Beyond Hostile Forces (Force Heretic AU) [UPDATED!]

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  1. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    [The following text was discovered in an encrypted docket appended to the so-called "Apocrypha of Voren Na?al". It has been judged a forgery by the Senate Oversight Committee and declared heretical by the Jedi High Council. In spite of the protests at these decisions formally registered at the time under the seals of Jedi Master Jaya-Wyn Durron-Soloski and Senator Tiarn of Csilla, the self-consciously subversive nature of the text seems to be confirmed by a recently decoded ancillary file. But, perhaps paradoxically, the elucidation of the author's intentions has finally allowed the security classification of the docket to be relaxed. While the reader must always bear in mind the fictitious and sensitive nature of the account, the main file itself is presented here for the first time in a declassified translation, in the hope and expectation that some might find it... interesting.]





    A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away...


    STAR WARS - THE NEW JEDI ORDER
    Hostile Forces: Heresy


    Dramatis Personae

    Galactic Alliance
    Luke Skywalker; Jedi Master (human male from Tatooine)
    Mara Jade Skywalker; Jedi Master (human female from Coruscant)
    General Han Solo; officer commanding, Task Force Messenger (human male from Corellia)
    Princess Leia Organa Solo; Galactic Alliance Ambassador (human female from Alderaan)
    Jacen Solo; Jedi Knight (human male from Coruscant)
    Colonel Jaina Solo; Jedi Knight & officer commanding, Twin Suns Squadron (human female from Coruscant)
    Captain Zindra Daine; XO, Twin Suns Squadron (human female from Corellia)
    Tahiri Velia; Jedi padawaan-learner (human female from Tatooine)
    Lieutenant Lance Serenno; logistics officer, Task Force Messenger (human male from Serenno)
    Brevet-Captain Nika Aerryder; commanding officer, Red Recon Flight (human female from Corellia)

    Galactic Empire
    Grand Admiral Pellaeon; Supreme Commander, Imperial Starfleet (human male from Coruscant)
    Brigadier-General Jago; garrison commander, Steel City (human male from Concord Dawn)
    Colonel Tschell; Fleet Operations Officer, Star Destroyer Chimaera (human male from Tangrene)
    Commander Dreyf; CommScan Officer, Star Destroyer Chimaera (human male from Dolis 3)
    Commander Aer Harrier; Weapons Officer, Super Star Destroyer Indomitable (human female from Valc VII)
    Major South Kaaner; head of Contact Section (human male from Yfrq)
    Captain Caff Stargazer; deputy head, Contact Section (female Gfr from Yfrq)
    Major Alex Vancer; acting-commander, Javellin Squadron (human male from Braxant)
    Captain Finn Reay; acting-XO, Javellin Squadron (human male from Stadr)
    Captain Vander Steel; acting-commander, Fury Squadron (human female from Yaga Minor)
    Captain Eryn Dirk; acting-XO, Fury Squadron (human female from Muunilist)
    Guardsman Quint Fax; Officer of the Imperial Royal Guard (human male from Wayland)

    Yuuzhan Vong
    Supreme Commander Varhao Choka (male Warrior-caste Yuuzhan Vong)
    Commander Kag Choka (male Warrior-caste Yuuzhan Vong)
    Commander Cezar Yag (male Warrior-caste Yuuzhan Vong)
    Legate Dannar (male Intendant-caste Yuuzhan Vong)
    Prefect Nol Kheyani (female Intendant-caste Yuuzhan Vong)
    Na?khai; Commander of the Chosen (male Yuuzhan Vong)
    Nom Anor (male Intendant-caste Yuuzhan Vong)
    Nijna Kaan (female Warrior-caste Yuuzhan Vong)

    Others
    Colonel Jagged Fel; liason officer, Chiss Expansionary Defence Force (male human from Csilla)
    General Derek ?Hobbie? Klivian; Proctor of the Duskhan League (male human from Ralltiir)
    Jazza the Hutt; War Admiral of the Jhank Shel Kajidic (male Hutt from Lirra)





    Another Galaxy, Another Time?

    Supreme Commander Varhao Choka stood stiffly on the command podium in the Glory Room of the Yuuzhan Vong Grand Cruiser Vakkanor, his gaze flickering ocasionally over the images displayed by the villip-choirs, the hunched backs of the command crew in their work-pits below him, and the vast swarm
  2. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    Commander Dreyf stood on the Chimaera's bridge, watching the Yuuzhan Vong fleet deploy in silent disbelief. Already, the CommScan buffers were jammed with desperate pleas for reinforcements from the commanders of the TIE pickets and high-orbit forts, and urgent requests for orders from the flagships of the main fleet elements.

    And more Yuuzhan Vong warships were still arriving out of hyperspace, spreading out to the fringes of the advancing enemy fleet, more corralskipper starfighters breaking off from their hulls to join the vast swarm that was racing towards the edge of their primary fighter screen.

    Normally, in this sort of situation ? although, he reflected, there hadn?t been anything quite like this sort of situation in his fifteen years as an Imperial officer ? he would have been back at the flagship?s CommScan station, doing his best to co-ordinate the flow of communications and sensor data to and from the ships of the fleet. Every bone in his body itched to just walk over and make sure that Wanderer and Faring weren?t making a total hash of it, and to tell Commander Falchion at tactical to get on with fighting the battle. But he was the senior officer on the bridge and command protocol demanded that he issue his orders and wait impassively to be informed of the least change in the enemy?s formation by one of the other watch-officers, while at the same time projecting discipline and confidence to the crewers under his command. So all he could do was stand in front of the viewports, feet apart on the deck, fists clenched in the small of his back, watching the Yuuzhan Vong invasion fleet deploy across the vast sweep of space in front of him.

    After what seemed like several eternities, the clash of arms from the stormtrooper sentries told him that one of the flagship's senior officers had arrived, and he turned slowly, and walked back along the command gantry, his boot-heels clacking rhythmically on the deck. Once, just after recieving his promotion from cryptog to bridge, he had made the mistake of running from the CommScan desk to report a message from Bastion to the officer-of-the-watch, and Colonel Tschell?s sharp reprimand still smarted ten years later.

    All the same, he was grateful to be able to hand over command of the fleet to a more capable officer, and all the more glad when he saw the figure stepping out of the turbolift ? the Old Man himself, his hair now the same pure white as the tunic and breehces of his gleaming Grand Admiral's uniform, but his back still ramrod-straight, his voice as firm as it had ever been.

    "Grand Admiral Pellaeon," Dreyf nodded. "A Yuuzhan Vong fleet has entered the system. We estimate upwards of three hundred capital ships, with more still arriving. Their fighters will be on us any moment, and Commander Falchion?s best guess is that their main battle group will be in firing range within, ah? two minutes."

    "Thank you, Commander Dreyf," Pellaeon answered. "I was wondering when they'd show up." He was smiling slightly, and his voice was calm and unconcerned, as if he had just been informed of some late arrivals at the Fleet Gala Ball. "Tell Fighter Ops to pull back the main screen into an inverse Pelta Slice, and put me on an open comm channel. I want the Yuuzhan Vong to hear what I have to say, as well as our own people."

    As the Grand Admiral settled into the command throne on the quarterdeck, Dreyf walked slowly back to the CommScan station. The Old Man was ancient, older than the Empire itself, old enough to remember the days when it seemed that the Old Republic would last forever ? but he still seemed indestructable, and, in the twenty years since he had taken charge of the battered ruins of the empire?s war-machine, he had given them back peace, prosperity and self-respect ? and the sense that they, and the Empire, really would live forever.

    And now they were about to find out if they were anything more than a bunch of delusional fools, Dreyf reflected grimly. Under Pellaeon, the Empire had retained its pride, but precious little else. A bi
  3. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    Riina Kwaad bucked wildly, her body crushed and twisted in the iron grip of the machines. Black steel shadows surrounded her - rusting, soulless monsters, slick with sweaty oil, their pistons and pumps and servos pulsing and sliding, shining in the flickering light of snapping electric sparks and the bale-fire glare of the furnace maws. Massive hydraulic claws, huge and powerful like the forelimbs of construction crabs, were locked round her arms and legs, twisting her torn muscles and shattered bones into tortured shapes, bracing her broken body against the carbon-grey anvil of the moulding-block.

    Weeping from the heat, she watched the black-and-bronze ballet of forges and furnaces and crucibles and conveyor belts play out in front of her, the vast, complex, soulless process that produced copper wire and engine components and chrome-sheathed chassis parts and other things she didn't want to recognize - all of it to feed the swinging, snapping, crocodile-jawed manipulator limbs of the construction drone which hung above her - and reached inside her, rooting her to the process, making her more and more part of it with every new component which arrived...

    Pain is truth, she reminded herself, snarling as another shaft of white-hot pain lanced through her, and her breath turned to fire inside her lungs.

    But it's not the pain that's the problem, answered another voice, the sombre, wounded voice of the Jeedai girl who the new Republic had tried to shape her into - and whose ghost still haunted her dreams, whispering human lies.

    Go away! she growled in answer, but the Jeedai ghost just smiled sadly, and shook her head.

    Who are you, Riina Kwaad? she asked.

    Yuuzhan Vong! she snarled, twisting helplessly in the grip of the machines. I am Yuuzhan Vong!

    Are you?

    Riina sighed, and stopped struggling. But she didn't answer. Biting her lip, she simply stared mutely into the darkness.

    The pain she could have endured, if it had just been pain, but the shame twisting in her gut - the shame of being a helpless captive while the construction droid replaced her living body piece by piece with machine parts, the shame of feeling herself becoming the very thing she most despised - was something quite different from the physical pain which was so central to the Yuuzhan Vong way of life and death.

    She had been through the same thing before, as the Jeedai and the Yuuzhan Vong had battled to control her destiny. But then, there had been Anakin to help her - Anakin, who she had loved enough that she was prepared to renounce her heritage and the truth... who she had loved enough to become human.

    Until they had killed him.

    In a meaningless act of indifferent mercy, the machines snatched away her thoughts, and Riina surrenderred to the agony as her body buckled again, in the vain hope that would somehow obliterate her shame and loss.

    She screamed as the claws flexed, forcing her forward and ripping her body free from the moulding-block. And as she rose, a creature reared up in front of her - eyes gleaming with a terrifying pleasure, teeth bared in a lipless lizard smile.

    Perfection, she thought, shuddering in shock and awe as she took in the sheer strength and size of its vast, reptillian body.

    The lizard's bright-scaled skin had evolved as natural armour, its long claws and dagger-sharp fangs were weapons, and its hyper-evolved hunter's body - lean musculature and agile, powerful physique - proudly proclaimed its physical dominance of its environment, its place at the head of the food-chain.

    In a moment of strange clarity, she wondered why such a perfect hunter, such a perfect animal, showed no revulsion at the monstrous cavern of machinery which surrounded them.

    Instead, as if it was reading her thoughts, its nostrils flared in delight and amusement.

    And then, a second, smaller construction droid swung suddenly into view in front of her. She had a glimpse of cutting-blades and ridged claws in the split-second befo
  4. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    Tahiri Veila sat bolt upright in the bunk, gasping for breath, her body sheathed in sweat.

    Around her, the last of the dream dissolved to nothing in the dusky darkness of shipboard night.

    "I am Tahiri Veila," she whispered hoarsely to the darkness, her eyes flickering as she took in her surroundings - the empty bunkroom that was her temporary home. "I am a Jedi."

    The night was quiet - empty and peaceful. The Republican was still in hyperspace, nine hours short of her rendezvous with the rest of the squadron at Katoovi Naih, the one remaining New Republic base in the Farlax Sector.

    And, she acknowledged with a flicker of surprise, she was totally calm, totally in control of her own life and her own destiny.

    Swinging her legs out of the bunk - the top bunk of the left-hand rack in the otherwise deserted cabin - she dropped the four feet to the floor, and rose to her feet, turning towards the en-suite refresher - a huge room with a vast sonic shower, designed for a squad of six cadets. The hatch slid open, and slid shut behind her.

    She needed to wash away the sweaty stench of nightmare from her skin, and wring the heavy scent of fear out of her sodden nightshirt - one of Anakin's old shirts, which she had borrowed from his locker aboard the Millennium Falcon. It wouldn't do to have something that had once been Anakin's smelling of shame and despair.

    And after a night of restless nightmares - a strange counterpoint to her waking clarity - she needed to remind herself who and what and where she was.

    She was in Bunkroom C-3, Deck Eleven, aboard the Star Destroyer Republican, the flagship of General Han Solo and Task Force Messenger, charged by the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances - as the New Republic and their allies now styled themselves - with the vital task of bringing hope to the scattered systems all along the old battle plane that had managed to resist the Yuuzhan Vong invaders, and galvanizing them for their part in the big push for final victory that Sien Sov and Admiral Ackbar were planning on Mon Calimari.

    Officially, she was a 'Jedi Aide' to Ambassador Winter, the leader of the diplomatic mission travelling aboard the Republican. But with Jacen Solo - Anakin's elder brother - serving as the mission's Jedi Council Attache, the title wasn't much more than a fancy way of saying that she was along for the ride.

    Their immediate destination was the Koornacht Cluster, where contact had been lost with the Demilitarization and Stabilization Force more than three years earlier, and five reconaissance ships - including one of the new Racer-class scouts - had disappeared without a trace before the mounting pressure of the war with the Yuuzhan Vong forced Asset Tracking to shunt Farlax right down the priority list.

    It was a measure of how much confidence the Galactic Alliance had regained in the aftermath of Ebaq 9 that the High Command felt able to spare a full task-force, commanded by a brand-new Star Destroyer.

    Or perhaps it was a measure of how desperate they were that they were trying to build armies out of sand, and that they had let her come along without so much as a proper psych scan.

    Stepping back out of the en-suite, she studied her reflection in the wall-mounted mirror. A lean, tanned human girl in her late teens, with tousled tawny hair and two scars on her forehead. She was wearing a military-issue gym-kit now - shorts and sleeveless tee-shirt in a nondescript khaki that didn't suit her - but she was still barefoot.

    She owed that bad habit to the Tusken Raider tribe which had adopted her when she was orphaned, and as a pouting ten-year old she had used it incessantly as a springboard for telling anyone who would listen that for her, home was a bantha-hide tent in the Jundland Wastes.

    But the twin suns, the seasonal campsites wherever there was shade or water, and the Tusken children who had been her first friends seemed like something out of a dream or fairy-tale now, and now the fact she usually went barefoot meant nothing at a
  5. rogue11lovesjag Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 13, 2002
    star 4
    Oh, wow. This is awesome.

    I can't wait for more!

    ~Rogue
  6. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    Jacen Solo stood alone in the centre of the empty docking bay, relaxed and calm. At one with the Force. Spaced around him on the deck were a dozen training spheres ? shiny chrome globes, small enough to be held easily in a human hand, their surfaces studded with the concave disks of multi-vector laser stingers.

    Jacen smiled faintly, and one by one the stinger spheres rose from the deck, wavering slightly at first as their repulsor drives adjusted to accommodate the subtleties of the Republican?s shipboard fields, then settling into smooth, swift ascents. Even without actively reaching out for the Force, Jacen could feel the subliminal shiver of their antigrav generators, and he knew the position, speed and course of each sphere with an instinctive, absolute certainty.

    There is no Dark Side. There is the Force.

    The first sphere fired, the bolt whipping towards him too fast for the eye to follow. And studdenly, Jacen had his lightsaber in his hands, the blazing blade catching the shot and sending it spinning away to smack into the deck before his conscious mind had even registered the electric crack of the firing mechanism or the sharp scent of ozone in the air. And he was still moving, spinning on the balls of his feet and swinging his blade to bat back the next bolt at the sphere which had fired it.

    Shifting into a blocking stance to stop the next shot ? there! ? he smiled as he heard the shattered shell of the second sphere hit the deck, and his smile grew wider as he twisted his body like a snake, dodging out of the way of two more bolts from different angles, spinning his blade to catch them both backhanded as they sizzled past his spine.

    There is no Dark Side. There is the Force.

    Within thirty seconds, it was all over. A satisfied half-smile twitched at the corner of Jacen?s mouth as the last smouldering sphere dropped dead to the deck, and he shut off his lightsaber, clipping the handle back to his belt, and adopting an outward attitude of controlled calm, the steel-cool mask of a Jedi Knight.

    Then ? only then - he turned to the small side hatch where the girl stood, watching him ? a girl in the red flight-suit of a New Republic pilot, looking at him with a sort of detached interest that might have been amused or wary.

    Jacen couldn?t say when he?d first become aware of her presence, or how long she?d been standing there, but through the Force, he realised that there had always been an echo of her presence in the hangar, and his gaze flickered to the group of half-a-dozen X-wings parked on the apron at the back of the hangar ? old variants, not as sleek or quick or powerful as the new models flown by the Jedi Knights and the front-line combat squadrons, with their lasers and torpedoes stripped out and replaced with sensor packs and extra power-cells. The nearest ship was hers, he realised, the one with the handful of kill-marks underneath the cockpit and the unit leader?s single stripe on either wing.

    ?Hey,? he said, smiling and taking several steps towards her. ?Sorry. This must be your hangar? ah, Lieutenant??

    ?Sort of,? she nodded, climbing through the hatch. ?Brevet-Captain Nika Aerryder, Acting-Leader, Red Flight, 317th Reconaissance Squadron. You must be the General?s son.?

    Jacen nodded, studying her more carefully. She was younger than she looked, with crop-cut hair and a tightness to the muscles around her jaw and eyes, and the slightly formal stiffness with which she moved and spoke was a way of hiding her uncertainty ? maybe with eevryone, maybe just with him.

    ?That?s right,? he answered eventually. ?Jacen Solo. Commander Grotio cleared me for using this bay for my exercises. I?d not thought anyone would be around this early.?

    ?Not normally, no,? she shrugged, waving one hand. ?We?re flying the first advanced scout mission to N?zoth at Oh-Nine-Hundred.?

    ?Right,? Jacen nodded, not quite sure what she meant.

    ?I couldn?t sleep,? she explained, offering him a strange, hesitant smile. ?The Recon-X doesn?t have a great track-record against Y
  7. Rogue11JS Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2002
    star 4
    INtresting... KEEP UP The GReAT WORK!
  8. Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2002
    star 6
    Great job! I love the Yuuzhan Vong characterisations.
  9. Pelranius Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2003
    star 5
    Well now, the characters are all very well realized, McEwok.
    Keep up the work.
  10. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    Han Solo stood on the bridge of the Republican, trying to hide his unease.

    Around him, the command crew went quietly about their duties, and on the massive tactical globe, the glyphs representing the ships of Task Force Messenger shone a bright blood-red, the pickets and cruisers clustered in an escort formation around the battle-scarred Star Destroyer that served as his flagship. Through the sweeping forward viewports, he could see the flare of the Republican?s broad-bladed bow, and beyond that, the drive-glow from the engines of the Blur and Scrutineer. Further out, and far brighter, were the twin stars of Katoovi Naih, and beyond them, the bright glow of the Koornacht Cluster, its outer edge only twenty light-years away ? like a massive storm sprawling across the sea of stars in front of them.

    In spite of everything that had happened since the Yuuzhan Vong exploded into the Galaxy, the bridge of the Republican presented a scene of confidence and calm. Every element of the design, from the primary support struts and the vast curve of the viewports to the tread of the deck-plating and the auxiliary trip-switches beside the hatches, fused the soothing sophistication of Mon Calamari shipwrights with the underlying solidity of the Rendili design tradition, and every member of the command crew moved with the professional control of combat veterans. They were waiting ? to put it bluntly ? to go into battle, but there was nothing in the behaviour of the officers and men around him, or the performance-monitoring charts that flashed on the bank of repeater screens to his left, for Han to find the slightest fault with.

    And still, he felt unease.

    It wasn?t just the fact that he was back in uniform ? he?d worn the lancer tunic of the Imperial Starfleet and the combat fatigues of the Alliance Military for long enough, and the rest of his life had been punctuated by intermittent stints with everything from rag-tag planetary defence forces to the private armies of alien princesses. He had a lifetime?s experience in knocking the starched stiffness out of new uniforms, and in the two weeks since Ackbar had shanghaied him into commanding Task Force Messenger, he had creased and crumpled his grey deck-duty tunic and tan breeches to a comfortable suppleness, and broken in his new boots to the point where they had just about stopped pinching his heels and squeaking on the deck.

    No, that wasn?t it at all.

    Last time the New Republic had gone into the Koornacht Cluster, last time the Senate had formally reactivated his commission, he?d been captured before he even took command, and spent the rest of the war in a Yevethan prison-cell. But oddly, he felt no fear, no resentment. No hostility.

    So that wasn?t it either.

    His thoughts turned to the time in his life that everyone else took for granted, his four-year stint as a General with the New Republic military. The four years between Endor and Dathomir, the four years in which the Alliance became the Republic and liberated the Galaxy from tyranny. The four years which had made him a hero in a way that his more genuine heroics at Yavin and Hoth never had. An acceptable role-model for the boys and girls of the Junior Pioneers, the victim of lucrative sponsorship deals from Exactix and CEC, the groom at the biggest society wedding since Xim the Despot abducted Queen Kapti.

    The four years when he?d last commanded a fleet.

    Over the course of his life, in spite of his own continued protestations ? and his honest best intentions ? Han Solo had gone looking for trouble as often as it had found him. And he was happy to share the fun with other like-minded fools ? Tir Fel and Dan Fokker at Caridia, the pilots of Black Flight aboard the Pursuivant, the shifting crew of villains who?d signed on with him in his pirate days, and Page?s Commandos at Endor. Even Luke and Leia. The trouble came when he had to lead conscripts, volunteers and civilians into battle ? men and women who had never asked for war, never expected to find themselves t
  11. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    Lance leaned against the side of a heavy packing-crate in one corner of the cargo-bay, a faint smile playing across his lips as he watched the Jedi girl and the battledroid sparring in the centre of the deck. Tahiri Veila was so caught up in her own exercises that he was sure she hadn?t picked up on his presence, but even if she had been paying more attention, he was confident that he could have hidden himself from her without interrupting his own observations. That was one advantage of being what he was ? however much he hated himself for it, sometimes.

    But he was sure she hadn?t even noticed him arrive. If she had heard Han Solo?s voice echo over the internal comm a while back, sending the crew to battle stations, she had ignored it, too.

    Perhaps it simply suited her. At the very least, it had meant that they would leave her alone. Perhaps he was wrong, and she?d seen him from the moment he walked in. But if so, she?d not given the slightest hint that she had. No, Lance thought, she?d lost track of everything except the deadly dance between her and her opponent ? even the way the muscles under her skin shifted as she moved, the sweat that beaded her body, and the rapid pulse of her own heart. Not even that mattered any more.

    He grinned. He had been watching her for fifteen minutes now, more than long enough for him to analyze and deconstruct her combat technique. Now, he was just watching, admiring her body as an expression of everything he had already decided he liked about her ? physical, aggressive, spontaneous, and strangely innocent.

    For the first time in several months, he was genuinely enjoying himself.

    She was pumelling herself against a YVH-1 combat droid - the most deadly automaton in the New Republic?s arsenal ? and at first sight, it didn?t look much like a fair fight. A barefoot girl armed only with a slim dagger, ranged against a seven-foot-six metal monster carrying a heavy sparring-shield and a powerful-looking kosh, it was physically impossible for her to throw her opponent or knock him down ? let alone to win the bout. But she was better than he could have dared to hope, and for almost every body-blow she took herself, she was answering with a powerful contact of her own.

    Her fighting-style was raw, improvised, and decidely impressive, incorporating influences from several different unarmed-combat traditions including Noghri needle-dacncing and B?omarr kai. But two styles definitely dominated. One was smooth, fluid, and full of economical grace, and it involved several half-familiar stances which made him certain that it was a Jedi system. No surprise there, then. But her other core technique was far more interesting, as far as he was concerned: the Yuuzhan Vong viccazhi martial art ? pain, exhaustion and punishing physicality elevated to a level of frightening elegance.

    Very interesting indeed.

    Lance watched for several minutes more as she jousted around the sparring-droid, fencing with the small dagger that he now recognized as an improvised coufee, kicking, punching, stabbing and slashing, barely grunting as the droid pummeled her own midrift with its steamhammer fists or slammed the flattened boss of its shield hard into her jaw, rolling away smartly when it threw her to the deck, and coming back for more without the slightest hesitation.

    A Jedi girl with a warrior?s knowledge of Yuuzhan Vong unarmed-combat techniques and ? considering she?d spent most of the morning watch getting beaten up in an unauthorised combat-bout with a YVH-1 ? probably some serious psychological issues she was doing her best to hide from everyone else. Maybe even from herself.

    Yes, he definitely liked her.

    But in the end, it was only a matter of time. As she danced back from landing an impressive spin-kick to the droid?s upper body, it tripped her neatly, catching her as she fell and hauling her backwards in a double-nantz lock, lifting her high above its head, and slamming her down into the deck.

    Even half-way across the hold, Lance felt the bone-jarr
  12. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

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    As the counter on her main display rolled back to zero, Nika Aerryder eased back on the lightspeed levers, and the vortex of hyperspace spun away into nothingness. The starlines shrank back to points of light, space seemed to uncoil in front of her, and she was back in realspace, with N?zoth ahead, bright against the luminous background of the close-packed stars of the Koornacht Cluster ? the stars the Yevetha simply knew as Home.

    Toggling the intercomm, she heard only static. The two other fighters assigned to scout out N?zoth had dropped far deeper into the system, but they would have raised their shields already, cutting off hypercomm contact with both her and the Task Force.

    The system?s main hypercomm beacon lay ahead, its hull blackened and battle-scarred, its systems making no reply to the rapid series of pulses her R7d astromech was sending out through the X-wing?s emitters. The level of t-decay her sensors were picking up suggested it was old damage ? three or four years old, at least ? and that it had been caused by conventional turbolasers rather than Yuuzhan Vong weaponry. No wonder the New Republic had heard nothing out of Koornacht since the start of the invasion.

    Silently, Nika toggled a series of switches on her dash, deploying the CommScan repeater from its faring underneath the fighter?s cockpit ? the repeater that would pick up the X-wings? tight-beam laser-pulse comms-packets and relay them through hyperspace to the Republican. The spaceframe shook around her as the torpedo-shaped device dropped clear, and then the systems lights flashed green in front of her.

    Squeezing the switch that would send the first coded comms pulse back to the Task Force ? there was no need to risk real-time comms chatter ? she activated her ship?s shields, and tapped a series of quick instructions into her control keypad.

    She didn?t have long to wait. Five seconds later, her astromech flashed a confirmation up on the screen, and she leant forwards slightly on the levers, taking her fighter back into hyperspace for half a heartbeat. The blackness in front of her seemed to shimmer, the stars wavered slightly, and suddenly, the mottled globe of N?zoth lay directly ahead, surrounded by its dozen moons. Except for the drifting particles of their engine wake, there was no sign of the two X-wings that had gone in ahead of her ? not even a sensor flicker or an energy echo ? but there were several glittering nebulae of brilliant lights in low orbit around the Yevethan homeworld ? shipyards.

    ?Republican,? she said, toggling the switch. It would take almost an hour for her laser-light transmissions to reach the relay. ?Recon Leader. I have visual on several large space-based complexes around N?zoth, most of them low equatorial orbits. Looks like a lot of big shipyards. Someone?s been very busy....?

    Then a flare of cronau radiation lit up her sensor boards, and two spherical battleships slid out of hyperspace in front of her ? primitive-looking ships, they had been modified within living memory from a design which had lacked hyperdrive, deflector shields, or plasma weaponry, but each of them weighed in at about the same tonnage as a small Star Destroyer and combat experience had proved that they were very, very hard to kill.

    ?Republican,? she sighed, sinking back in her couch. There wasn?t even any point in trying an evasive pattern. ?Republican, this is Red Recon One. I have two Fat Men in close formation, bearing red oh-one-nine mark three, range five-nine-kay. Shields are raised and weapons are hot. I don?t think they?re making a social call. Recon Leader out.?

    Killing the channel, she triggered an automatic hail to contact the Yevethan ships, her lips pressed together in a tense, narrow line while she waited for the reply. She knew exactly how the Yevetha treated their prisoners but she had no intention of dying alone and helpless in the cockpit of an unarmed fighter. Maybe she was naïve, but she reckoned that if she could get them to listen to what she had to say, she?d
  13. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    Whewh!

    Well, now that's that posted, and the psychosis, disfunctionalism, and shell-shock of Task Force Messenger out of the way, a few questions for the readership...

    • Was that a convincing characterization of Han Solo? And if not, where did I go wrong? Can it be read as a snapshot of his subconscious rather than a conscious train-of-thought?


    • Am I concentrating too much on set-up, and not enough on stuff happening?


    • Was the equipment in the gym aboard the Republican credible? And Tahiri's messed-up exercise-regime? In case you've not guessed already, my own idea of serious exercise is half an hour of easy ergs and bikes to work off the incipient beer-gut...


    • Just what did the Yevetha call the Koornacht Cluster themselves, anyway? I'll edit out "The Home of Glory" as soon a someone throws me right name...


    And most importantly...

    • Where do you want to go next? The Galactic Roadkill formerly known as Coruscant? Or back to the Battle of Bastion - where Luke, Mara, and the Twin Suns are about to land straight in the middle of the mess?


    - The Imperial Ewok
  14. Reesie Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2002
    star 1
    Yes, Yes (but that stuff is good too), No, No clue, and definitely the Battle of Bastion.
  15. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    Okay - a couple of edits, things which I think make it work better...

    I've replaced Leia as the Ambassador aboard the Republican with Winter - just because Han and Leia are married doesn't mean they have to spend every mission together. Instead, I'm sending Leia to Bastion with Luke... which, among other beneifts, means Artoo and Threepio can actually be in the same place at the same time...

    And I've rewritten the rubbish gym scene fairly heavily... I knocked a large section of that off quickly because I couldn't get it to work... it should be obvious from the rewrite what's changed... this actually helps a couple of minor plot-points, and isn't as 'bullet time' silly. That's what you get watching all the hype for the Matrix...

    ;)

    Anyway, just to whet your apetites, a couple of teasers...

    Further updates from the Battle of Bastion...

    Before anyone could answer, a new light flashed red on Jaina?s cockpit dash, someone trying to talk to her on an Imperial frequency.

    ?Go ahead,? she said, toggling the channel. Finding out what had happened to Three and Five would have to wait.

    ?X-wing squadron,? snapped a harsh voice. ?This is Commodore Kniver aboard the
    Rattler, commanding the Ninth Flank Squadron. Are you prepared to put yourself under our tactcical control??

    ?Copy
    Rattler,? Jaina agreed tersely, slewing onto the tail of another skip and drilling fire into its upper hull until the cockpit exploded in a flash of flames. She didn?t like the idea of taking orders from Imperial controllers ? they still had the reputation of treating their pilots as expendable pawns on the tactical chessboard ? but at least it would give her some idea of how the battle was going around her. ?We are Twin Suns Squadron, New Republic Defence Force. We have two pilots EVA. Can you assist them??

    ?We?ll do what we can,? came back a different voice. Younger, calmer. ?This is Major Zuborg, Fighter Ops. Call-sign Untouchable.?

    ?I hear you, Untouchable,? Jaina copied back. ?Just give us something to shoot at.?


    And meanwhile, back on Yuuzhan'tar....

    She was just about to throw her amphstaff to the ground in disgust whent the first warrior dropped silently from the darkness above them, a lean, tall figure in the cerulean armour of a veteran. Nijna glanced upwards just in time, slashing her amphistaff in a wild, desperate parry ? but the warrior just twisted out of the way, landing with a thud in front of her, and lashing out with his own short-bladed tsaisi.

    Blocking desperately, she scrambled backwards - but more warriors were dropping from the darkness all around her, tall, broad-shouldered and black-armoured, lunging with their own weapons as they landed.

    ?Kill the girl!? the commander snarled.


    Thanks for all the feedback, btw...

    :)

    - The Imperial Ewok
  16. Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2002
    star 6
    Uh, according to Before the Storm the Yevetha simply called it Home!
  17. Rogue_of-Peace Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    Cool fic. I like your characterisations of Jacen, Han and Tahiri. And I also find Lance to be interesting. Keep up the writing!
  18. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Superb! I am seriously impressed, MAJOR congratulations for an excellent writing quality!
  19. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Uppers in hopeful expectation!
  20. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    Here you go, then...

    :D

    Varhao Choka watched the battle unfold in the Glory Sphere, smiling as the first wave of coralskippers zoomed across the open space towards the enemy, and the opening barrage from his battleships? plasma canon flared out. There was time to savour the sight of his warriors drawing first blood. The ships of his main battlegroups ? Domain-class worldships, Grand Cruisers, and a few big, ugly battleships that had ougrown the limits of their original cruiser and carrier specifications over the years - were slowing now, allowing the smaller skirmish squadrons to move forward and win honour and victory against the forts and fighters of the Imperial picket screen.

    ?Commander,? a subaltern said, hurrying across and bowing quickly. ?The infidel flagship is broadcasting a message. They are using our own frequencies. Master Shaper Val Kaina says that this may inadvertently disrupt the signals from the yammosks to our warriors.?

    ?Let us hear them, then? he snarled. The subaltern probably didn?t understand exactly what the problem was, or how serious it could prove, but Varhao Choka knew all too well. The yammosks were immensely powerful natural telepaths, and for most Yuuzhan Vong, that was enough to explain their ability to guide and strengthen them in battle. But in truth, their usefulness was based more on their imensely complex minds, their carefully-honed strategic skills, and the gravitonic signals they directed into every warrior?s cranial implants, synchronising attacks and manoevures, manipulating their minds to give them extra confidence and courage. And with the New Republic?s increasingly aggressive yammosk-jamming tactics ? and now this fluke ? it was getting increasingly hard to ensure that the rank-and-file remained blind to the way the war coordinators worked.

    ?Yuuzhan Vong commander,? came human a voice, distorted by the static that so often seemed to scar infidel communications-systems, and Varhao Choka turned slowly towards the communications desk. To his surprise, there was no visual signal shimmering in front of the small villip-choir, just that calm alien voice sounding from the speaker membranes. ?This is Grand Admiral Pellaeon, Supreme Commander of the Imperial Starfleet. You and your warriors will find neither honour or victory here. Turn your ships around immediately and you might just get away with your lives. But if you are determined to fight, I offer you the chance for a battle with better odds. Single combat ? your flagship against my own.?

    ?Single combat?? Kag Choka asked ? and for once, Varhao Choka didn?t interrupt him.

    ?Not now, Kag,? he purred softly. ?The infidel betray his his weakness. He knows he has no chance in a fleet engagement, so he hopes to lure us into a fight where he will at least have a chance.?

    ?A chance?? Kag said, studying the image of the Imperial flagship on the main villip-choir at the tactical desk. The Imperial Star Destroyer was an old design, far smaller than even the youngest Grand Cruiser, and even though it was heavily armed and armoured for its size, it carried only a fraction of the Vakkanor?s weaponry. ?He can?t beat us with that ship, can he??

    Varhao Choka growled softly. Kag was an idiot. Whereas a Grand Cruiser, with its irregular flattened-sphere hull, could target no more than a third of its guns at any one direction, an ImpStar could aim ninety percent of its weaponry dead ahead in a devastating full-frontal attack. Simple geometry.

    ?That is the Chimaera,? he said eventually. ?The ship that destroyed the Legacy of Torment at Ithor.?

    A flicker of fear appeared in Kag?s eyes. The detailed mechanics of Shedao Shai?s defeat had been deliberately obscured, and the yammosks had discouraged the warriors from asking too many awkward questions. Evidently, Kag ? like most of his comrades ? had though that a Grand Cruiser, the largest true warship in the Yuuzhan Vong fleet, was invulnerable to attack by any individual infidel ship ? except, perhaps, one of the two surviving Super S
  21. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    Luke Skywalker sat back in the co-pilot?s couch on the flight-deck of the Jade Shadow. In front of him on the main screen, the storm of hyperspace seemed to stretch away forever, but they were already deep inside Imperial space, only a few minutes short of their rendezvous with Grand Admiral Pellaeon at Bastion.

    It seemed like no time at all since Leia?s last mission to the Remnant, a singularly pointless mission which had, unsurprisingly, achieved next to nothing. The New Republic had been beaten and leaderless after the fall of Coruscant, their defeated forces scattered in disarray ? and still, the interim administration had charged Leia to make no concessions to the Empire. As far as they had been concerned, the Empire ought to recognzie its own moral duty to help them against the Vong, and that had left Leia with no option except to beg for help with all the dignity she could muster.

    Given the situation, she had done better than any of them had expected.

    But Ibaq had given them back some of their military credibility, and now the new government on Mon Calamari, was trying to forge all the fragmented remnants of the Galaxy?s war-ravaged states into a single federation against the Yuuzhan Vong. For the Galactic Alliance to be truly effective, they wanted everyone aboard. Even the Empire.

    Luke took a deep breath. On the far side of the flight-deck, Artoo was purring softly, slotted into his socket next to the navacomp, and between them, Mara sat at the controls, upright and elegant in her flight-couch, radiating calm concentration in the Force as she ran through the last of the flight-checks before they returned to realspace.

    Grinning, Luke glanced across at his wife. Even after all that had happened, if he ever needed a reminder that there was still good in the Galaxy, that there was still something worth fighting for, he only had to look at her.

    ?Looking forward to it?? he asked carefully. Mara?s attitude to the Imperial Remnant was ambivalent at best ? even before she?d turned her back on her own Imperial past twenty years earlier, she?d had nothing but contempt for any of Palpatine?s self-styled successors, and so far, they?d both managed to avoid the topic of what she actually thought about their mission.

    ?Perhaps, Skywalker,? she answered, smiling faintly as she looked back at him.

    ?Yeah, sure. I?m looking forward to it. I?m looking forward to having the Shadow to ourselves again for a few days.?

    Luke laughed at that, as the hatch clicked open behind them. Even before he?d glanced back over his shoulder, he knew who it was. Princess of Alderaan. Ex-Chief of State of the New Republic. Han Solo?s wife. His own twin sister. And now the leader of the official legation from the Galactic Alliance to the Empire.

    ?Hey, Leia,? he grinned.

    ?Don?t get greedy, you two,? she answered with a teasing smirk. ?I was hoping you?d let me berth in the spare bunkroom while we were on Bastion. You just have to live with Teshekki and Praqol. I have to work with them.?

    ?Won?t that be against protocol?? Mara asked, grinning back at her sister-in-law. ?Staying aboard the Shadow, I mean.?

    ?We?re doing things differently now,? Leia answered, with a warm, supple smile that couldn?t hide the steel underneath, and made it very clear what she really meant. We?re doing things my way now.

    Luke laughed. ?How are the data-jugglers, anyway??

    ?They?ll live,? Leia grinned. She had roughed it like a trooper on the three-day trip from Mon Calamari, and Threepio?s complaints ? much to his own dismay ? had served as a ready source of humour for the rest of them. As to Leia?s Noghri guards, they just curled up in cramped corners of the cargo-bay, invisible until you were about to trip over them ? and then they rolled out of the way and grinned at you, needle-teeth gleaming in the darkness. But the rest of the legation staff had been enduring their cramped quarters with evident discomfort. Colonel Farrier, the military attaché, and the Thyferran Senator Mazer had at least proved themse
  22. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    YOW! Nicely characterised, and by the looks of it this is gonna be fun!
  23. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    Thanks, J_K - and all the rest of you! Some reciprocal feedback due in various people's (rather good) fanfic, I think...

    Just as soon as I have time! There is a real world, y'know. Now sure, it's a black barren land run by the Machines, but all the same...

    ;)

    - The Imperial Ewok
  24. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    Edit: ach. Some things I need to fix. Next post will return soon!

    - The Imperial Ewok
  25. Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 9, 2000
    star 6
    [Does this count as a double post?]

    Jaina Solo smiled grimly at her aunt?s comment, several thoughts flashing through her mind. They had been snatched out of hyperspace a split-second early by an Imperial interdictor ? probably the big Dominator-class ship that seemed to be serving as the flagship of the nearest cruiser squadron. They were flying straight into a broadside from what looked like every battleship in the Empire. And they had no idea what they?d just walked into.

    But there was no time to really think about any of it. No time to do anything except react. Gunfire was flickering across the whole front of the Imperial formation like rolling thunder, and she was pulling her X-wing?s joystick sideways and back, sliding the fighhter into a point-protection slot off the Jade Shadow?s carbon-black bows, placing herself between the legation and the incoming fire as she followed the shuttle round into the manoeuvre. That was the escort leader?s job ? protect the people aboard the ferry ship, even if it meant taking a turbolaser barrage in her belly.

    It was harder than it looked. Like the Milennium Falcon, the Shadow could match almost any fighter for speed and manoeuvrability, and any disadvantage the bigger ship had was outweighed by better shields, stronger grav-compensators, and a far more powerful armament ? and matters were made worse by the fact that the rest of Twin Suns Squadron were trying to throw themselves into some sort of defensive formation around them.

    They had been in a transit pattern for the jump through hyperspace ? the sight of a squadron of X-wings reverting to realspace in a combat stance might have been all the excuse an Imperial picket-commander needed to open fire ? so for the first few moments, all they could do was scatter and dodge the incoming fire ? and hope that hostile forces couldn?t close the range fast enough to kill them first.

    ?Why are they shooting at us?? she heard someone yell. Jocell, she thought, recognizing the Chiss girl's voice, and realising that she had spoken in the same heartbeat as Mara had ? the heartbeat in which they?d been yanked out of hyperspace and into the battle, before she?d even had time to react.

    But now she was straightening out alongside the Shadow on a new course that would take them out of the line of fire, with her throttle thrown open, and her wing guard slotting into formation beside her.

    And only three seconds had passed.

    ?It?s not us,? she heard Jag Fel answer, his voice calm and controlled, with just the slightest edge of emotion. ?Check your six, everyone. Yuuzhan Vong.?

    "Spit," someone sighed. Captain Zindra Daine, Twin Suns Eight. Eighteen months in the military, and - apart from her - the nearest thing to a veteran in the squadron. ?Just so long as they?re not bigger than the Imperial fleet,?

    Jaina pursed her lips, toggling her throttlehead switches to bring up a battlefield schematic on the sensor scope in front of her. If the Yuuzhan Vong could still spare a detached battlegroups even half the size of the Imperial fleet in front of them while the New Republic was counterattacking on all fronts, then Intelligence had made a serious overestimate of the damage they?d done at Ibaq. On the other hand, nothing in the briefings they?d been given suggested that the new Warlord, Nas Choka, was stupid or desperate enough to send an outnumbered task force to attack the Empire.

    ?They?re bigger,? she sighed. ?Two hundred capital ships, at least fifty of them heavy-cruiser types or larger. Commander Skywalker??

    ?I think this qualifies as a combat situation, Colonel,? came back Luke?s voice, without a hint of reproach. ?Your ball.?

    ?Copy,? Jaina noted. ?Working on it.?

    It wasn?t supposed to happen like this, she thought furiously, her eyes flashing as she studied the formations on her board. Just a straight ferry mission to Bastion and back again, Sien Sovv had said. It had been too easy to forget the fact that she had been given operational command of the comb
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