Minus 300/High Orbit, Brentaal IV… The charting of the Hydian Way marks the dawn of a new era for the Republic… The new hyperlane have already boosted significantly trade and business… Traveling to the Tingel Arm will soon be as easy as booking a transport to Coruscant… The savage Trans-Hydian is the new frontier of the Republic…. The influence of the Republic will be a stabilizing factor much welcome in the wild- The last one actually made most of the occupants of the shuttle chuckle. The Human female that had been trying various lines for her opening pitch was rather annoyed, and threw a furious look to the five other sentients that made up her team. The «her» part in her team was however very contestable point. Contestable as in Dewoitine calling herself the uncontested leader of this pinnacle of journalism, and everyone else protesting over this auto-proclamation. Ignoring the snide comments and sarcastic suggestions, Dewoitine resumed her attempts to find a killer opening sentence for her next piece. She was trying hard to convince herself that this was an exciting subject that could make her a star-or at the very least, allow her journalism career to progress a little bit, as the said career was currently somewhat stalled. People that signed for journalism at a decent university were usually smart enough to not think that their work would be like in the holos: changing the galaxy, informing the public, being the mythical fourth power of the Republic. Most of those would be journalists, however, did not thought that actual work could be that dreary. Not to mention that despite her abilities (or according to the crew, because of her abilities), Dewoitine had a knack for securing the most exciting and enthralling assignments available. Dewoitine had schemed enough to secure on her paycheck the title political journalist, in theory the top of the reporter pecking order. The detail was that the station hiring her was maybe first in the rankings, but only first in the 45-60 years old male Human blue collar demographic, and only in the northern continent of her Core planet. Accordingly, it was a bit hard for the station to finance for Dewoitine to report from Coruscant. She was thus affected to local interest politics. This was a code word for filling up the quotas about locally produced content. Dewoitine actual job mostly boiled down about listening to press conferences about sewage management in some second rate city or interview angry seniors complaining about property taxes hikes. The female Human could no longer stand this kind of work, especially considering that in her list of assignments lurked the coverage of the planetwide charity drive for neutering stray cats. So, when Dewoitine had heard that the station was planning to send a team to cover up a naval deployment on the relatively nearby Brentaal system, and then to follow the fleet along the Hydian Way, she had called every favor she could think off to be assigned to the team. As everyone else found the job extremely fishy looking, she had ended up with it. According to Dewoitine, the terms standards of journalism and ethics were used so much nowadays that they had lost all their meaning. Despite what her beloved crew wrote in anonymous messages sent to station’s board, Dewoitine was not «so dimwitted that she have trouble to follow the intrigue of Gamorrean detective shows»: she was plainly aware that if someone had paid for a shuttle, fuel, lodging fees and new cameras, it was probably not only for the sake of informing the population about changes into the galactic economy. It was certainly a corporate sponsor. The said sponsor had been very discreet to this point, and Dewoitine would play along with it when the inevitable requests would be made. Reporters complaining about corporations and their influence on the medias were probably not the ones sent to cover school boards elections for the 2AM news bulletin. The low-visibility of the sponsor was certainly related to the matter at hand. The team had been sent to cover what was labeled in the Senate a lifetime opportunity to steer the Republic on a new path, an occasion to allow all citizens of the Republic to dream and hope again, bla-bla-bla. And as Dewoitine was from a world whose main exportation was machinery for the dairy industry, she would have to be somewhat cautious in her approach. After all, it was probably that the viewers sense of wanderlust would be a bit affected if she inserted random soundbites in her report about how totally awesome was for the local community were the devices of a manufacture of milking equipment. Of course, it was probable that the sponsor would want mostly reports interesting for him. There was a way to combine this and real journalism, right ? Dewoitine could do like one of those fancy reports she saw often on the real channels: award winning pieces about renowned journalists investigating remote planets. She would just have to do it with exotic and lush planets teeming with a never be seen fauna, but fauna that produced some sort of smelly and weird looking milk. She could bring tears to the public by telling about the quaint customs of some bizarre tribe, especially one lacking as much money as clothes, but she would have to pick up tribes that were interested into buying the fine products of an industrial cheese processing machines mogul. And she would still discover herself in contact of a three eyed alien, but while offering him frozen yogurt instead of a pen or a cultural relic. Creative standards of work set aside, the sponsoring was quite understandable. For any serious industrial, the quest for new markets was perpetual. But normally, new markets were limited to a single system, after a revolution or a regime change. The opportunity to expand into several thousand systems was something that could make even the most prudent and conservative businessman willing to try something, even something as stupid as spending mountains of credits on a publicity stunt spearheaded by Dewoitine. And «the several thousand systems of the Trans-Hydian» was just a conservative estimate. It would have been exaggerated to claim that most of those new markets were actually new markets, as much of those markets had been Republic members for centuries. Virtually forgotten members, that is, too far away from hyperlanes to have any kind of viable trade. Until the charting of the Hydian, that had cut the costs of shipping by ten, despite abject insecurity. The opening of the Hydian Way was the largest macroeconomic change for the Galaxy since immemorial times. There were truly countless possibilities opening for the worlds of the Republic: new trade lanes, new sectors to chart and to claim, new systems to colonize, whole sectors that could be truly integrated to the Republic. This could be either the opening of a new era of prosperity, or another of those botched occasions that littered the history of the Republic. Conscious both of the challenge and the limits of the Republic, the High command had, perhaps wisely, decided to focus at first at actually clearing the Hydian Way itself from various threats: petty dictators bullying their neighbors, civil wars, pirate, slavers. And ever for Dewoitine, who had extremely limited notions on space warfare, the task force earmarked for this occasion looked awfully small and inadequate. As the team’s pilot and tech guy, Havilland, was moving the shuttle closer to the Republican flagship, the whole alleged fleet came into view. Around twenty capital ships and maybe twice as many escorts. The only vessel that was not older than the crews was the said flagship: needless to say, the size of the task force had not prevented the High Command to give it rather lavish goals. On the rather eyebrow raising presentation given to the press by the PR department of the Navy, the naval detachment was supposed to travel from Brentaal to the frontier world of Bonadan and the mining colonies in the area. The task force was supposed to «securize» the Hydian on the way, using using local Republican strongholds on or next to the route as bases of operations. There was a list of those strongholds included, and people taking the care of doing a 10 seconds database search could see plainly that a lot of those strongholds were old Pius Dea military colonies/depots, such as Ord Cestus and Ord Radaman. The value of those planets as operational base was likely to be rather abyssal, without considering the probable hostility of the locals to the Republic that had marooned them there. But of course, stating that such and such backwater planet «was the sentinel of the Republic for milleniums» sounded way better than «this is a planet that was used as a base centuries ago, and that we abandoned repeatedly». In a rather humorous move, Taris was also listed as a Republican bastion, without doubts in another attempt to attract funds for reconstructions schemes. Even on the rather bombastic presentation, the Navy was however forced to concede indirectly that the only real stronghold past the Inner Rim was the ever loyalist Telos system. The numerous mentions of the Telosian navy role in local peacekeeping was a pretty crystal clear sign that the Telosians had lobbied rather hard for keeping control of their defense assets. Lobbying and cheap politics were as much as a concern for the informed public than the puny size of the force. Not only the Republic could only afford to send a paltry naval division up and down a hyperlane-while hundreds of systems and corporations have launched their own trading and colonization initiatives-but the naval group was corseted with orders that had already made it the laughingstock of military pundits across the Galaxy. Thanks to the latest budgetary crisis, admirals had been courting influent senators on Coruscant for months now, exchanging help for various pet projects with «comprehension» concerning defense funding. As a result, most of the task force instructions were made to please special interest groups and factions. As an example, to appeal to the Core demographic of the Senate-this pun never got old-the task force was supposed to detach some warships to end up the Kanz Disorders. The whole matter was getting quite embarrassing to the Republic, to say the least, thanks to latest religious fantasies of the local ruler. But sending a major fleet in the area would have infuriated the Outer Rim S.I.Gs, and the lobbyist working for them, as the said groups were clamoring that the Core only cared about Lorrd because there was Human sacrifices there. This was a tactful and sensitive position compared to shockjocks from the Rim screaming that all of this was yet another conspiracy from the Core to attack an innocent regime. So, to please everyone, the mission had been labeled as a peacekeeping operation. What a couple of old frigates were supposed to do against a whole sector was not made clear, especially considering that the sector was «close» to the Hydian way only in the most relative of manners. But, hey, what mattered was to be able to vilify the opposition on the Senate floor. And the list of those addendums was long, very long. Some items were merely idiotic, like fostering cultural exchange between Aldreaan and the remote Tantive system-without a doubt some sort of ploy from the very contested Alderaanians royals to secure some sort of foreign policy success to use against their opponents at home. Other addendums betrayed much darker motivations. Thus, to get some Jedis onboard the ships, someone had coughed funds to reinforce a Jedi pet project, some sort of research station above a forsaken desert planet in the enticingly named Stygian Caldera. Apparently, the project did mattered for Jedis, as they had sent several masters and their padawans onboard the flagship. The presence of the Order had led to rather bitter arguments about the opportunity of having them onboard. Cynics pointed out that the venerable age of the vessels and the rather aggressive nature of some of the instructions could lead to a truly explosive confrontation with locals, and that nothing motivated the Jedi to «negotiate» with local powers like dead members of their Order. Less jaded observers noted that the task force was truly what the Republic could spare with the recent increase in brushfire wars in every quadrant of the Galaxy, and that the Jedi could actually help with the negotiations. Partisans of free trade pointed out with rage that the Jedis, with their position on material wealth, understood nothing about economy, and would end up as usual as backing the positions of the bureaucrats of Coruscant. Their opponents said that only the Jedi could «put in their place» the corporations expanding in the Hydian.