Beyond The Bluebells & The Edelweiss (AU, OC)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Trieste, Oct 4, 2010.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Tesserone, Laweeya Prairie, Roon

    Kerry stood by the still open grave of Joaquin Vehn. Behind and beside her stood the Noble House, not just her siblings but she’d called them all out. Her cousins, their children, the whole brood. Attendance had not been optional.

    Your Taoiseach requires your presence on Roon to pay tribute to Joaquin Vehn.

    The instructions sent to all had been simple. Naturally, Kerry had arranged for House funds to pay for the journey. Even so, not everyone was happy to have been pulled away from their regular occupations. As far as the Chancellor was concerned, they could shove their displeasure. Beings like Joaquin Vehn were ones that needed to be remembered.

    During the ceremony, she caught the eyes of Liam. They were separated by a black veil that Kerry had chosen as a sign of respect for the grief that the Vehn clan was undoubtedly feeling. Liam had been handling the affairs of his family for quite some time but Kerry remembered the death of her own father, nearly 20 years ago. It was a lonely feeling when there was no one else who understood your burdens.

    When Liam finished his remarks and the Vehns took their turns to throw some dirt on the coffin—an odd tradition, Kerry had never understood exactly what it signified, but then again most Triestes including her immediate kin had opted for cremation and there wa no coffin to sprinkle earth upon—Kerry led the way for the Triestes. She took a handful herself and tossed it in.

    “Take care,” Kerry said, and then her mouth turned up into a slight smile, “you old sod.”

    That was the only way to say goodbye between old friends.



    Kerry’s political advisors had told her that coming was not wise. Follam was hitting her hard over being “in bed with the Vehns”, along with a variety of other things. Mainly he’d been playing off charges of nepotism with her dealings with the RTO and Naboo as well as trying to drag Eleanor into the election on the basis of her recent character. Her attendance here would likely give Follam more ammunition for his charges that she was unduly favoring the RTO at the expense of the Republic, hence the recommendations she skip the proceedings. However, Kerry had business to conclude here that would allow her to shove it to Follam.

    Before she could, she felt a hand on her arm. Kerry turned to find Siona standing there with Falene. “Kerry, there’s something we have to discuss,” Siona said.

    “Fifteen minutes, please,” Kerry said.

    Siona ignored the request. “Falene tried to join the Republican Fleet four days ago.”

    The Chancellor’s eyebrows shot up and she took her daughter by the arm and drew her aside. “Excuse me?” she hissed.

    Siona had followed them. “I got a comm from a friend from my Senate days who saw the application go through the database. He thought that the Chancellor would probably want to know about her daughter trying to enlist.”

    “Falene!” Kerry said, indignant.

    “I’m old enough to join! I don’t see why either of you are meddling!” Falene said with frustration.

    “What’s going on here?” Kerry grilled her daughter, “You have your studies at PCNS. At the very least you need to finish them. And doing this behind my back? How could you?”

    “Mom, there’s a war going on. A war that you know full well about because you’re the one who called out the fleets,” Falene shot back, “Why can’t I serve the Republic like everyone else?”

    “Because you’re not like everyone else. You’re my daughter and you need to finish your studies. You wouldn’t even go into the Fleet as an officer. If you’d wanted to serve so badly you could have gone to the Fleet Academy and then gotten assigned to the Republican Fleet like your Aunt Fiona did,” Kerry said, “I will not allow my daughter to do something so foolish and throw her future away!”

    “Who says you get to decide what I do with my life?” Falene huffed before she stormed off.

    “Thank you for intervening,” Kerry said to Siona with a sigh.

    “Of course,” Siona said before moving off.

    Kerry shook her head. She hoped this was a reception that had some booze at it because she’d need one soon enough. Before she could go any further she realized another one of her siblings had witnessed the exchange.

    “You know, our grandmother forced Dad to be a Poli Sci major in college,” Regan said offhandedly, “He never liked her much.”

    “Don’t even start with me today Regan,” Kerry warned her sister.

    “Just saying I never really thought we were all a quarter Hapan, but I guess you are,” Regan commented breezily before moving off.

    Some days Kerry thought her family would be the end of her. She smoothed her hair down out of habit to feel slightly more put together. Business. Yes, she had some of that to do.

    Kerry sought out her niece Eleanor. Now that there was another child with the last name Vehn it was a bit of a waste to have had Eleanor and Austin change their names to Vehn to preserve the family name. Though it was slightly convenient these days to not have a Trieste on the throne of Theed.

    “Your Majesty,” Kerry said as she approached Eleanor, “My condolences to you on the loss of a mentor and more importantly a grandfather.” She gestured for the pair to speak slightly more privately. “Though the affairs of the Republic and Naboo intertwine more than ever, you are thankfully spared having to deal with our electoral politics. A fair sight better than they were once upon a time, but still messy.” She drew Eleanor into a room where they might have some privacy. “In case you are unaware, my opponent has been attacking me on the basis of our relationship and calling your personal affairs into question as a way to cast aspersions on me. I think it is in both our interests to quash this before it goes much further. The citizens of the Republic are not so well acquainted with you as I am.” Kerry smiled. “When was the last time a monarch of Naboo made a goodwill tour of the Republic?
  2. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Owner’s Box, Bakura Gardens, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    The back and forth game between the Miners and the Corellia Rebels had provided a convenient reason for Kerry to host her political ally and near-gangster Oren Mott on Bakura. It had been Mott’s support that had given Kerry critical votes in the Core that had been crucial in her previous election as Chancellor five years ago. Now with Qort likely working the Core and rounding up votes, Kerry couldn’t count on such a strong turnout in her favor.

    “If only the Rebels had access to the same talent the Miners did in this year’s Elite League Draft,” Mott commented, “There wouldn’t be any team that they couldn’t beat.”

    “I’m not convinced that the Draft is a good thing. Though I do take it as a positive that the Bak10 talent flew under the radar for the most part, which means we’ll be able to keep our recruiting advantage here,” Kerry said, “It helps to keep the stands full when we pull in local college talent.”

    “Well, you are the home of the Go Local Movement,” Mott said, “Glad to know it hasn’t died out.”

    “Hardly,” Declan said, piping up from his mother’s other side, “Though our insular nature has been regrettable in the past, it does mean that we pull for each other in all circumstances.”

    “Except internally when there are differences of political opinion, of course,” Ayn added from the other side of Declan.

    “Funny, I never would have guessed during your civil war,” Mott said.

    “Cheeky,” Kerry commented before taking a sip of her drink.

    “Madame Chancellor, I do have something to discuss in private, if it wouldn’t be too much of a problem,” Mott said.

    “Ayn, I don’t believe I’ve ever taken you down to field level, have I?” Declan said, rising.

    “No, you haven’t,” Dormingale replied and the pair tactfully left the politicians to themselves.

    “We have a problem,” Mott said once they were alone.

    “No. I have problems, which include Qort, a war, and an election. You have problems, which I imagine include running your activities under the nose of CorSec. We do not have problems because that implies that we share them and your business has nothing to do with mine,” Kerry said sternly.

    “You and I both know that’s not true. Do I have to bring up our shared adventure of last year?” Mott was clearly referring to the murder of Srin Andloinne.

    Kerry turned a burning gaze onto the Corellian. “That business is concluded. I am referring to any continuing interests we share.”

    “And I intend to continue our arrangement made last year in terms of delivering votes to you from my constituents and those of my associates,” Mott said, “But you are threatening our arrangement.”

    “I am doing no such thing,” Kerry retorted.

    “You unleashed Tandy on Panstellar. Let’s just say that if she digs too deeply she’s going to find some common links and when she gets a hold of them she’s not going to let go.”

    “You’re the one who recommended that I appoint her,” Kerry pointed out, “You’re bringing this on yourself if that’s the case.”

    “I didn’t know we had a liability and you’re the one who opened up Panstellar,” Mott shot back, “Kill this. You’ve got the war. You should be able to beat Follam without going after Qort.”

    “Nothing has happened in the war since I deployed the troops. They’re chasing phantoms. Ysenn is leading us in circles and probably delighting in it. I don’t have the signature victory that I need to hang this election on the war,” Kerry said, “If I stop on Qort—”

    “I’m giving you a way to win without him. The war is issue enough. You can decimate Follam with his criticism of your defense policy!” Mott insisted.

    “Until I know I can, I’m hitting Qort too,” Kerry said, standing firm.

    “If you continue down this path, there will be repercussions,” Mott said with all seriousness.

    “That sounds like a threat, Mott.”

    “It’s just a statement of the way things are going to go. And if you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to find out,” Oren replied.

    The pair returned to watching the game, this time in silence.
  3. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Coronet City, Corellia

    The silver diplomatic barge, trademark of a monarch from Naboo, flashed out of hyperspace above the blue and green world of Corellia. The design of the diplomatic shuttle was similar to that of Queen Amidala’s used centuries earlier during her many trips to the interior of the galaxy. The sunlight reflected off the diplomatic vessel as it tore through the atmosphere of Corellia enroute to its destination in the heart of Coronet City.

    Queen Eleanor Vehn nervously looked out the windows from her suite as the first buildings belonging to Coronet City appeared out of the clouds. Today was a very important day. She not only represented the Roon Trade Organization and Naboo but she also was representing the embattled Chancellor in an election year where every word she spoke, every move she made, would be recorded, analyzed, and critiqued.

    When she had first agreed to doing a goodwill tour of the Republic, Eleanor had done so out of familial obligation. Kerry Trieste was not a woman you wanted as your enemy. Few people had survived her wrath and lived to tell about it. But Kerry could also be incredibly generous, sincere, and mindful of those around her. If you had a smart idea, she supported it. If you needed help, she was always there. The same could be said for Joaquin Vehn and his children who had looked after Eleanor with a kind heart and a steadying hand. Their influence was in her as well. Simply put, Eleanor Vehn possessed the best qualities of both families. It was now up to her to show the galaxy that she was very much her own person. Not a pawn in two families’ gambit for power.

    Once the shuttle landed, Eleanor was escorted by her palace guard to a waiting airspeeder that took her to an enormous plaza where she met the Corellian delegation. After exchanging pleasantries, the young monarch took in the rest of the plaza from backstage. The rest of the space was filled with a very curious audience eager to catch a glimpse of the distant ruler from Naboo, eager to see what outrageous outfit she had decided to wear. But those days were gone. Eleanor had chosen a more liberal style of dress that was fashionable with successful businesswomen on Druckenwell. Although never one for the corporate scene, Eleanor had received a very well rounded education during her upbringing and was quite versatile in most environments although public speaking still made her very nervous.

    She was greeted by a mixed crowd as she took the stage. Waving and smiling, Eleanor slowly made her way to the podium while some music played in the background. Nothing she recognized but it sounded regal enough. The crowd continued to whistle, jeer, and occasionally make a lude comment or two. She stared at the sea of people, saw the line of security below the stage, and suddenly was aware, as if she wasn’t before, how important this coming election was to Kerry Trieste and the Vehn family. She was also well aware of the stereotypes people had about Naboo, about the monarchy. She had heard how the monarchs spoke like antiquated buffoons, dressed in funny clothes, preferred peace to war, and were generally an ineffectual ruler. Now, she had Corellia right in front of her in a feed that was undoubtedly being broadcasted all across the galaxy. The pressure was on and the time was now. A silence descended over the crowd as Eleanor began to speak.

    “Hello, Corellia!” Eleanor said with a winning smile.

    The crowd cheered loudly drowning out the naysayers. Someone up close screamed, “We love you Eleanor!”

    Eleanor laughed and pointed in the direction of that person. “You guys are great! Such a warm welcome, thank you for inviting me to your beautiful planet! This is my first time in the Republic since becoming Queen of Naboo. I am so proud to represent the RTO on this historic occasion, on such a historic planet with such a rich history and tradition. It is here on Corellia that I have really grown to appreciate humanity’s roots, to appreciate the true meaning of democracy, of civil rights, of the freedom to choose your head of state.”

    “Today, the people of Corellia are faced with a very important choice that will decide who will become Supreme Chancellor in a short time from now. On one side you have Kerry Trieste, a proven leader. On the other hand you have Senator Follam, an inexperienced politician with ambitious dreams. Think about that for a moment. Think about these two candidates.”

    “I have heard that Chancellor Trieste is in bed with the Vehn family, my family. I have heard that I am a foolish young girl who parties too much, that I lack the experience to rule a planet, and that I am directly benefiting from having Kerry Trieste as the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. I have also heard that the RTO has been receiving more attention lately than the citizens of the Republic. If you believe any of that, then go ahead and vote for Senator Follam. I’m sure he would love to tell you that he is but a simpleton when it comes to matters of state.”

    “However,” Eleanor paused, surveyed the crowd, knew she had them right where she wanted them, “if you have any doubt in your mind about these outrageous claims, vote with your conscience, with your mind, and most importantly, with your heart. My family has done nothing wrong. I have done nothing wrong. And there is nothing wrong about signing a trade agreement between the Republic and the RTO that will only strengthen both the Core and the Outer Rim, that will only make your lives easier and more comfortable!”

    The crowd cheered.

    “I am well aware that times are tough in this galaxy. Jobs are scarce, unemployment is up, food and energy prices continue to climb beyond the means of those who are disadvantaged. The Republic is at war,” Eleanor said as she paused for emphasis, “and many people are wondering when this will all end. When will this galaxy put the pieces back together? Why hasn’t Chancellor Trieste fixed my problems?”

    The crowd was silent, contemplative.

    “I will be perfectly honest with you. Chancellor Trieste can’t fix your problems. Senator Follam can’t fix your problems. The only person who can fix your problems, who can make your life better, is you. You have the power. The minute you let someone take your power away it is all over. You have given up. You might as well just throw in the towel and walk away from life. But that is not what Corellians do, is it?”

    “No!” Came a small section of the crowd.

    "Corellians don't quit, do they?"

    "No!" A larger section of the crowd said.

    “I hear you people are famous for your unique view on politics. I also hear that you are pretty darn intelligent, too. There is no pulling the proverbial wool over your eyes. So tell me one thing, just one thing. Why would you even consider voting for a man with no idea of how this galaxy functions? A man who would rather start a fight than finish it? A man who has nothing better to do than talk about a young Queen who had one night of fun? Maybe he needs to go to a night club and get trashed!”

    The audience roared with laughter.

    “Senator Follam thinks that he is a poor man. Feels that the government has gotten too big, has too many taxes, and was shown to have voted against the RED Act. But the truth really hurts. The truth of the matter is, Senator Follam has some big financial backers. Some real hot shots who think they’ve got some power behind their money. I’ve got their names right here,” Eleanor stated as she held up a datapad. Truth was, the datapad didn’t have diddly squat but it was enough to stir the crowd into a frenzy.

    “But all the money in the world won’t buy you an election. All the money in the world will never help Follam become Supreme Chancellor because it is being squandered as we speak. Some of that money is your money. Some of that money is used to hurt you, your friends, and your families. Think about that. I think the choice is clear. You can either live in a galaxy that will help you succeed or you can live in a galaxy that will forever want to see you fail. The choice is yours, Corellia.”

    “Five years ago, the galaxy took significant strides forward by electing Kerry Trieste. We have witnessed the progress every day since then. Five years from now, if you vote Kerry Trieste into office for another term, think about where you will be. Vote for progress, vote Trieste!”

    The crowd went nuts.

    “Thank you Corellia, love you guys!” Eleanor smiled and waved as she was ushered off the stage by security into her shuttle.

    One planet down, several more to go.
    Last edited by Liam_Vehn, Nov 1, 2012
    Trieste and jcgoble3 like this.
  4. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Republican University, Coruscant



    Corellia, Fondor, Kuat, Commenor, Balmorra. Every stop had presented its fair share of challenges for Eleanor as she made a whirlwind tour of the Republic’s most important planets. All of them had their fair share of problems. All of them were considered battleground systems and all of them had received her with welcome arms. Her advisors had cautioned that she should limit her time on these planets in case she wore out her welcome. Pushing back against the voices of caution, Eleanor surged forward onto stage after stage, shook hands with the public, and listened to the very people she was sent to energize.

    As she met countless people from all walks of life, from many different political persuasions, Eleanor began to realize that the Republic had so much to teach her about economics, social etiquette, dress codes, and most importantly, democracy. This trip had morphed into one of goodwill to one of close study. There were many aspects of the Republic that Eleanor realized could be used on Naboo and throughout the greater RTO. There was a reason this government had survived crisis after crisis.

    Eleanor started to feel a little sad as the goodwill tour came to a natural conclusion. What she had seen in this part of the galaxy had opened her eyes. Had helped her to understand just how special the universe could be and how her job as ruler of Naboo paled in comparison to that of her relative, Kerry Trieste. But their problems were similar. The bottom line was that a happy constituency made for a more effective populace, both at work and at home. That was the struggle now, how to energize people to
    care about their government, to continue to have faith.

    Now she was just minutes away from taking the stage at Republican University on Coruscant. Tonight was her last night in the Republic. She wanted to make a good impression on the young Coruscant crowd gathered in front of the stage. She peered beyond the curtain at the crowd milling about, talking, killing time. Lots of homemade signs read, “Eleanor, we love you!” or “Kerry Trieste for Supreme Chancellor!”.

    Someone with a sense of humor had one that said, “Eleanor for Senator from Naboo!”

    She had to chuckle at that one. There had been many people who wondered why Naboo had decided to stay in the Roon Trade Organization instead of attending to its more traditional allegiance to the Republic. That decision had not been hers to make during the critical time period when Joaquin Vehn had brought Naboo into the economic fold. But looking back, that decision had seemed to be the correct one. Naboo had received more special attention under the scrutinizing eye of the RTO than it could ever hope to have under the all encompassing rule of the Republic. But she had a speech to give now. Could no longer justify the past. Now was the moment to look towards the future.

    Eleanor quieted down the butterflies in her stomach and stepped onto the stage. The crowd went nut, absolutely nuts. Signs bobbed, those giant foam fingers that people brought to Limmie sporting events waved, and thousands of flashes from holocameras poked holes in the black abyss the audience resided behind underneath the bright lights of the stage. Waving, Eleanor flashed a smile, more cheers, more whistles.

    “Hello, Coruscant!”

    Once again the roar was deafening. Ever since Corellia, Eleanor had started every speech in that simple way. People seemed drawn to that. Really seemed to connect with those sentiments and that was fine with her. When the crowd quieted down, she continued.

    “It is an honor to be here on Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, your Republic. Speaking of Republic, I have made quite a tour of this wonderful part of the galaxy for the better side of two weeks. I have met great people who have reinvigorated in me the belief that democracy should be cherished. Even when times are tough, people told me they were appreciative of the government’s efforts to lend them a helping hand so they can get back on their feet.”

    “I am reminded of a story of a young man from Kuat. Trillo was his name, nice guy, reminded me of a lot of nice people I’ve met on this tour. Trillo came up to me after a speech I made on Kuat and said, ‘Eleanor, I’m college educated, burdened with student loans, and I’ve recently been laid off from my position at Kuat Drive Yards. I’m not asking for a hand out, I just want to know that I have a chance and that somebody does care about me and others like me.”
    The audience was fully enraptured.

    “Trillo, if you are listening, I care about you,” the crowd’s roar began to build, “ The Republic cares about you! And Chancellor Trieste cares about you!” Eleanor stopped speaking, the noise from the audience too deafening.

    “There are government funded programs out there that can lend you a helping hand. That can assist you in getting back on your feet and into the work force. There are a number of resources to help millions like Trillo,” Eleanor paused for effect, “and Senator Follam would take those resources away. A bridge does exist between those who struggle and those who do not. It is up to the people who are struggling to be brave and walk on that bridge to a better life. Senator Follam would take that bridge away. He would destroy it in a heartbeat to create a social and economic underclass that depends on the government.”

    “Would someone explain to me how Senator Follam hates big government and yet openly supports the existing welfare system?”

    The crowd roared with laughter.

    “Chancellor Trieste’s domestic policies have helped people climb out of poverty. All because she lent them a—“ Eleanor paused.

    “Helping hand!” the audience roared.

    “Not a hand out,” Eleanor said. “Chancellor Trieste doesn’t believe in hand outs. Neither do I. Neither should you. And if Senator Follam wins this coming election, those that struggle, those that have a hard time, those that need a helping hand, will be crushed. Think about that for a moment. The poor are people too. The next time you pass a shelter, the next time you see someone who could use an extra blanket against the cold of the night, lend them a helping hand. Lend them your compassion, your strength, and help steer them toward a path of success.”

    The audience clapped, crowed, hollered until they were hoarse.

    “This is my last night in the Republic,” Eleanor stated.

    The crowd cried out in protest.

    “I hope everyone has enjoyed my stay here. I know I have. I have seen so many great things in the Republic, your Republic. I return home to Naboo enlightened. Before I depart tonight, I have one final request.”

    “Remember that we are young and that by voting for Kerry Trieste, you can set the galaxy on fire. You can achieve something great. Thank you for everything, farewell Republic!” Eleanor cried out as she blew kisses to the crowd and waved.

    “Eleanor! Eleanor! Eleanor!” The crowd chanted.
    Last edited by Liam_Vehn, Nov 11, 2012
  5. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Yag’Dhul

    “…so I don’t mind all those ads you’ve seen that talk about my ties to Queen Eleanor,” Kerry said to the crowd at the campaign rally, “In fact, I’m really quite sad that they’re not on much anymore. You see, I think the Republic has gotten to know the Eleanor Vehn that I know, the Queen of Naboo who believes in the power for everyday beings to not just live, but to thrive. Those are values she’s put into practice in leading the RTO, and they’re the values of the beings that I call allies.”

    It had become a rather well-rehearsed stump speech for her and she barely looked at her notes for it. Then again, she’d declared she was going to battle against a pirate fleet without a speech, so Kerry Trieste was a pretty good extemporaneous speaker.

    “That’s something that Senator Follam doesn’t talk about. He criticizes the ties that I’ve built with the RTO in my chancellery. Here’s the thing: Senator Follam doesn’t seem to understand that not even the Republic can stand alone. This is a big galaxy, a very big galaxy, and make no mistake, there are those out there who wish us ill. Two of our fleets are in pursuit of one such threat right now and their mission is at the forefront of our mind. It is in times like this that the Republic stands for prosperity, stability, and justice and when we stand with like-minded allies such as the RTO we will triumph!”

    Kerry paused for the applause that she knew was coming.

    “This election is about answering a call,” Trieste continued in her patented finale, “It is a call to continue the work we’ve committed to, of building a union of systems that we can be proud of. A union that is stronger together than those systems are alone. At our core, there is good in all of us. It’s as simple as lending a hydrospanner to a neighbor or taking a moment out of our weekend to call the elderly relative living alone. These small actions change your community and they change the galaxy. I believe in the Republic and I believe in you and I will never, ever stop fighting for you as long as I am your Chancellor! Thank you, and may the Force guide the Republic!”

    With that, Kerry stepped away from the podium to cheers and applause as her campaign anthem, “Calling Republica”, started playing. She smiled and waved and worked the crowd a bit. Eleanor Vehn had ceased to be an issue ever since her goodwill tour began. It had backfired incredibly on Follam and his strategists. Their attacks on Kerry’s defense policies were on shaky ground now that there was a war on. Things were looking up for the Trieste campaign.



    Chancellor’s shuttle, hyperspace

    Kerry cursed and looked around for something to throw. It was one of her worse habits: the need to fling something across the room when things went badly. She had enough restraint not to hurl the datapad against a wall. She would have liked a glass (dishware and glasses were really very gratifying when they broke) but couldn’t find any within reach. She had to settle for a fist pounded into the armrest of her chair.

    The news from the Unkown Regions was not good. The Second and Fourth Fleets had finally engaged Ysenn in a battle—on his terms. Just finding the pirate flotilla had not been easy. The admirals had not been keen to stray too far from the border because it gave Ysenn a natural advantage, but eventually they’d had no choice but to go in pursuit. In battle, the pirates had curiously chosen a protracted battle. Of the course of the fighting, the two fleets became entangled. As losses mounted—for both sides Kerry’s military attaches noted—the command structures of the two fleets became tangled and the resulting confusion and paralysis cost them dearly. Not only had Ysenn scored a decisive victory requiring a Republican retreat to regroup, but he had gotten a net gain of two cruisers lost by the Republican Fleet.

    “This is unacceptable!” Kerry fumed, “You are grown admirals! I expect you to be able to work together!”

    The holographic forms of the officers in question were shimmering before the Chancellor. “These things happen in battle—”

    “Conflicting orders sent to ship captains? These things cannot happen in battle and the analysis I’m reading from both of you is that these things are the reason you lost the battle,” Kerry continued, “We have the lives of beings at stake here and your confusion is the reason why I have to sign letters to families today.” She was not going to mention that Follam would have a field day with this. He couldn’t gloat over the death of Republican servicebeings, but he was definitely going to criticize Kerry for getting into a war that she couldn’t win.

    “No one takes this lightly—”

    “I’m glad we can agree on that point,” Kerry cut in, “so I’m sure you’ll agree that it is evident that a new command structure needs to be put in place. A joint fleet commander. I will alert you when I appoint one.”

    The admirals looked at each other. It seemed more natural for one of them to be appointed over the other to run things. Of course, each thought that he should be given overall control. However, this was the Chancellor that was telling them this, a Chancellor who had been a wartime planetary leader. The look that they shared carried an agreement that unlike other politicians, Kerry Trieste was not one to be pushed around by military brass.

    “Thank you, that will be all,” Kerry said curtly, dismissing them.

    “Thank you, Chancellor,” the two admirals said before their images winked out.

    Kerry sat in silence for a moment. There was one being she knew who was her best shot of beating Ysenn. She didn’t like to make this call, but she didn’t have another choice.

    She commed her secretary. “Saldor, get me the Bakura Fleet Academy. Commandant’s office.”
    Liam_Vehn likes this.
  6. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Coruscant

    TRIESTE SISTER NAMED TO JOINT COMMAND

    The headline blared across the Holonet. It had been a quiet announcement by the Secretary of Defense. “Pursuant to her duties as commander in chief of Republican forces, Chancellor Trieste has named Admiral Fiona Westenra of the Bakuran Defense Fleet to the position of Brevet Admiral of the Republican Fleet, overseeing the the Second and Fourth Fleets in their hunt for Coronad Yssenn’s pirate forces. Westenra currently holds a Vice Admiralty with the Bakuran Defense Fleet and has been named to the temporary, brevetted rank with the Republican Fleet in order that she may have sufficient authority to command the Admirals of both fleets and coordinate their efforts in defense of the Republic.”

    That was all. Needless to say, the news spread quickly. “This is classic Kerry Trieste,” one pundit said, “When she gets in trouble, she turns to family. Her sister Siona served as Minister of State, Westenra led the BDF during the Civil War, and her other sister Regan was Trieste’s last Supreme Court appointment on Bakura. It’s nepotism at its worst.”

    Another news commentator commented: “The bonds of family have always resonated strongly for Trieste. Those who are quick to dismiss her choice of Admiral Westenra forget that Kerry Trieste’s faith in her sister was well placed in the Bakuran Civil War. It was Westenra who broke the defenses of the city of Nouvelle Orleans, turning the war in the Federal Union’s favor, and her earlier naval engagements against the Maple Flag forces gave the Federals space superiority and enabled them to enforce an embargo that led to the Maple capitulation. Westenra has proven herself a capable commander, not to mention a decorated hero of the G’rho War as a Republican Fleet regular.”

    Kerry had called her sister to Coruscant before she went to the front to receive her orders in person. Their meeting was held alone with not even Saldor Kann privy to its details.

    “Fiona, the election is less than two months away. This hasn’t been a hunt for Yssenn—this has been dithering. The fleets are not coordinating and Yssenn is taking advantage of the confusion,” Kerry said, “You need to take charge, immediately. I don’t care if you want to remove either fleet admiral to achieve victory. Say the word and it will be done.”

    “That’s going to anger Senators if you do that,” Fiona said.

    “If we do not score a major victory against Yssenn before the election, I fear I won’t have to worry about what the Senate thinks of me anymore,” Kerry replied, “I will ram through new appointments in the Senate if it means defeating Yssenn.”

    “Hunting guerrillas is not the same as waging a war against a uniformed enemy,” Fiona said, “It will call for…harsh measures.”

    “You are the task force commander. I will support your decisions. I need action more than anything else and whatever else it will take me to achieve that, then that is what must be done.”

    “That’s all I need,” Fiona said, “If there is nothing else, I should join my command without delay.”

    Kerry stood and Fiona followed her example. “Good hunting, Fiona.” The redheaded older sister stuck her hand out. Fiona clasped it with an iron grip.

    “I’ll come home bearing my shield or on it, Chancellor,” Fiona said.

    From long experience, Kerry knew that her sister meant it.



    Salis D’aar, Bakura
    Two days ago

    “I can come with you,” Sierra Westenra insisted on the spaceport landing, “I’ve lived on ships before.”

    “Taking you out of school at the Academy will be hard enough for you,” Fiona said, “This time where I go you cannot follow.”

    The golden skinned daughter of the Admiral’s heart wanted to burst from her chest. “It’s not fair.”

    “No, war isn’t fair,” Fiona said, “The Republic needs me, and so does your Aunt Kerry.”

    “I’ll stay out of the way.”

    “A 17 year old girl is never going to be out of the way on a spaceship, no matter whose daughter she is,” Fiona said, putting her hand on Sierra’s cheek.

    Sierra wanted to tell her mother, You’re all I have. The divorce of their parents had resulted in the Admiral being awarded sole custody and she barely remembered her father. Though he was alive, he had moved on. But Sierra said nothing.

    Fiona turned to her sister, Regan Eldred. “Take care of my girl, Regan.”

    “Are you sure you don’t want Siona to look after her,” Regan asked, “She’s your twin.”

    “Siona is my sister and I love her, but there is nothing for her to learn from Siona. She has much she could learn from you,” Fiona said.

    Regan chuckled. “That’s the first time anyone’s ever said that.”

    “Kerry always understood Siona. They were kindred spirits. But I always understood you, Regan. We always knew what it took to get things done in a way they didn’t,” Fiona said. She hugged Sierra. “I love you, Sierra.”

    “I love you too, Mom.”

    And with that Fiona forced herself to leave her daughter for the first time in her life. The order for the shuttle to take off was given shortly thereafter and Regan and Sierra stood and watched it depart. The judge kept one hand on Sierra’s shoulder as they watched it depart.
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  7. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Fondor

    “…I believe in the Republic and I believe in you and I will never, ever stop fighting for you as long as I am your Chancellor! Thank you, and may the Force guide the Republic!”



    With that familiar closing, Trieste closed yet another rally, this time in Qort’s backyard. Though the credits were running against Kerry carrying the planet (quite literally—huge money was going against the Chancellor in the media buys to get time on the Holonet for ads against her), she was refusing to consider the planet a lost cause. Besides, the Republican election was not winner-take-all. Every vote on every planet would count even if only one vote on Fondor went her way. She wasn’t going to give up Fondor just because of Qort.

    “Calling Republica” had been Kerry’s selection for her campaign anthem. She heard it sometimes three times in a standard cycle (not that Kerry’s body obeyed an internal clock anymore with all the travel. She frequently took off from Corucsant in the morning, landed at night on one planet, dusk on another, noontime at a third, back to dusk on a fourth, and then morning on a fifth again—if she was lucky) and she wasn’t tired of it. Though the song itself wasn’t political, it was upbeat and got a crowd going. And the theme of calling on the Republic itself was a good one to hammer home with the voters.

    The truth was that this Chancellery election had been unlike any in recent memory. Not since Serena Kattan’s second term had a Chancellor been elected in the General Election. Usually a bevy of strong candidates entered the field and forced a runoff. A majority was required to elect a Chancellor and the leading candidate in the General usually only gained a plurality. The top two candidates usually duked it out in the Runoff Election held one month after the General. However, Follam and Trieste were the only two major candidates. There were a lot of minority candidates, but none of them were polling at a statistically significant figure. Kerry knew why—Qort had pressured likely challengers out of the race by bullying them or persuading. She didn’t know how he’d done it, but she’d done the political math. If she could make it to a Runoff, she’d win. Fence sitting voters would go her way and return her with a decisive majority.

    Briefly, Kerry had flirted with having intermediaries throw candidates into the race to force this result. It would have been a shrewd political mood. It had its risks: one of her proxies could have turned out to be a more formidable challenger than she anticipated and threaten to beat her. But it was a risk she had been comfortable taking.

    Then Yssenn had demanded attention and everything changed. The strategy was abandoned and Kerry decided to take Follam on what he thought was his home turf. Neutralize the defense attack, neutralize the RTO attack, and he only had one leg to stand on. She could take a one legged being any day of the week.

    And as Kerry shook hands with voters at the end of her rally, she smiled. But she knew that she had unfinished business to take care of. Very unfinished business and it was not going to be pleasant. It was waiting for her on her journey to Commenor.



    Chancellor’s Shuttle
    En route to Commenor

    “Chancellor,” Attorney General Helena Tandy said as her holographic image sprung to life.

    “Helena, I understand that you wish to update me on an investigation that you initiated into a major commercial concern?” Kerry asked. It was just for show. She knew exactly what Tandy was coming to her about and that if Kerry herself hadn’t brought it up to the AG that it wouldn’t have been touched. This charade was all political cover.

    “Yes. In the course of review by our financial division, abnormalities were discovered in the Treasury files pertaining to Panstellar Holdings,” Tandy said, “I began an inquiry into the business dealings of Panstellar. Without going too deep into the details, I believe that Panstellar has engaged in criminal activity.”

    “Panstellar is, as I understand, a large corporation?”

    “Quite.”

    “And the amount of criminal activity is in proportion to its size?”

    “Abnormally high in the Department of Justice’s opinion,” Tandy said.

    “Negligently high?”

    “Willfully high.”

    “If criminal activity has taken place, then I believe your duty is clear, Helena. This Chancellery will not shield crooks at the expense of the honest beings of the Republic,” Kerry said.

    “I felt it prudent to clear this prosecution with you. In the course of our investigation, we believe that this reaches further than acts by Panstellar. We believe that this investigation could begin what turns into a prosecution of organized crime,” Tandy stated.

    And there it was. Mott had been right. An investigation into Panstellar was going to open onto his dealings. And so now was the decision: trust that she had the election wrapped up and Qort was no longer a factor or take a risk at alienating one of her largest supporters in the Core, criminal though he was. And you never knew what a cornered criminal might say, especially when he knew things.

    “And you want to clear such a broad investigation with me first,” Kerry replied, not really asking a question.

    “The resources of the Justice Department are limited, if impressive. We must make decisions as to where to task those resources.”

    Kerry thought. She had a lead on Follam. Not a large one, but a lead. And polling among trillions of beings was not an exact science either. The margin of error was close enough. But Mott had been critical in delivering her support in the Core, support that had given her the Chancellery. And he knew the one thing about Kerry that could cause her to lose everything. Would anyone believe him? Would it matter if they did?

    “Helena, you’ve been nothing but an excellent Attorney General. The Republic has benefitted greatly from your legal acumen,” Kerry said, “Perhaps this matter would be best handled by the Treasury. I wouldn’t want to become something consumes your entire department when there are many matters that must be attended to by the Justice Department that would serve a wider swath of the public.”

    “I am sure that revenue agents will be able to impose large penalties on Panstellar that will serve as swift rebuke,” Tandy said. Kerry knew her Attorney General’s moods well. She was gracefully conceding defeat and deferring to her Chancellor. She knew that Tandy wanted to fight Qort. It was precisely the sort of battle she loved—taking on those who had gotten drunk on power and believed they were above reproach. “I will also refer these matters to the proper regulatory authorities to ensure that they are followed up appropriately.”

    “Excellent,” Kerry said.

    “By the way, might I say congratulations to you on the recent victory of the Miners? A real smashing success against Mando’ade.”

    “Thank you. Did you watch the game?”

    “Sadly, no. I saw the result only.”

    “It’s a shame. You know Alana Glencross?”

    “A woman after your own hair,” Helena said with a smile.

    Kerry couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes. She’s had a rough season. Not scoring much early on, getting rubbed out of plays. But the way she owned the Merc midfielder…Vau. The entire match he was taunting her, daring her to beat him through skill. And that’s exactly what she did.” Kerry leaned back in her chair and remembered. “She turned Vau inside out. She took what he gave her, exploited every weakness. He looked impotent. She destroyed him. I happened to catch on the wire that the Mercs have moved him out of their starting lineup and they’re now starting a rookie in his place. I don’t know if Vau will ever play Limmie again. Glencross took some risks in that game, she hung her midfield partner out to dry, but she came up big…”

    Kerry’s sentence trailed off and her mind went elsewhere, leaving a bemused Attorney General unsure how to conclude the conversation.

    “If there’s nothing else Chancellor?” Tandy finally asked.

    Trieste focused on the holoprojector again. “Helena, please see that those instructions are carried out,” Kerry said, “With one exception. Do not turn the investigation of Panstellar over to the Treasury or any other department. Proceed with it yourself, wherever it takes you.”

    “Absolutely, Chancellor,” Tandy said, obviously gratified.

    Kerry Trieste was going for the big score.
    Last edited by Trieste, Nov 29, 2012
  8. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Aquilla, Republican Second Fleet
    Unknown Regions

    Admiral on deck,” was the call as Fiona Westenra came into the command center of the Aquilla, the Second Fleet’s flagship which had been designated the flag of the joint task force.

    “At ease,” Wesentra said immediately. She had joined the fleet a week ago and was now acquainted with her primary support officers. Thus far she had yet to move the fleet into action. Fiona was not a woman of precipitate action, but when she acted she moved decisively.

    And she was revolving a plan.

    “Where are we on the analysis?” Fiona inquired. She turned to the colonel she had assigned the task.

    “We’re dealing with the Unknown Regions and limited data points. Routes aren’t properly mapped, the possibilities are too great—” the colonel explained.

    “Don’t tell me it can’t be done,” Fiona said sharply, “We are the most powerful fighting force in the galaxy and you’re telling me that we don’t have the resources to figure this out? I refuse to believe it.”

    “Admiral, you can’t squeeze blood from a stone,” the colonel protested, “Things that can’t be done—”

    “Happen all the time. I took a Class III BakurStar into an Adama maneuver to break the siege of Nouvelle Orleans,” Fiona cut the officer off, “and people said it couldn’t be done. I don’t want to hear that this can’t be done again. Now if there’s nothing else to report I’m going to go do something productive.”

    The Admiral didn’t even wait for a reply as she left the command center. Ridiculous. Fiona was sure they had the resources. The colonel was clearly too stupid to use them properly. If she could have plundered the Defense Fleet to get her own adjutants she might not have this problem, but the frigging Unionist-controlled Defense Ministry wouldn’t allow her to call up anyone who wasn’t already designated as assigned Republican regular duty—and of course all of them were already in the Republican Fleet. Damn tightfisted, provincial—

    “Admiral.”

    The salutation came with a salute as an officer stepped to the side to allow Fiona to pass.

    “Soldier,” Fiona returned with a brief salute. Then she realized who she was passing and she stopped. “Solo, I believe?” The name tag said as much.

    “Yes, sir,” Captain Dawn Solo replied.

    “I wish my orders had force after you fulfill your reserve duty. I’d have you ease up on the Miners when you return to the Monarchs,” Fiona said.

    “I think a court martial would take place if I was bound to fulfill such an order,” Solo replied.

    “As it should be,” Fiona said with a wry smile, “Forgive me, Captain. As much as I’d like to talk Limmie with someone qualified for a change, I must be going since it seems that no one in this fleet knows the first thing about reverse course plotting.”

    “With all due respect, Admiral,” Solo said before Fiona could be on her way, “I majored in Astronavigation at Grand Vulpter State so I take exception to that statement.”

    Westenra raised an eyebrow and paused for a moment. “Captain, what are your regular duties?”

    “Starfighter squadron command, Admiral.”

    “Excellent work. How I lost this leg, actually,” Fiona said, tapping the prosthetic beneath her uniform pants. The Admiral grabbed a passing flight deck member. “Soldier, find the XO of Captain Solo’s squadron and have him assume control of routine exercises and management. The Captain is working with me temporarily on special assignment. All objections from superiors may be kicked up the chain of command to me.”

    “Yes, sir,” the crewman said before hurrying off. He’d never had an Admiral touch him before, let alone be charged with ferrying orders from one so he was off like a shot.

    “Captain, come with me,” Fiona said.



    “In assessing the situation, it is futile to keep spreading our forces thinly to defend our Unknown Region border. In addition, Yssenn has already shown he can penetrate it by hitting Balmorra. Therefore,” Fiona told Solo in the privacy of holoprojector room, “we cannot continue to assume the defensive. We must strike Yssenn. The problem is that we don’t know where he is.

    “But we do know where he’s been,” Fiona said and a map of Republican space, particularly its rimward border, came to life. “These are the planets he’s hit. I believe that Yssenn has mapped hyperspace routes from a base in the Unknown Regions to all of these planets. Even unofficial pirate maps of the Unknown Regions are shaky at best. Microjumping is too risky for him in uncertain territory. I believe there is a common point for all of these worlds.”

    “There’s no way he’s got a route from the Unknown Regions into the Core to Balmorra. No way,” Solo said.

    “I agree, but he had to link up with a starting point to get in somehow, some way that missed Fleet patrols at the time,” Fiona said, “You have the end points and the data. I need to reverse plot where Yssenn’s base is. He assumes we can’t find it. If we can, we can surprise him and, with luck, crush him in a decisive battle.”

    “Risky plan,” Solo said.

    “Let me worry about the battle. I need to know if you can get us there,” Fiona asked.

    Solo looked at the map. “Yes.”

    “Get to it, soldier,” Fiona said.
    Last edited by Trieste, Dec 4, 2012
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  9. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Aquila, Republican Fleet
    Unknown Regions



    Dawn Solo didn’t remember when she’d last slept. She did remember that she’d woken up face down on the table where she’d been looking at the data that Admiral Westenra had left her with. It was maddening. She was sure there was a pattern, sure that the Admiral was onto something. There was no way, no way in hell that Yssenn was microjumping through the Unknown Regions. It was too risky. You needed straight lines with a fleet. Not just any fleet—a pirate fleet that lacked formal discipline. Unless they’d underestimated Yssenn, but the reports that they had of Yssenn’s raids didn’t indicate that.

    Solo traced a finger with weary eyes through the map of the Unknown Regions. This wasn’t making sense but it had to.

    “Come on you son of a gundark, where the frak are you?” Solo muttered.



    Supreme Chancellor’s office, Coruscant

    “Chancellor, Attorney General Tandy asked me to alert you that she will be addressing the media shortly,” Saldor Kann said.

    “Turn the Holonet on,” Kerry instructed absent mindedly, her attention currently on a piece of legislation that the Senate had sent her way. It was one of the myriad that she didn’t ask the Senate for and didn’t particularly want to sign, but she needed to understand who she was going to anger if she vetoed it. It was only when she heard the voice of Helena Tandy that she put the legislation down.

    “Good morning everyone,” Tandy said, “I’d like to get right down to business. Two months ago, the Department of Justice’s financial crimes office noted irregularities in the cash flow of Panstellar Holdings, based on Fondor. This prompted an investigation by financial crimes that soon uncovered a web of deceit and deception by Panstellar. This morning, acting on evidence painstakingly collected and verified, the Department of Justice seized records and assets of Panstellar on Fondor. Additionally, the Department of Jusice has substantial evidence that Chairman Palster Qort of Panstellar was instrumental in the felonious activities that took place at the company.”

    Kerry Trieste opened up a drawer in her desk, pulled out a bottle of whiskey and a tumbler, and poured herself a double. She wanted to enjoy this.

    “Qort has been arrested and is will shortly be arraigned on Fondor in a Republican court for the following crimes: securities fraud, income tax evasion…”



    Aquila, Republican Fleet

    Solo ran down the halls of the flagship, knocking people over as she went. Most Republican troopers were not Limmie players and weren’t prepared for the grav train that was Dawn Solo.

    She skidded to a halt in front of the doors of the Admiral’s Briefing Suite, guraded by two troopers. “I need to get in there.”

    “Admiral Westenra is conducting a high level briefing. No one is allowed inside for security reasons,” one of the troopers said.

    “For the record, I’d just like to say I’m sorry,” Solo said.

    “Sorry for—ungh!”

    That last bit was the sound of Solo body checking the trooper into the wall so she could get at the door controls and slip inside. She hadn’t taken three steps before she was being restrained by the other soldier.

    “I found him!” Solo yelled. All of the officers in the room had already turned to look at the commotion, but now she had their attention.

    “Soldier, take your hands off her!” Westenra shouted, “Captain, get over here and somebody get me a scouting patrol ready to take off the moment Capatain Solo finished talking!”



    Supreme Chancellor’s office, Coruscant

    “…racketeering, reckless endangerment, gross negligence, smuggling, extortion—” Tandy paused for a drink of water, “—perjury, piracy, forgery…”

    “Chancellor, I have an urgent message from Admiral Westenra. She’s requesting to be put through immediately,” Kann said, cutting through on the intercom.

    “Put her through. Now,” Kerry ordered. She knew her sister well. Fiona Westenra did not make social calls.

    “…consumer fraud, bribery, extortion…”

    “Chancellor, we have found Yssenn,” Fiona said the moment her image came to life.

    “And?” Kerry asked.

    “I am requesting permission to launch a massive assault on his base of operations,” Fiona said succinctly.

    “I have assigned the day-to-day prosecution of this military action to you. You have my permission,” Kerry said. She sensed there was something more.

    “I feel it prudent to inform you that our scouting indicates that Yssenn’s forces are much larger than we had previously estimated. I believe that, contrary to our previous assumptions, we do not possess numerial superiority,” Fiona continued.

    “WHAT?” Kerry shouted. He had the equivalent of two Republican fleets backing him? “How the frak are there that many pirates in the galaxy?”

    “A question for a later time,” Westenra said, knowing full well her sister didn’t expect an answer out of her, “I plan to engage him within two days’ time. I believe that our best shot of beating Yssenn is a massive assault. If as much as a fourth of his forces escape and withdraw further into the Unknown Regions, they will threaten us for years at the minimum. If Yssenn escapes, given the military prowess he has already demonstrated, we could be defending our border for decades. Our only hope of crushing him is a decisive military victory right now.”

    Kerry’s head ran through with data. She fumbled around on her desk before realizing the data she wanted wasn’t there. “I need to find out how long before I can get you reinforcements to pin him to the wall.”

    “I dare not wait that long. Further reducing fleet deployment in Republican space would also expose other systems. We need to act now.”

    Kerry said nothing but tried to think, and fast.

    “…money laundering, insurance fraud…” Tandy continued.

    “What is your estimate of losses?” Kerry asked gravely.

    “I am not optimistic,” Fiona said.

    The ice shifted in Kerry’s glass, having melted slightly.

    “Admiral, I gave you command to win. I place my trust in you,” Kerry finally said.

    “Thank you, Chancellor,” Fiona said before her image winked out.

    Kerry said nothing for a while and then she put her head in her hands. Her entire reelection campaign stood on the edge of a vibroblade now. If loosing Tandy on Qort had been a gamble, now she was betting everything she had on Fiona and Yssenn.

    For in three days, precisely as a battle between the Republican Fleet and Yssenn’s pirates would be raging, Kerry Trieste was scheduled for her one and only debate with Senator Follam.
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  10. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Grand Ballroom, Theed Palace, Naboo

    The lacquered surface of the piano reflected the early morning sunlight that streamed in rays of golden splendor throughout the illustrious ballroom. Eleanor stood off to the side of the piano, observing the way the dark wood seemed to glow in the early morning light further enhancing its beautiful shape and beckoning to be played. She took several steps forward and ran her fingers over the piano’s polished surface felt her heart beat with excitement, her ears eager to listen to the first fall of the keys, the first pristine note to emanate from underneath its luscious wooden exterior.

    She had always loved this piano. It had been with the monarchy since the days of Amidala. As a little girl, Eleanor had always wanted to play this piano but was discouraged by her tutors. They had never given her a reason why she could not play the instrument. Only that she had more important things to do. Her insatiable appetite for music, however, continued to stick with her during her rise to the throne and her dream of playing this majestic instrument remained with her. Despite the added responsibilities of running the government of Naboo, Eleanor was not to be deterred, she would play the piano. She would play her piano.

    Fresh off her tour of the Republic, and enjoying a brief lull in the political rack that she routinely found herself a willing participant, Eleanor had made the time to take care of herself. Music was meditation for the young queen. Music was an escape. Music was life. Now, with most of the palace dignitaries enjoying a brief recess, she was alone with the love of her life and nothing would stop her newfound freedom.

    She slid onto the bench and examined the keys made from Bantha teeth. Truly this was a classic as the use of real teeth for piano keys had long since been outlawed. The teeth were protected by a special solution designed to withstand repeated use. Inhaling sharply, Eleanor placed her fingers on the teeth, felt their cool touch, closed her eyes, and drifted to a song that she had learned to play as a child. The song seemed to capture the essence of life, of death, of the ups and downs of all that one could experience in this universe.

    She began to play.



    Her fingers flowed effortlessly over the keys, making them dance, making them rejoice, helping them to sing their song of joy and rebirth. Her body seemed to slowly move and sway with the movement of her hands across the Bantha keys and she opened her eyes to discover that she had an audience listening attentively. Palace security guards, her handmaidens, and a few of the cleaning staff. Her pace did not falter as she merely smiled and continued to play.

    The music bounced off the ballroom, wrapping its sensual fingers around the marble columns, the polished floors, the ornate decorated ceiling. Once reserved for state functions the ballroom had since fallen out of favor with Naboo’s upper crust as more modern and amenable facilities had been constructed during the unpopular reign of the Quorro dynasty. Now that the Quorro’s were out of the picture, public perception toward the monarchy had slowly begun to warm again. There were letters to Eleanor detailing a longing for the grand galas of the past, of hundreds of couples dancing their way across the pristine marble surfaces in perfect harmony, and of a party worthy of the nobility.

    As she played she became one with the piece, temporarily forgetting about the troubles of the galaxy. There were no more thoughts about Naboo’s political future. No more thoughts about the strained relationship with Nal Hutta or the Republic’s conflict in the Unknown Regions. No more thoughts about the relationships between the member worlds of the RTO. No more thoughts about elections and campaigns. Only pure bliss, pure, unadulterated, musical, bliss.

    Ignorance was bliss.




    A small strike team zip-lined down from an armored hovercar and took out the security detail on the roof. Breaking their way into the penthouse of the skyscraper, the team dispatched a few more guards as they made their way to the master bedroom.

    Kicking down the door to the bedroom, the lights on their blaster rifles illuminated the Twi’lek slaves who were awakened from their drug induced sleep. Before they could utter a cry they were shot where they rested.They hadn't come for the girls. They'd come for the Hutt slug located in the center of the room.

    The Hutt, resting on his hoversled, opened his eyes and blurted out a curse in Huttese. Waving a fleshy arm, he was about to hit the alarm button when a well placed shot tore his arm away from his body. Screaming out in pain, the Hutt flashed a look of fear as lighted bottles, filled with liquor, were thrown his direction. They made contact with his blubbery form and engulfed him in flames.

    The titanic and unwieldy Hutt rolled off his hoverbed, tried to beat off the flames with his remaining arm, but could not extinguish the gnawing pain that now turned his obese self into a puddle of slag. The strike team watched the slug morph into a campfire treat right before their eyes before returning the same way they entered.

    The entire operation took less than five minutes.

    A half hour later the Hutt fleet around Nal Hutta was mobilized and preparing for war.




    Eleanor bowed gracefully from her position behind the piano as she finished her moving piano piece. Her small audience clapped and whistled their approval. She smiled and nodded her head deferentially. Today was shaping up to be a great day indeed. Her peace of mind was short lived as a guard approached and whispered in her ear.

    Her smile faded as the full realization of what had transpired hit her in the stomach.

    Five years of peace in the RTO had just come to an earth-shattering halt.
    Last edited by Liam_Vehn, Dec 7, 2012
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  11. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    OOC: Oops! Posted in wrong place.
    Last edited by Liam_Vehn, Dec 8, 2012
  12. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Aquila, Republican Fleet
    Unknown Regions

    Admiral Westenra had called all of her captains and commanders into what was a giant holobriefing. She had finalized her plan for assaulting Yssenn and now it was time to communicate it.

    “Gentlebeings, we have located Coronad Yssenn here,” Fiona said, the galactic map zooming in to a blinking dot, “a planet that we are currently calling Zeta Upsilon Three. It is unnamed, and uncharted, but appears to be able to sustain sentient life. Yssenn appears to have gathered his full force at ZU3. The force is larger than we estimated it to be. Our scouting indicates that the pirate fleet consists primarily of small, maneuverable ships. This fits the pirate profile of strong raiding capabilities. This will make them nimble and maneuverable, possessing the ability to make critical strikes against our capital ships.

    “Their disadvantage appears to be that they do not possess extensive starfighter squadrons, which we do. This we must use to our advantage.” Fiona looked at Captain Solo, who she had invited to attend the briefing on the Aquila. “The starfighter will be the heart of this battle. Our victory will hinge on their performance.

    “Our attack hinges solely on timing. I am amassing the Second and Fourth Fleets in four separate locations. We are exploiting Yssenn’s own hyperspace lanes against him. We will begin with a frontal attack on ZU3.” The map zoomed in to show the relevant system. The fleet was simulated coming into the system. “This force, Second Fleet Alpha, will draw Yssenn’s forces out. Vastly outnumbered, Yssenn will respond with overwhelming force. This is when Second Fleet Beta will jump in on Yssenn’s left flank once the pirates have engaged.” The holoprojector reflected this change. “Second Fleet Beta will bring interdictors to stop Yssenn from jumping out of system as he will want to do when confronted with the increase in force. Fourth Fleet Alpha will then come in on what is now Yssenn’s rear, inflicting massive damage.” The new force came in as Fiona described.

    “Finally, Fourth Fleet Beta will be the force that breaks Yssenn. They will reinforce Second Fleet Alpha to spearhead and divide Yssenn’s force.” These ships came in on the simulation and cleaved Yssenn in two.

    “Soldiers, this is our best shot at beating Yssenn. He cannot be allowed to escape. Even allowing a quarter of his forces to escape is unacceptable. We must annihilate them,” Fiona said, pounding a fist into her open palm, “For this plan to work, we must have exact timing according to the plan that I have outlined here. Deviations from this plan will spell disaster.”

    Fiona paused. “That is all. We are on the clock. We engage in twenty three hours.”

    Behind Fiona, a chrono started up and began to count down the seconds.



    Kuat

    This year, the one and only Chancellor’s debate for the General Election was taking place on Kuat. Kerry and Follam would be the only two Senators at the debate. HSN had declined to invite any other candidates as they were polling at statistically insignificant numbers. Kerry had come to the planet early to do a little politicking and to do some last minute debate prep.

    Except that wasn’t what she was doing at all.

    Yesterday, Hutt Space had been rocked by the news that one of the Hutts had been killed in his home by unknown assassins. The murder had rocked the ruling clans and their response had been swift and sudden. They were massing all of their military might for retaliatory actions—though against whom nobody knew. Those that did know, which did not include anyone in Republican Intelligence, weren’t saying.

    As a result, on the eve of the debate, not only did Kerry have impending military action that could easily swing the entire election, but she now had a potential threat on her other border as well. There was no telling whether or not the Hutts were going to hold someone in the Republic responsible for what had happened here. If that did happen, then she was going to be glad that Fiona hadn’t taken any extra forces with her to go after Yssenn. Kerry was going to need them to fend off the Hutts and a two front war was not something she was looking forward to. Nor was it something she was entirely sure the Republic could win.

    Of course, it was just adding insult to injury that with the massive build up, the Senatorial Guard had decided it was too unsafe for her to go anywhere near Hutt Space, which included the annual Bakura Miners-Nar Shaddaa Smugglers. That had not made the Chancellor happy. She’d yelled about it, but the Senate had long ago established that when it came to the Chancellor’s safety, the Chancellor didn’t always know what was right. The Senatorial Guard did.

    Kerry was beyond frustrated with the turn of events, but she had more pressing issues to investigate: namely who had died and who the Hutts blamed. They were questions that she needed answers to. Now.

    “I know we have assets in there. They’ve got to know something,” she told Republican Intelligence Director Teruno.

    “We are doing everything we can to learn about the situation and we are passing updates onto your office as soon as we have them,” Teruno replied.

    “Work quicker,” Kerry said, “If we have another galactic war on our hands, we need to know about it right frakking now.”

    “Our current estimates rank that as highly unlikely,” Teruno said.

    “I’d rather not rely on estimates when it comes to galactic security, Teruno.”

    “Neither would I. But we will do the best we can with the intelligence we have.”

    “Thank you,” Kerry said, dismissing the RI Director.

    Saldor Kann came forward. “Chancellor, we have drafted some replies to the current situation for tomorrow’s debate. We expect that Follam will try to argue that the galaxy has become less safe on your watch.”

    “As would I,” Kerry said, receiving the datapad the Ithorian offered to review the speechwriters’ work, “Let him. I will skewer him with his own words. Help me Maker, I will end Follam tomorrow night on a pyre of his own construction.”
  13. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Aquila, Republican Fleet
    Unknown Regions

    Fiona stood on the bridge of the Aquila and watched the chrono, which had ticked past zero a long time ago. It was now approaching plus 20 minutes. She was to join the battle with Second Fleet Beta, which would be the first flanking assault on Yssenn. It was where she had decided the pivotal moment of the battle would be and her philosophy was that she needed to be on hand to direct it as needed. Though Second Fleet Beta was under the command of a Rear Admiral, Fiona wanted to personally supervise the action even if she had no intention of issuing such orders.

    The entire bridge watched nervously as the numbers spun towards 20:00:00. Fiona projected outward calm even though her stomach turned in knots. Never in the Civil War had she gone all in so blatantly. The death of beings under her command would be massive if she had guessed incorrectly.

    “Sound battle stations and prepare for hyperspace,” the Rear Admiral said with thirty seconds to go.

    “Battle stations, battle stations, prepare for jump,” came the fleet-wide announcement.

    Fiona set her good leg firmly on the deck and braced the prosethetic against a console for the jolt of hyperspace. Around her, the crew tried to click into combat mode. It was a switch that they all had, that they had to develop to survive. Fiona hadn’t flipped it since the War, since she’d taken over at the Academy and lived something like a normal life with her daughter. It was painful to switch it now.

    “Three, two, one, mark,” the Aquila’s XO said.

    And at mark, Second Fleet Beta jumped into hyperspace. The lines of space pulled around them and now the hardest waiting of all began. It would be two minutes until they dropped out of hyperspace. Two interminable minutes of waiting. And when they came out, they would have to come out guns blazing, blind. One of the biggest risks was that they would start firing at their own people if somehow Yssenn wasn’t where Fiona was betting where he would be.

    Tick. Tick. Tick.

    And then, before Fiona thought nearly enough time had passed, they came out of hyperspace and in the transparisteel of the bridge before her was the diorama of battle, already underway.

    “Launch fighter squadrons! Make for Attack Point Eta! Weapons free!” was rattled off.

    “Second Fleet Alpha, status update,” Fiona asked the comm officer she was standing next to. Her position had not been an idly chosen one. She needed to know what the state of the other half of the fleet was.

    It took ten seconds for the comm officer to report back. “Heavier than expected losses, Admiral.”

    Fiona closed her eyes. It was not the start she’d wanted.



    Dallard Auditorium, University of Kuat, Kuat

    “Good evening and welcome to the first and only Chancellor’s Debate, hosted by the Senatorial Commission on Debates. The rules of tonight’s debate have been agreed to in advance by both campaigns. Tonight’s debate will be moderated question and answer. Where possible, I will prompt both candidates to engage with each other directly. I have outlined starting questions for each of the six segments of tonight’s debate and will ask follow up questions where I feel it is appropriate. The audience has agreed to be quiet, except for right now when we welcome Senator Borelen Follam and Chancellor Kerry Trieste to the stage.”

    The auditorium applauded and cheered as the two candidates came to the stage. They smiled and shook hands.

    “Good luck,” Kerry said with a large grin. Though her eyes told Follam, You’re going to need it.

    “Same to you Chancellor,” Follam replied with his own pleasant appearance. His eyes said, Bring it on.

    The two settled into podiums. “By virtue of a coin toss, the first question is yours, Senator…”



    Aquila

    Yssenn had done exactly what Fiona wanted: he’d turned his forces to create a line and exposed himself to the rear assault that should be hitting in…ten minutes. The problem was that his picket ships were absolutely destroying her capital ships. They were too small and nimble. Turbolasers were not picking them off accurately enough and the starfighters were having trouble getting in close enough. Yssenn was throwing up a wall of shielding fire that was hard to penetrate.

    The good news was that the interdictors weren’t coming under fire. As long as they were up and running Yssenn couldn’t run and that meant Fiona had the advantage. Yssenn’s forces had probed her line near the interdictors but the Republicans had held firm, causing the pirates to pull back. Fiona knew it was only a matter of time before he made a push there. It was coming and she wondered how long it would be before he made it. If Fourth Fleet Alpha arrived first then it would force Yssenn into an ill-timed assault he had to make out of necessity, it would be better than one that he wanted to make.

    Right now, the question was who was going to be left alive when Fourth Fleet Alpha got here.



    Kuat

    “Chancellor, your entire career has been built on typical tax and spend policies that were never right for the Republic.”

    “Senator, that’s just not true—” Kerry started.

    “Yes it is. Don’t deny your record.”

    “My record? I moved Bakura from deficit to surplus and used the savings to retire our planetary debt. We weathered the Outer Rim recession as well as any other planet in the Republic, if not better than any of them,” Kerry returned.

    “And your tax happy ways are how you want to pay for the RED Bill boondoggle you rammed through the Senate in blatant cronyism. It’s drained the Republican budget.”

    “The RED Bill has bolstered the economies of the Outer Rim and insulated them from further backsliding into recession,” Kerry shot back, warming to the task, “It’s made the Republic stronger and more prosperous. Those aren’t my words, they’re the findings of the nonpartisan Senatorial Budget Office who said that economic growth fueled the majority of the increase in tax revenue in the last five years, not tax increases. So get your facts straight Senator because the Republic doesn’t need a Chancellor who lies, it needs one who leads.”

    The “ooooooh” in the audience was audible. It was the first major body blow of the debate, and it suddenly turned what had promised to be a respectable policy debate into a cage fight.



    Aquila

    “…two, one, mark!” the XO shouted over the din of battle.

    But nothing happened. Fiona waited before shouting, “Where the frak—”

    And then Fourth Fleet Alpha jumped in to start pounding the pirates from the rear.

    “There they are!” Fiona hollered.

    This plan just might work.



    Kuat

    “And we’ve made significant, undeniable strides to make the galaxy a safer place in my Chancellery,” Kerry said, in response to a question from the moderator.

    “Forgive me, but that’s simply not true,” Follam said, “Look at where we are now. Pirates hitting our borders with impunity. Hutts massing war fleets. This isn’t safe: these are conditions that broke up the GFFA.” He looked into the holocameras to reach the home audiences. “Look around: Chancellor Trieste has led us to the brink of collapse. We need to act now before we find the very fabric of the Republic crumbling before us all because Kerry Trieste led us into a war we couldn’t win.”

    “How dare you,” Kerry said. She didn’t shout, but her voice carried more than enough emotion. “How dare you. At this very moment—” this to the holocameras, “—the Second and Fourth Republican Fleets are engaged in a massive battle with the pirate forces of Coronad Yssenn. As I stand here, beings of every species are putting their lives on the line for every one of us, for the protection of our liberties, our prosperity. The outcome of this battle could reverberate far beyond this election, the next five years, or even our lifetime.

    “And Senator Follam doesn’t believe that they can win. My fellow Republicans, I called upon our armed forces to defend us against a clear and present danger to our collective security. They have answered that call. And I believe in them. I will never stop believing in them. Senator, I don’t play politics with the lives of our soldiers and they don’t deserve a Chancellor who would.”

    Kerry’s eyes had hardened into a steely gaze. Somebody had brought a blaster to a vibroblade fight.



    Aquila

    “Where’s Beta?” Fiona grumbled. Unlike Fourth Fleet Alpha, Fourth Fleet Beta had failed to materialize. And they were now going on plus ten minutes of when they should have arrived. “Where the frak are they?”



    Kuat

    “That concludes our debate. I’d like to thank the participants and the University of Kuat for hosting. Thank you, and good evening.”

    Kerry crossed and shook hands with Follam. Both of them had smiles on their faces that neither of them felt. “Well done,” Kerry said.

    “Same to you,” Follam said.

    But their eyes were all hate for each other.

    As soon as Kerry was off stage she found Saldor. “What updates from Fiona?”

    “The fourth stage of the attack was late,” the Ithorian said.

    “And?” Kerry asked.

    “They did not deliver a knockout to Yssenn. They have them pinned in system and interdictors are holding. But it is going to take a second day of fighting. Yssenn has gone into a defensive shell,” Kann replied.

    “Frak me,” Kerry said, “Let’s get to the shuttle. I’ll sleep on the way back to Coruscant.” Maybe by then she’d have some good news from Fiona. Though she’d beaten on Follam all debate long, it would all be undone if Fiona didn’t win.
  14. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Druckenwell, RTO

    “I swear to you on the graves of my forebearers that the RTO had nothing to do with the assassination of Kolra, an esteemed member of the Grand Council,” Chairwoman Kaitlyn Vehn reiterated for what she felt was the thousandth time.

    The five holograms of the Hutt Grand Council shimmered on her desk, each slug a mere fraction of their real size. Even still, as Kaitlyn stared at their miniature versions, she couldn’t help but feel their overwhelming weight pressed against her chest, threatening to break her resolve. Her words had meant nothing to them. They sought revenge. It didn’t matter if an innocent party was used to satisfy that desire.

    “If what you speak is true then prove it to us,” one of the Hutts said.

    “You will simply have to take my word,” Kaitlyn responded.

    “Your word is not good enough, Vehn. Not anymore. Not after what you have done,” the Hutt pressed.

    “You do not want to start a fight with us,” Kaitlyn said.

    “You should have thought about that before sending your special forces to Nal Hutta to take Kolra out. We know the RTO was behind the attack.”

    “What makes you so sure?” Kaitlyn inquired.

    “Our investigation has turned up evidence that suggests the attackers were using Blastech H-8k’s, the latest rifle issued by the corporation. The only government in the galaxy that uses a weapon like that is yours. We know the RTO has a long and prolific history with Blastech. Twenty years of instilling terror in the hearts of our people,” the first Hutt said.

    “For the last time, we did not authorize the attack,” Kaitlyn stammered, reeling now from this evidence. Whoever had pulled off this job was good. Made it look as if the RTO was directly responsible. Those weapons were only handed out to elite units of the RTO military. The Fifth Druckenwell came to mind, the veteran unit that had fought on Lannik five years earlier.

    “Then who did?”

    “Our intelligence reports indicate that the man responsible for the death of Kolra is none other than Alexander Speyburn. Sending you the file now, that is, if you trust me,” Kaitlyn said.

    The Hutts flinched in fear. Even Kaitlyn had to admit that saying the man’s name had brought a nasty taste to her mouth. The bogeyman was no longer hiding in the shadows. The bogeyman was real. And unfortunately the bogeyman had once been a member of the Board of Tribunes.

    “We shall have a look at this information,” the Hutt responded.

    Alexander Speyburn had been the tribune from the planet of Rothana up until six months ago when he abruptly resigned and disappeared from public life. A staunch militarist, Speyburn had plenty of access to the shipyards of Rothana, amongst other military avenues, during his nearly eighteen year tenure with the RTO’s governing body, a fact that did not fail to come to Kaitlyn’s attention as she read over his dossier. It was suggested that Speyburn would’ve made an excellent candidate for the job of Chairman of the RTO in the event that the Vehn family relinquished control.

    The Ypres family and Speyburn had been close allies during their time influencing the policies of the RTO. They had seen eye to eye on the Lannik conflict. They had even supported Liam Vehn’s desire to centralize the economic union, a policy slowly coming to fruition, despite the grumblings of the member worlds who enjoyed their semi-autonomous existence.

    Speyburn had vision. A vision for the RTO to become as powerful as the Republic. That was something that Kaitlyn Vehn desperately hoped to avoid. Their last meeting together, before his abrupt resignation, had been heated, full of words that should never have been said. Dissolving their friendship had left a nasty taste in Kaitlyn’s mouth. One she could never fully wash out.

    Now Speyburn was public enemy number one.

    “Your intel appears solid, Vehn. Perhaps, for now, we can avoid any unpleasant entanglements with one another,” the Hutt said after a pregnant silence.

    “We will be keeping our fleet on active alert to protect our mutual border. End transmission,” the Hutt stated as the holograms winked out of existence.

    Kaitlyn breathed a sigh of relief. Their alliance, for now, would hold.

    Her datapad vibrated. A message had arrived. What she read made her collapse into her office chair.

    The fields of Roon were burning. The few ships of the RTO Navy in orbit were doing all they could to hold the line against a vastly superior enemy force while the population began a slow and arduous evacuation.

    Hand shaking, Kaitlyn picked up her datapad and contacted Silver Station, the headquarters of the RTO military.

    “By using this line, Chairwoman, does that mean you intend to—“ the voice asked on the other end of the conversation.

    “It means we’re at war,” Kaitlyn choked out.
  15. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Tesserone, Roon

    The ground shook violently as swaths of turbolaser fire rained down on the city of Nime. The skies were awash in a fiery glow and the thick, choking, smoke of burning fields rolled through mountain passes and across the beautiful farmland of the countryside. Higher up in the atmosphere, pieces of ship debris scorched their way to burnt earth, the shattered remnants of a meager defense force.

    “Verity, we must go,” Oisin urged.

    Verity Vehn looked up to the hellish sky in disbelief. Her eyes fell back to the Vehn family home of Tesserone. She had been born in that house, had wanted to die in that house and now she was being forced to leave by the brutal and savage attack of a cold and calculating enemy. Rage swelled up inside of her, uncontrollable rage. Clenching her fists, she collapsed to the ground and pounded her fists into the dirt. Dirt that she had poured her blood, sweat, and tears into for years on end.

    “I won’t let them have it!” She screamed.

    “I won’t let them take my home away from me!”

    “I know,” Oisin said, squeezing Verity tightly. “We will come back to our home, I promise.”

    “Go without me, I’m not leaving Tesserone!” She cried out, spinning away from her husband’s embrace.

    “Verity, your children need their mother. I need my wife. We cannot delay any longer!” Oisin shouted as the sounds of the bombardment grew louder.

    Oisin gently pulled Verity to her feet and steered her toward the waiting shuttle. She fought against him at first then bowed to his will. She knew that he was right. Knew that there was little that anyone could do to save the Vehn home, but leaving it for the enemy, whoever they were, seemed wrong, so wrong. Struggling up the loading ramp, Verity took one last look at the home that was her life’s pride and joy.

    “They may have started this war,” Verity seethed, “but I’m going to finish it!”

    The sharp whine of the engines nearly drowned out the death and destruction that came from the orbiting fleet. Verity held May and Austin tight, tears continuing to flow down her face as Oisin piloted the shuttle away from the burning surface of Roon. Within minutes, the small shuttle craft broke through the atmosphere, dodging the scorched hulks of ships, and entered hyperspace.

    “How do we survive this?” Verity asked as she slipped away from her teenage children.

    “Together,” Oisin said grimly, “one day at a time.”




    Theed, Naboo

    “My lady, with all due respect, we have no military force capable of taking on the enemy,” protested Eleanor Vehn’s Captain of the Palace Guard, Sinn Asprey.

    “And what would you have me do? Sit here while Roon burns!” Eleanor shot back.

    “Let Druckenwell take the lead on this operation,” Asprey suggested.

    “Druckenwell is one stone’s throw away from falling into enemy hands! If they are lost, there is very little that will remain of this economic union that I have sworn my allegiance,” Eleanor said.

    Asprey sighed, collected his thoughts, and said, “Perhaps Naboo chose poorly when it ignored its traditional relationship with the Republic.”

    “The Republic has its own fair share of problems, Captain,” Eleanor said.

    “And so do we,” Asprey replied.

    “Do whatever you have to do in order to bolster the ranks of the RSF. I want us to be prepared for anything, including the possibility of an invasion,” Eleanor said.

    “Your people are not warriors, my lady,” Asprey gently reminded his queen. “We cannot hope to win a prolonged fight against the enemy.”

    “But we have a proud tradition of fighting well even when the odds are stacked against us. I will not let the RTO fall. Not on my watch,” Eleanor said.

    “You do not rule the RTO, my lady. You rule Naboo. And Naboo can only do so much,” Asprey said.

    Eleanor closed her eyes, whispered, “I know.”




    Wild Space

    “Leritor has just left the RTO and signed with us. Also, you will be pleased to note that Roon has been occupied. Unfortunately, the Vehn family got away,” an aide informed Alexander Speyburn as he leaned against a holographic map of the galaxy.

    [IMG]

    Speyburn did not respond. He stared at the map, watched as his ships advanced into RTO territory. His attention turned away from Roon, focused in on Hutt space. The Hutts had mobilized their fleet. It was a substantial navy, one bred for war with the RTO and quite possibly, the Republic. But the Grand Council had kept the fleet close to the proverbial vest. They wanted to protect Nal Hutta from him and that sent one very clear signal to Speyburn.

    They were afraid.

    He knew a thing or two about the slugs. He knew that they would never rise to the challenge of upholding their end of the alliance with the RTO. At the time, the alliance had seemed like a shrewd political move, one to shore up the plethora of torn families and mixed emotions about the botched operation on Lannik. But as time went on, it had become increasingly clear to Speyburn that the RTO alliance with the Hutts was merely a formalized cease fire.

    Nar Shaddaa was still under the purview of the RTO, much to the annoyance of the Hutts. To add insult to injury, the economic union had illegally opened up a high speed transporation network that skirted Hutt Space bound for the independent systems of the northern quadrant. The Hutts, ever eager to make money, balked at this trade lane, what was known as the Varyndor Way. Skirmishes had resulted between the Hutts and the RTO, nothing more than bloody noses and bruised egos. But still both sides refused to truly trust one another. Decades of hate still lingered between the two cultures, stemming from the Hutt-Almanian conflict of nearly 70 years earlier.

    Speyburn couldn’t help but smile. His plan to divide the RTO from its friends was slowly coming to fruition. The Hutts were isolated, viewed as pariahs by the Republic and the independent systems. The RTO had just received a significant blow to the gut with the loss of Roon and Naboo, led by the young Eleanor Vehn, was hopelessly incapable of mounting any serious resistance.

    And there the blow would fall next. Remove the brightest star from the galaxy and the entire family would collapse like a house of cards.
    Last edited by Liam_Vehn, Dec 16, 2012
    jcgoble3 likes this.
  16. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Aquila, Republican Fleet
    Unknown Regions

    Fiona had forced herself to get some sleep. The temptation to inject some stims had been strong, but the truth was that Yssenn had been forced to withdraw from battle and pull back out of weariness. Unlike the Republican Fleet, he was not prepared for a protracted battle and had no supplies. The truth was that Fiona could have gone for the jugular, but the interdictors gave her the luxury of knowing her enemy wasn't going anywhere. Yssenn had yet to try for them and she knew it was only a matter of time before he did. He'd have to today.

    The Admiral rubbed her eyes. If she was feeling the strain, so too was the rest of the fleet. They'd run rest shifts to try to get some sleep for the crews while still being on alert for a move from Yssenn who probably didn't have such luxury. There it was again--an advantage she wasn't pressing. But the truth was that Fiona respected Yssenn too much to try to go for him with something short of everything she had. If she'd pressed the attack yesterday that's what she would have gotten out of the fleet. So she'd held to give them rest. There was no way that this wouldn't be resolved today. Yssenn would break her lines or she would break him. That was the only way this would go down. And with Yssenn's posture, she didn't see how she could beat him without continuing to take massive losses. That meant she had force Yssenn out of position. She'd tried hammering him with attacks and she hadn't budged him. That meant that she was going to have to entice him out. And there was only one thing that Fiona had that she could tempt him with.

    The interdictors.

    It was the all-or-nothing gamble of a go for broke bet. Fiona had unveiled her plan this morning to her commanders. She had seen the worry in their eyes through the holoprojectors. And she'd looked them all in the eyes in turn to use her own force of will to get them to buy in.

    "Sometimes you have to roll the hard six," Fiona told them.

    And so, Brevet Admiral Fiona Westenra rolled the dice.



    En route from Nar Shaddaa to Bakura

    The fact that they had just left a war zone was a sober reminder to Sierra Westenra of where her mother was at this moment. She'd seen the Holonet reports that there was some major battle going on that her mom was presiding over. The Department of Defense wasn't saying what was happening in it. Nobody knew. She could only assume her mother was still alive. But they were saying the battle was entering its second day. If her mom hadn't won by now.

    "What did we learn from this, Sierra?" Regan asked her niece.

    It snapped Sierra back to the present. They were returning from the Smugglers-Miners game, which had been an utter rout by the Smugglers. Curiously, Regan had been the sole representative of the Trieste family. Verity Vehn and Oisin Trieste and their family were conspicuously absent. It was unusual for them to miss a Smugglers game, let alone a Black & Blue Battle. Regan didn't want to say anything, but something didn't feel right. She had chalked it up to the others that it was likely just the Hutt war fleet. But she knew that Atticus guessed she felt differently. He'd discuss it with him in private...and she'd alert Kerry to her concerns that something was amiss.

    "I don't know," Sierra said. She didn't want to engage in these lessons that Regan felt the need to teach. Her mother thought Regan had something to teach Sierra. All Regan seemed to know how to teach was boring axioms. Typical lawyer.

    "That an enemy with nothing to lose is the most dangerous enemy," Regan said.

    "So?" Sierra grumbled.

    "So the lesson is you need to understand why others fight and what motivates them or you'll underestimate what they're capable of," Regan said, "And people with something lack the hunger of those who have nothing."

    "What's the point of all this?" Sierra asked, getting a little snippy.

    "The point is that our lives don't stop because of the galactic events. They go on," Regan said, "Your mother might be in the middle of a war right now, but you have to keep on going."

    "It's a stupid Limmie game and a silly saying. That's not life."

    "Then think about what's not stupid and do that," Regan said, "That'll give you an idea of what you want to do with your life. We have a luxury in this family. We get to do what we want, not what we have to do to survive. We are provided for by our Taoiseach." Assuming you don't get too much on her bad side, as Regan had once done. "It is a gift. Consider what you want in this galaxy because it can be yours for the taking."

    Right now, Sierra just wanted her mother home safe.



    Chancellor's office, Coruscant

    The pending election meant that certain Senators who felt the Chancellor favorable to their cause had pushed through pet legislation through the Senate to get it signed now, just in case the Chancellor didn't win. That had required Kerry's attention back in the galactic capital, time she could have spent campaigning. It was an annoyance to know that Follam was out there spreading his message and she was here. To ignore the Senate was a dangerous game. Unhappy Senators could poison their constituencies against her or complain that she "wasn't doing her job". And if she did win, relationships important to her next Chancellery could be jeopardized.

    It was in the middle of one such legislative review that Kerry was interrupted by Saldor Kann. "Flash message from the combined Second and Fourth Fleets." He handed a flimsi over to Kerry, who rose to receive it.

    She read it once, and then read it again. Then she looked at the clock. The Senate was out of session for the night. "Tell the Holonet I need time now. Interrupt whatever they have. And get me a speechwriter."

    "I'll send them in."

    "No," Kerry said sharply, "Just get me one. This information can't leave this room until I give it."

    The Ithorian left but Kerry had withheld one more instruction. That one she would carry out herself. She opened a drawer of her desk, took out a tumbler and bottle, poured herself a double.
  17. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Chancellor’s offices, Coruscant

    Kerry Trieste on live Holonet feed walked down the columned hall that constituted one of the most impressive looking spaces in the offices designated for the Chancellor’s use. The historically strong Senate had not allocated too impressive a building for the Republic’s executive, but they’d given her this hall. Tonight it would have to make do.

    The Supreme Chancellor arrived at the podium that had been hastily set up for her use. A holographic teleprompter had been set up just below the camera. Unlike most of her major addresses, she hadn’t had time to run it through her head several times and the prompter was very necessary. This was one that she couldn’t screw up.

    “My fellow citizens, hello. I apologize for this interruption of your usual routines, but it is my duty to present to the Republic and the galaxy news recently received by my office. Some time ago, I dispatched the Second and Fourth Fleets under a unified command to the Unknown Regions to address attacks made upon our citizens and territory by one Coronad Yssenn. I instructed our military commanders to do whatever is necessary to rid the galaxy of this threat.

    “As many of you are aware, two days ago these forces engaged Yssenn’s flotilla in a massive naval battle deemed the Republic’s best chance at crushing Yssenn and securing the peace that had formerly lain upon the Republic. This battle took place over the span of the last two days and in it the bravery of our servicebeings was gravely tested. Less than an hour ago I received word of the result of this battle, confirmed by multiple sources.

    “Coronad Yssenn is dead and his armada has been smashed.

    “Fleet commanders have confirmed that 80% of Yssenn’s ships have been destroyed and that the vast majority of the remainder have surrendered themselves to Republican forces and are currently being detained until they can be properly committed to Republican courts. Yssenn’s body has been recovered from his flagship and confirmed to be dead by multiple opinions. At this time, it is the preliminary assessment of the Department of Defense and Republican High Command that Yssenn’s flotilla poses no further threat to the security of the Republic.”

    Kerry took a breath as she finally got to say those words, but hopefully not one that could be seen on the broadcast. Especially because of what was coming.

    “But this victory has come with a heavy price. Preliminary estimates from High Command is that the equivalent of one fleet was lost between the Second and Fourth Fleets. In the coming days we will evaluate the strength of the Fleet and make transfers as appropriate to ensure the security of the Republic and rebuild our forces. But at this moment, our hearts are heavy knowing that tens of thousands gave everything they had to secure our liberty and prosperity. It is little consolation to the families they leave behind, but tonight I offer the thanks of a grateful Republic. Tonight, our joy is tempered by the ultimate sacrifice that was made.

    “But we may take heart that when evil threatened, good beings took a stand to defend what they believed in, to defend their homes and their families. They died with the knowledge that their cause was just and the victory that they secured is only because they were confident that the Republic was worth fighting for. May we be inspired by their faith and may the Republic continue to be guided by the Force.”

    With that the holoprojector turned off and Kerry stepped away from the podium. She turned to go back to her office, but stopped. The media crew was applauding—not her she realized as she turned back around—but they were congratulating each other as Republicans. They were smiling, clapping each other on the back. They had risen to the challenge as a society and won.

    Kerry returned to her office, and thought about that all the way. They hadn’t won. She hadn’t won. It was the beings on the front lines who had won. This victory was nobody’s but theirs. Saldor Kann was waiting by the door to her office.

    “Congratulations, Chancellor,” he said.

    “Saldor, cancel all remaining campaign events and get me flimsi and ink,” Kerry said, “Beings died today. Their families deserve more, but if I can only give them words on a page, it will be in my hand.”

    “Initial estimates number in the tens of thousands,” Saldor said, his eyes going wide.

    “Then I had better get started,” Kerry replied.

    It had been a hell of a speech to give five days before the general election. She hoped it would be the last thing she needed to win it. And if it wasn’t, she was going to go down the right way.



    Aquila, Republican Fleet
    Unknown Regions

    Fiona Westenra looked around the command center. It was a wreck. Consoles were burnt out, the central projections flickered, some panels were hanging off the wall, if not completely off them. This was one of the things she’d had to hazard to get Yssenn—the Aquila itself.

    She’d assumed Yssenn would need to make a run and to do that he’d need to do two things: break her line and take out the interdictors. Fiona had decided to enable that and do so on her terms. In the break between battle, she’d maneuvered the interdictors behind the wreckage of destroyed capital ships, which she had repositioned to shield them from Yssenn’s assault. It allowed her to reinforce her line elsewhere, but it presented Yssenn with an opportunity that Fiona had bet he wouldn’t pass up: accomplish both objectives at once. If he dedicated the bulk of his force to punching through the line at the interdictors, he would have the best shot of victory. With his smaller picket ships, he could maneuver the space debris and keep Fiona’s larger capital ships from following him.

    What Yssenn only found out when he accepted Fiona’s invitation was that the wrecked capital ships were operational. With shielding to either side to protect their flanks, Yssenn’s ships were utterly annihilated by the unexpected onslaught. He’d drawn his force out to make one run for it and it had cost him, dearly.

    But the pirates hadn’t gone down without a fight. Fiona’ s ships had been highly exposed in the maneuver and she’d lost them. A lot of them. In fact, it was in sheer numbers the most she’d ever lost in one engagement in her career. An entire fleet. But she’d won. She’d won.

    A door slid open and Fiona instinctively looked up. Captain Dawn Solo entered in a battered, scuffed, even slightly burnt flight suit. The battle had clearly not been easy on her. The former fighter pilot looked Solo, the woman who’d found Yssenn and made this possible, in the eyes from across the room. She didn’t have to speak a word to ask the question.

    Solo shook her head.

    Fiona, despite the fatigue, drew herself up and gave the sharpest salute she knew to the Captain. Solo returned it and their eyes stayed locked.

    Beings had died today under their commands.
  18. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Druckenwell, RTO

    “Roon has fallen. Leritor has joined Speyburn. Our fleet is wounded. The situation is not ideal,” General Gryffin Rokom, former commander of the Fifth Druckenwell during the Lannik conflict, stated during an emergency meeting of the Board of Tribunes.

    “Any ideas on where Speyburn’s next blow will fall?” Kaitlyn Vehn inquired as she patrolled around the conference table.
    Rokom knew that he had to give an answer when in all reality he had no idea where Speyburn’s forces would attack next. “Could be Naboo, could be Ryloth, maybe even straight for the heart, Druckenwell. Our defense networks are operating at full capacity, we can ask little more of the defense fleet. They were hit pretty hard at Roon.”

    “I know,” Kaitlyn replied. “But we must make a stand.”

    “How can we make a stand when all of the military power is being sent to Druckenwell!” complained the Tribune from Enarc.

    “You are leaving other systems, arguably more important systems, vulnerable to attack!” protested the Tribune from Geonosis.

    “When last I checked the member worlds of the RTO were legally bound to answer the call of the Chairman in case of an emergency. We are in an emergency. We are at war,” Kaitlyn responded.

    The criticism fell away. The tribunes knew that they had to tow the line when it came to dealing with the Vehn family. One false step and they were out and on their own, defenseless and weak.

    “I know that losing Roon has hurt morale. I know that handing Speyburn the keys to the capital of Nime could prove costly. But I firmly believe that we must be wise in the battles we fight, if we are to win this war,” Kaitlyn said.

    “And where would you have us fight?” Rokom asked.

    Kaitlyn turned her attention to the holographic map of the galaxy that spread out across the reflective black surface of the conference table. Speyburn’s advance was methodical, calculated, and deadly. At his current rate, his forces would be knocking on Druckenwell’s door before the week was out. That was unacceptable. They had to be stopped. They had to be turned back.

    “Here,” Kaitlyn said jabbing a finger into the holographic display, warbling its feed.

    “Ord Pardron,” Rokom said.

    “Temperate planet, directly in the line of his advance, and easily resupplied,” Kaitlyn pointed out.

    “The Fifth Druckenwell Division is ready to be deployed. The Seventh Roon and the Fourth Nar Shaddaa have recently arrived and can join them as well. Together, these three armies make up the II Corps. We may only get one shot at keeping Speyburn’s ground forces tied down. His navy, on the other hand,” Rokom paused, looked at the map, “that is a different problem.”

    “Any word from Eleanor?” Kaitlyn inquired.

    “She is readying her defense forces as we speak,” Rokom replied.

    “And what of the Hutts? Will they honor their alliance?” Kaitlyn said turning now to RTO Chief Diplomat Nas Apollon.

    Apollon grimaced and replied, “I wish I could say that they will. I am afraid that they are sitting this conflict out.”

    Kaitlyn punched the conference table in frustration. Everyone seated jumped, eyes widened, shock on their faces. “Frak!”

    “There is one option remaining,” Apollon suggested.

    “And what might that be?”

    “Call upon the Republic. Ask them for help in fighting Speyburn. They have the largest military in the galaxy. They would help us win this fight in no time,” Apollon suggested.

    Kaitlyn looked at the holographic map. The idea had occurred to her. But the Republic was in an election year and it would do no good to have Trieste get involved now. She had just won a convincing victory over the pirate group led by Coronad Ysenn. That was no small feat. But an unstable neighbor was cause for concern. The Vehn family had tried for years to tame their small slice of the galaxy and for much of the two decades of RTO existence, that had worked. Relying on the Triestes could no longer be the crutch that the family could use in times of need. War had been declared on them and though they did not start the fight, they would see it through to its rightful conclusion. No, for now, the Republic could not get involved, even if Druckenwell and all of her skyscrapers burned to the ground.

    “I cannot turn to the Republic. Not now,” Kaitlyn said.

    “We make our stand at Ord Pardron. Send the II Corps and a good portion of the fleet. It’s time we brought the fight to Speyburn,” Kaitlyn ordered.

    “As you wish,” Rokom replied.

    Kaitlyn nodded and dismissed the tribunes. She made her way to a balcony overlooking the enormous assembly area for the RTO military. Transport ships rested heavily on their skids as soldiers marched up the ramps toward their cramped bunks. She dropped her head to her chest. She felt as if the problems of the entire galaxy rested on her shoulders. It was nearly too much to bear. And now she had steered the economic union on a path to war.

    There could be no turning back now.
  19. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Captison Memorial Hall, Salis D’aar, Bakura

    “Gentlebeings, the Republican Election Commission has officially closed voting in the 271 Chancellery Election,” came the word on the Holonet, “As a result, Holonet News is now allowed to project based on exit polling and real-time data provided by the REC that Supreme Chancellor Kerry Trieste will receive 53% of the vote across the Republic and she will return to the Senate as Chancellor.”

    Inside the Captison Memorial Hall, the largest indoor convention space on the planet, Trieste supporters exploded in celebration as they saw the feed.

    “For the first time since the founding of the third Republic, a candidate has secured more than 50% of the vote in the General Election and we will not experience a run off. This was expected due to the fact that only two heavyweight candidates entered the fray. Trieste, who was expected to have a large advantage going into the contest, found herself assailed by Senator Follam on her domestic and foreign policy. Exit polling data indicates that the recent victory against Coronad Yssenn in the Unknown Regions was a primary motivating factor in many Trieste votes. Follam, whose campaign seemed defeated by current events and Trieste’s ability to turn his own narrative against him, secured 40% of the vote, a normally significant amount for a General Election. The remaining 7% was split among minor candidates.

    “As you can see, Trieste supporters have gathered on her homeworld of Bakura, where the Chancellor voted early this morning before returning to her family’s Salis D’aar residence. Trieste suspended her campaign after the announcement of Yssenn’s defeat and has not made public appearances. Only today, in the late hours of voting, did we learn that the Chancellor has been hand writing condolence letters to servicebeings who died fighting Yssenn and only reluctantly did officials from the Chancellor’s office confirm the report.

    “With this election, Trieste now joins the first and second Chancellors of the Republic, Rookorra and Kattan, as the only two-term Chancellors of the third Republic and cementing her status as one of the great political figures of our era. Trieste has now won an astounding six executive elections in under 20 years when her four terms as Prime Minister of Bakura are considered.

    “We have now received word that Trieste has received a congratulatory holoconference from Senator Follam and will shortly be leaving for Captison Hall. In the mean time, we are told that Senator Follam will address his supporters and deliver a concession speech. Until then, let’s go to the Galaxy’s Greatest Political News Team for some analysis on this election…”



    “And we have been told that Chancellor Trieste is about to take the stage at Captison Hall, so we go live there now,” the Holonet anchor said.

    “Gentlebeings, the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic,” was the announcement inside the convention hall.

    Kerry stepped out onto the stage alone with a wave as the faithful roared for their candidate. Trieste crossed the stage and arrived at a podium not unlike the one at which she had addressed the Republic days ago. It was with great difficulty that she was able to quiet the crowd, many of whom were waving flags of the Republic.

    “My fellow Republicans, every five years it is our privilege and duty to have a conversation about the direction in which our Republic is headed. Over the last several months, Senator Follam and I have had that conversation with you in every planet across the Republic. And now, we draw to the close of the conversation. It does not mean that our work is done. It means that it is time for action.”

    The hall cheered.

    “I did not earn every vote tonight. I respect the difference of opinion that I have with billions of beings in this galaxy. I understand that in the last five years I did not earn your vote. Perhaps I never could and never will. But this election is over. It is time for us to move forward with the hard work that the Republic demands. Our brave beings have defended the Republic, but at great cost. We must rebuild our defenses so we are ready to meet the challenges of a new dawn. Even now, forces of anger are on the march in the Outer Rim. The Republic has shown that it will not tolerate those who would threaten our tranquility and prosperity. We have defended it once and we shall always meet the challenge!”

    The beings in the hall rose to their feet in applause.

    “Over the next five years I will do what I feel is right. You know my values and you endorsed them when you voted for me. I will not abandon my principles now, not at this late hour when we have so much yet to do to make this a more perfect union. Whether you voted for me or not, I pledge to continue to uphold the oath I took as Chancellor, to defend and preserve our fair Republic.

    “Tonight is not a night of celebration because one candidate won and another did not. Tonight is a night where we, as a society and a union, acknowledge that we are bigger than elections. We are Republicans and now we come together to do what needs to be done to secure the future for ourselves and for those who will follow us. Thank you and may our Maker keep and bless the Republic.”

    “A very untriumphant tone set by the Chancellor tonight on her reelection as we see her joined by her son and daughter, Declan and Falene,” the Holonet anchor narrated as Trieste stepped away from the podium and waved, “In this victory speech we heard a reference to the current warfare raging in the RTO that appears to be tearing that confederation apart. Many have speculated whether Trieste will intervene, but thus far there has been no indication that she will do so. Trieste has been an ardent supporter of the guiding foreign policy principle of the Republic for over 50 years, the Kattan Doctrine, which states that the Republic does not intervene in exterior affairs unless its interests are directly threatened. Given the trade deal concluded under Trieste’s first Chancellery, some thought that we would see Republican action in support of the RTO, while others believe that fending off Yssenn effectively prevented her from being able to do so.

    “With an election now in the rear view mirror and an early inaugural, we can safely say that what Kerry Trieste does not will only be bounded by her own mind and desires and no one else’s.”
    jcgoble3 likes this.
  20. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Ord Pardron, RTO

    The earth trembled and shook violently in the early dawn light. Towers of mud and limbs flew high into the sky, twisting, twirling, before making their descent. Another explosion, another concussive shockwave, and still more men were dying on fields that only a few days ago had looked as green as any quality pasture in the galaxy. Now the countryside was a terrifying confusion of men, burnt out machines, and churned up crater filled earth. The countryside stank of decay and death as if a graveyard had suddenly expelled thousands of open caskets filled with those who had long been deceased.

    The young private shook in his boots, clutched his helmet tighter against his head, closed his eyes, tried to block out the roar of the artillery. Mud caked his uniform, slipped down the back of his neck, lathered across his face. With each explosion, he curled tighter and tighter into a ball hoping to disappear, hoping to leave behind this terrible nightmare that he found himself living. Another vicarious scream, another splash of something sticky, hot, red, dripping across his helmet, peppering his face and still he could not bring himself to open his eyes.

    “Get up, private!”

    “I can’t!” He weakly responded.

    The young soldier felt strong hands grasp the straps of his armor and hoist him to his feet. The stale java breath of his sergeant hit him hard. He wanted to run, to flee, to leave this hell behind. He felt more mud ooze down his back as he was thrown against the wall of his trench. He opened his eyes. He was in a trench in the middle of a warzone. Everything seemed amplified. The smells, the sounds, and the fear.

    “Ready your gear. We’re going to make our assault in a few minutes,” the sergeant ordered.

    The sergeant pulled away to check on the others in his unit. The young private rested his head against the slick walls of the trench, supported up to a certain height by wooden cross-braces. The wood dug into his back, made him squirm, made him uncomfortable, but as he watched the other men ready themselves for the attack, he couldn’t bring himself to do the same.

    The fighting had reached a terrible standstill. The Greens, as Speyburn’s forces were nicknamed by the RTO military due to their uniforms, had attacked hard during the night and seemed to be gaining ground. They had been stopped just short of the trenches. Just a few hundred yards away, so close he could hear their conversations.

    “Fix vibroblades!” The sergeant cried out.

    More pressure. More stress. His heart was pounding, his breathing was rapid, the fear was crawling up his spine. The young private struggled to put on the vibroblade that attached to the end of his rifle. “Frak!” He cursed as the vibroblade slipped off his fingers and fell into the muddy soup that sucked at his feet, slowing him down.

    “Steady, boy, steady,” one of the veterans next to him whispered.

    He found the vibroblade, shakily attached it to his rifle, looked down at his muddy hands, fought back another stab of fear. He would going over the top soon. Would be climbing up the ladders and flying beyond the trenches. The goal was always to kill the enemy. But getting there would be the hard part. He would have to be quick. He had done a lot of track and field in high school. Was light on his feet, knew that he could make it to their trenches ahead of his comrades. Nothing could stop him. Nothing.

    The artillery stopped. His ears were ringing. The world seemed muted, distant, detached. A distant command resonated now, the order to mount the ladders, to prepare for the charge. Gripping the slick wood, he rested against the ladder, waited for the whistle, waited for the moment to leap above the protection that the trench offered, to show the enemy that the RTO had come to fight. That he had come to fight.

    Blow the whistle, sithspit! The young man thought as he waited an eternity for the sound.

    He looked to his right. The veteran gave him a wink. “See you on the other side, kid.”

    Nodding weakly, the private closed his eyes, said a quick prayer, rested his helmet against the ladder, paused to catch his breath, to maintain his sanity, to focus on what needed to be done. The weight of his rifle was heavy on his arm. He wanted to lower it, to slip off the ladder, melt into the mud like so many had done these last few days when their makeshift abodes had collapsed on them burying them alive.

    The private opened his eyes, took one final look at the veteran next to him, who whispered, “You’ll be fine.”

    “Right,” the private said.

    The sharp whistle blew and with cries that went up and down the trench the men of the Fifth Druckenwell tore out of their protective barriers and headed over the top.

    The private crested the trench, slipped on the ladder, fell, narrowly avoided being sliced in two by a high power blaster bolt. He took a quick look to his left and right as hordes of men were cut down in the seconds following the whistle. He inched forward, knew he had to keep moving forward, that had been the order of the day. That was the only way to go now. There was no going back. He spotted the veteran, followed close behind, knew that he could protect him.

    The veteran ducked, zigged, zagged, made himself a hard target to shoot at as more men stumbled up over the pile of bodies that sizzled and crackled with every bolt that hit them. The private could see the enemy now. See the vague outlines of helmets, the flashes of tracer fire from the bunkers, the endless sea of craters. They were close. He would make it. He was going to make it.

    The veteran spun around, a sharp ping resounding off his helmet. Blood flowed down his face as he looked distantly at the young private before crumpling to the muddy earth. Horrified, the young private tripped over the man who had once been his protector and was now just another casualty in what was looking to be a futile attack. Scrambling to his feet, the private raced toward the enemy trenches. Knew that his speed would save him, knew that he would be the first one to make it to the enemy lines, victorious.

    The blaster bolts grew closer, zipped past his head, and still he pushed forward. Others were with him. He was so close, so very close. The shadowy outline of a blaster cannon appeared from the protective enclosure of a bunker. The gun swiveled left and right, sending out swaths of death. Still he advanced.

    The cannon turned towards him.

    The young man thought of the veteran’s last words, “You’ll be fine.”

    A brief flash of laser fire, then, eternal silence.
    Trieste likes this.
  21. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Twin Rivers Hotel, Salis D’aar, Bakura



    By coincidence, the General Election for the Chancellery concluded only a few days before the Noble House of Trieste’s Yuletide Ball, an annual winter tradition for the family. While Salis D’aar rarely got snow, it got plenty of rain and that was winter enough for the citizens of the capital city. Hundreds were invited to the gala, which was too large to be held even at the Kilmainham Brook estate in Prytis. As a result, the Noble House leased a ballroom at the Twin Rivers Hotel for the occasion.

    The Yuletide Ball was generally a politics-free zone, born out of the fact that the Triestes traditionally extended invitations to public servants from both sides of the aisle in the holiday spirit. However, with Kerry’s 13 point victory and historic General Election victory less than a week past it was hard for the party not to have a triumphant air to it. Every member of the Noble House was in attendance, “including the distant cousins,” as Regan observed to her husband.

    “One would think that when one reaches the pinnacle of the social world that one would be more civilized, but if anything the tribal instinct is so much stronger,” Atticus said to his wife.

    “We have so much more to defend that we know how to close ranks,” Ronan said with a smile as he approached the couple, “Atticus, Regan, lovely to see you.”

    “You would if you and Mandy would get out of the Dixie counties more often,” Regan said before giving her brother a peck on the cheek.

    “Nouvelle Orleans is a charming city, and business with Eden keeps me plenty busy there,” Ronan replied.

    “Mergers and acquisitions I’m sure,” Atticus said, “Corporate law was never my storng suit.”

    “I wouldn’t have married you as a corporate lawyer,” Regan said.

    “And here Mother said constitutional law would never get me anywhere,” Atticus said.

    “Well that’s another thing your mother was wrong about,” Regan quipped.

    “I don’t ever say anything like that about your mother,” Atticus parried.

    “Your mother can defend herself. Mine can’t,” Regan said. Jane Trieste had been dead nearly 20 years now.

    “Though I wouldn’t put it past her to haunt you from her grave through sheer force of personality,” Ronan said.

    “She was that much of a character?” Atticus said.

    “Good Maker, yes. You’ve seen the painting of her with the Wench haven’t you?” Ronan said, “At Kilmainham?”

    “I can’t say I have…”

    “I think our dear sister’s keeping it in the basement or storage or some such thing. Wouldn’t do for a Supreme Chancellor to openly trumpet her space pirate mother’s law-flaunting ways,” Regan said.

    “And who’s the wench?” Atticus said.

    “Not who. What. The Wicked Wench, her ship. Well, her first ship. That was when the painting was done. The Righteous Wench was the second,” Ronan said.

    “Wasn’t there a Red Wench?” Regan said.

    “If there was I think it got sanitized in the retelling for sake of Kerry,” Ronan said.

    “Keep that thought,” Atticus said, pausing them with a finger, “I see a client across the room and I’m sure as someone who actually has customers Ronan you’ll understand if I have to do a little business.”

    “But of course,” Ronan said graciously.

    “Only be a moment,” Atticus said, leaving the siblings alone.

    “You know you should come out to Nouvelle Orleans. It’s fantastic. The food, to die for,” Ronan said. He and Regan had always been close. She was only slightly older than he was and they’d been natural companions growing up.

    “Next thing you’ll be telling me your pop star wife actually eats it too,” Regan teased.

    “Mandy’s been quite retired for some time, as you well know,” Ronan said, “So yes she does.”

    “Wonders never cease,” Regan said with a smile.

    Ronan looked about the room. “You know, I do wish Kerry still had that painting hanging.”

    “Nostalgic?”

    “No…just worried. We knew who our mother had been, that she’d had a wild past. She might have left it behind to raise us and be a First Lady, but she’d still had it and never denied it.” Ronan sighed. “This generation, our kids, they could use knowing that.”

    “I’m sure they do,” Regan said.

    “No…I get a sense that they’re…entitled,” Ronan said, settling on the right word.

    “Oh please,” Regan laughed, “They called us ‘the Wonder Generation’. Masters of all we surveyed. Kerry in politics, Siona in diplomacy, Fiona in war, Conn in academics, me in law, you in finance, Oisin in his poetry. We were entitled if anybody was.”

    “It’s different now. My own kids, Antrose, Jane, and Enoch, they think that everything will come easily to them because it always has,” Ronan said.

    “Sounds like terrible parenting,” Regan kidded.

    Ronan glared. “I’m trying to be serious.”

    “You worry too much,” Regan replied.

    “I just look at Ginny—” he indicated to Siona’s eldest child, just an adult and slated to start next year at UBGC, “—and worry that my kids will turn out like that.”

    “And my point stands. Siona’s a terrible mother. Too indulgent. And she lives in Gesco City.” Regan made a face of disgust. “That’s the worst thing of all.”

    “It’s not a bad city,” Ronan said.

    “Doesn’t mean I’d raise my kids there,” Regan said.

    “And business is concluded,” Atticus said returning, “What were we talking about?”

    “The daring life of our dear mother,” Regan said, “You know, even after she married our dad she was actually still wanted in a large part of the galaxy. You know the story of his engagement present, don’t you?”



    “So this is a regular Yuletide for you?” Ayn asked, “The Noble House Yuletide Ball?”

    “Don’t you throw a ball every Yuletide in Cape Suzette?” Declan asked with mock seriousness.

    “My grandmother was only Deputy PM, not Prime Minister,” Ayn reminded Declan. Sabé Dormingale herself was not far off, speaking with old Senate colleagues. “We didn’t go in for this sort of thing.”

    “Glad you could make it for this one though,” Declan said, “You’re insulating me from the crowds of well wishers who want to squeeze my hand solely because my mother just got trillions of votes and has another five years as Chancellor.” He paused to take a drink. “Five more years. Force almighty.”

    “You don’t sound happy,” Ayn observed.

    “It’s just…I’m happy for her because she obviously wanted it, but I’d like to get my life started and not be the son of the Chancellor for a change,” Declan sighed.

    “Let’s focus on graduating before we worry about getting your life started,” Ayn said, patting him on the shoulder.

    “I won’t deny that—” Declan stopped and his eyes narrowed. “Who is that?” he asked.

    Ayn turned in the direction of Declan’s gaze. He was looking at someone shaking his mother’s hand. “Senator Silas Madsen. Don’t you know him? He’s been a political ally of your mother’s since the end of the War. Well, he was when she was PM. Don’t know if they still are now that she’s moved on to Coruscant.”

    “I know who Madsen is. I mean who is she?” Declan indicated with his chin.

    She was the young woman with Madsen. She was much too young to actually be with the Senator and their body language didn’t indicate that at all. There was something decidedly provincial about her, in Ayn’s opinion. She definitely wasn’t from Salis D’aar or any of the major cities. Perhaps a Dixie county, but that was it. Unlike other women at the ball, Ayn included, the brunette was not overly done. In fact, she stood out by the sheer lack of makeup compared to the other women.

    “I don’t know,” Ayn said, “Though now that I think of it, no one talks too much about Madsen outside of the Senate. His personal life is—”

    Ayn was interrupted by Declan leaving her to head over to the trio. Something about this didn’t feel right…

    “Senator,” Declan said, breaking into the throng, “It’s been too long since we last saw each other.”

    “Declan,” Madsen said, shaking Declan’s hand. In the last few years, Madsen’s voice had grown deep and gravelly, “I was just asking about you. Last year at UBSD coming up I hear?”

    “Indeed,” Kerry said with a beaming smile for her son, “Like his mother before him.”

    “And her father before her,” Silas replied, “And his father before him. Though, beyond that I’m not well acquainted with the family pedigree.”

    “The records have been spotty ever since the destruction, but we’ve had one member of the House there in one form or another in each generation,” Kerry said, “And yet the black sheep like my sister Regan still slip into Tiarest from time to time.”

    “Well you’ll be pleased to know that my Becca will be starting in the public school tradition next year as well,” Madsen said, turning to the brunette, “UBTV for her.”

    “Declan, you know Becca, don’t you?” Kerry said.

    “I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure,” Declan said, turning to the real object of his attention.

    “Declan Trieste, I present to you my daughter, Becca Durst. Adopted daughter,” Silas said, interjecting a preemptory explanation.

    “Pleased to meet you,” Becca said, extending her hand.

    Declan took it, but didn’t shake it. Instead, he lightly held her fingers and brought it to his mouth for a gentle kiss. “Enchanted.” Becca’s cheeks went scarlet. She almost looked like she wanted to hide behind Madsen.

    “I told you men down here were charmers, my dear,” Silas said with an amused smile, “Becca has lived in Blackbranch in Arcterra. She’s a bit more of a country girl than a city one and I travel back and forth as much as I can. It’s part of why she selected UBTV.”

    “That and it’s hard to argue against Pioneers Limmie these days. Back-to-back Bak10 champions,” Becca said, still blushing.

    “I don’t mean to knock your future alma mater, but you must allow me to educate you in the long and storied history of UB Salis D’aar Golden Bears Limmie,” Declan said, taking Becca by the hand and drawing her away.

    Some distance away, Ayn watched with displeasure. In fact she was just now realizing how hard her jaw was clenched.

    “I take it you haven’t confessed your feelings to young master Trieste?” her grandmother Sabé said. She had silently wandered over and watched the scene unfold. Ayn said nothing. “The daughter of Silas Madsen…who would have thought that she’d be the one to grab Declan Trieste?”

    Ayn continued in her silence. This could not stand. It would not stand. She wouldn’t let it.
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  22. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Outside the Galactic Senate, Coruscant



    “Gentlebeings, Supreme Chancellor-elect Kerry Trieste.”

    The giant crowds on Coruscant cheered and applauded as the Chancellor descended the grand steps of the Galactic Senate Building. Like in her first inaugural, today she would take the oath of office on these steps. There were no formal guidelines for where the inaugural was to take place. Past Chancellors had opted for the dais inside the Senate chamber. Kerry Trieste wanted the inaugural to belong to the citizens of the Republic and not their elected representatives and so she took it outside. There were security concerns, but it was nothing the Senatorial Guard hadn’t handled before.

    Kerry looked out upon the millions of beings that spread before her. Such a small fraction of just Coruscant’s population. But today they stood for the Republic, the Republic that she would soon address in her inaugural address.

    To either side of her on the steps were members of the Senate. There were too many to fit them all on the steps, so seats had been awarded by the Senatorial Select Committee on Ceremonies. That meant that there was a mix of Trieste’s allies and foes on the steps. It paid to smile at them all.

    At the foot of the steps by the podium were Declan and Falene, who had been in high school five years ago the first time around. Of course, Kerry had been a younger woman herself. She’d had vastly less gray hair in 266 for one thing. Declan had brought with him something, an item that rarely saw the light of suns and stars. It was kept in a vault deep within Empress Teta, with the Noble House’s most treasure artifacts and legal documents. To another it was perhaps nothing special, but to the Trieste family its worth was beyond measure.

    Declan stepped forward with the Trieste family Fulcrun. The sacred text of the Sacred Balance, Bakura’s homegrown and dominant religion, this Fulcrun dated to the Galactic Civil War. On it Niall Trieste I had founded the Noble House and had inscribed his name at the top of the inside cover in his short, rough handwriting. Below his, Fionn Cormac Trieste, the first—and for some time only—Prime Minister of Bakura from the Noble House, had affixed his flowing signature and date. So down the list: Amergin Trieste, Saraid Trieste, Niall Trieste II, Nevan Trieste, Lennon Trieste, Fionn Dunross Trieste.

    Finally, Kerry Wyvern Trieste, 252 ABY.

    Declan and Falene jointly held the Fulcrun and Kerry Trieste laid her left hand on its weather cover as she raised her right hand and faced the Chief Justice of the Republican Supreme Court.

    “I, Kerry Wyvern Trieste, do solemnly swear as Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic to advance and protect the Republic and all its citizens,” Kerry repeated.

    And with that, Kerry Trieste began her second Chancellery. She shook the hand of the Chief Justice and kissed her son and daughter. She then stepped up to the podium.

    “My fellow Republicans,” Kerry began, “today marks a natural occasion on which to reflect upon our achievements of the last five years. When we began this great undertaking, the Outer Rim struggled with economic depression, a depression that threatened to spread to every world of the Republic. I insisted that the Senate take action to address the root causes of this depression, to encourage industry and employment in the Outer Rim. They responded with passage of the Rim Economic Development Act, which has raised the standard of living in the Outer Rim and delivered not just short term gains, but a long term foundation for economic prosperity that will benefit not just the beings of the Outer Rim, but the Republic and the galaxy as a whole.

    “In much more recent memory, the Republic decisively defeated those who would threaten our liberty and prosperity. Our victory was not without cost and we continue to mourn those who gave all so that we could stand here today with our head held high,” Kerry declared, “Today, when we proclaim as one that we are Republicans, the entire galaxy knows that we stand for freedom and justice, that we will not back down from those who use fear and violence to intimidate the galaxy into submission. Today, we celebrate not one being, but the perpetuation of an institution that stands for what is good and best about every one of us.

    “Today I pledge to continue to uphold the values that I brought to this office five years ago and still stand for today. I shall not flag in my dedication to the defense of our Republic and will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to restore those forces that bore the brunt of our recent and tragic losses. I shall continue to pursue and support the economic development of all parts of the Republic for only in this way can we ensure that we pass on a brighter galaxy to those who shall come after us.

    “And let us make no mistake: though we have achieved victory against anarchy, the forces of anger still swirl about us. Though passions strain, we must trust that in the breasts of all beings stirs the knowledge that we are brother and sister in this great galaxy. May the better angels of our nature prevail both here and the Republic and elsewhere.

    “With malice towards none and charity towards all, I shall proceed in this great work we are in, to bind our wounds, to build a shining society that is a beacon of inspiration to all, and to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Republic and our galaxy. May our Maker keep and bless our Republic.”
  23. Vehn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 14, 2009
    star 4
    Theed, Naboo

    “What news from the front?” Eleanor asked as she sat on her throne surrounded by her military advisers.

    “Speyburn’s attack has been halted at Ord Pardron. The bulk of his ground forces are unable to penetrate our lines. Unfortunately, the ground campaign has grown stagnant and turned into trench warfare, neither side is able to gain an advantage and the RTO Navy is struggling to keep Speyburn’s fleets from advancing on Druckenwell,” Sinn Asprey, Captain of the Palace Guard, stated.

    “So while our armies are tied up at Ord Pardron, he seeks to flank us with his more powerful warships and strike at our heart,” Eleanor observed.

    “I am afraid so, my lady,” Asprey replied.

    Eleanor examined the holographic map of the RTO. The front lines were, for the most part, clearly delineated. The bulk of the RTO Navy was spread thin across a sizeable front ranging from Leritor in the northern quadrant to Zolan in the south. In some ways, it was a blessing that Naboo was closer to the Republic, made the planet less of a target. Eleanor knew that she could never drag the Republic into this war. No, this war was all or nothing. The burning of Roon had seen to that.

    “How many ships remain at Silver Station?” Eleanor inquired referring to the defense outpost in the Chommel Sector near the pastoral planet.

    “Only a handful, not enough to mount a defense of Naboo if we are attacked,” Asprey said.

    “Naboo is not where Speyburn is headed,” Eleanor said.

    “Forgive me, my lady, but Naboo is a prime target for this madman. All he has to do is say the word and this beautiful world will be burning,” Asprey said.

    “Naboo shall not burn while I am her sovereign,” Eleanor replied. “I want you to muster the remaining ships of the navy.”

    “My lady, Speyburn has the advantage in firepower and numbers. We cannot win a fight against them.”

    Eleanor’s lip curled up into a knowing smile. “Since when has that stopped us in the past? If you never take chances in life you will never know success or failure. Besides, there are still friends that we can trust.”

    “What friends, the Republic? They’re too busy hiding behind their Kattan Doctrine. They have no desire to be embroiled in our war and why should they? Kerry Trieste has won re-election, defeated the evil pirate Ysenn, and proclaimed a new era for the galaxy. All the while our people are dying, my lady, dying in greater numbers on Ord Pardron than anyone could’ve predicted.”

    “There is one alliance that still holds,” Eleanor said.

    Asprey’s face curled in disgust. “They chose their path, the cowards!”

    “I do not believe they are cowards. I believe that they fail to realize how much we need them and how much they need us.”




    Nal Hutta, Hutt Space

    “You present a powerful case, your majesty,” Diija the Hutt, a senior member of the Hutt Grand Council stated.

    “I believe you will find the terms to be quite generous,” Eleanor said.

    “They are generous indeed. The fact that you are physically here suggests that you are serious in your commitment,” Diija replied.

    “I would not ask such a request of you unless it was absolutely necessary,” Eleanor said.

    “I know and we respect and acknowledge that about you. But,” Diija paused and looked at his fellow beings. “We cannot do what you ask. There is too great a risk.”

    Eleanor felt her shoulders sag in disappointment. She had journeyed to Nal Hutta in the hopes to rekindle the frayed alliance between the RTO and the Hutts. Kaitlyn Vehn, the woman who should be standing where Eleanor currently was, had her hands full with the ongoing defense of Druckenwell. The fast attack ships of Speyburn’s forward arm had already appeared outside the Druckenwell hyperbuoys. His main fleet would arrive soon to finish the job.

    “I want to make something perfectly clear to you, Diija,” Eleanor began, “and that is if the RTO falls, the Hutts will suffer. I’m not talking about finances, I am talking about your families, your homes, and everything you care about. Speyburn will not stop with Druckenwell. He will take Hutt Space and dismantle it piece by piece to those vultures in the Corporate Sector and in the seedy underground of the Republic. That I can guarantee. If the RTO falls, you fall.”

    An aide burst into the room, panting, had been running hard to deliver the message. “Druckenwell is under attack!”

    Eleanor looked long and hard at the Hutts who formed the Grand Council. “Will you come to our aid? Will you help us?”

    Diija blinked hard. That hit him where it counted and that made him realize the severity of the situation. For generations, the Hutts had aspired to rule an economic empire that left no corner of the galaxy untouched. The clans wanted their fingers in every operation, covert and overt, and would and did do anything to make that dream a reality. The arrival of the RTO had threatened that dream and suddenly their very own backyard had become threatened by a growing economic union of planets that had traditionally been under their control. There had been skirmishes fought between the two sides. Blood had been spilled. Old hatreds still lingered. And still neither government could defeat the other in open battle. Exhausted, both sides had first declared a truce and then an alliance. They were stronger together than they were apart. They needed one another whether politicians on both sides cared to admit that or not.

    Diija was a realist and realized that the future of this portion of the galaxy relied on increased cooperation between the RTO and his own people. He knew now that the RTO was not behind the attack on Kolra. They may have hated the Hutts but they would never openly provoke a war just for the sake of having one. Too much was at stake here. Speyburn had to be pushed back, had to be defeated. The young Queen was asking for his help. He could be remembered as the Hutt who forged a new path for the galaxy. As the Hutt who chose to support an ally in a time of great crisis. Diija the Hero, Diija the Honorable.

    He looked over at his fellow council members. All eyes were on him. It was his decision to make. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, released, and knew what choice he needed to make.

    “Will you help us? Druckenwell seeks your aid!” Eleanor said.

    A long pause, a pregnant pause, as if the galaxy itself were weighing the options.

    “And Nal Hutta will answer,” Diija replied. “Muster the fleet, mobilize our army, we go to war!”

    “You shall not regret this,” Eleanor said with a smile. “I will reward you handsomely for your help.”

    Diija laughed in the way all Hutts who have been pleased do. “There are two gifts that I want.”

    “And what might they be?” Eleanor inquired as the Grand Council flew into action.




    Three Weeks Ago

    Alexander Speyburn stood with his bodyguards in the house of the Vehn family. Tesserone was a beautiful work of art. Hand crafted wood, quality furnishings, and a rustic appearance that spoke to a different time, a simpler time. He had given specific instructions for his men to not burn the family home to the ground. He wanted it for himself. It would make a suitable headquarters while he planned his next operation.

    He hated the Vehn family. For him this war was personal. The public story was that he had resigned six months before his tenure as Tribune of Rothana had come to a close. The facts were that the Vehn family was too cheap to fund his pension and wanted him RIF’ed out. Unwilling to be pushed around, Speyburn had left his position and retreated into Wild Space where he had squirreled away a considerable sum of tax free money. The auditors of the RTO could not reach him in the badlands beyond the RTO’s officially recognized borders. There, his scheme to remove the Vehn family from their perch developed. In three years, he had bought an army, raised a substantial fleet, and swore to himself that every last family member of the Vehn clan must die.

    His rise to power had been quick. The support for his cause had been overwhelming. Leritor had quickly flocked to his side and the shipyards of Rothana stopped fulfilling orders for the RTO Navy and started listening to him. Any ships still under construction only added to his growing armada. When the date for the invasion had been set, Speyburn could hardly contain his emotions. The actions against the RTO Navy would be quick, decisive, and bloody.

    Roon was still choked in smoke but slowly the economic union was crumbling under the advances of his military forces. Yes, there was some stiff resistance at Ord Pardron, but nothing that couldn’t be handled in short order. As was expected, the Fifth Druckenwell and other military units had been dispatched to tie his forces down. But Speyburn knew the Fifth could be defeated. Knew that the RTO could be defeated, especially if the alliance between the Hutts and the RTO was fractured beyond repair. He had sent a strike team to Nal Hutta to kill one of the most respected and influential members of the Grand Council. In response, the Hutts had mobilized their fleet and war between the two governments seemed imminent.

    He looked around Tesserone with a contented smile. Yes, everything was coming together.




    Three Weeks Later, Bridge of the Black Hand, Speyburn’s Flagship

    Ord Pardron was still resisting. The armies of the RTO refused to be defeated. The navy, on the other hand, was in full retreat back to Druckenwell. The blue tunnel of hyperspace engulfed the viewports of the Black Hand, Speyburn’s flagship, as it tore through lightspeed at the head of a substantial fleet.

    “We’re pulling out of hyperspace,” a junior officer said.

    The stars rushed toward the viewport as the fleet came to a stop. The world of Druckenwell rested peacefully below them. Fragments of the RTO fleet clung to the planet’s orbit like a man who hangs by one hand from the edge of a precipice. Now would be the time to strike the crushing blow. Druckenwell would fall and in good time so would Naboo with that young upstart girl.

    “Shall we commence our attack?” the officer inquired.

    Speyburn merely nodded his head.

    The battle for Druckenwell had begun.
    Last edited by Liam_Vehn, Jan 12, 2013
  24. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Chancellor’s office, Coruscant

    “Chancellor, your brother to see you,” was the announcement.

    “Which one?” Kerry asked. She had two still alive.

    “The one who’s just come from a war zone,” was the familiar reply.

    “Send him in,” Kerry said standing.

    The doors at the far end of the office slid open and admitted her youngest sibling, Oisin Trieste—and a very unexpected companion.

    “Oisin, May,” Kerry said, “You should have let me know you were coming.”

    “Like I said, war zone,” Oisin said.

    Kerry hugged her younger brother and then did the same with her fifteen year old niece. “I received word of the fall of Roon, and of what happened to Tesserone,” Kerry said, “A tragedy.”

    “It was terrible,” May said. She turned her face away. Her brown hair covered for a moment the scars on her face, the scars that had been randomly and savagely sliced on her young face years ago in an act of anger of unknown origin or meaning. It was an act that was not talked about, but Kerry knew that Oisin had done something about it. She would never ask him what.

    Oisin put his arm around his daughter. “I know what our grandparents must have felt when the Sith invaded.”

    “Worse than what our father saw,” Kerry said. She went to the cabinet that held her stock of liquor and poured a drink. “Care to join?” She was already pouring the second.

    “No, thank you,” Oisin said.

    “Well, it’s 1700 somewhere on Coruscant,” Kerry said. She picked up one tumbler and left the other for later, motioning for Oisin and his daughter to take a seat as she did. “Forgive me, but where is Verity?”

    “My wife…has her own battles to fight,” Oisin said hesitantly, “As does Austin.”

    Kerry’s glass stopped halfway to her mouth. “You’re not serious.”

    “I grieve for the planet I adopted as my home, but this is a path I cannot walk with her,” Oisin said.

    The Chancellor put down her glass, untouched. “I cannot imagine that.”

    “I’d rather not talk about it,” Oisin said.

    “If there’s anything I can do,” Kerry said.

    “There is. Help the RTO,” Oisin replied.

    Kerry closed her eyes and pu her head back. “Oisin, you know I can’t. We just finished the Yssenn mess.”

    “The Kattan Doctrine does not state that the Republic does not intervene outside its borders. It does state that the Republic intervenes when its interests are threatened. A major trading partner under attack is a threat to the economic wellbeing of the Republic,” Oisin said.

    “There’s no political will for it,” Kerry said, standing and walking, “None. I’d never get it through the Senate.”

    “You have commander in chief duties. You don’t need the Senate to assign military forces. You didn’t with Yssenn.”

    “We were attacked then. Now we’d be the ones declaring war.”

    “There are other words than war to describe what you’d be doing,” Oisin said.

    “Spare me the thesaurus!” Kerry snapped, “I’m not going to split hairs on this!”

    “Kerry, without you they will lose. These are the Vehns we’re talking about here. They are family,” Oisin said, starting to get angry.

    “I settled our debt with them! I am in this office to pay that debt!” Kerry returned.

    “No, you were in this office five years ago to do what you felt you had to pay that debt. You’re here today because you wanted to be!” Oisin shot back, “And since when would having the Vehns be in our debt be a bad thing for a change?”

    “There are favors I can grant and favors I can’t,” Kerry returned, “and I can’t grant this one.”

    “Then think about what that means,” Oisin said, now calmer, as he stood, “May and I will be returning to Bakura and waiting for the rest of our family. I hope to the Force that we will see them again and if that is through no help of yours, then that’s something you’ll have to be prepared to live with.”



    For a good half hour after Oisin and May left, Kerry Trieste stood in front of the floor to ceiling windows of her office and watched the Coruscant skyline, a silhouette to the office that stood quietly behind her. And as she watched the capital city before her she thought as she sipped her drink. And she thought.
  25. Trieste Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2010
    star 5
    Chancellor’s office, Coruscant

    Kerry Trieste signed the datapad and hit submit before setting her stylus down. “I want High Command to issue a statement saying that the realignment of the Sixth Fleet is purely a precautionary measure in response to the unpredictable nature of the situation. The Fleet is there to protect Republican interests and territory.”

    “Of course, Chancellor,” Saldor Kann said.

    The Chancellor had considered her options very carefully after her brother’s visit. She had no interest in interfering with this civil war inside the RTO, but Oisin was right. The Vehns and Triestes shared a lot of history. This was still a battle that the Vehns would have to win themselves…but it didn’t mean Kerry couldn’t give Speyburn something to think about—like the entire Bothan Home Fleet, formally called the Sixth Fleet, arrayed on his border and far away from Naboo and Druckenwell. And with a nice ambiguous statement to the media about how offensive this force would be, he’d have no choice but to reduce troop strength elsewhere to shore up his rear. With luck, Kerry wouldn’t have to fire a shot but she’d be a thorn in Speyburn’s side.

    “Attorney General Tandy is waiting for you,” Kann said.

    “Send her in,” Kerry said.

    It was not long before the chief of the Department of Justice took a seat in front of Kerry’s desk. “Chancellor, good to see you.”

    “And you, Helena,” Kerry replied, “This is about Panstellar Holdings?”

    “Yes,” Tandy said, “As you know, Qort is awaiting sentencing, but the criminal case against Panstellar itself is pending. The enormity of the charges that we have against the corporation will almost certainly bring it down. That will not have a very healthy effect on the economy.”

    “An infection that has festered never is painful to remove,” Kerry said, “If we dispose of Panstellar’s assets appropriately, I think the damage can be mitigated. I have people in the Treasury working on it.”

    “Then I have your permission to proceed?” Helena asked.

    “Of course,” Kerry said, “We knew this was coming.”

    Tandy paused. “There is one other matter.”

    “Yes?” Kerry asked. She had an idea where this was going.

    “Our investigation has uncovered that Panstellar’s criminal activities extended into the Corellian system,” Helena said.

    “Not unsurprising,” Kerry said, “Corellia has attracted such elements historically.”

    “We believe that we have a financial trail that leads to one of the largest operations in the systems—a machine controlled by Five Worlds’ Treasurer Oren Mott. I understand that Mott has been a political ally of yours?” Helena said.

    “Helena, let’s cut the Sithspit,” Kerry said, “We dealt with this issue before. You are to see this investigation through, no matter where it goes.”

    “It’s just funny,” Helena said, sitting back, “I remember when you interviewed me for this position…you said Oren Mott had recommended me to you for consideration. I don’t think he was thinking I’d repay him in this way.”

    “If Mott got involved with Qort, then I think we can safely say that he wasn’t thinking at all,” Kerry replied.

    “He never was. He was only on the periphery.”

    “And he was still stupid enough to get caught. He deserves what’s coming to him,” Kerry said, “I consider this matter closed.”

    “Justice shall be served,” Helena said, “By the way, do you happen to have a wastebasket?”

    “Yes, of course,” Kerry said, pointing to a one in her line of sight. It was an odd request.

    Tandy stood, pulled out a lighter and a piece of paper, and promptly burned the paper over the wastebasket.

    “What precisely are you doing?” Kerry asked with knitted brow.

    “Burning the letter of resignation I’d prepared if you’d told me not to go after Mott,” Tandy said, watching the flaming paper, “You have no idea how happy I am to be doing this.”

    Kerry just smiled. Helena Tandy was precisely the sort of Attorney General she needed.



    Republica House, Coruscant
    Two days later

    Kerry’s father had enjoyed dining at Republica House. He’d proposed to his wife here. After her first meal five years ago, she understood why it was such a favorite of Fionn Dunross Trieste. The meal was always impeccable. Kerry had stopped actually ordering at Republica House. It was now understood that she would take the special whenever she came along with the suggested drink pairing.

    Tonight’s meal came with a very unexpected side dish.

    “Chancellor,” Oren Mott said as he slid into the private booth that Republica House put at the disposal of the Chancellor upon request.

    “Mott,” Kerry said, “I didn’t know the Senatorial Guard was getting sloppy.”

    “I happen to have an understanding with management here and they didn’t have a problem letting me see my old friend the Chancellor,” Mott said, “Especially when we have so much to talk about, like the case against Panstellar’s latest twists and turns.”

    “Tandy has the scent. I can’t call her off,” Kerry said.

    “Sithspit,” Mott interjected, “You could have stopped this long ago. You didn’t need to ruin Qort.”

    “Yes I did,” Kerry said, leaning in, “because you don’t come after me and get away with it. And that’s something you should remember.”

    “I know where your bodies are buried, Chancellor,” Mott said threateningly. It was a very apt metaphor.

    “Who’s going to believe a man shortly to be an indicted criminal?” Kerry charged, “A man whose word is going against the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic?”

    “Not everyone, but perhaps enough people to start asking the right questions,” Mott said, “and what’s your legacy going to look like when they add murderer to it in the history books, Kerry?”

    “Last I checked, atomized bits and pieces didn’t constitute evidence.”

    “I thought we knew each other quite well by this point,” Mott said, “I’m the sort of being that always has a backup plan, Kerry.” And with that the Corellian slid out of the booth and left Kerry to her dinner, a much different dinner than she’d anticipated.
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