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Nar Shaddaa


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She was young, perhaps even the same age as Aidan. That was Draygo’s first and horrifying impression of the Dark Lord. Her youth spoke of a being with profound potential in The Force, but… a peculiar resonance at one that was insecure, doubtful… or perhaps on the verge of fracturing.

 

“For a proper sleep, in an actual bed. No, peace is not a restful state for a creature like me.” Armiena tried to smile, but the forced contortion of her lips only succeeded in causing the wrinkles and hair-thin scars on her face to twist and deepen. If those lines each told a story, then here stood the history of modern warfare. “Those people out there are going to need to accomplish something they think is impossible. Right now they’re trying to kill each other… maybe for ideals, maybe for grudges that they can’t abandon. They’re going to need to find a way to… maybe not forgive each other, but be willing to share a galaxy together.”

 

A few seconds passed. In those few seconds, several hundred more sapients perished in the vacuum and several hundred thousand stared in awe at the contrails of a siege torpedo that would soon render them to dust.

 

As hard but transparent as the canopy surrounding the bridge, it was all her discipline could accomplish to not rush towards decisive action. Instinct demanded that she ignite her blade, but The Force warned her that a single death would have little impact on the course of this battle, much less the years to come.

 

“I actually fear them. It took only a few years for them to rise up, the last time that they were driven to hunt us to extermination. We are going to need to accomplish something impossible, and soon. Otherwise… they have been very patient with us. I have no idea for how much longer.”

 

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“You speak of breaking chains, but I see no truth in the statement. These chains bind you still. Even as you kill me they tighten. I know you have heard the platitudes before. I care not for such things, but I look at you and I see a dead man where a live one should walk.” 

 

Dig your grave beside mine Lord Mavanger, for you have come so far and have never varied off your destructive course. Even with the many signposts and warnings. So heed me now. There is always repentance and there is always absolution. But you must be the one to choose such a path. Your soul is in your keeping alone. Blame cannot be laid at the feet of Emperors past and present. On shadows, on lost loves, or unbroken chains. That was the mistake of the Jedi of our childhoods.” 

 

Her hand touched her own chest, trembling slightly as a finger brushed the wretched knife still buried there. Where blood seeped like oil into the black cloth of her dress uniform. Everything felt distant. Her senses narrowing to fine points like the closing of a theater curtain.

 

"They made their ‘hard choices’ and they blamed those that they killed. They blamed their situations, they blamed orders from above. But they never stopped. No, they were proud of their victory. And in that pride they planted the seeds of Onderon, of Coruscant, of here. But they redeemed themselves in the end. Through toil and forgiveness, work and love. And even as my knights and theirs lay in their own coffins, the tide turns in their favour. Planned or not, your empress’s time is at an end. And you are cast aside like a spent blaster cartridge." 

 

Her hand fell back to her side. And she did not have the strength to lift it again. She struggled with a bloody smile and her large eyes stared into his. 

 

“Your chains lie within yourself. As mine once did. And there is only one remedy.” 

 

She smiled again and was gone.

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Pretender to the Galactic Throne

Leader of the Rebel Alliance

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The Ancillary Justice, retrofitted as a stealth-enhanced warship, slid through the battlefield relatively unnoticed and unhindered. She had been engaging directly with the fleet of the mad Hutt and his vortex of doom before being redirected deeper into the battlefield. Another task, another mission, this time one of high importance. The flagship of the Imperial fleet was drifting silently, her escape pods jettisoned into the fray. Already the Constantine, under the command of Grand Moff Kolchak, was encompassing the bulk of the Empress’s escape pods in it’s shadow, eclipsing them between the Sith marauders and the planet itself. The Ancillary Justice was to render aid, rescue survivors, find the Empress.
 

The Merciful Touch, a retrofitted Rebel med frigate was already taking on survivors as the Outer Rim-based Victory I Star Destroyer added her 900 meter shadow to the protective aura. Broadsides of cluster bombs and high yield torpedos flew from her guns targeting the oncoming Sith fleet. Meanwhile on the other side of the ship, tractor beams began to guide escape pods towards open bays.

 

The bridge of the Ancillary Justice was something else, a crew of natives of the Anoat Sector where the vessel had served, a protecting force beyond their boarders, lending aid to the protection of the galaxy as a whole. Gold-skinned Nothoiins worked tirelessly manning weapons, shields, and communication relays. Ugnaught engineers scurried throughout the ships putting out fires where they sprouted up, rerouting energy relays, and ensuring that even as the vessel took a  beating it remained at or beyond operational capacity. A handful of Morodin slithered through the hallways, moving supplies where they were needed and willingly transporting people and medical supplies the length of the craft. A single 20 meter Morodin remained curled up on the bridge, his bulk circling about the edge of the bridge as his stubby limbs expertly flew over consoles and controls, an expert on the stealth system that blanketed the craft; a complex myriad of mazes that made zero sense to anyone but it’s designers, biological and mechanical bonded as one. Humans, Bothans, and Barabel filled out the bulk of the remainder of the crew. Each called Bespin and the worlds in the Outer Rim neighborhood home. They were a team, a cohesive unit dedicated to a greater cause.
 

Standing amongst the diverse crew and high tech command, a gray-skinned lizard stood. He was not regaled in Imperial splendor, in fact the only mark of his Imperial affiliation was a single insignia plaque on the corner of his chest. It denoted that the Barabel that wore it was the Imperially appointed governor of the entire Anoat sector. The Grandmaster of the Bespin Trade Guilds, the Leader of the Tibanna Mining Guild, Baron Administrator of Cloud City, and Chief of the Barabel Protectors, he was, indisputably, the most powerful being in the sector, elected by his peers, lauded by his superiors, and praised by his subordinates. The fine multi-layered Alderaanian shimmersilk shirt and pleated black Veda-cloth matched perfectly with the Aeien blue Silk cape of his office and blackened Trell leather boots that spoke to his position. The clothes contrasted the scarred armored scales of the Barabel’s youth. An air of command exuded from the fanged reptile as he took in the reports and directed the actions of his vessel. The silvered relby that hung at the commander’s waist was more than ornamental, although the being hardly needed it. 
 

“Captain, see to it that any injured are treated in the medbay, a list of all survivors, their rank, and station assignments should be compiled immediately. The highest ranking authority should be brought to the bridge, all others taken to the cafeteria on level twelve and offered a full meal.” The Baron Administrator ordered. With a  crisp salute the Bothan captain clacked his heels and spun, leaving the room to see that the orders were carried out. 
 

Landing bays four through seven were abuzz with activity. As fast as pods were  brought in and emptied, they were jettisoned to make room for another. Imperial Marines, Rebel Soldiers, and Planetary Security Officers worked in tandem to help the survivors of the Misercordia and any other destroyed craft. Sith forces were taken prisoner and locked in the brig. Allies were quickly debriefed and moved to the secured cafeteria where were fed and given an opportunity to begin processing what they had witnessed and done. Anyone who could not be identified was taken and placed in secure guest quarters under the watchful eye of Bespin’s own elite Wing Guard.

 

A constant feed of names, ranks, and serial numbers were scrolled through one of the many consoles in front of Vangar. Every time a high ranking Allied or Imperial officer was located a soft chime rang out on the bridge. Nothing of the Empress or her retinue were located. Those found were escorted to a waiting room off the bridge complete with ornate lounges and bar. Immediately after the battle, they would be debriefed. Until then, they were safe.

 

”Where is the Empress?” Vangar mused, his concerned voice unnerving even to those that knew and had worked alongside the Barabel. 
 

“There is no sign of her Commander.” came the response. “Evacuation of the Misercordia was ordered by the Empress herself. It appears the Misercordia was boarded by Sith agents and . . .”

 

”May now be under their control.” Vangar finished the thought as he spun about. “Open fleet-wide comms.” He snarled. “Exclude the Misercordia.”

 

The futuristic bridge was suddenly bathed in pale blue light. The regular white replaced by the bridge-wide notification of an open comm. the hustle and bustle fell to a whisper as Vangar picked the mic up from his console. He waited to begin speaking until the gold-skinned man at the communications station pointed knowingly at the Barabel commander.

 

”Attention all Allied and Imperial craft. Attention all Allied and Imperial craft. It appears that the Misercordia may be under control of Sith marauding forces. The Empress could still be aboard. Block the ship’s comms on all channels, revert to Allied Emergency Code Seventy-Six, Comm Code Thirty-Four. Final Command One Prime.” Allied Emergency Code Seventy-Six was a little-used emergency code that dictated the immediate abandonment of standard communications relays in favor of backup encrypted channels that would need to be manually connected to. Comm Code Thirty-Four was a code for Allied intelligence officers. It was memorized by top-level operatives. They would each have preauthorized multi-authenticating bio-serial pass codes and scans that would grant their respected craft access to the network.  Finally, Final Command One Prime, the Empress and her craft were to be excluded from all further communications until secured and verified by individual ranked members of the Rebel Alliance, Imperial Remnant, and Jedi Council.

 

In a matter of moments, the Empress and the Misericordia were cut off from Allied Command. The position of command would be assumed by the Supreme Fleet Commanders for the remainder of the battle or until the Empress was found safe.

 

As he lowered the mic, Vangar’s face was heavy. It betrayed his heart. That sole action was akin to notifying the Alliance and former Empire that their leader had fallen. Taken captive or dead was unknown. The order would be verified by higher ranking officers in time, if they still lived. The intelligence reports gathered from those rescued from jettisoned pods were forwarded to Kolchak and Slaughter.

 

They would fight on. The Misercordia would be monitored; however it would not be fired upon unless it presented a direct threat to Allied craft, refugees, or the world below.

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The Kaleesh Imperial gave a slight nod of thanks as he exited the escape pod onto the deck of Rabid Muumuu. The other Kaleesh warriors onboard gave a welcoming growl, one that Qessax did not return. Instead, he passed by them quickly and with intent. Years of work on ships gave the agent an instinct on how to find the command bridge on his own. 

 

The bridge itself was a chaotic mess of order. Despite being savages to most of the known galaxy, the Kaleesh on board were working diligently, coordinating as best as they could with what little forces that remained under their control. The figure who stood in control of the chaos barked out orders like the war-chief that he was. 

 

“Brother” Qessax growled as he stepped to his brother’s side. His elder sibling gave him a glance, and the two nodded to each other. Their yellow eyes behind their masks spoke levels of volume.

 

“What of your great Chief?” 

 

Qessax pointed at the screen, towards the Constantine. “He has chosen to join his ancestors in glorious battle” 

 

“A fitting death. One that we might share”

 

Qessax shook his head. “Not yet. The Butcher of Hypori would not approve a premature death for us.” 

 

With his siblings' permission, the Imperial Agent passed on several codes, including encrypted ones. With the capture of several Imperial Ships, whoever had taken charge of the situation would no doubt alter the transponder codes to prevent the enemy from utilizing Imperial Communications.  It didn’t take long to be proven right, as the Ancillary Justice's message came through . 

 

“This is Agent Qessax, Imperial Intelligence to the Ancillary Justice Qessax spoke towards the small astromech nearby. It was connected to the Rapid Muumuu’s sensors and communications, and began transmitting a holo-message to the ship that seemed to have taken charge of the battle. He didn’t know the commander that well. He had only brief encounters with the Barabel, and even then they were not that informative, but in the heat of battle, hopefully the commander wouldn’t mind the fact that the Kaleesh still wore his mask over his uniform. 

 

“Commander Vangar, I regret to inform you that the Constantine is falling. Kolchak has refused to leave, and is readying for ramming speed.” 

 

In other words, Kolchak was going out guns blazing. 

 

Qessax had to catch himself as the ship shook under the gunfire that lit its shields. Despite its small size and speed, the Rapid Muumuu wouldn’t last long under all the strain.

  

“Sir, we are gathering what escape pods we can, but then we are evacuating to the rendezvous. We can not hold out much longer.  I suggest you do the same."

 

Qessax waited for the commander's reply. It was hard admitting defeat, or even just the need to run away. But the Kaleesh were used to that. Hit and run tactics were their bread and butter, and sometimes, there needed to be less hits then runs.  But he was an Imperial officer first and foremost. He obeyed his superiors to the very end. 

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Beck had quickly found himself back on the bridge on his own personal ship, after orders to help get escape pods had been issued. The admiral stood at the center, watching everything before him wishing to be on a Star Destroyer instead. The comm station was going crazy, the Misercordia lay before them, almost adrift. Beck knew without any hesitation as the orders to search and help locate the Empress that she was most likely already a victim of this battle. Something rose within his own stomach, like a wave of energy. It wasn't fear, worry or even sadness. It was an understanding that things had indeed changed. The future had changed. It was happening now before him. 

 

"Sir- another escape pod, no lifeforms. They seem to be jettisoning out even if they don't have anyone, or have single occupants... Do we pursue and get them?" The admiral looked at the holodisplay and saw the formation of the battle. The movement of the ships. They spoke to him in ways others may not realize. It was all due to his training as a clone so many years prior. His own eyes focused in for a long second before shouting. 

 

"Belay those orders. Withdraw us to a safe position away from the Misercordia. Single occupant escape pods are traitors- we will not rescue anyone who did not wait for others. Get us on the Constantine- NOW!" Without another word, Beck turned and left the bridge of his personal ship. Now, more than ever, his Empire that he served for so long needed him. 

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“Hyperdrive disabled by the ramming action of the Rebel fleet under us sir.”

 

To say that the war effort was going well for the Sith Side would be to tell a lie, and to say it was going well for the Rebel Alliance would be a bigger lie. But then again, what were holofilms and holonews reporters to do if they could not spin a delicious lie into History? The history was already written. The Sith Lords would loose here, they would be destroyed in a stunning upset fleet victory, and the best of the Alliance would be swept off the board. Paving the way for the next war, a war that Delta himself knew he would never see. 

 

Even as every victory that had cost him his very soul was being thrown away, he could feel the close press of fate against his skin. Every ship, every soldier, everything he cared for. Reduced to ashes. Thrown away so that the galaxy could deal from a fresh pack of cards. Was it worth it to close so thoroughly the gates of history? To lock them fast against friends and lovers alike? 

 

For he could feel them. Those giants of the past. The vain heroes and devils who cried out against the wheels of time to preserve their legacy. But who would remember them after the last burning husk fell to ground? Who now remembered Ar-Pharazon the Golden or Lord Achzet? No one. For time had moved on. And it was time for the last relics of ages long gone to join the ranks of ghosts. 

 

A hundred judgemental eyes that stared at him unblinking from the corners of his vision. All he needed to do was look to the side and they would flicker away, only to return the moment his direct vision left them. So hge simply stared at the large holographic display that showed the battle churning between the Rebel Alliance and his own Sith Order. Perhaps many of those ghosts would have been proud to have seen how far he had come, but he would not look at them. He would not look to see potential disappointment. But he knew it was there. It pounded down on his skull like a proverbial hammer. He knew those ghostly eyes carried a judgment he could not bear. 

 

All around him they flickered, some in suits of old white plastoid armour, now eroded and charred with carbon scoring. Others in robes of gray and tan whose sightless eyes had long burned out. Some of the figures familiar from the early days of Exodus’s war, Xai-Lin Ardel, in her gunmetal grey tunic, Starlisk, bearing a look of scorn that had been etched onto his face like durasteel. The White Wolf himself, and beside him standing the diminutive form of Tirzah Jade-Colos. How many others were there? How many others stood in the shadows laughing that he had sacrificed every bit of himself, every relationship and love, for an empire that was choosing to fall on its own sword? 

 

The demons delight in destroying those that have sworn to their service

 

The voice cut through both reverie and holographic display like a vibroknife through a duros’s torso. 

 

I used to know you so well Ca’Aran. How did you get here?

 

His eyes looked up to where Sigrid Hensi, his bright eyed and blonde haired second lieutenant should have been. But no, it was not the young woman that had accompanied him since he had left the Black Sun. Instead it was another ghost. That self same ghost that had haunted him every step since the end of the clone wars. She looked up at him and spoke again, her voice trembling at the edge of tears. 

 

You used to be good

 

What a damned nuisance. He stared back at the face that did not flit away like all the others. He did not answer, even as she spoke again. 

 

Did I make you like this?

 

He stared at her incredulously. His first instinct was to deny her involvement, to preserve her love for him, but he forced that down. For what love could exist to one that was long dead and in the ground these hundred years? Only brutal honesty would answer. Even as the deck shifted under his feet from another impact. None of that mattered. Only this. 

 

“I was designed as a damned weapon. I was designed for this, for the slaughter, for the welter of gore at my feet. I used to be good? No. I used to serve good. That is it.”

 

He pointed a gloved finger at her slight form. 

 

“You used me just the same as Ar-Pharazon did, as Faust did, as kriffing Exodus did. As Ailbasí does. You aren’t free from blame.” 

 

She was crying now, tears dripping down her dirty cheeks. Stained with the blue gray soil of Christophsis. Which was now turning more black with the added tears painting over freckled cheeks like makeup. The lines reflecting the glowing orange from the planet below them. 

 

I don’t want you to do this. Stop please! 

 

Her voice was trembling now, her own emotion stretching to meet his. 

 

“What you fucked me once and now you think you own me? That you can demand I cease the function I was designed for?  You made your bed on Christophisis.”

 

He was angry and his voice was hoarse with the emotion that was now boiling inside him. His voice rising to a scream of anger. 

 

“Your republic loaded a kriffing disruptor rifle and pointed it at the galaxy. Now you cry in remorse that it went off? You saw us suffer, you saw my friends and squadmates die by the truckload, and for what reason? Some systems didn’t want to pay their taxes? I lost my entire life, my childhood, my everything for that damned war.” 

 

His hand pointed to the now thoroughly burning planet, where billions of innocent lives were being erased from history. Many would not ever be remembered. Just like those he had loved a hundred years before. Just like those commandos and troopers who fell in the trenches by the thousand to just capture a kilometer of useless land. Goaded on by Jedi generals who wasted life with a wave of the hand. 

 

You did this to me.”

 

He bounded forward, his crimson cloak billowing behind him like a trail of blood. He snatched at the ghost and his strong hand squeezed around her neck. His fingers finding their purchase as his grip tightened. His large form towering over the woman he had gunned down all those years ago in a lonely command tent. He had loved her once.

 

“Why didn’t you run away with me? Why did you choose duty?”

 

He was screaming again, his eyes starting to water. She was struggling to speak, her perfect blue eyes widened in horrible fright as his powerful hands ground against her larynx. He would not let her speak. He would not let her say a word. For this had already been long decided and he knew the answer to the questions he was screaming into her dying face. 

 

He was damned and he always had been. 

 

The beating of her hands on his face slowed just like the pulse under his fingers. Petering off until she was empty weight in his hands. He let the lovely corpse fall away to the decking and looked back up to the holographic display. And instead of seeing ghosts, all he saw were the staring eyes of frightened deck crew. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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The silence swallowed him, the Empress's words rapidly dispersing into the aether with her final breath. The command deck was silent, save for the Misericordia

s creaks and groans as fire was exchanged with the Raven's Bane and her escorts. The second rebel flagship was closing fast- He would have to move. He forced himself to his feet, retrieving the blade from Raven's chest. He could feel her soul pulsing in the gem- the sole reminder of her existence. The ship shuddered, and he moved towards the exit.

 

His vengeance had been achieved, and yet he still felt hollow. The fires of rage still burnt his veins, and he was left without a target for it. Everyone he'd trusted were dead, or beyond his reach now. He knew the way of the Dark Lords. He was dangerous, both to Nyrys and to her plan. He would either be placed in a backwater to guard a place worth little, or he would be slain to preserve her faux peace. He would abide neither option. The galaxy was changing, and he intended to spearhead that change.

 

He had no chance for now. His forces were heavily damaged, his retinue were dead or out of contact, and the Sith Empire's military might would be in shambles after this battle. He would need to disappear, to heal his wounds, his spirit, and his resolve. But he would not leave the Sith to their own machinations. There were still three he relied upon. One who's chains were literal, one who's chains were emotional, and one who's chains were nearly broken. These would be their projects while he was away.

 

He fought his way through squads of security personnel, through hostile corridors and quarters. He entered the hangar, took his shuttle, and left. Alone, and forever changed.

 

_

 

Aboard the Raven's Bane, orderly mayhem was breaking loose. Their reinforced shields were holding against the Misericordia, but barely, and now the Constantine was moving close to engage. The situation was dire. Captain Ralos knew that the corridor would need to be clear for Darth Mavanger to escape, and with both the Misericordia and the Constantine still active, the chances of that happening were incredibly low. But there was an opportunity- The Raven's Bane was in a favorable position, nearly directly between the two capital ships, and passing close.

 

It didn't take much to perfect their position, and as the Raven's Bane took fire from both sides, it fired a point blank volley of siege torpedoes into both ships, a volley that was hopefully massive enough in firepower to destroy both of the battleworn vessels. Their own proximity to the fallout never once crossed her mind as a deterrent.

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((Due to the wait on the post I've been given the go ahead to end things... Sorry bud))

 

When the grenade went off behind the speeding individual it would blast them off balance, the pistols that the Clone tossed away clattered around him as he had activated the lightsaber. In the instant he prepared himself Tilt raised his shield and saber and allowed the individual to strike home from above, the force of the dual weapons causing the Clone to grunt, but there was no time to waste. The individual was quick in movements but Tilt knew what his attack was going to be judging by their body language, he blocked the axe with his shield and angled his blade to barely parry the vibrosword away, a trick he picked up when fighting alongside Jedi during the Grand Republic. 

 

As soon as the sword was parried the foe was moving forward and pressing their attack however their eagerness allowed to knock the swing axe away by Tilt, block the sword again and bash the rushing man in the solar plexus causing them to stumble back and for the Clone to move in. Tilt was the one moving forward now keeping the man off balance as he worked at kicking the legs and swinging with his lightsaber, but the man had other ideals and used the Force to slightly knocked the Clone back. As soon as he regained a proper fighting stance Tilt was once again being pushed back by the foe who wildly swung their weapons, this time out of pure anger from being pushed themselves. This was not good, I need to end this now, thought the Clone. 

 

When Tilt slipped up by stepping wrongly on a foot, the dual wielder attempted for the opening blow only for the Clone to drop and spin at the same time, the shield once again blocked one overhead attack while the sword narrowly missed the Clones head. Tilt spun only once as he dropped and his saber swung outward cutting deep into the foes legs, this in turn caused the enemy to collapse, however they still tried to attack. A powerful Force push sent the Clone against the wall, and through the Force did the man rise up and despite his injuries he was standing and stumbling his way over to the downed Clone. Tilt had other ideas for the horrifying display, he chucked a grenade when he got back up, the small explosive closed the nine foot distance but just before it would hit the foe they used the Force to grab it midair. 

 

The Sith Apprentice grinned, just before he could send the grenade back Tilt used his gauntlet blaster and shot the device causing a close explosion in the foes face. This both knocked out the individual and disfigured their face and torso, it left mortal wounds. Tilt collected his twin pistol blasters and was about to end the Sith until a solid bolt struck his left shoulder pauldron. The remaining Sith forces were being pushed out however a small trio were making their way up the stairs delivering heavy fire. Tilt used his blasters and was firing back, taking cover behind a met crate. Two of the soldiers collected the wounded Apprentice as one continued to lay covering fire keeping the Clone pinned, but as they left the Rebel-Imperial units pushed the Sith out of the area. The Clone had collected the vibro-axe as a souvenir, primitive but nonetheless it was proof he'd defeated a Sith Apprentice... Or just some psycho raging with ketamine. 

 

Tilt immediately got a heads up over his comms, Thumper and Riggs were alive but evacuated as the Sith Empire had successfully laid waste to the rest of the ship. Of course, why not? Tilt was shouted by another soldier for evac, and he quickly followed them as they gathered the rest of the survivors and made their way to escape pods. All units were being evacuated, many would not make it but the remaining would. Once they were in the pods, they launched safely away from the ship, two vessels seeming to close in on its position. 

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When the remaining pods launched Tilt had to help strap in one of the Imperial Remnant Privates while the soldier was helping his CO make a tourniquet for a rapidly bleeding arm. The Sargeant had been shot by a blaster bolt right in his firearm which ripped it to shreds almost. Tilt and the five other passengers in the pod- a tight squeeze- were contacted by the nearby Ancillary Justice. Apparently they weren't meeting the ground just yet. 

 

The pod was guided to the vessel in which it entered the hangar where other pods were as well. The hatch was popped open and the wounded were let out first whilst the full functioning soldiers were next. Tilt was the last to exit, however upon inspection of the various engineers and personnel he didn't see his brothers. The Clone contacted them via comm link and affirmed that they had successfully reached the ground and were helping the chaos thereof. It was just him for right now.

 

Tilt, with his WESTAR Rifle on his back with the vibro-axe, and his pistols and saber hilted, headed to the nearest officer he'd seen. It wasn't hard to notice the Clone Trooper as his armor, deep charcoal gray and accepted orange, stood out from other troopers and soldiers. He felt out of place, even more so hauling around an arsenal of weapon and am axe to top it all off. 

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The now solitary black painted star destroyer seemed to waver for a moment against the background of the burning planet. Its edges becoming hazy for a split second before the multi kilometer starship came apart at its seams. Deep within the vessel the antimatter core erupted with the strength and gravity of a small star. There was a flash of bright white light, then the pride of the Alliance fleet crumpled against the gravity of the released antimatter. While such a gravitational anomaly such as the one within the grand Star Destroyer could only be measured in milliseconds before they disappeared, the effect was magnificent.  

 

The exploding starship seemed to shrink into itself, pulling durasteel and human form alike into the depths of a dark void, before the internal supply of the ship’s hyperdrive was used up. Leaving nothing at all where the old Misericordia had been except exceptionally radioactive space dust. 

 

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We are the Body.

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Neither Kolchak nor his crew took any note when @Qessax Jal Todda or the few other less dedicated departed. Their final task was at hand, once again, and they would pour themselves into it with all the zeal an dedication expected of those within Intelligence Command.

 

System alarms blared as the Constantine’s point defense lasers worked to rebuff the most lethal of enemy barrages.

 

“Hold ze line. Ve must protect the evacuees.” Kolchak’s voice boomed over the chaos. Even now, he was aware of the arrival of Imperial and Allied craft as they began to scoop up the countless pods from their flagship, returning barrages of fire as those on the fringes took it in turn alongside the Constantine

 

The Constantine’s shields glowed beneath the onslaught of the Raven’s Bane, holes erupting and jettisoning air, crew and cargo into the void of space as internal security measures sealed off portions of the ship. Those trapped within, doomed to an agonizingly cold death at the grasp of the void.

 

”Hold. For ze Empress.” His voice cracked with the air of authority as he felt the rising tensions across the bridge. They were surely doomed to die here, each lightyears away from their home. There was no greater honor than to die in the service of one’s liege, lest it be to die saving others from such a fate. To willingly lay down one’s life.

 

Beneath the onslaught, the warship’s shields finally breathed their last, their energized barriers collapsing until they could be repaired, revitalized, or recharged. All that remained was the thick metal plates to keep the interior and exterior, life and death, separated. Feet and inches of steels and amalgamations, the finest science had to offer, were all that kept this contained  microcosm of the Empire, the last stand of Imperial might, afloat; a wall, a moat, against the lawless infidels beyond.

 

“Hold!” It was all he said. It was all he need say. Any words worth saying had long since been uttered. Last wills and testaments long ago laid down. The scream of sirens filled the craft. Every man, woman, and droid knew that the end was near, that it may be upon them any moment. Still, they did not feel the subtle tug of G-forces as the craft began evasive maneuvers. It was because there was none. They knew their commander. They trusted him. They were as dedicated as he. Here, thousands would die to sage hundreds of thousands more.

 

With a telltale glance, a slow nod, Kolchak and his Chief exchanged a knowing glance. A code was entered into the cracking static of the command console. Any crewman not on the bridge was to evacuate to the escape pods immediately. They were beyond the need to repair anything. The ship was doomed. Anyone not immediately vital to keeping the craft on course, paralleling the Misercordia, were to flee, to make for the rescue craft immediately. 
 

Within minutes, Kolchak and a skeleton crew were all that remained; the most dedicated and loyal.

 

They saw it before they felt it. The Misercordia’s hull integrity was lost, swallowed by reactions within. The Constantine moved to close with the larger ship, to absorb the brunt of any blast that might echo from it. In doing so, they knew what was to come. 
 

“Gentlemen,” Kolchak spoke, his voice solemn as their ship careened forward, every eye on the bridge turned to him. Those at their posts still stood, attention diverted to the speakers thst channeled the Grand Moff’s voice across the dying ship. “An honor.”

 

A cheer of defiance echoed across the ship, across comms to nearby craft. As the explosive might of the Misercordia enveloped the Constantine. The shield of the craft shielded the vulnerable pods and warcraft beyond as the Constantine absorbed the brunt of the explosion. 
 

As fire and void broke into the ship and swept along her corridors, every system began to fail. In the final moments before all life aboard was extinguished, one final line carried from the ship. The cry of Imperial Intelligence, of Kolchak and his command.


“Ve are tip of spear.” 

 

 

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“Up. Help me up, dammit. No, no drugs, gotta keep--spast.” A medic knelt by his chest and began tearing open packs of meds: painkillers, antiseptics, dressings… a lot of dressings, and went to work on shoving the material into a wound somewhere below Admiral Slaughter’s stomach. Pain erupted like fire, and he sweated and spat despite the chill of the warship. “Local, local.” He felt scissors work into his right sleeve and needles slip into the veins in his arm. Now, why was no one helping him back to his feet? And why wasn’t he able to move his legs?

 

He gave a glance downward, past the two sets of hands that were alternating between shoving bacta-infused dressings into his gut and shoving down against them into what had to have been a terrible wound. A shard of transparisteel--if something as wide as his leg could be described as a mere shard--was sticking out of his gut. Potential spinal cord injury. Almost certainly severed arteries.

 

“Admiral,” A light shone into his eyes. A finger pressed against his neck. “We need to get you to the medical frigate.”

 

“Th…” Slaughter winced as the dressings shoved into place against something that did not appreciate being shoved. “Prop me up. Do what ya can do, I ain’t moving from my post. This is a time when an Admiral’s life doesn’t mean a kriffing thing. Up, damn you!

 

Querying glances were exchanged between the medic and his executive officer, with a clear calculation between the eyes of the Ryloth that was forcing blood and plasma and Force-knew-only-what into his body.

 

The answer to that calculation seemed to be: “Frack it. He’s probably going to die anyway.”

 

A brace strapped around his neck. He snarled and ground his teeth as two sets of strong arms lifted his body onto a stretcher and wheeled him towards his tactical pit. Another incoherent growl and curse rent his throat as the medics did… something to the stretcher that caused it to tilt forward. Once the red cleared from his vision and coherent thought returned to his mind, his focused on the enormous holograph of Black Scarab and he scowled. It had been badly damaged--probably during the time he’d been unconscious--and nearly crippled by Misericordia and Constantine, but its battered hull possessed so much tonnage and so many weapons that its mere presence posed a dire threat to Nar Shaddaa.

 

He grit his teeth and forced his vision on that ship, that damned ship that had haunted his republic for years. No more running. He would see it dead, neutralized, drifting, or blown to spacedust.

 

Something in the pit of his gut, somewhere in the vicinity of his torn intestines and spine, coiled like an enraged viper and prepared to strike.

 

“Signal SpaceWorks. We will need their tugs. And to L’Ouverture and Gerrera, slave their launchers to our targeting data. They may fire when we have a lock. Helm, dive.”

 

Breachmaker and Vigilant towards Black Scarab, two slowly spiraling hulks against a burning dreadnought. One of the surviving frigates managed to intercept a barrage from one of the dreadnought’s batteries and drifted out of the formation. After the cruisers cleared the Scarab’s flanks, they leveled out their flight paths their few remaining batteries rotated to target that gargantuan ship’s engines… and remained silent. The only fires that issued from those ships were blazing away from self-defense anti-starfighter weapons, not turbolasers or even ion cannons.

 

Far away, the nearly undamaged missile destroyers Gerrera and L’ouverture opened up with full broadsides, twenty eruptions of smoke and flame issuing from the dagger-like flanks of the Victory-class Star Destroyers. The salvo of missiles wobbled to and fro as they rode the sensor data to the targeted engines of Black Scarab, like predatory fish homing in on the distant smell of blood.

 

And very, very far away, crews raced towards the tugboats of the Imperial SpaceWorks. Those ships were squat, fragile, unarmed civilian vessels--literally useless in a fight--but they boasted a thrust-to-weight ratio far beyond that of anything in the battle above Nar Shaddaa. And their tractor beams, as powerful as those seen on armored cruisers, meant that once those ships reached speed, they could drag an unwilling victim along with them…

 

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((@Darth Nyrys))

 

The ever-present stench of death lingered about the two Force-Sensitives, like a splitting headache inflicted by some unholy collaboration of dehydration and caffeine withdrawal. Draygo’s light-green eyes flashed about; there were a discouraging number of carbines, a couple of repeaters, and an uncountable number of sidearms displayed, some of which were pointed in the general direction of the Jedi Grandmaster. She shrugged twice, as though trying to banish the stiffness that came from cramming a too-tall frame into the too-small cockpit of a starfighter.

 

The first shrug caused her cloak to slip from her shoulders and fall into a brown puddle around her feet. The second triggered the quick-release clasps on her pilot harness, which fell more decisively to reveal a suit of plastoid armor similar to the segmented cuirasses that the Imperial Knights favored. Her hand went to the lightsaber hilt on her right hip (a plastoid clack could be heard as four Sith marines dutifully shouldered their weapons) and her left foot moved in a circular motion that simultaneously kicked away the fallen gear and placed the Jedi in a ready-stance with most of her weight on her forward leg. It was an unusual stance for that stereotypically aggressive Grandmaster: it left her ready to spring backwards, to surrender ground--it was more typical of Soresu.

 

At this point astromech droid at the side of the Jedi Grandmaster surveyed her and the Dark Lord cautiously, its optical sensor whirring between a focus on Draygo and her probable opponent. Whether it was due to an observation of the unconscious clenching of the Jedi’s jaw or a slight increase in her heartrate, Bebop apparently came to the conclusion that violence was almost certainly imminent. The droid very slowly rolled backwards, hoping that the minute whirring of its rollers wouldn’t be heard.

 

“I spoke too poetically earlier, Empress.” The Jedi Grandmaster began. Even if her Force-presence crackled like a stormfront about to unleash its energy against a downwind mountain range, her voice remained even. “What I meant was that every battle we fight drags both our orders closer to their final destruction. You have a choice before you: withdraw your forces and begin negotiations to end this stupid war, or continue and be destroyed."

 

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@Qessax Jal Todda

 

The ship’s communication came through and with minimal delay was relayed to the commanding officer of the Ancillary Justice. @Nikolai Kolchak had chosen to die. So be it. It was a fitting death for a warrior and it would not be allowed to pass in vain. As such, as the transmission from the Rabid Muumuu came about evacuating, a look of genuine surprise crossed Vangar’s face. 
 

“Belay that order.” He hissed through slitted teeth. “Such a sacrifice will be honored with lives saved, even in death. Reroute the warriors of Kalee. Such cowardice does not become them.”

 

The battle was not going well. Even so, the forces of the Rebellion managed to trade blow for blow each round with the hulking Sith war fleet. Where a loss was felt, so too was another delivered. It was not in the nature of the Baron of Bespin to leave an opponent unscathed or to back away from a fight because of bloodshed. They would stand and fight, not just for glory or honor, though those were noble goals, but for hope, for life, to say that no effort had been spared that but one innocent life might be saved from the horde of marauders that were falling upon them.

 

‘RABID MUUMUU,’ began the electronic communication sent in response to Qessax’s message. ‘You have not yet been cleared for evacuation. The fight still rages and you are neither overloaded with refugees or damaged beyond usefulness. To flee now but condemns the homes of others to burn. Stand and fight. If you are able, join with the tugs of Imperial Spaceworks. Clear a path for those civilian vessels so that they might honor our cause as well. See to it that the Black Scarab falls. If you cannot, return to the surface. Save as many as you can.’ @Delita @Sgt. Slaughter
 

———————————

 

The steeled command at his dais watched in horror as the Misercordia broke apart before their very eyes consuming all around it within an eleftric blue eruption of power before drawing back upon itself in a singularity of destruction before it was gone. The Constantine had taken the brunt of the blast as it had erupted outwards towards the Rebel fleet, wayward escape pods, and planet itself. The ship was torn to shreds. 
 

He had not even needed to give the order as shields were brought to full power, energies diverted from elsewhere as the Ancillary Justice rode the tumultuous wake of what they witnessed unfold before their very eyes. Even the Barabel’s toothy maw slacked slightly ajar at the wanton blast of destruction and loss of life. It was short lived however as more escape pods, laden with survivors of now both the Constantine and the Misericordia began to blink into existence on the scanners. This needed to end, now.

 

”Signal the others,” came the command. “Continue with survivor rescue as possible. See to it that no other Sith escape. This will not happen again.” The order was simple in it’s directness. Save lives, end any chance that this could happen again above any other world. “Bring us about to heading 3-4-7. Engage what remains of the singularity generating fleet. Drive them back.”

 

A contingent of warships fell in line behind the Ancillary Justice. They diverted to engage all that remained of @Sheog the Mad’s grand fleet that dwindled about the mad Hutt’s force-wounded singularity. They poured salvos of turbolaser fire and proton torpedoes towards what remained, throwing themselves into the tempestuous waves that skirted the black hole that now sought to devour all that it touched. Whatever, whoever, was causing this would be stopped here, never to wring such havoc on another. Along their flank, a cruiser lost it’s fight against the draw of darkness and was torn asunder as it was sucked towards the maddening pinpoint of destruction. Other fighter craft were torn apart by the Sith forces rebuttal. Yet they pressed the attack. This would end here.

 

——————

 

A brisk salute was offered by the Lieutenant-wearing Bespin Wing Guard Bothan who looked less-than thrilled to be bothered by yet another rescue @Tilt07. He looked the clone-era soldier up and down with a raised eyebrow. Even as he sought to stifle any sort of amusement at the sight the Bothan’s  fur rippled. Not a lot of time to feel such a situation out and many rebels were wearing whatever they could get their hands on. Whoever this particular rescue was, he was of some military designation. “Name, rank, serial number, shift assignment, you know the drill soldier,” the Bothan grumbled as he tapped at a datapad in his hand. “COs and other ranked officers are being escorted to the bridge for debriefing other soldiers, airmen, and combatants are to report to Level 12, Cafeteria 2 for nourishment at this time. If you are associated with the Sith war fleet your surrender may be offered now and you will be provided adequate care and  sustenance as you are now in the custody.” The man looked over his datapad at Tilt with a glare as he regarded the heavily armed man. “Resistance is futile.” He added as a pair of guards materialized behind him, rifles in hand. 
 

Short of admitting he was a Sith or refusing to provide adequate identification, the solitary clone trooper would join a group of whichever group he belonged to. If he chise the first he would be escorted to the waiting room off the bridge with several other commanding officers plucked from space, offered a steaming cup of caf, and briefed as to what was currently going on concerning the fleet, the Ancillary Justice, the Empress, and ongoing rescue efforts. There they would be allowed to ask questions and input realtime data as to what they knew. If the second option was chosen, a crowded cafeteria with heaping plates of warm Bespinian food would be found. Lines of soldiers and crowded tables surrounded by the din of loud conversation as stories were swapped  and comrades in arms located their battle buddies.

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“And here I thought that we were having a meaningful conversation. That lasted all of… what, three minutes?” The Dark Lady shrugged, her expression hidden by her helmet, but her tone one of energetic sarcasm that seemed at odds with the situation. “And after all of the work that I went through to give you your gift. You seem remarkably ungrateful.”

 

“Go. Build your better galaxy, the weeds have been plucked from the garden and this time if anything goes wrong you won’t have us to blame. My people already have orders to withdraw beyond the boundaries of the known regions, we just needed to make sure that the ones most likely to pursue us were declawed.” 

 

“Or you can stay here and kill me, if that will make you feel better. There’s something festering out there in the void, an absence that is crawling out of the pit of ash and jagged bone that birthed it, and it terrifies me far more than any Jedi or mortal warrior. A lightsaber blade to the heart seems like an easy out, all things considered. Then again, death has never really affected me with the same finality as most others. Maybe I’m just pfasked no matter what. The galaxy won’t be though. You’re welcome.”

 

The scales were being tipped the way that they needed to be. The Empire, decapitated. The Sith fleet thoroughly depleted by a battle where they focused on victims rather than victory. The Sith army left by the wayside in exchange for the Mandalorians, a people notoriously suspicious of the Force and all forms of sorcery. They would never know, never understand, and the legacy of Darth Nyrys would most likely be reviled as failure by the Sith, but masks could be removed just as much as they could be put on.

 

“So what’s it going to be?”

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<<Oh, did we win? I feel like we also lost…>>

 

Large, cruel eyes stared at the disintegrating wreckage of the once great Misercordia fall into Nar Shaddaa’s gravity well. Thousands of deaths in an instant. Their horror froze in time within the Force, adding deepening the well from which the Great Hutt drew his power. Each shattered soul, each mangling mewing cry of death, each unmet desire, each unfulfilled dream fed his hunger.

 

Sith ships fell, broken and venting oxygen into realspace, fragged and destroyed by Rebel fire. Cruisers and Corevettes, carriers and retrofitted transports. The Court of Madness dwindled. The Great Super Star Destroyer, that bitter throne of the Lord of the Krath seemed to pitch and warp under the combined firestorm.

 

The Singularity seemed to pulse to the heartbeat of the Dark Side, drawing in light and life into great arteries to feed its ever-hungry master. The Great Hutt breathed in a monstrous, flabby breath into his multiple lungs, his bridgecrew following his unbidden orders, locking in the coordinates that would spell the doom of the light.

 

<<I suppose I simply... don't care.>>

 

With a blink, the singularity shattered into nothingness, its grotesque power taken in by its host. And with that, the Sith Command Ship disappeared into the starscape of hyperspace. The paltry remains of the fleet left behind seemed to scream into the void before detonating into starbursts of misshaped light, 

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King Kheldar vos Correlli said:
Sheog, I have to ask, overkill much?
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15 hours ago, Vangar said:

@Qessax Jal ToddaddaTodda

((Note from Tilt- Sooo the site won't let me delete what's above, wasn't trying to quote you or anything. Sorry))

 

 

A brisk salute was offered by the Lieutenant-wearing Bespin Wing Guard Bothan who looked less-than thrilled to be bothered by yet another rescue @Tilt07.

 looked the clone-era soldier up and down with a raised eyebrow. Even as he sought to stifle any sort of amusement at the sight the Bothan’s  fur rippled. Not a lot of time to feel such a situation out and many rebels were wearing whatever they could get their hands on. Whoever this particular rescue was, he was of some military designation. “Name, rank, serial number, shift assignment, you know the drill soldier,” the Bothan grumbled as he tapped at a datapad in his hand. “COs and other ranked officers are being escorted to the bridge for debriefing other soldiers, airmen, and combatants are to report to Level 12, Cafeteria 2 for nourishment at this time. If you are associated with the Sith war fleet your surrender may be offered now and you will be provided adequate care and  sustenance as you are now in the custody.” The man looked over his datapad at Tilt with a glare as he regarded the heavily armed man. “Resistance is futile.” He added as a pair of guards materialized behind him, rifles in hand. 
 

Short of admitting he was a Sith or refusing to provide adequate identification, the solitary clone trooper would join a group of whichever group he belonged to. If he chise the first he would be escorted to the waiting room off the bridge with several other commanding officers plucked from space, offered a steaming cup of caf, and briefed as to what was currently going on concerning the fleet, the Ancillary Justice, the Empress, and ongoing rescue efforts. There they would be allowed to ask questions and input realtime data as to what they knew. If the second option was chosen, a crowded cafeteria with heaping plates of warm Bespinian food would be found. Lines of soldiers and crowded tables surrounded by the din of loud conversation as stories were swapped  and comrades in arms located their battle buddies.

 

Tilts brow rose when the individual spine to him, although the brow couldn't bee seen under the helmet. He could answer like a smartass but needed to be professional about this, he found difficulty not to give a snarky answer. Then again they were in the middle of a war, and acting like Riggs was not going to get him anywhere. So without further ado, Tilt said, "Tilt, Captain of the 431st Legion, CT-0207; infiltration, air assault, reconnaissance, sabotage, espionage, and close quarters combat. I was under direct orders from Kolchak to board the Misericordia, however we were evacuated as the ship went under. I'm assuming that's it, yes? I'll make my way to the other officers then." 

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There was a pause in the ship as the command came through. All of the kaleesh warriors looked at their commanders for direction. This battle was borderline suicidal and they knew it. 

 

Agent Qessax knew it as well, but he also knew some other factors. 

 

"You heard their orders! Make fire on the black scarab! "

 

"Hold off on that!" 

 

Qessax's older brother had placed a hand on his siblings shoulder, forcing him to look face to face. Even behind their bone masks, there was a glimmer of fear in both of their eyes.

 

"Suicide does not make one a god. And that black hole is nothing but suicide" the elder sibling growled. He was right. Kaleesh culture, despite being considered primitive by most, hated hopeless suicide. Fighting to the end was worthy, but only if there was a good reason to. Fighting just for the sake of death was frowned upon. That was what separated the kalee from the sith. 

 

Qessax's training kicked in and slapped the hand away. 

 

"We have been ordered to continue fighting, and we will do so. Black hole or not, we will continue fighting until we are unable t…"

 

Qessax didn't finish his sentence. Even as they argued, the singularity that had tore the battlefield dissipated, followed by the bursts of light from the sith fleet. 

 

"Move and open fire now!" Qessax roared a command to the stunned kaleesh. "This is the Rabid MuuMuu and it will continue to fight as such!"

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Explosions rocked the ship left and right, up and down as it attempted to reach the Constantine before the full on destruction of the Misercordia engulfed it. A quick response from the pilot avoided the initial blast and the Admiral screamed out loudly - "DIVE!" Heaven's Taint dove rapidly in the evasion of everything raining down upon the destruction of the Misercordia which now engulfed the Constantine. Beck moved from the center towards the comm station to observe what the next move was. As he did so, another officer tripped attempting to move from one side of the bridge to another. Clearly someone else who did not have the seasoned legs of a naval officer. Putting his hand upon him to push him further towards where he was attempting to go, Beck then leaned in to see the holodisplay of the battle. It took him around four seconds to spot what he was looking for. 

 

"Ah, there's my girl! Captain, bring us home to Fiat Lux. Lieutenant Froxx, open a channel." Beck stood up now instead of leaning over. "Commander Jorhan, turn to cover the fleet. Begin Tooka Protocol. Authorization Green Omega Delta. Upon my arrival, turn and get all survivors out of the system. and defend them." Beck turned to stand behind Captain Ghrol as he piloted to ship towards his baby girl, Fiat Lux. He smiled at seeing her again, and knew that he would never depart her again. "Signal the rest of the allied forces Lieutenant Froxx, begin retreat now. Only senior officers over my station are allowed to disregard those orders. I want all remaining allied forces safely out of this system now! This fight is done. Those that wish to remain may rally to the Fiat Lux."

 

Beck looked for a moment at the holodisplay, which showed no civilian transports remaining, only naval fleet. They had done their part and fought the good fight. Many of his own colleagues had died in the battle, including Raven. The one whom he followed since Denton. Now, he was unsure of whom was in charge of the naval fleets. He only knew that there was a chance someone else may attempt to make the fight. But it would not be him. He was content in his position and his role. And now as the things he once knew so well burned around him, he would survive. He would carry on the Imperial legacy no matter who stood over him, of that he was sure. 

 

Upon Heaven's Taint landing on Fiat Lux, there was a confirmation from Commander Jorhan that the crew made in onboard. It took Beck about three minutes exactly to get to the bridge.  As he did, he scanned the room and a shout was made. "Admiral on Deck." Those that were able to afford it turned to stand a salute, to which the Admiral quickly waved them off. "Remain at your stations. Bring up a list of those smaller ships still collecting escape pods. Have them pull away from Misercordia and focus in on Constantine and it's survivors. Rally point for all planet side to get airborne." Beck watched as a Sith war ship turned and blasted into hyperspace. His own face narrowed at the sight. "Do we have anyone on other ships still? Who is in command on the naval operations? Is Slaughter still out here?" These were all questions that he was expecting answers for quickly. He needed to know what the next course of action was. 

Edited by Beck Pilon
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“This way,” a gruff barabel bedecked in the royal blue of the Bespin Wing Guard gestured to @Tilt07 leading him out of the bay and through the maze of hallways, chutes, stairs, ladders, and lifts that made up the Ancillary Justice. Was it the most direct route? No, it was not. Did it keep anyone away from the more sensitive areas of the ship? Absolutely. A craft like the Ancillary Justice was a fine-tuned war machine outfitted with the latest stealth and counter-stealth technology on or off the market, a side effect of some of Bespin’s seedier industrial entities. Still, it did not take long to reach the meeting room off the bridge.

 

Within were seated roughly a dozen officers, survivors plucked from the fray. Naval commanders, Rebel team leaders, Imperial and Allied intel officers, a solitary Stormtrooper Corps head, and more all sat about a real wooden conference table polished to a high gloss and bolted to the floor . They were met at the door by a polished protocol droid, “Oh. Another one.” It responded, the tone less-than-welcoming but not hostile either. The droid escort Tilt into the room to a free chair about the table before grabbing a tray with a craft of steam black Corellian caf and the fixings and placing it before him.

 

”Welcome Captain,” a strong low woman’s voice called out from a podium at the head of the table before a real time screen that displayed the naval battlefield outside. “Please tell us what you know of the Misercordia. What did you see? Do you know anything of the Empress? The battle goes poorly. Sith and Allied craft alike flee the battle, hundreds of thousands more are dead including Grand Moff Kolchak. Where are your men?”

 

Beyond the sealed doorway that separate the conference room from the bridge, Vangar, Longfang, Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Grandmaster of the Bespin Trade Guilds, Chairman of the Tibanna Miner’s Guild, Chief of the Barabel Protectors, and Imperial Sector Governor of the Anoat Sector stood, his eyes darting back and forth as he took in the ever changing field about them. To their left and right Allied craft were obliterated in an instant as they bore down on the flagship of the Court of Madness, raining down salvos of destruction and death. Sith craft were obliterated in the charge. With destruction all about them, the Ancillary Justice shuddered beneath the recourse, strained against the inky maw that rippled gravitational waves around and against it; and then, it was gone. The final grotesque flagship of @Sheog the Mad turned and fled from the fight, his slaves erupting in explosive  finality against the press of Vangar’s hungering fleet. In a flash, the quivering bowl of jelly was gone. The masters of Bespin did not miss a beat, nor did those ships that followed, the Dawngate, a Tartan Patrol Cruiser, a lair of Squib Needle Ships, and several smaller corvettes. They turned their attention towards other Sith craft that still dotted the horizon, using superior speed and stealth to close the gap and pour forth offensive justice against those who sought to oppress the world below.

 

The call for available ships to retreat was received from the Fiat Lux. Eyes across the bridge turned to the slate-skinned commander. He regarded the looks of his fellow countrymen, being of different races, creeds, and beliefs all bound together in a desire for the same thing, a greater cause. All of them hailed from the Anoat Sector and nearby regions. Each of them had sworn themselves to the defense of their homes and families in service to the true Imperial crown. And now, with Kolchak gone and the Empress missing, the Empire that remained, the Remnant, was without a leader; replaced by those individuals of rank and power of personality to command. The Rebel forces still had @Sgt. Slaughter and some would look to him for guidance. Others would refuse, to follow a leader outside the command of the Empire akin to blasphemy. Those would look to the leadership of the Imperial Remnant that remained for guidance, to Vangar a ruler of the people of the Outer Rim, to @Beck Pilon the respected Admiral, to @Qessax Jal Todda and others that remained of Nikolai Kolchak’s intelligence circles.

 

Vangar licked his lipless maw and shook his head. There were still enemies preying on the weak and dying, here on this battlefield. They would not be allowed to carry that suffering beyond, to Anoat and beyond. “We fight.” He snarled as he pointed towards the Fidelity, readings of her damage appearing on the feed. The rebel command ship continued to press the attack and so would they.


“Bring all guns to bear on the Raven’s Bane.” He commanded, his finger moving from one area of the battlefield to another, to the Sith craft that had been the closest to the Misercordia and Constantine when they fell. “Any man who fears death has long since died. As long as one soul remains to fight for, we fight. The scourge of the Sith ends today. Alert Admiral Beck that we will stand.”

 

The ship lurched as a sudden application of massive thrusters careened it on a new path. The artificial gravity generators and dampeners straining under the sudden maneuver. With a second thrust the ship’s engines idled again, the stealth field generators flaring to life and sheathing the Ancillary Justice in a glove of protective shadowy nothingness. The remainder of the ad hoc fleet moving to engage the flagship of Lord @Mavanger.

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Beck observed many ships faltering here and there with decisions. He understood it all too well. He wasn't sure whom he would have followed had he not lived long enough to see many war torn factions come and burn without any hesitation. The constant fight remained. The Admiral turned as the comm officer began to report what he already knew. The Ancillary Justice was standing to fight. He raised an eyebrow as he looked back towards the holodisplay of the current battle raging on.

 

"Open a comm, all allied forces to link up to the channel." Beck moved back towards the main point on the bridge of the Fiat Lux and looked out at what was before him. "Attention allied forces. If your ship has suffered loss of functions or damaged shields, retreat. We will not waste away resources so easily now. Smaller ships are to find escape pods if able. If you have strength, form up with Ancillary Justice and take on Raven's Bane. Drive the Sith from the system. At this stage of the game, seniority outranks any rank. Get a confirmation on Admiral Slaughter's status. His orders stand over anyone else. Until you hear otherwise, he's the acting fleet command." 

 

Beck signaled to cut the open comm to the entire fleet so that his next words would be only for his crew on Fiat Lux. "Move us to angle next to Ancillary Justice so that we can cut off any fire on escaping ships. Also call up whatever fighters we have to aid in taking on the Black Scarab. If we can bring down those two beasts today, it will be a great victory in my personal opinion." With ships beginning to retreat on both sides, now that major losses have been handed out on both sides, Beck felt it was the time of the allied forces to make a mark. Taking down the two major ships of the Sith forces would bring forth a moral victory that everyone needed. 

 

"Inform the commander of Ancillary Justice to flank more right, that will give better cover to ships leaving and protect their shields from a straight up fight."

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Despite whatever schizophrenic episode their captain may have been experiencing, the crew and officers of the Black Scarab kept in fighting shape. Not to mention the thousands of battle hardened fighter pilots who had finished off the remains of the Jedi fighter wings that had thrown away their lives in a useless attempt to protect the now thoroughly burning Ecumenopolis. The pilots of the starfighters and bombers dove into the undefended tugs, civilian vessels, and military transports which were heading towards the Scarab. Being virtually undefended, the vessel’s lifespans would be measured in seconds and would likely be cut out of high orbit as if with a scythe. It would be easy pickings, even if there was little honour in the act, and it would save the Super Star Destroyer from any additional threats that might venture forth from the Spaceworks. 

 

As for the Scarab itself, it had not been badly crippled by the Misericordia and Constantine, and though it was normally perfectly capable of withstanding the missile fire of the two venerable victory star destroyers. The majority of the point defense operators at the rear of the Super Star Destroyer split their time between picking off civilian vessels, escape pods, and the much more dangerous missiles. Much to the captain’s chagrin, three of the heavy torpedoes broke through the shield array and splashed into the convex starboard engine. Detonating in a rippling explosion that cut all lateral thrust from the starboard side as fire crews worked to douse the blaze. As the shields were restored surrounding the engines by the generator crews.

 

The surrounding six Victory Star Destroyers of the Black Sun division, having expended their thermonuclear armament on the planet below, reversed their thrusters and began to add their turbolasers and Ion cannons to the fray. Targeting the smaller vessels of the haggard Alliance fleet, while the thousands of turbolasers of the Super Star Destroyers turned their fury on the Gerrera, L’ouverture, Breachmaker, and Vigilant. Intending to make quick work of the significantly smaller and less shielded vessels. They would be easy kills. Much like the old Galactic Alliance they had hailed from had been. Their crews reduced to flaming masses of burning debris. 

 

But this would be the last mission for the Scarab. And its captain had a plan for its demise. 

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The Rapid Muumuu continued to fight despite, or perhaps to spite, all the chaos. While the Kaleesh warriors on board were nervous and more then a little confused at why they were still fighting, they seemed to at least respect the chain of command to the chief’s sons. And the eldest seemed to know enough that Qessax knew what he was doing. 

 

Qessax bit his lips behind his mask, happy that no one could see how little he truly knew. 

 

This was not what he signed up for. Ship command was something he did well with in the academy, but he had spent most of his Imperial life in intelligence gathering. Not warfare. 

 

The orders came through. Commander Beck was a notable commander, if a clone. Not that there was anything wrong with that. It was just Kaleesh culture didn’t exactly know what to make of clones. Were they individual souls or all part of the same soul? 

 

Good thing only Agent Qessax knew this fact and not the other warriors. 

 

“Alright, keep moving on the Black Scarab you savages, that thing is going down!” Qessax barked at the warriors around him. He had to do his best to not show any hesitation. “Put all of our shields to the front and get those tow cables ready…”

 

While the Rabid Muumuu was an old republic corvette, it had been in use by the Kaleesh for a long time. One of the modifications the Kaleesh had been making to their ships were tow cables and weak tractor beams. With no shipyards back home, the Kaleesh had to salvage and steal what they could. While not the most honorable of trades, it provided one unique offensive capability. 

 

“Grab whatever debris you can. The bigger the better. We are going to use everything against that Scarab, and then give them hell with our lasers. If we succeed, I guarantee that each of you will have a wife-in-waiting back home.” 

 

The Kaleesh warriors roared a roar of acknowledgement, and got to work. The nearest and largest debris was from the Constantine. Qessax couldn’t help but find it ironic that Kolchak had given the Kaleesh Agent one last gift to use in this battle. 
 

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Silence and stillness. That was the Jedi Grandmaster’s response. Her eyes darted from side to side, from the expressionless mask that the Dark Lord wore, to a sensor readout in the tactical pits of the bridge, to the burning surface of the moon in the distance… to one of the masked shocktroopers at her side. Even if the polished breastplate that the soldier wore hid the rise and fall of his breath, it could be seen in the rhythmic waver of the barrel of the carbine pressed against his shoulder. No, it wasn’t just rise and fall with respiration; the barrel was trembling.

 

It wasn’t just the trembling of an adrenaline rush. Behind the expressionless helmet and opaque eyepieces was a mind just barely beyond the grasp of terror.

 

And back to the void of space. Black Scarab, despite having been the focus of much of the ire of the Rebel Alliance, appeared to still be operational. Some twisted mind was directing most of the carnage against Nar Shaddaa, in imitation of one of the sadistic warlords that Draygo had slain some decades ago–only, she had succeeded in exsanguinating that creature before he could bombard Csilla. Now, she was many kilometers away, confronting the person who employed these butchers. Killing this child wouldn’t change anything–it wouldn’t save a single sapient, wouldn’t put an end to the butchery. It wouldn’t even be personally satisfying. It would barely even be exercise.

 

Whatever its intentions were, Armiena decided that The Force had not placed her on this bridge with the intention of having her slaughter a few thousand more sapient beings.

 

Even if there was still murder in Draygo’s hands, there was now a smile in her eyes–one that made the stormtrooper to her left tense, recognizing the expression of a woman that was about to do something unimaginably risky.

 

Her fingers unclasped the hook of her belt. Before the heavy leather could slip from her waist, she tossed it forward, to slam at the deck before the Empress’ fleet. The metallic clang of the twin lightsabers crashed like the end of an epoch. One of the weapons, a hilt with a helical pattern carved around its circumference, popped free of its clip and rolled away.

 

Bebop, who had somehow managed to roll several meters away without being detained, blurted out a disbelieving mechanical waaaaaat.

 

Draygo just stared the Empress in the eye-slats and flashed the smile of a woman who suspected her imminent death. Her right hand was gripping the fold of her tunic, white-knuckled, in an attempt to stop the arm from shaking. “I place myself in your power, Empress. Fighting you will serve no purpose. If you being your withdrawal, I suspect you will find that the Rebel Alliance is in no position to further prosecute this battle.”

 

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Darth Mavanger's craft landed with an ear-splitting screech as it tore across the hangar's deck. It had been damaged in the twin blasts of the Rebel flagships, and Mavanger had barely managed to land it under any modicum of control. The blasts had rocked the Raven's Bane- the shields had already taken damage, but the blasts had finally stripped them. Now she lay vulnerable, the only thing separating her magazines and torpedoes for fiery detonation being feet of layered metal. One by one, her support craft moved to reinforce. The charge had been successful, and the captains of the remaining vessels were rallying to the cause.

 

He saw a Harrower star destroyer, move to shield them, watching as the green, red and blue turbolaser fire splashed against the ship's shields. It wouldn't last long, but it was buying them time to get away. Even still, the fire was intense, explosions rocking the ship with every stray shot that made it past the defensive forces. The repairs would be time consuming and costly, but the Raven's Bane would survive. Mordecai pulled out his comlink, broadcasting a simple message to friend and foe alike.

"The false Empress has fallen. The rebels will break."

 

To his own captain, he broadcasted a different one. "Take us to Geonosis immediately."

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Admiral Beck stood upon the bridge of the Fiat Lux and watched as the Raven's Bane turned rapidly and left after it's broadcast. Its message was a clear one, and one that many had already feared within the Imperial Navy. Pulling in a heavy breath and readjusted his shirt. After doing so he was able to release his breath that he held in. There was no point in searching for the fallen Empress. His commander, the one whom he followed orders outside of the Avatar Kain and Emperor Denton, had perished within the fleet battle over the once Hutt controlled space. His own eyes narrowed as he looked out the viewport to the battle still before him. Taking two more steps forward towards the front of the viewport, he steadied his own voice as he spoke. 

 

"Reset- all allied ships to target Black Scarab. Have Ancillary Justice line up with us for a full on assault. Every Ship needs to merge to aid Gerrera, L’ouverture, Breachmaker, and Vigilant in their stand against Black Scarab." Beck lifted his head ever so slightly at the site of the Super Star Destroyer in the distance from the bridge of the Fiat Lux. The move was purely out of spite. Never will I ever have any part of my Imperial navy cower under these circumstances. He saw from the corner of his eyes the look of hesitation from some of the bridge crew. "We're part of the Imperial navy. This was our home base. The last thing invaders will see and hear is the sound of an Imperial Star Destroyer coming to take them head on. Ready all turbolasers, octuple barbette turbolasers and ion cannons to strike hard and true at the Scarab. Today, we make them run." 

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The Ancillary Justice spit salvos of torpedos, their lingering streaks in the clouding the void of space with telltale  trails of impending destruction, her point defense lasers offering an otherworldly glow about the Victory I Star Destroyer as she fought with all that she had against the press of the Sith forces and the fleet about the Raven’s Bane. Beside her, rebel craft fell away like chaff, their shields and lives burned out in the onslaught. Before her, Sith fighters and support craft belched gouts of flame into the void as they were overcome by the furiousness of the Allied press, a final charge.

 

So even as @Mavanger’s message was relayed to Vangar Longfang, he only nodded. An acknowledgement he had heard the announcement nothing more as the Harrower star destroyer that moved to block his path to his prize began to list, explosions rocking it’s bridge and main thrusters. As if in slow motion, the massive steel frames of the warships moved, a silent dance of death above the burning skies of Nar Shaddaa; however, it was anything but slow as the craft plunged through space at bear hypersonic levels in their deadly game. Arcing upwards to come around the floating wreckage, the Ancillary Justice unleashed a final salvo, their rocket trails tracing after the sudden departure of the Sith warship and her few remaining supporting vessels.

 

Vangar cursed under his breath, a tirade of foulness in a language known only to those few of his kind aboard the bridge. In a moment, it was over, the Ancillary Justice turning as if on a hinge to cut through the few remaining craft too disabled to jump that continued to fight. With her own fleet dwindling, the hulking destroyer cut like a knife through bantha butter to join up with the others, her few fellow survivors forming up alongside her in a picket line of Imperial and Rebel defiance against the oppressive weight of the Sith. Fearsome Tie bombers were escorted by flights of X wings. Swift Tartan Patrol Cruisers provided protective screens for a limping Mon Cal electronic warfare ship as it moved to continue the fight, a wounded animal intent on not letting her final breaths be in vain. Together with others, they moved to join up with @Qessax Jal Todda and the Rabid Muumuu and @Beck Pilon, the Fiat Lux and her fleet to drive like the thrust of a hunter’s spear into the side of the Black Scarab, one of the few remaining Sith flagships in the fray.

 

Surging forward, the aged warship’s shields lit beneath the fire of the Sith as it cut through fighter wings and makeshift blockades. She, her crew, and her captain, like a wolf and a fox, were intent on their prey. This time, they would not escape. With the full focus of a predatory beast, Vangar and his crew of Outer Rim cast offs, many unfit for the posh life of the core worlds, gage chase.

 

And yet in the back of his mind, the Barabel commander knew. He turned the short broadcast over in his mind. The Empress had fallen…could it be true? The visage of the Misercordia’s demise flashed in his memory. Surely if she had been found aboard an escape pod, it would be made known. To lose such a figurehead would be a devastating blow and the fleeing Sith knew it. The rebels will break…words said as if a statement of fact; and Vangar could not deny it. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, every soul aboard the Ancillary Justice redoubled their efforts without order or instruction, intent on proving the secondary statement a lie. Vangar’s only hope was that somewhere, safe and secure and far away, the Empress had been reborn anew, a clone of her original self awaiting a triumphant return to her people.

 

With a clawed finger, Vangar pointed at the shield arrays of the Black Scarab. “Bring all fire to bear on the shield generators and open up a transmission line to the remaining Sith fleet.”

 

Soon enough, the grizzled gray scaley face and protruding bladed maw of the predatory Barabel would hoover over the souls of Sith crewman and commanders. “Your fleet is broken. Your commanders flee into the night. Surrender and you will be spared. Do not and you will be destroyed. Long live the Empire.” And then with a quick chopping gesture to his throat, the transmission ended. There was no hesitation. Those who wished to surrender would make it known. The rest would be hunted, trapped, and destroyed.

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A moon and its surface-spanning city burning below them. The Sith fleet above them. A star dreadnought in the middle of their formation–or, what was left of it. Far in the distance, a stardock that was being strafed by Sith starfighters.  And all around them, scattered wreckage and escape pods, each a pinprick of light that was blotted out by the conflagration of the moon that they had attempted to defend. The Sith were not accepting surrender. Even escape pods had become targets of opportunity in this infamous butchery.

 

At this point, every member of Admiral Slaughter’s task force who was near a sensor readout, from starship captain to gunnery crew to starfighter pilot, understood that they had found themselves in the sort of scenarios throughout the galaxy celebrated with solemnity. This had become one of those days of doomed heroism, when a small band of determined defenders were besieged by an overwhelming force. All of those days ended the same way.

 

They were all going to die.

 

Throughout that overmatched task force, a peculiar breakdown of discipline began to unfold. Not a single sapient shirked their duty. There were no calls to abandoned doomed vessels. Crewmen chose to ignore closing blast doors and alarms of hull breaches, rather than escape and save their lives. Even pilots had begun going down with their stricken starfighters, trying to guide their exploding vessels into a nearby hostile or fire away a few more cannon blasts, rather than trigger their ejection seats. 

 

That was exactly the problem. Nobody was leaving their posts.

 

For example, when Piorun was struck by an entire octuplet of turbolaser batteries and was set afire from stem to stern, not a single escape pod alighted from the hull of that doomed Corellian Gunship. She continued to race along the keel of Black Scarab, a burning missile in search of its target. Waggling madly as its helmsman struggled to keep the ship on course despite the fact that one of its engines was burning and another was flickering with unsteady thrust, she eventually found it: the keel hangar of the star dreadnought. The DP20 frigate set its entire reactor output into thrust, trusting that a hundred meter-long corvette crashing into a chamber filled with fuel lines and warheads and replacement starfighters would cause far more damage than its remaining weapons.

 

On the opposite side of the star dreadnought, Vigilant, a Carrack-class cruiser whose memory stretched back to the Open Circle Fleet that had bested Grievous at Coruscant, continued to orbit the command superstructure of Black Scarab. The blocky vessel continued to spit its meager allotment of turbolasers by aid of the Mark-One Eyeball alone–its sensors had been knocked out about a minute ago–in an attempt to score a lucky hit that would disable a shield generator. This was an impossible scenario for a light cruiser, and it soon lost its engines, and then the remainder of its armament and any sign of power on board.

 

L’Ouverture and Gerrera continued their scissors assault on the surrounded dreadnought, heedless of the smaller ships that had turned to target them. The two Victory-class Star Destroyers bobbed in and out behind the cover of Fidelity, relying on the bulk of the disabled MC90 cruiser to protect it from Black Scarab and a few of the Victory-classes. That tough old battle-wagon had had armor blasted off all over its hull from the attempts of the Sith to obliterate the smaller ships… but… then an errant volley was repelled from its hull with a flash of azure light rather than an incandescent spray of molten alloy. A few batteries blasted crimson towards Black Scarab and her entire hull shuddered as a single engine cluster flared haltingly. Gradually and painfully, Slaughter’s flagship was coming back to life.

 

As for Kalidor, when the one-winged eagle was struck by yet another turbolaser volley, several batteries were hit and set on fire with jets of burning charges. Rather than screaming for medics and abandoning the doomed positions, the wounded gunners, some of them clutching grievous wounds in an attempt to stop loss of blood or organs, jumped back into the burning hulks of the great guns. They fired shot after shot at point-blank range until either their guns or their bodies gave way to the fire. The cruiser managed to complete its traverse of the Black Scarab’s keel, only to come to a stop directly under one of its engine clusters so closely that she resembled a parasite clinging to a host.

 

_______

 

Yeoman Chambers stood by Admiral Slaughter’s side, hands shaking with adrenaline as she held a wired comlink to the Admiral’s mouth. His voice was guttural and strained as he spoke, and his shortness of breath was forcing him to pause every few seconds.

 

“Initiate self-destruct sequence, confirmation code Besh-Senth-Cresh…” a long series of numbers and military phonetic letters followed. Getting the sequence of words correct and in order actually wasn’t important. There were precise contingency codes that Slaughter could recite that would cause him to get locked out of Kalidors computers, or dispatching a silent distress signal, but for initializing a standard self-destruct sequence, it was the voice recognition that served as his authorization. This assumed that his voice wasn’t so altered by his groans of pain that his voice wasn’t unrecognizable to the bridge computers.
 

Slaughter cursed again when another direct hit from Black Scarab caused the deckplates to jump under his feet, jostling the transparisteel plate in his chest. That was followed by another curse from the medics at side; blood began to ooze from his abdomen again.

 

“Self-destruct confirmed, counting down five minutes,” came the serene, androgynous reply from the speakers. When that countdown terminated, the reactors aboard Kalidor would detonate with a quantity of force best used to describe stellar collisions. It would cause the hull to fragment like an enormous hand grenade and would spray debris all over the keel of Black Scarab, centering on its wounded engines.

 

“Good. Get me to the helm. Signal…” Slaughter took a deep breath. “Signal abandon ship. Someone’s gotta keep… her steady.”

 

Knowing that he had approximately five minutes remaining in his life did not provide Slaughter with any self-aware moments of clarity. He did not reflect on the fact that he was about to die while refusing to leave his station, in much the same fashion as his deceased wife. He did not think on a life of decades of service to a republic that made him, pulled him out of a Coruscanti slum and put weapons and schooling in his hands. He just stared into the sensor overlay at his command post, glaring at the imposing shadow of Black Scarab as though he could kill it through sheer force of will. It was more than the fact that the Rebel Alliance needed to defeat the Sith flagship, as it was a critical resource that could defeat entire fleets unsupported. He needed to see that ship dead, to have its shade wiped from his memory.

 

Only… the stretcher was not being pushed towards the helm. He was being pulled away–towards the portal of the bridge, towards his shuttle bay.

 

“Sorry, Admiral. Can’t let you do that.”
 

“Besides, she has foot pedals!” chimed in the Twi’lek helmsman, most helpfully. “You won’t be able to operate the controls in your state.”


“What! Damn you, let me do this!” Slaughter coughed on something and had to take a deep breath. The medics were now trying to shove something fiendish and plastic over his mouth and into his throat. He pushed it away even as he was being carted towards his shuttle. “Do notlet me take the helm–do not take this from me!”

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Oh but now the demons were so close. He was on the precipice, and his vision swam with forms both light and dark. Ghosts now pressing close enough that he could feel their breath on the back of his neck and their smell intoxicating. How he longed to step across the threshold, past the body at his feet, past the staring bridge crew, past the viewports and into the fire of the planet below. To embrace the destiny the cloners had set him on so many decades ago. To be bathed in fire and glory. That was what he was designed for right? And who was he to spit in the eye of his creators? 

 

Somewhere in the back of his head he knew he still had the choice to step away. To order his ship to stand down, order an honourable surrender, and spend his life in peace. That would be the right decision, it could not make up for the trillions of lives he had helped snuff out in the Sith’s mad dash for power, but it would set him on the right path. He let the idea float in his head for a moment, letting the possibilities of redemption tempt him. 

 

But it was not too tempting. It was the hard choice, and he had already come so far to turn back now. What good was it to start a fire mission only to turn around when it came to the firefight? The decision would come knocking on his door and he would open the gates. Afterall, he would just slip back into this again if he made the hard choice. He was just delaying the inevitable, and he deserved this one choice. He would walk the easy road. The road to glory and damnation, and how his heart rejoiced in the choice of it. 

 

As officers screamed about some corvette crashing into a hanger, his bloodsoaked hand dropped to his belt and slid the DC-15 blaster pistol from its leather holster. How had it gotten bloodsoaked? He did not remember, but something about the warm stickiness of arterial blood on his hands brought a lifetime of memories streaming through his head. The familiar and well worn grip of the DC-15s pistol felt as much a part of him as his own arms. 

 

“It’s hard the first time lad. You pull and pull, your arm shaking as you look into their eyes, you almost pray that the blaster doesn’t actually fire. But it does. It does, and then you feel the rush of it. You feel the line between human and immortal god fall away. You get to do something only the gods can do.” Delta could feel those steadying hands holding his wrist, straightening them on the blaster pistol. The voice was that of his Cuy'val Dar instructor, one of the many ghosts that skittered in the back of his mind, but now clear and distinct. Back then he had been looking into the eyes of one of the imported manual laborers that had been recruited to Kamino. The fear in those eyes had delighted him. “You get to sever the soul from its body.” 

 

The blaster pistol went off in his hand, its pure blue energy bolt lancing into the back of the flight control officer’s head. Pitching the man headfirst off his pedestal and into the pit that surrounded the command deck. A slight shift of aim and another blast of energy snatched the life out of the captain in charge of the bridge, another slight shift of aim and the TAC officer screamed for the last time in his life. Three more shots, and three more promising lives were snuffed out. 

 

It was a delicious carnage, and the bridge crew were completely defenseless. It was like shooting nerfs in their cages. One of his officers managed to fire off a return shot that struck him in the side and did all kinds of damage to his internal organs. But he was still standing. And the officer died from a quick snapshot to the face. 

 

It was easy to herd the cadets and unarmed crew into their pits, and as he fired into their defenseless positions, he felt nothing at all except the dull ache of his side. It didn’t take a minute to finish the slaughter, and he did not hear their screaming or their begging, or the shouting and hammering on the other side of the secured bulkhead doors. Or the dull thumping of rebel turbolasers hammering against the shields. 

 

He walked the few steps to the captain’s seat and sat down, ignoring the trickle of brown burned blood that blotched his crimson uniform. Instead he pulled up the holographic console and typed a long series of commands. Highest level passwords, and administrative keys, and he secured the bridge and control of the ship completely. He pushed the engines to their maximum thrust and set the trim into place at a sharp downwards angle. Waiting until the globe of the burning planet was filling the forward viewscreen completely, then evened out the engine thrust to account for the damaged engine. It would not take long at all for the final part of the plan to come to its fruition. 

 

Down and down came the Black Scarab, accelerating with both the might of gravity and the full thrust of its remaining banks of engines. The last scrap of Empire, the last vestige of the Sith Armada that had terrorized the galaxy for the last half a decade now hurtled towards the burning Ecumenopolis. Eating up the kilometers of distance to the surface in seconds. And leaving the mostly destroyed rebel fleet behind. The vessel would serve as both grave and pyre to the old Vigo of the Black Sun. 

 

There was no retreat for the most faithful of the Sith’s servants. 

 

And when the Scarab struck Nar Shaddaa it entered into the cityscape like a knife, cutting downwards into the meat of the planet. The shields finally failing in a flash of energy as they leveled thousands of city blocks. Only then did the Super Star Destroyer detonate. Taking all hands, and all pursuing rebel vessels with it. Sealing the tomb of the last Sith Empire in senseless death and fire.  

 

But the clone commando had found his damnation at last.

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Beck watched for a moment in horror as the quick reports of the battle came flying in rapidly. "Report-red alert, the Kalidor initiated a self destruct." The very words had the admiral turn his head with eyes glaring sharply at the comm officer, whom he hoped was wrong. The holodisplay almost immediately confirmed the action by initiating a warning blar to pull away from the Kalidor. Is the Rebel Admiral mad? He couldn't believe the situation, and he sure wouldn't have any other time to focus upon it. More alarms blared as the Black Scarab began to thrust forward in a downward motion. 

 

"HOLD- don't bring us any closer into blast range of the Kalidor, we need to fo-SITH SPIT!" The words were an echo of what quickly transpired before him. The Kalidor put the incoming defending ships in a bad position to help against the Scarab due to its current state. Because of it, the Scarab took a nose dive towards the planet, wanting to do full damage as he was sure it's commander wanted to perform the action all along. All Beck Pilon could do was stand upon his bridge and watch. He stood there for a long moment, almost on the verge of shaking fully with anger, his own body began to feel doleful. Unable to fully watch what the Scarab was doing, he focused instead on the Kalidor. A heat slowly filled his body which emanated from his chest. What the actual hell was he thinking?! It was a thought that held his attention for far too long, and it replayed over and over within his mind rent free. After a good two minutes passed, there was a cough from the lieutenant who stood beside him. Female, blonde and wearing a rebel uniform. She must have quickly assigned during the chaos. He wondered how many others had been mixed from each side due to the quick nature of the attack. Regaining composure, he turned and looked around at those serving on the bridge.

 

"Open comm to all allied forces.... This is Admiral Beck. Begin clean up of the sector. Pursue any remaining enemy ships and rescue all escape pods. Once that is done... all ships are to proceed to the rendezvous point..." He stood for a moment, thinking upon if that was all he should say. He glanced over at the comm officer who was awaiting his command to shut it down when he decided he couldn't leave it like that. But he truly did not know what to say. He was at a loss for words himself, much like he was sure the rest of them were. He turned to face the officer directly as he spoke. HIs words were firm, though without direct point. "We rebuild from here. Your stations and service today will be recorded. Your valor marked. The gumption that makes you all naval personnel has won the day. Jump once you've finished your assignment. Our fight here is done. Admiral Beck Out."

 

He then turned and looked at the female lieutenant next to him. "Scan the escape pods and shuttles from the Kalidor for Admiral Slaughter. Once his status is confirmed, we join the rest of the fleet." He then turned and marched himself to sit within the command chair, letting himself fully sink into it. Today was hell. His own arm was still burning slightly from his encounter with the Mandalorians on the surface, and now to lose many others in the battle. Empress Raven, Admiral Kolchak and maybe even Admiral Slaughter... He wasn't sure if he could handle any more. For now, he would tend to what he could do most effectively. Command the Fiat Lux.

Edited by Beck Pilon
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