar was significantly diminished. The other half of the fleet--Steadfast’s sister ship Fidelity and adjoining Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser Chrysaetos--folded in on the Alliance formation to enclose Dark Sun Station and the escaping Black Sun fleet like a noose. The Mon Calamari Cruiser and her escort rained fire against the Holofernes, attempting to cripple her engines and prevent their escape of one more enemy Star Destroyer. On the bridge of the Steadfast, Admiral Slaughter picked himself off of the deckplates of the command center. It felt as though the floor of the flagship had leapt half a meter under his boots and then dropped just as suddenly--which was, in fact, the case. Darkness engulfed the bridge when it lost power and all the stations in the crew pits went dark--with the armored shutters slamming around the canopy, it wasn’t even lit by turbolaser fire. Then the emergency spot-lumas bloomed to life, filling the command center with a crimson haze. “Damage report!” Even as the Commander from the crew pits recited from a paper report that was spewing out of his station, Slaughter suspected that his flagship had just been dealt an unsurvivable blow. “Decks through--all of them reporting significant damage. No contact with the forecastle--engineering reports that the primary generator is offline, on emergency gen only. She’s… breaking apart, sir, that last detonation broke her spine. A turbolaser volley hammered at Steadfast and caused the floor to vibrate. A shriek of overstressed metal rang throughout the bridge as a turbolaser blast broke the armored shutters and cracked the canopy. “All hands will abandon ship. The flag will transfer to Kalidor. Orders, if you can hail Fidelity--join Misericordia and hold off that SSD as along as they can, buy time for the Jedi. Jump as soon as we have Zinthos. Scatter if necessary.” For the regions of Steadfast that could still receive orders, alarm klaxons and speakers bleated out the command that the Mon Calamari Cruiser was to be abandoned. Escape pods and shuttles began to flee the flagship for the survivors of the Alliance squadron--hundreds of tremulous engines that glimmered faintly amongst the rains of turbolaser fire. A few batteries still blasted out their wrath against Red Hussar, their crews unwilling--or unable--to reach their escape pods, but it was clear from the Alliance flagship had finally seen her last battle. Summary: Steadfast trades fire with Red Hussar, but is damaged beyond repair and is abandoning ship. Audacity abandons ship and scuttles. Incisor is damaged almost beyond usefulness but is still alive. Kalidor’s shields are breached and hull takes minor damage from attempting to body-block for Steadfast. Misericordia sustains moderate damage and continues to hold.
  9. ((Bruce Slaughter)) "Pedal to the metal, boys! Stop for nothing!" The commander of Geist Squadron cried over the din of laser blasts and missiles, slightly delirious from having his need for speed fulfilled. Having served for years in reconaissance without having the tension of infiltration break, the adrenaline rush of plunging into the confusion of a furball and being pursued by dozens of enemy fighters left him in a state of almost drunken intoxication even as the A-Wings were blasted away by the full might of Black Sun's starfighter cadre. After they blew through the initial screen of XJX-Wings, they returned fire to the rear with their gimballed laser cannons, but their goal was to disrupt the opposing snubfighter screen and to swarm over the Silent Spring and Red Hussar. Few of the A-Wings made it to their targets, however. That was enough. Given even a few seconds without molestation by enemy fighters and the irksome jamming arrays carried by the ARC-170s, the Galactic Alliance K-Wings launched salvoes of concussion missiles into the confusion, pounding at the Black Sun corvettes and the disarrayed fighters. The Audacity and Surprise moved to intercept the Rhoads and Canto Bight Fiasco. The swift DP20 Gunships nearly cut off the larger Nebulon-B, but a triad of warheads made it through the antimissile fire of the Surprise and severed its tubular hull from her engines. As though both sides were unaware of the amputation, the turbolasers on the hull fired a few isolated blasts into the Canto Bight Fiasco before finally going dark and her engines rocketed away in an unpredictable spin before going critical and exploding into a miniature nova. Little remained of the Surprise after the explosion. Audacity faired significantly better, in terms that it managed to survive for a few more seconds than her sister ship. Similarly stricken by warheads on its attack run, half of the ship went dark and was left without shields or weapons. In a desperate attempt to remain alive for a few seconds longer, the DP20 Gunship nestled up against Canto Bight Fiasco and exposed her crippled flank to the connecting spar of the Nebulon-B Frigate. The Audacity might inflict almost no damage to the larger frigate, but she was in little danger from the enemy ship’s turbolasers. On the bridge of the Steadfast, Slaughter watched with dismay as the next barrage of turbolaser fire withered away his flagship’s bow shields, then finally penetrated and hammered against her armor. Most of the emerald fire peeled away at armor plating or blasted unoccupied compartments into space, but a lucky hit found its mark at her number one turbolaser battery--the same location that had only recently been patched over after Coruscant--and blew apart its magazine, tearing the turrets from their mountings from within and venting huge quantities of ammunition into space. For a horrifying second, nearly a third of the MC90 Cruiser and the Incisor were illuminated by red-orange fire when a late-arriving turbolaser blast flash-ignited the entire cloud of tibanna. “Vent decks four and five, seal all bulkheads between--” While the XO called out the orders to seal the internal compartments that supplied ammunition to a quarter of the ship, Slaughter glared into his tactical overlay and picked out the icon of the Rhoads. “Kalidor, on our starboard. Energize tractors and grab that ship.” Sublights blazing in blue-white flame as the entire squadron made a mad dash for Dark Sun Station, the Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser on the flagship’s flank pummeled the hammerhead corvette with a barrage of turbolaser, ion cannon, and torpedo fire. As the GA Cruisers neared, both ships reached out with their tractor beam emplacements and attempted to wrangle the lighter ship into a position where it would serve as a shield over the most severe hull breaches on the Steadfast.The flagship might not last much longer at close range, but the other MC90 cruiser was nearly undamaged and the supporting cruisers Phalanx and Kalidor had yet to be rebuffed by the Black Sun fleet. Still closing, Steadfast and Fidelity transferred their fire to the Red Hussar, hammering both flanks with their turbolasers. At the joint with the Jedi fleet, the sublight engines of Misericordia dimmed and nearly went dark, puttering with a tender cerulean glow. Her vast prow angled just slightly beyond the overwhelming hull of the encroaching Scarab, the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer made a minor course correction… then ceased maneuvers, instead diverting all power to her frontal shields and weapons. All power made available to her batteries, the first salvo against The Bleeding Kyber was of ultimate intensity, beyond what could be expected even from a ship of her class. She would trade blows with the Sith armada until released from her position, she ran out of targets… or she ran out of guns. Summary: Surprise is dead. Audacity takes severe damage and attempts to take shelter against a lightly-armed portion of the Canto Bight Fiasco’s hull. A-Wings take significant casualties and disperse throughout the Black Sun formation, attempting to punch through and make strafing runs on Red Hussar and Silent Spring. Steadfast’s shields are breached by focused fire and loses a number of turbolaser batteries before they are replenished. Steadfast and Kalidor attempt to grab Rhoads with tractor beams and hold the ship near the most severe hull breach. Fire is focused on Red Hussar. Misericordia focuses fire on The Bleeding Kyber. ((3))
  10. And in just a moment, the initiative was back in the hands of the enemy. The attack had to pause after a transmission like that--as satisfying as the destruction of the Black Sun fleet might be after the loss of Coruscant and the debacle at Onderon, it was only of secondary importance. The Imperial Head of State was only one person, but was the only objective in this encounter. If Slaughter had to sacrifice ten thousand fighting men, or his flagship, or his own pride to retrieve her, then they were acceptable casualties. Slaughter felt plastic creak and twist as his hands clenched around the comlink. The Jedi fleet was now idling to port, its snubfighters now swarming in a screen between their motherships and Dark Sun Station. His own forces wouldn’t be able to complete this attack without their assistance. He lifted the comlink to his lips. “Stand by,” the Admiral barely managed his guttural growl before he slammed the comlink home. Matching pace with the Jedi to their left, the Galactic Alliance armada held their position and the myriad sublight engines dimmed as the capital ships slowed to an idle. The starfighters, however, continued to swarm and the corvettes concentrated near the Steadfast, still darting about in a ponderous imitation of the smaller vessels. Orders issued, the flagship then hailed the Adi-wan. “I don’t care where she is, get me the…!” Slaughter checked himself before shouting a curse on the bridge of his flagship. He wrestled his voice down to a lower register as the communications officer explained that he had just been patched through on a holographic channel to one of the Adi-wan’s briefing rooms. “Get me the Grandmaster.” The stocky man looked up from the crew pits, realizing that he had just been connected to the briefing room and now appeared in both holographic and audio. “Delta has the most valuable head in the galaxy and he’s using it to buy himself time,” The Admiral began. “And yet… he has it. We need Zinthos, no matter what else happens here.”
  11. Those first few minutes of an engagement were delicious. Tens of thousands of sapients, hundreds of vehicles, and millions of tons of steel stood ready on both side, prepared for the order that would hurtle them into the fires of battle. After the disasters of Onderon and Coruscant, there were few green soldiers in this fleet; most were veterans who knew the bitterness of defeat and would give anything to taste victory. Each sapient had learned to steel themselves against the cold pricklings of fear in their own way, whether through improbable boasting or superstition or quiet preparation of their gear. Slaughter had learned to embrace it. The muscles around his ruddy face twitched as he fought the urge to smile. Eventually mastering his face into a mask of grim officership, the Admiral turned towards the Shistavenan Marshall and answered, his face cast in a sickly green glow from the bridge’s tactical pit. “Report to the hangar and join our boarding crews. We need to take that Golan before we can make a move on Dark Sun. Force be with you, Marshall.” Slaughter turned back towards the tactical pit and fought the urge to pace. On the left of the Galactic Alliance fleet, the main body of the Jedi force was arrayed in a crescent formation that would soon envelop the Black Sun fleet in overlapping fields of fire. The Steadfast, near the center of the task force, stood at the joint with the Jedi fleet and her sister ship Fidelity on the far right flank. In that gap approached the heavy cruisers of the Galactic Alliance and a trio of prowling corvettes, constantly on the move and ready to rush out of the formation to support a starfighter attack. By this point, the majority of the fleet’s fighter squadrons had been launched, with only two squadrons of K-Wings and two squadrons of XJ X-Wings held in reserve. Slaughter felt a faint rumble under his feet as the Steadfast’s turbolasers rotated to bear upon the Mephistopheles, and he thought he heard the faintest of whines as his flagship’s shields were reinforced towards her bow. “Comms, let’s give them the good news.” Slaughter coughed and retrieved a comlink from the tactical pit. His voice an unwavering growl, Slaughter’s communication went out into the open space around Dark Sun Station, unencrypted and open to be repeated by any civilian or military comlink tuned to a wide spectrum of commonly-used frequencies. “Inhabitants of Dark Sun, this is Admiral Slaughter. In case you have been informed otherwise, the Galactic Alliance lives. Her government functions. Her armies fight on. She cares for her citizens. Black Sun is a criminal organization. It has no law, no government, no values but the greed and sadism of its leaders. It has taken hostage the Imperial Head of State, and we will have her back. “Black Sun will deliver to us the Imperial Head of State in her present status. If any harm comes to her, its forces will be considered war-criminals and will be prosecuted to the furthest extent of martial law.” Slaughter paused. “There will be no negotiation.” Slaughter slammed home the commlink receiver. It slipped out of his grip and fell to the deck, dangling from its perch by a steel-reinforced cord. He knew that his communique would have no effect--no doubt half the point of Black Sun taking Zinthos hostage, rather than simply executing her on live Holonet, was to lure the fleets of its enemies into a trap. But it would give the civilians aboard the asteroid base something to think about, rather than to simply watch the fireworks show around them.
  12. The voyage to Dark Sun was not easy. Located deep in the sectors previously controlled by the Corporate Sector Authority, the star charts that the Galactic Alliance possessed for this region had not been updated for some time. It was an already difficult transition through a region of space so dense with stars that some of the fleet’s older tenders could not even properly plot out routes through the quagmire of competing gravity wells. What made it an arduous journey, however, was the unnerving sensation that the fleet must have tripped a proximity sensor or a surveillance probe or some other early-warning system that Black Sun had left to alert them to unwanted visitors. With the crime syndicate having found themselves in possession of the single most valuable head in the galaxy, they must have anticipated a rescue attempt and laid a trap. But as the armada popped in and out of hyperspace to confirm their position and reroute around stellar hazards, no fleet was lying in ambush. No battery of orbital turbolasers opened fire upon the fleet. None of their re-entry points were even mined. “Andromina, you’re first out the hangar.” Slaughter had briefed the commando just prior to the last jump. The Admiral had considered leaving her TIE Defenders in reserve as a surprise for the Black Sunners, but the possibility that the fleet was about to revert into a free-fire zone could not be discounted. Finally, the jump to the rendezvous point. The veteran soldier remained on the bridge during this final hour, waiting for a barrage of turbolaser fire to greet their re-entry from hyperspace… but instead the formation found itself in the middle of a formation of allied vessels from the Jedi Order. About them was an unexceptional star orbited by unexceptional planets and unexceptional moons--many light-years from civilization, this system would have held little value to any but a mining corporation or a criminal gang. The moment fleet arrived out of hyperspace, its recon A-Wings were dispersed throughout the fleet in search of any emplacements that might await their approach on Dark Sun Station. Speedy little interceptors equipped with sensor jammers, they would be well-equipped to flee if any opposition was encountered. At the nucleus of this squadron was the Steadfast and Fidelity, two MC90 Star Cruisers that had so recently been battle-damaged by the disaster at Coruscant that the repair crews hadn’t even had the opportunity to paint over the repaired armor plating. The Phalanx, a worn Dreadnaught-class Heavy Cruiser held one flank, and the Kalidor, a more modern Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser at the other. Within this formation prowled and twisted a trio of corvettes, ready to break off to support a starfighter attack. On the bridge of the Steadfast, Slaughter regarded the incoming sensor data from the coalition’s scouts with apprehension. In a star system like this, there would be little opportunity for clever maneuvers or gambits--it was going to be a slugging match, each side dealing out tremendous blows and suffering tremendous casualties. He hailed the flagship of the Jedi formation in a text communique, confirming their position and transmitting planned maneuvers. They were not subtle. Jedi fleet, Steadfast Actual. Good to see you. Will focus efforts on enemy Star Destroyers and Golan. Surviving forces will blockade and demand release of target.
  13. A comlink on Slaughter’s desk chimed an urgent report. Holding up a hand to excuse himself, Slaughter listened closely, his wide face turning ruddy with ugly blotches as the communique continued. Finally, with great care, the Admiral punched in commands to summon Marshal Howlster back to his office. “We’ve had a change of plans. The Jedi have already begun their attack.” Slaughter close his eyes and pressed his fingers into them until stars appeared in his sight. He sighed. “Marshall, your infiltration will obviously now be impossible, but I’ll need you to lead any boarding actions. Templar, our goal will be to achieve domination of Dark Sun’s perimeter--knock out any defenses, rout any fleet that might be stationed. At that point we demand your Head of State back. We board and start breaking things if she isn’t immediately returned. I’ll have a surprise for the Sunners if they think that we’ll be delayed. Any questions?” A tremor ran under the floor at that very moment, indicating that the Steadfast had entered hyperspace, along with the rest of the armada. ((Ships leaving Anaxes: Steadfast, Fidelity, Phalanx, Kalidor, Surprise, Audacity, Incisor, Crescelle.))
  14. ((Sorry, should have clarified in last post that the NPC is yours to flesh out.)) Knowing of Black Sun’s retrograde attitudes towards nonhuman species (most notably its dabbling in the slave trade), most of the officers briefed on the attempt to rescue Head of State Zinthos were human. He would join the Shistavenan in the YT-2000 freighter that had been scrubbed for the mission. As for Slaughter, he limped towards the bridge to find that the breached canopy had been repaired and the tools that had been scattered by Anaxes’ repair crews had finally been cleaned up, just in time to receive Andromina and her squad of commandos. Uniformly human, still clad in their black TIE pilots uniforms, they were a stark contrast to the medley of species on the bridge of the Steadfast. “I assume that you’ve been briefed. We will have your Head of State back and I’m prepared to shoot our way through Dark Sun to take her back. We’ll begin by establishing a blockade around the station and give them one chance to hand her over. If not… you’ll be in the first wave. I imagine that the Sunners don’t expect we have the audacity for this kind of attack. They’ll be in for a surprise.” Feeling that his boast had probably fallen on unappreciative ears, Slaughter paused for a pair of awkward seconds and continued. “Sorry. You’ll be assigned to the Surprise as part of the first wave. She and Audacity will make a breach for your Templars and our marines to assault. We launch for the rendezvous point in…” At that point, one of the hangar deck crew spoke into her station and a Coruscanti voice boomed over the ship’s intercom. “Jump to hyperspace in five minutes. Secure all stations.”
  15. “You’re working with Aliastra Interstellar, an arms designer negotiating manufacturing contracts and conducting trials for a new carbine, codenamed ‘Borcatu.’” Slaughter’s stubby fingers activated a miniature holoprojector and passed it across the desk. The image was that of a boxy, inelegant blaster carbine--clearly a model that was optimized for ease of manufacture. “There are several arms manufacturers on Dark Sun and it will provide you with an excuse to carry a live weapon while on board.” His lips thinned. “Yes, it’s real. Please don’t let the prints fall into Black Sun’s hands. We’ve briefed several intel operatives on the mission and your weapons--all excellent men, you will have your pick. You’ll have a clean transport--no connection to the Galactic Alliance or Imperials. But work as quickly as practical. The fleet will be going in regardless of your success, and soon. “The Galactic Alliance needs the Imperials operational again, or… we’re looking at something like the old days of the Rebellion. Any questions?” ____ The Steadfast’s/ air traffic control responded within a few seconds of Andromina’s hail. “Permission to land granted, follow the beacons to hangar two. The Admiral will want to see you. Proceed as quickly as possible, we’re scheduled to push off in five.” Indeed, several ships of the Galactic Alliance fleet had completed their repairs and were vectored towards a hyperspace route, and the flashing lights drifting away from the MC90’s hull indicated the completion of repairs. ((Steadfast, Fidelity, Phalanx, Kalidor, Surprise, Audacity, and Incisor take off and prepare to leave.))
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