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Nar Shaddaa


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A very long time ago, an war and an entire lifetime ago, then-Captain Slaughter had been taken under the mentorship of an older, more experienced fleet-commander. Bruce had no exceptional background; he hailed from the street trash of Coruscant’s Undercity, with an educational record marked more by truancy than any degree of achievement. His abilities in mathematics were mediocre; his knowledge in the sciences was second-rate; his devotion to literature and the liberal arts was lackluster; his performance in rhetoric was raw, at best. What General Aegis had seen in that rough, bloody-minded junior officer… Admiral Slaughter had no idea.

 

The face of that middle-aged, slightly portly, neatly moustachioed officer came to mind especially now. Aegis had been dead for decades--killed at the Third Death Star, like so many of the Galactic Republic’s senior officers--Slaughter remembered his talent and relish for military engineering. Those technically a science, it simultaneously required meticulous attention to detail, an absolute mastery of higher-order mathematics… and some degree of violent self-expression. The latter of those qualities Slaughter could appreciate. The first two… while Slaughter had learned some competence in logistics, any successes came only after persistent bludgeoning of the problem rather than any elegant solutions.

 

And now, orbiting the moon of Nar Shaddaa on the Majestic-class Heavy Cruiser Kalidor, Admiral Slaughter was responsible for the ultimate defense for the last hope of the Republic. The defensive plan called for the deployment of literally millions of space mines and rigging thousands of pieces of debris into orbital traps. Hundreds of locations moonside had already been scouted for use of ammunition caches. Dozens of orbital coordinates had been calculated for staging points for the fleet’s escort carriers--small capital ships, barely more than heavy freighters, but still capable of supporting a squadron or two of starfighters. The entire plan called for an exhausting exercise in mathematics…

 

As the cruiser continued to push kilometers of vacuum and thousands of space mines behind it, Slaughter sat alone in his office, staring at a holograph of his task force’s positions, red-eyed, exhausted, and miserable. Hunting Arach’tar on Centerpoint Station had been less miserable than this duty. Waiting for droid miners to breach an Imperial garrison, choking on Sullustanian cave dust, had been less miserable than this duty. The last time he’d been this thoroughly unhappy had been…

 

“Sir, developments moonside.” That was Yeoman Chambers, one of the numerous officers newly assigned to this staff for this enormous defensive operation.

 

“Enter.” He growled unhappily.

 

The young human entered, saluted, and promptly lowered her voice. “You’ll want to turn on your privacy field, sir.”

 

He reached for the controls, then turned a frosty glare on the hapless junior officer. “Explain,” he growled grumpily.

 

“There’s been a meeting of high command officers moonside. Nasra, of course. Namari…  Queen of Naboo. Admiral Kolchak--formerly of the Imperial Navy.”

 

“On his way to retake Naboo and divert the Sith’s attention?”

 

“No sir. It was entirely concerning the political structure of the galaxy after… after all of this. Sir, they’re talking about an end to the Galactic Alliance in favor of a monarchy…”

 

It was not a dreadful chill that entered the room--Admiral Slaughter’s face turned blotchy and red-hot with building rage. His hands began to shake. Red began to fill his vision--his knees were locking--his peripheral vision began to darken. Words of concern began to echo in his ears--the young officer, visibly alarmed by the Admiral’s rage, reached across the table in search of one of his large hands.

 

Admiral, breathe. Try to unlock your knees, try to relax your hands.

 

The Jedi--where were they?

 

Not present, sir. Not a one of them.

 

Slaughter finally remembered to breathe. Vision began to return to him, the peripheries returned and the yeoman’s dark face was no longer the only thing that the Admiral could see. His hands felt clammy and cold. He couldn’t seem to unlock his fists--he needed to reach out, to do violence, to feel something bend and tear and break in his hands. With horrible slowness, the Admiral rose from his seat, pushing away his chair and gradually putting weight on legs that he didn’t fully trust. They held.

 

Now, violence.

 

Turning to his left, Slaughter raised his right first and swung it into his locker in a full-bodied haymaker. Something within broke--the door gave way slightly under the first blow. An inhuman sound tore itself from his throat--something between a growl and a curse and a moan and a scream--and he kept putting his fist into that door until lack of wind forced him to pause and breathe. He leaned against the wall of his office, just breathing and ignoring the blood dripping down his fingers, his closely-cropped head pressed against the cold plastoid of the locker.

 

“Thank you, Lieutenant. Call a medic. Begin compiling a list of this task force’s crew of Imperial origins. Just you, and only when you are off of your duty shift. Not a word of this to anyone else, understood?”

 

Edited by ObliviousKnight
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“I don't care what he is doing, tell him I want to see him. And its kriffing urgent. Tell him I swore at you, threatened to kill you. Whatever you want. But I need to see Admiral Slaughter this damned instant.”

 

The ex senator from Outremer, erstwhile politician, gambler, and SACCOR (Supreme Allied Commander Corellia) when it had mattered most, turned his eyes to fiercely glare at the random and ill-informed officer who had greeted him in the hanger bay. Godfrey had been a senator for one of the most Monarchist factions in the galactic senate. In fact he had been generally hated for his heated disparagement of the Jedi Order on the senate floor. But they, he and Slaughter, were military men and all that survived the Galactic Alliance of Free Planets. 

 

But for now the commander of the Easternmost military garrison of the Rebel Alliance waited beside his shuttle. Wearing the pale blue uniform of Outremer’s naval command.

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Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Godfrey d'Outremer

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As it so happened, the shuttle of that LAAT/i gunship was a veteran of the Galactic Alliance, and the Coruscanti was no stranger to uppity Senators who would bully their way onto military transports for personal use. That said, the LAAT/i was a combat transport, almost entirely lacking in creature comforts–overhauling from its previous career in the Clone War made it only slightly more hospitable to Alliance marines and Talons than it had been to Phase One clone troopers. Commander Eribra Lars saluted smartly, her expression conveying that she was already numb inside and no diatribe or threat from a former Senator could possibly move her.

 

“Sure thing, Senator, your… uh… honor.” Her voice wavered on a knife’s edge between pilot-casual and insolence. She hopped up the uncomfortable gap between the transport’s passenger compartment and the deck. “Hop on board. Spiker, we’re taking off! Get Kalidor on comms, Vev-Isk-Krill on board for the Admiral. Mind you strap in, Senator…” Lars muttered, just a little too quietly to be clearly heard over the beastial roar of its supercharged engines as the pilot rushed through the preflight checklist.

 

The second after the engines chugged to life and caused the entire landing platform to swirl with a miniature dust-storm, it became evidently clear why the republican cadre of the Rebel Alliance clung to these relics of its past. With the knee-buckling lift and rib-rattling rush of its engines, the qualities that allowed it to survive were demonstrated–the gunship was fast, and could turn and climb almost like a starfighter.

 

Short of commandeering a two-seater starfighter, Outremer would have been hard-pressed to pick a speedier transport to the Admiral. He had also chosen one of the least comfortable rides in the fleet.

 

____

 

Slaughter had some time to think when the medic arrived and began bandaging his hand. His knuckles stung at the touch of disinfectant, and some instinctive part of his mind caused him to stiffen in pain when the Bothan manipulated the broken fingers into a cast, but the physical sensations felt… distant. Almost as though they were happening outside his body. It was almost like when Steadfast had fallen under the guns of the combined Black Sun and Sith fleets–he had felt the moment when that grand old lady’s heart had given out, even though the blow had been inflicted on an unliving starship.

 

There were so many questions that the Admiral needed to address, and all of them laid outside his capabilities. Was the entire republican contingent of the Rebel Alliance in danger of being purged? What of the Jedi? Were there any surviving political figures that could be trusted? How best to preserve the republican fleets even as they were expected to protect Nar Shaddaa against the brunt of the Sith fleet? And on a less critical but more immediate urgency, how best to explain Slaughter’s uncharacteristic injury–broken fingers that could significantly hamper his abilities in combat?

 

And even as he pondered these questions, hundreds of freighters were alighting from the Smuggler’s Moon in a miniature imitation of the similar evacuation that he had managed from Coruscant.

 

“It was a sparring accident, Graves,” The Admiral snapped. “Nothing serious. Just had an unfriendly exchange of knuckles in a friendly match, and I lost. That’s the story.”

 

“Yessir.” The irony dripped from the Bothan’s voice as he sprayed a hard-setting foam around the injured fingers. “A sparring accident. Never mind the fact that you’ve wrecked your office. And that you haven’t been seen in the ring for about a year.”

 

“Taking care of–”

 

A heavy knock pounded on his door, followed by the clang of a plastoid object hitting the deck. “Admiral, here to replace your–oh spast.”

 

“Sparring accident, 

 

“Admiral, here to replace your–oh, spast.”

 

“It was a sparring accident, Petty Officer. Even a friendly bout can go this way...”

 

“...Uh huh–”

 

Crowding the office even further, Lieutenant Chambers came racing up, the diminutive human practically hopping up on her tip-toes to make herself seen above a hulking Gotal and a ceiling-height plastoid screen. “Sir! You have an incoming transport, a Senator… duh-out-ream-er,” she spoke the name out slowly, unfamiliar with the phonetics and the Senator himself. “Wanting to see you. It sounded urgent.”

 

“Quicker than I’d expected.” Slaughter grumbled and pushed himself one-handed to his feet. It would be impossible to hide the cast–only a Wookiee would have worn a glove large enough to hide it–but he was otherwise presentable. No specks of blood around the uniform’s cuff. A touch of unpleasant body odor about him, perhaps. This was a meeting that the Admiral needed to accept.

 

The Admiral’s shuttle bay was only a short walk from his ready room, but such was the pilot’s haste that Slaughter arrived only just in time to watch the LAAT/i race into the hangar. At this point, its pilot had decided that she’d had enough fun with the Senator and landed at a speed that was almost comfortable… and besides, the short, thickset build of Admiral Slaughter was visible even from outside the magcon field. Bruce merely stood stationary, waiting to begin his performance with a crisp salute that would display the cast on his right hand.

 

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Godfrey held on as the gunship pilot decided to play some kind of prank on him. It was exceedingly unprofessional, especially for a high ranking member of the Rebel Alliance Military Command. He had saved Corellia for the forces sake and now this kid was playing all sorts of games with him. It was her right though, he had asked to get to the Admiral quickly, so he had no room to complain. He held onto the drop handle and did his best to keep a regal posture, even as they rocketed through turbulent atmosphere with little care for his aging knees. But that was the life he had chosen. And somewhere in the back of his mind he knew this would be his last war. And looking down to the approaching hanger, it was probably Slaughter’s last war as well. 

 

Old men had little use in the future, and they were both well past their prime, same with the shuttle of choice that he had been dispatched in. It spoke exceedingly more about the state of the Galactic Alliance Military in Exile than the aging senator and commander likely knew. He brushed his gloved hands down his crisp pale blue uniform, then stepped out of the LAAT/I gunship as it settled onto its landing gear. 

 

He tucked his cap under his arm and returned the Admiral’s injured salute with a crisp and well practiced one. Slaughter had not been in any direct action for some time, and the cast gave Godfrey a pause. But he was an Admiral, and Godfrey only a ranked commander. So he would not ask about it. 

 

“Admiral…” He looked about him, as if looking for spies. “I assume you have heard about the Imperial Meeting?” 

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Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Godfrey d'Outremer

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Frond smiled at Scorpio, his wooden face twisted comically. The young, always so full of ideas. He appreciated the young father’s resolve. To sever ties with the mortal world was a chore at best; a dying to self. It was a sacrifice which Frond had come to intimately understand as a Walker of The Mind. Giving himself over to the will of the force, in contrast to the innate mortal draws of his station, Frond appreciated what the warrior was willing to do. “Perhaps there is more,” he mused, his cracking deep voice trailing off into the warm air.

 

”Friends in the maelstrom are true,” he explained slowly, as he thought ahead to what was to come. “A strand of THREE cords . . .” The start of the ancient phrase rolled from his mouth into the air as the Neti fell into deep foreign thought. His mind, a plant, surging as every cell processed that which only the aged tree could see within his own thoughts. 
 

Turning, Frond tucked the items out of sight, and shuffled into the city without a word. He and Scorpio were bound in the force to this place. So long as they remained upon this world, Frond would stand with the once Jedi-Sith in the force’s will.

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There were few locations more difficult to spy within Kalidor than its commanding officer’s shuttle bay. Like any other hangar, it was constructed primarily of grey, featureless durasteel that was frequently heat-blasted by sublight engines and pounded by rough landings. Unlike the hangars housing the combat squadrons, there was almost no clutter, only neatly-coiled fuel lines and a few immaculately-maintained shuttlecraft. Rather than having swarms of maintenance crew, droids, and pilots rushing to and from their starfighters, every single hand who frequented this miniature hangar could be named on sight by the Admiral–including the deck officer who supervised its operations from an elevated command post at its entrance and oversaw its security through a number of prominent holocams.

 

It was fortunate for the Rebel Alliance that Admiral Slaughter that the man had never been assigned to a diplomatic mission. Or an intelligence-gather mission. Really, it was fortunate that his duties rarely required him to leave a warship or a military base, because it was virtually impossible for the man to exercise any degree of subtlety or tact. Even if the man had dared to hide his knowledge, his face inevitably broke out in ruddy blotches and twitching blood vessels when he was under stress. His knowledge was written on his face.

 

“I am aware that such a meeting has taken place.” Slaughter kept his voice even, though the vein twitching in his forehead belied his stress. “Rumors and unofficial channel always get the details wrong, without exception.”

 

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Godfrey took one look at the Admiral’s face and grimaced himself. The man exuded the feelings that were currently twisting themselves around in his stomach. A silent and ineffable rage that seemed to course its way through every blood vessel, streaming to devour every thought and word that proposed itself upon his lips. He could feel also the despair that followed every angry heartbeat. Was all that they had fought for for the last four years going to be for nothing? All those dead friends, beloved family, only to see that river of blood turn into the very beast that they were fighting to destroy? 

 

Or perhaps, like he had belittled those young jedi at Bothawui, there was something good in this new order. Gone forever would be the Senate on Coruscant. Gone too the mountains of bureaucracy, the inefficient military command, and the forced ignorance of the evils that took place in the outer rim. 

He leaned forward and shook his head. 

 

“I think it may be safe to say that Democracy is dead. At least on a galactic scale. There was even a Jedi present, the famous Wookiee one.”

 

He looked up as if the heavens would have an answer. 

 

“What can we do?”

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Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Godfrey d'Outremer

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“So it was said.” There was a strong temptation to ball up his fists and find something or someone–preferably Imperial–to vent his anger out on. The pressure exerted on his fingers by the plastform cast on his right hand was a firm reminder of his desire for self-destructive violence. The muscles in his jaw worked and ground his teeth.

 

But if there was any lesson that General Aegis had struggled to impart to the young Bruce Slaughter, it was that he would rarely be able to indulge in his own satisfaction–not if he had any interest in the wellbeing of the sapients fighting under his command. Blind rage was a luxury that was dangerous even for a front-line grunt–but for a fleet officer aiming a flotilla armed with hundreds of turbolasers, capable to glassing entire worlds, it was ruinous. Use the anger–rather than letting it use him–internalize the hate and fury and use it to focus his thoughts. Guide the storm that raged within him, rather than allow himself to be thrown about by its currents.

 

Slaughter turned to glance at the front of the hangar, where a Twi’lek was watching at the deck officer’s terminals with burgeoning interest, and made a decisive gesture across his throat with the blade of his hand. The deck officer responded with a nod and thumbed several controls on the security station, killing the hangar’s holocam recording. This would be as close to total privacy as a warship could provide.

 

“The republic isn’t dead,” Slaughter growled, stepping uncomfortably close to the Senator. “Not while we’re still alive. And there’s a lot of us still alive–and even more us who gave their…” he paused as his mind searched for something poetic to say, something inspirational. Nothing came. “Their everything. We have to survive for them. Gotta make it through this battle first. After that, I intend to send out a coded signal to the remaining units from the Galactic Alliance, warn them of the political changes and that they might be in danger.”

 

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The look on Slaughter’s face told him all that he needed to know about the man’s intentions. He could smell the rage on his breath, and the small veins that bulged from anger were even more apparent from as close as they were both standing. Slaughter was short, but at point blank range, the man carried himself with a grim dignity. History, if such a thing survived the war, Godfrey thought, would be kind to the short admiral whose long and storied career stretched back the decades.

 

But Godfrey himself was an old man now. He had spent the golden days of his thirties and forties in the senate. Gambling away the last days of peace with asinine propositions of trade and taxation. How many friends of the old alliance were now dead and buried? RIllian? Dead. Killed like Janhavi in the fall of Coruscant. What strength did the old Galactic Alliance survivors have? If this fight was going to happen it needed to be years ago. Not kriffing now.  

 

They had already spent far too much of their strength. One look out the viewport, or at the real time data displays that were prominent in the room would tell them the state of any Galactic Alliance centered secondary rebellion. How many of the starships in orbit with them were of Imperial make? How many of them were the diverse monarchist forces that the upstart Raven had brought into her cause? How many integrated GA units would actually turn blasters against their comrades in the name of democracy? Godfrey looked back at Slaughter and sighed. IT was time to do what he had always been very good at. His voice fell to a low growl. So only the Admiral could hear it. 

 

“Now I must say something that you may not want to hear. So forgive me for always playing the devil’s advocate, but I think I must do so again.” 

 

He absentmindedly straightened his jacket. Pulling futility at the starched pale blue fabric as if a better kept appearance would dull the knife he was about to proverbially stab into his comrade. 

 

“Who is left?” He made sure to catch the man’s gaze and hold it. “Tell me we have any allies waiting in the wings of this command room.” He pointed to the doorway, then to the Twi’lek assistant. “Tell me she is going to pull off a mask and it's going to be ShadowFett under there. Or Tenebris. Or Cadan. Or someone other than an idealistic young woman who doesn’t know she would be throwing her life away for a dream. No. Something less than a dream. A wisp of an idea. An Idea that died over Onderon then was buried in the rubble of Coruscant.”  

 

The ex-senator’s expression became pained. 

 

“If we had Gren Sairdonga, Cadio Sikaot, or even the much slandered Starlisk we might be able to bring something to the board other than prideful threats. But what forces can I bring to bear? The Bothans? My wife was a bothan if you remember. But the Bothans wouldn’t fight a war that could leave them diminished or even defeated. My own home planet’s prince has sworn undying loyalty to the Imperial Throne.”

 

Godfrey took a breath then stepped away, surrendering to a long string of painful coughs. Which left him winded and gasping. He recovered a minute later, his face flushed. 

 

“Admiral I do not mean to sound defeatist but even Mon Calamari upon its liberation is now under stewardship of an Imperial Admiral. The new MC90’s captured in the underwater berths fully crewed by an integrated crew of Imperials and GA. We have no leverage. Unless you have an entire Katana Fleet and a revived Jedi Order hiding up those resplendent sleeves of yours.”

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Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Godfrey d'Outremer

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Standing there, Scorpio watched as the Neti pierced the veil of the Force with his thoughts, his questions answered upon the currents of time as the Force flowed infinitely in all directions. And for one of his blood, of Miralukian heritage, sight pierced all. There was no forward, no back, no left, right, up nor down. It was simply everywhere at all times. It was existence, whether it existed in the past, future, this plane or another. It still existed. So as Frond's words creaked out, as cryptic as they may have seemed to onlookers and eavesdroppers, Scorpio understood. Their philosophy may differ, but not their realized truth. The truth will always remain the same.

 

Without a word, Scorpio followed Frond in his endeavor. Briefly he stopped down and handed his daughter to an elderly woman, her soft eyes and fearless gaze spoke of the hardships she had faced and the lessons she had learnt. His child would be safe with her and her kin. Handing over a homing beacon with directions to his ship, he stared at the departing Neti and sighed. Upon his hip, the blade called for blood and for life, forcing the Former Jedi to focus and control his breath. This was his calling. War would never leave him in peace.

 

With that done, Scorpio departed in a flash, his form dissipating like the fog as he caught up with the slower moving Neti. As he matched his pace with the being, he shifted his gaze toward the foliage. War was approaching and they may be the only ones who could truly stand against it's tyranny. And it didn't settle on his mind very well. But the Force wills what the Force wills, and Frond would not be rid of him so easily. They were now bound, at least for the remainder of Nar Shadaa.

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You heard it too, didn't you? The Insatiable Hunger of the Saber.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If a Jedi had been present on Kalidor, they might have felt compelled to rush towards Docking Bay One-Besh, for the mixture of exhaustion and rage suddenly spiked with the urge to commit violence on another sapient being. The vein that had been stress-hammering under the skin of Slaughter’s forehead popped out, and something as hard and cold as tempered durasteel slammed down behind his hazel eyes.

 

“Been a while, but as I remember it we swore similar oaths to defend the republic and the Senate.” The man’s jaw might have been welded into one immovable piece as he growled. “Nearly started a shooting war with her imperial majesty down moonside when her lot seceded and showed up above Corrie with a Star Destroyer.

 

“Well, the Senate doesn’t exist no more. Our… heh, government–mostly moon-dust at this point. Same for the elections and constitution and everything that we swore on before Hesperidium went down.” Slaughter knew perfectly well, that as one of the senior fleet commanders of the Galactic Alliance during its last days, much of the planet’s defense was his responsibility–and to say that he had failed was understatement. “‘Sfar as I’m concerned, the last that remains of it are these people who’ve put their trust in us to keep them alive–or at least spend their lives for something that they believe in, not that imperial’s dreams of a throne. You must have a really low opinion of me if you think I’m going to waste them by starting a civil war in the Rebellion.”

 

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The soldier in him told him to get ready for a fight, but the long term senator told him something very different: It was time to back down from a confrontation. This wasn ot the time, and the other man was far too smart for such a thing. So he would do his best to deflect and dismantle a fight before there could be one. 

 

“To tell the truth I don’t know much about you Admiral, we never served with one another during the height of the Republic, and the resulting Galactic Alliance decided against us serving in any capacity with one another. My assessment was based on my own initial impressions, thoughts, and Idealism. I made a mistake on my assessment.” 

 

Godfrey ran a gloved hand through his graying beard. Giving the other man a look of apology the best he could without actually saying it. 

 

“We both lost nearly everything in the fall of Coruscant, I lost my wife and nearly everyone I ever called friend. I didn't mean to insult you or your intelligence. Or damn well anything you are fighting for. I was merely speaking in caution because I felt that I should. I see now that you were already steps ahead of myself. So now I must ask you Admiral, what can I do to be of assistance in your plans to preserve what little we can of the Republic?” 

 

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Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Godfrey d'Outremer

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