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Saga The Battle of Metellos [OCs, Military, Space Combat]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Oddly_Salacious, Aug 28, 2020.

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  1. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Title: The Battle of Metellos
    Galactic Era: Imperial Period
    Date: 40:2:26 (5 ABY)
    Placement: 1-2 Weeks after the events of The Rough Cut: A Tragedy.
    Keywords: Metellos, Victory I-class, ATR-6, TIE-Avenger (TIE/ad)
    Images by Ansel Hsiao via FractalSponge: TIE-Avenger, Victory-class, Vigil-class
    Characters: OCs
    Genre: Action



    The Battle of Metellos
    - Green Side -

    White light smoothed to saturation. Lines and angles laid dormant by blackness germinated. Hard edges formed and bone-white planes spread in the void. Shadows nipped behind bric-a-brac and gave rise to geometric oddities. Pieces converged and pieces coalesced. A floating fortress capped by a T-shaped tower lowered into high Metellosian orbit.

    * * *
    "Come right to course."

    The order sunk into one of two operations pits. Hands glided hands over the navigational complex that kept the Obana Lettle from falling from orbit. Footsteps and low voices sounded routine in this home away from home. Flat screen monitors drizzled morning reports over the bridge's commuters. The captain in grey stood at the center of this informational cosmos. He signed and handed a datapad back to an ensign.

    "Standby to have the tugs run out," the captain said, adding to his previous order. He keyed a mission clock to one of the overhead monitors. "Let’s beat the Vigil this time."

    An approving murmur blossomed in the pits.

    Nearby, the Tactical Actions Officer motioned to a subordinate to follow her to a relay station. The captain's order would speed down and over kilometers of fiber conduit until it resurfaced on the air officer's station in the flight hanger.

    "Where's my cargo resupply?"

    Behind the captain, a grey cap and blue eyes popped up to deck level before darting to the bank of telemetry readouts in the pit.

    "Metellos Central shows no launch of the Fat Kath, sir," the hat owner replied. "Metellos says that they're checking on it."

    "Officer on deck!" The TAO piped from over by her terminal.

    "Good morning, Captain," Admiral Sigurdsson returned the captain's quick salute before joining him at the forward viewports. He was the shorter man, but his white uniform lent him the air of wisdom and authority. "All went well through the night?"

    "It did," the captain answered. "Task Force Two-One-One has begun resupply procedures. The Lettle just entered her CRS lane." The captain pointed to the pair of sharp green ovals on the three-dimensional SNO. "The strike cruisers will meet with the resupply ship first, and then move—" With his data pad, he rotated the SNO to a digital locator pin, "— to here and establish a High/Low parameter for the fleet. The Tonnant will move in afterwards." His finger shifted the display to the Nebulon-B frigate icon leading the task force.

    "She's patched her holes, what?" Sigurdsson asked.

    "Yes," the captain answered. "The XO received the final report last night. The Tonnant's crew worked repairs over the last hyperspace transit."

    "Good," the Admiral said. "I want to run the Tonnant through an Operational Reactor Safeguard Exam when we return to Weerden." Sigurdsson glanced around the bridge. "Where is the XO now?"

    "Racked," the captain smiled. "Apparently, a week's worth of Middle Watch was staked in the last pazaak game. It worked out well enough. I want the XO standing watch when we ship out the day after tomorrow."

    The admiral's gaze went out over the long nose of the Victory-class Star Destroyer, then up to a data feed monitors. "I'm glad you've bucked the trend and kept those." He nodded to the list of fighters checked out to squadron pilots. "Do you miss it?"

    Fighter Squadron TFA-89 was on patrol. The Beedee Bees. Radio call sign: Stinger.

    Although not the first time asked that question, the lines in the captain's face lessened. "Part of me hopes that the Bees are never reassigned to another craft, sir. They are the best dogfighters in these—er..."

    "Complicated times," the admiral supplied.

    "Complicated," the captain nodded. "When I flew with the Bees, we were attached to two carrier wings—one even as far out as the Quellor Run." The captain shrugged off his nostalgia. "Who's to say what's to come as this new republic fleet creeps down the Namadii. A re-org is—"

    "Sir?" The Communications officer. The captain waved him forward with his report. "Metellos says that the Fat Kath is grounded with a bad motivator, and the Tymithum is inbound as of eleven minutes ago."

    "What's this?" The captain jerked his head towards his TAO.

    The TAO tucked a strand of wheat-colored hair under her black garrison cap. She had light freckling on her pert nose. "Parts and a technical crew," she read from her data pad. The tip of her finger flicked the manifest scroll. "Twenty onboard. It looks like a replacement Fill Order."

    "There were none filed when we left Hyabb," the captain replied coolly.

    Admiral Sigurdsson leaned in. He carried the light scent of sandalwood. "There's that problem of corrosion on the hypermatter impeller assemblies. Perhaps it's a fast-forward from the Chief Engineer?"

    "That's unlike him, sir. Chief checks all orders through the CIC," the captain answered.

    "One of the other watches might have failed to log it," the TAO trailed over her pad, missing the instinctive assessment Admiral Sigurdsson made of her captain. "Or, it may be for the convoy. The Lord Negs—"

    Edwin Chorus, Imperial Inquisitor, the Marques of the Negs and reigning head of House Chorus; Lord Negs had taken an officer's berth on the Obana Lettle. Of the six ships that made up the House Chorus convoy, only the Tarkin-class cruiser had a serviceable brig for captured combatants. But that ship could not accommodate both Lord Negs' inquisitorial staff and the ship's normal crew. Therefore, His Excellency had requested to come aboard the Lettle. As with most requests made by members of the Imperial Court, it had been granted.

    "—and so the shuttle would land here. We'd ferry the shift workers over to the Hech-See dreadnought in smaller craft," the TAO explained.

    Task Force 211 was a force of war. The motley collection of Metellean ships sheltering inside its protective sphere had played a supportive role during the sacking of the rebel base on Hyabb—another request fulfilled. The two House Chorus cargo supply vessels were depleted while the three small cruisers went unscathed from space battle. Only the convoy's aged Dreadnaught-class cruiser had taken damage and that from ground artillery during the landing of HC infantry units. Nonessential personnel had vacated the old cruiser, forcing numerous delays and course corrections since Hyabb.

    "Has there been any contact with the Tymithum?" the TAO asked the pits. "Have they been verified?"

    "Negative," Communications replied. "It could be a bad transceiver, but transmissions are being blocked. No bio signals, communications, mag strobes—"

    "Anything from the Wanu?" Admiral Sigurdsson asked, referring to the strike cruiser gliding two kilometers off the Lettle's port bow.

    "No sir," Communications answered.

    The captain turned to the SNO. A yellow blip approached a grey wire-frame cube of space surrounding the fleet. The captain did some fast maths and directed Communication's attention to a third monitor. The screen went black before it started showing different exterior shots of the Lettle: Imperial probe droids extending the eyes and ears of the ship.

    "Imp transponder just flashed on the Tymithum, sir," an ensign called from a communication station. "Lambda-class shuttle. Wanu is hailing her on all channels."

    "Some old military tech could've inadvertently activated on takeoff, sir," the TAO suggested.

    The captain keyed the public address system. "All hands to General Quarters." He nodded to the TAO indicating that he was taking full command of the Obana Lettle.

    "Captain, I believe I'm needed on the flag bridge," Admiral Sigurdsson said. He exchanged salutes with the captain and departed for the turbolift.

    The captain pulled a code cylinder from his uniform's breast pocket, clicked it into a port on his datapad, and keyed in a quick encryption sequence. The plaintive whaaa of twin ion engines burst over the bridge speakers.

    "STINGER 44, TRILLETH," the captain raised his voice to the bulkhead intercom, using the Lettle's call sign on the combat frequency.

    The response was metallic. "Copy, TRILLETH."

    "We need some eyes on the Tymithum," the captain said. "They might be having trouble. Warning yellow, weapons hold."

    "Copy that, TRILLETH. Warning yellow, weapons hold." The intercom pinged and squeaked as the lead pilot switched onto another channel to relay the command to his flight. Two green TIE icons broke from the squadron's HAVCAP line in the SNO and darted out towards the yellow shuttle blip.

    "Present headings will bring Tymithum within tractor range here," the TAO said, dropping a red digital pin on the SNO. She zoomed the image map out a thousand kilometers. The upper atmospheres of Metellos were 63 thousand kilometers distant, but that number was decreasing rapidly as the Lettle descended to a resupply orbit.

    "Snug," the captain muttered. He shrugged into the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus a fire control technician brought him, and allowed the FT to adjust and clip the face mask at his shoulder.

    "Another Imp transponder just flashed," a voice called from one of the pits. "Got bio markers! Twenty-six lifeforms… got a solid handshake!"

    "Wanu confirms single ATR-6," TAO said, already in her SCBA harness. "Wow! That transport just light-hopped from Hespran Dock." The TAO's smile was bright in her face. "That's impressive, sir. BoSS must love them."

    "Patience," the captain murmured. He watched on the third monitor as the Weican edged into view. The admiral downstairs was positioning the nimble Carrack cruiser to protect the Lettle's vulnerable underbelly. Meanwhile, the Vigil was increasing its distance behind the larger Star Destroyer. Like the Obana Lettle, the Vigil was a wedge ship favored in capital ship slug fests, and the Vigil's captain wanted plenty of swinging room.

    A pinging bell recalled the captain's attention. The yellow dot tagged LMDA:Tymithum had abruptly changed its heading with the arrival of the assault transport—a green dot, ATR6:Allitor. The two green STINGERs shot forward to intercept the yellow dot.


    "Maintain this heading," the captain said.

    "Maintaining course, Captain," the quartermaster at the helm control echoed.

    The next voice heard was over the comm by an operations specialist in the Combat Information Center—or, CIC—several decks below the captain's feet. His youthful voice cracked, but it was otherwise calm. "Tymithum is targeting our starboard deflector shield dome." The yellow blip turned a hostile red.

    The captain motioned to the TAO to make the operations specialist the radar point of contact. "Steady, Lettle," he said.

    "The Allitor just blew her power harness," the CIC specialist confirmed. "They're trailing atmosphere."

    "A hundred-millisecond light hop will do that," the TAO answered with some authority on the matter.

    "Prep Hanger One for an emergency recovery of a troop transport," the captain said.

    A dozen kilometers away, STINGER Seven danced through a pestering of green laser fire. He snapped the TIE-Interceptor into a tight barrel-roll over the Tymithum's cockpit, glancing up at the shuttle's viewports as it passed. They were fully polarized.

    "Launch! Launch! Tally two A-P-T," STINGER Eight called out.

    Seven jinked and dropped below the shuttle's flight line as his wingman pulled a hard loop to end up trailing the Tymithum by about three kilometers.

    Two blue trails of ionic fire streaked towards the Obana Lettle, but the Tymithum's torpedoes never reached their targets. Radar-guided lasers onboard the Victory-class Star Destroyer shredded the deadly missiles in seconds.

    Up in the bridge, the captain stared out into the dark star field to where the Tymithum would be. "Did the shuttle acknowledge our hails?"

    "Still hollow, Captain," Communications answered.

    "STINGER 44 free to engage the hostile," the captain ordered.

    On the SNO, TFA-89—the captain's beloved Beedee Bees—switched to CAP. At nine kilometers distant, set against the backdrop of the busy Metellean system, the Tymithum's destruction was just another flash of light. The captain turned away from the viewports.

    "Away Fire and Rescue. Assume deck," he ordered. "Get that wounded transport here on the double."

    "Very good, sir," the TAO responded. "SUNCHASER is approaching tractor range on the ATR. Also—" she sent a report to the captain's data pad, "—Metellos Central is in chaos. They've put all requests on hold concerning the Tymithum."

    "Keep trying. Warm up Duelist squadron. We'll buzz their towers a few times if Metellos needs a clearer picture of our priority."

    The TAO moved away to carry out the orders. The bulkhead intercom warbled with the Lettle's CIC.

    "Wanu reports increased activity, sir. Grid 41TMD04 to 41TMD112. Multiple contacts inbound. Vectors set on the HC convoy. Battle cruisers taking attack formations. Fighter launches. IFF—are Metellean Houses?" The intercom paused. "All Metellean call signs."

    "Stations stand by," the captain ordered. Four large red icons appeared on the SNO—capital ships. Cruisers and destroyers. Dozens of smaller red icons representing frigates, corvettes, and snub-fighters materialized around them.

    "Endor," someone breathed.

    "It's a coup," someone else said.

    "All stations manned and ready," the TAO called out from her station.

    The captain glanced out the viewports before going back to the SNO. "Darken ship."


    * * *
    The strike lead of TUSK Flight separated her four TIE-Avengers into two pairs, and then ordered them into a loose formation. TUSK Two, her wingman, trailed her by two kilometers and higher by a thousand feet.

    "TUSK, FENCE In." TUSK One reached forward, pausing long enough to verify a dozen different settings around the elliptical cockpit. Satisfied, she thumbed the master arm switch atop of her flight yolk. The Heads-Up-Display projected in her helmet lenses changed to a comfortable green while a blue targeting pip appeared in the virtual distance in front of the Avenger. One's right thumb slid away from the rubberized nub of the weapons release button. Her right index finger reared over to the cannon trigger like a fanged serpent.

    TUSK 2-4 performed a similar ritual—an action ingrained by innumerable training hours. Electromagnetic shields weakened as re-channeled energy fed the ion reactor and greedy power systems. The Avenger was as agile as it was versatile, but its true strength was the warrior inside who unleashed a furious hellstorm on the enemy.

    TUSK One keyed her mic to a scrambled frequency. "BOOMBOX, TUSK One. I hold one HOSTILE… bull's eye—” she searched for the spherical coordinates of the primary target and read them aloud. BOOMBOX was the mission commander aboard the Wanu who calculated the combat area bulls eye and kept all the TIE fighters in the task force from running over each other as things blew up.

    "BOOMBOX concurs. Tracking CR90 Corvette flanking at 128 klicks. No friendlies in the area. TUSK cover HOSTILE at 75. Weapons free."

    TUSK One clicked her mic to signal she understood the orders. All ships in TF 211 now knew that TUSK was cleared to engage a CR90 gunship and hostiles within their specified strike zone, keeping all threats 75 kilometers away from the Obana Lettle.

    TUSK One locked the HUD center-forward, but let the other data streams turn with her head. Every TIE pilot held their own preferences on how the fully-enclosed helmet projected the digital cockpit. TUSK One's settings created a ghostly shell that afforded an unrestricted view around the fighter.

    Watching both the early warning receiver and her wingman's position, One opened the mic to his frequency. "Mudbug, bracket target 3.8 clicks," One ordered. "Bekleiten flushing."

    Two zippered his mic and broke right. TUSK One's little blue-grey fighter disappeared into the cold dark of planetary shadow. A white blot down between her toes grew rapidly into the chunky rectangle of a CR90 corvette, its bright anti-collision lights marking it against the blackness. A common gunboat tactic, it was a lure into its laser-lined maw. TUSK One settled the targeting pip on the corvette and throttled up to military power.

    Whoever devised the Avenger's missile warning alarm must have been one giddy son-of-a-womprat. TUSK One's reaction to the trilling, wonking, trumpeting noise was instantaneous thanks to ten years of strapping a TIE to her butt. She swirled the TIE over and around, jinking her fighter through spins and maneuvers.

    "Spiked," she gritted through her teeth.

    The sudden changes is acceleration and direction smacked her with an artificial gravity that rivaled atmospheric g-forces. She lifted in her seat harness as she rolled into an inverted power dive. Then she smacked down again as the Avenger became intent on smashing her into an oblate sphere not unlike the shape of the cockpit.

    "TUSK Two, Magnum."

    TUSK Two's missile tracked along the corvette's radar. The CR90 could respond by shutting off its radar or by turning its cannons towards the weapon. It chose the latter. TUSK Three and Four also called out missile launches over the open frequency, presumably to spoof listening ears aboard the CR90. The planetary shadow gained hundreds of red laser stitches.

    TUSK One rolled again and pushed the flight yoke forward, driving the TIE into another power dive. Somewhere behind and above her, the corvette's missile was seeking the hot ionic wash of her engines. She rolled a third time and yanked the yolk back while burping the engines to counteract momentum. Her thumb popped out flare decoys to confuse the heat-seeking missile.

    "TUSK One… has one SAM west… of bulls," she called. "Defending."

    Twisting around in her seat, TUSK One looked over the Avenger's rear deck—possible because of her helmet's link with the TIE's external optical sensors. A death meteor, bright and sharp in the airless void, plummeted eight miles down to the left of her position. TUSK One held her breath and counted. If the missile changed course, she had about 12 seconds to re-fire her engines and evade. The missile continued straight, lost of her scent.

    TUSK One pitched toes-over-tea kettle into a classic belly-up "Dead Spider". She bumped the thrust vector controls and yawed her fighter until the cold puffs of gas put her on a trajectory that would pass under the CR90. Using both her hands and voice commands, she quickly darkened the TIE and switched to passive radar.

    "TUSK, BOOMBOX. Two bandits Head On. Northeast 58 klicks from your position. X-wings—zapping BANDIT 1 and 2."

    The Wanu's sensor suite had pinpointed the pair of X-wing fighters rushing to assist the CR90. BOOMBOX transferred the range and targeting information to TUSK flight. The fast moving X-wings would be on top of TUSK in three minutes, possibly spotting TUSK One and spoiling the mission.

    "TUSK Two anchored," Two responded. Good man—he kept One's silent coast off the comm.

    "TUSK 3 and 4 attacking," TUSK Three radioed in. Three, the flight leader for the second pair of TIE-Avengers, was a veteran of a dozen space campaigns. Killing Inner Rim yank-n-banks was his forte.

    "TUSK Two. SAM. Defending." Somewhere in the darkness, TUSK Two began combat maneuvering of his own to avoid another CR90 missile. He rocketed downwards and out of the planetary shadow. The missile's seeker head chose the hottest signature and banked towards the white sun. Planetary gravity and the thick Metellean atmosphere would take care of the missile after it spent its fuel on the hopeless chase.

    The CR90 fired two more missiles, but Two slipped them—even coming back and feigning an attack on the corvette. He pulled up and outside of gun range and the corvette stopped wasting ordinance on the pesky TIE.

    Inside her drifting TIE-Avenger, TUSK One watched the corvette for the tell-tale signs that it detected her. The heavy double cannons of the ventral turbolaser swiveled past a few times, each time a little closer and a little larger than the last time. Staring into the barrels of the enemy—coming face-to-face with that crisp mortality—was known to freeze rookie pilots. TUSK One shook the tension out of her left hand.

    Over on the dorsal side, TUSK Two streaked in and careened away from the corvette, loosing a crisp line of red flame at the corvette. The corvette shredded the missile and counter-punched with a commendable laser volley. Using the distraction, TUSK One keyed up a weapon in the stores management system, flicked on her active radar, and peeked through the rocket's onboard radar to see what it saw. The CR90's ventral turbolasers swung in her direction. Too late. TUSK One thumbed the weapons release button.

    "TUSK One, Bruiser away."

    One yanked up on the stubby handle of Avenger's Emergency Power Unit to dump stored energy directly into her engines. Her helmet slammed into the headrest as the TIE tore out of gun range.

    TUSK One had used the inverted Dead Spider position to give a pair of two-meter anti-ship rockets slung on underwing brace pylons a clear picture of the target. Her missile flew a short two-seconds before it punctured the CR90 just behind the port-side airlock cylinder and detonated. The airlock oxygen tanks ruptured and bathed the interior passageway in orange fire before the cleansing vacuum swept it away.

    "Shack on the target." Glancing over her shoulder at the debris field, TUSK One checked on the corvette. The critically injured gunship began the long, slow drop out of the fight.

    "TUSK, BOOMBOX. Alpha check to TRILLITH."

    TUSK One punched her position into the flight computer and zapped BOOMBOX her range and bearing to the Obana Lettle.

    "New picture, TUSK," BOOMBOX said. "Report on Uniform 8."

    TUSK One frowned underneath her expressionless flight helmet. She toggled her mission comm card and checked the frequency listed as Uniform 8. It was one of the STINGER channels.

    She listened again to the Bees squadron commander's urgent request even as she put her fighter onto its port solar panel and pulled the nose hard around. TUSK Two rolled in tight off her right shoulder and matched her speed as she pushed the throttle to full military power. Ahead of them, fire as bright and cutting as a plasma torch jetted from the Obana Lettle's hanger.

    END

    - Coming this fall -
    The Battle of Metellos: Red Side

    The author takes liberties in this work while making an effort to align with Star Wars Canon and Legends. Terms common to our vernacular may appear in this story in effort to maintain pacing and engage the reader's attention. The content of this work as it concerns Task Force 211, the SNO, Metellos, and House Chorus is largely the author's creation in this and in his previous works.

    No mention of a Second Imperial Fleet was found in Wookiepedia or the Essential Atlas. Therefore, Task Force 211 (11th of the Second Fleet) reflects the author's license that fits his narrative. Command structure—and that of the task force in general—will align more to US Navy conventions than what may be common in the Star Wars galaxy.

    For the purposes of the Metellosian Arc, the Second Imperial Fleet is stationed in the Bormea Sector with homeports in the Corulus System.

    Metellosian versus Metellean
    Outside the Metellos Solar System, Metellean is the more frequent demonym used to describe someone or something from that planetary system. Metellosian is the older term and is regarded as High Formal in some areas of the galaxy. Metellosian also is the name of the native language of Metellos rendered in Galactic Basic.

    Obana Lettle VSD(2)-65
    The VSD Obana Lettle completed its Class II refit on 37:1:29, extending its anticipated service life for another thirty years. It saw much action in the early years of the Galactic Empire, becoming a namesake of stalwartness and survivability. It suffered near catastrophic damage during the Battle of Palanhi (36:1:12), saved from destruction only by a blind hyperspace hop to the nearby loyalist planet of Mrisst, where it was sheltered until aid arrived. Some time afterwards, the Lettle—as her crew refers to her—was teamed with the Vigil, the dogged Clone Wars battleship for which that ship's class is named. The duo has formed the core of many formidable battleship battle groups since.

     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
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  2. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Date: 5 ABY (40:2:26)
    Placement: 1-2 Weeks after the events of The Dark Jedi
    Keywords: Metellos, Gotal, the Negs, KX-series Security Droid
    Characters: OCs (Bess Heiger, Mardo Tel, Cami'rytha, Wonofor)
    Special Thanks: @Findswoman for BactaGenic

    The Battle of Metellos
    Red Side –


    Yellow lights flash and a sullen horn sounds in the long cavities of the ship.
    Womm-Womm-Womm!
    The intercom proclaims: 'This is not a drill. This is not a drill'.
    It is time to go to general quarters. All hands man your battle stations.
    Womm-Womm-Womm!


    Spots from the Obana Lettle's hanger spotlights slid over the white body armor of the Imperial stormtrooper, but nothing humored the opaque lenses of his helmet. "The Chief Warrant Officer will appreciate it if we dispense with pleasantries. You have our IDs and the confinement orders."

    CWO Monotoni dryly considered the three non-humans in the group: a blue-skinned Twi'lek, a glazey Gotal female wearing some sort of inhibitor collar, and a cuffed Mon Cal who blinked his big ol' fish eyes dumbly at the spacious hanger.

    "Our scans showed twenty-six lifeforms were aboard this transport."

    "Inaccurate," the trooper replied. "There are twenty, Chief, plus the protocol droid. The Twi'lek..." the stormtrooper shuffled his collection of data chits and selected one for the CWO. "He's on a contract issued by Lord Vader. Name is Cam Fortuna. The droid is his, and here are the clearance chits on his weapons. I'm not at liberty to discuss his two bounties."

    "Vader isn't the…"

    "I won't quibble Imperial contracts with you, Mr. Monotoni," the stormtrooper interrupted. "Not when we're at general quarters." Shuffles within the ranks behind him made short-barreled blaster rifles more apparent. "Now, if you please, Chief—the brig."

    "Sir," Monotoni answered. "I will call for a prisoner escort."

    "No need," the stormtrooper responded with his hand up. The chief warrant officer looked past the officious junior grade officer to the cadre of fully armored and armed Imperial stormtroopers. Monotoni made a curt signal to a nearby group of Red Shirts to secure the damaged troop transport.

    "The lieutenant will follow me," he snapped. At least his steel helmet didn't wobble.

    * * *

    Caroline Black rolled her bare feet to their outer arches to avoid the worst from the freezing floor. Water: splash-splash face; deodorant: left-side, right-side; hair-tie: quick flip, pull-thru, and pony-tail; and then into the clean working uniform hanging within reach. Bed to boots in 38 seconds.

    "XO!" a junior duty officer called to her as she left her stateroom. The man bounded up the passageway, leap-ducking through an oval pressure door to reach her.

    "Mr. Heskle," Caroline greeted him. "Walk with me to the bridge."

    "You're needed in the Gun 3 firing control," the runner said. "The training circle fouled and the power cells blew causing a feedback in modulation."

    Caroline Black's brow knitted. She keyed her wrist pad and skimmed the report. Fire Team Three was already on scene. "Where is Commander Hoop, the EDO?"

    "They took him to the infirmary. Nothing too serious I am told, but for some burns on his face and hands."

    Caroline made a note to swing by the infirmary later. "Very well, Mr. Heskle, let's go." She buckled her emergency oxygenation unit straps, tapped the butt of her sidearm (an old habit), and pulled her grey flash hood over her dark hair.

    * * *

    "Notification: two minutes and thirty seconds," the tall droid announced to the group.

    "Blow the ATR, Wonofor," the lead stormtrooper said.

    Confusion washed from CWO Monotoni's face as he grabbed for his blaster, but three concentric rings of blue energy jolted him in the chest. A pair of stormtroopers lifted the stunned man under his arms as a third opened the door of a store room. There they laid the chief warrant officer behind a rack of cleaning supplies, lightly binding his hands and ankles, and removed his comlink.

    "I hate to do this to you, Mr. Monotoni," the lead stormtrooper said to the unconscious man, "but you'll recover in about an hour none the worse for it." An abrupt thump passed through the depths of the ship. "—should we all live that long."

    A stormtrooper unclasped the inhibitor collar from around Bess Heiger's neck as Cami'rytha handed Mardo Tel his long rifle. Cami then took Mardo's binders and stuffed them along with the inhibitor collar in the Mon Cal's bulky pack.

    "Are you okay?" the lead stormtrooper asked Bess, watching the… not unfit Gotal woman massage her long grey-green cheeks, rub a thumb over her raised brow ridges, plump her cropped carmine hair with a hand.

    "Thank you, Lieutenant. I'll recover." Bess injected a little inflection in her otherwise monotoned voice. Gotals relied on more empathic means to express to each other. Relating well with other species was a learned skill.

    The false stormtrooper continued. "I've had some experience with those things, too. You know—as a human." A slight pause bloomed awkwardly. "I'm mean, it's just that... I… er… yes..." He handed over a short cylinder with dark wood inlays and capped in bright silver on both ends.

    "Wonofor just blew the ATR, and we're a deck below the brig," he finished.

    "Understood, Lieutenant." she nodded. Bess clipped her lightsaber in its place at the small of her back. She turned to her oldest friend and former sparring partner. The 6-foot tall droid whipped his skeletal head in her direction (she topped him by several inches, thanks in part to her pair of blunt cranial horns). His narrow golden eyes gave the impression of a predator in the drab ship lighting.

    "Wonofor, do you have access on the ship network?" Bess asked.

    The HK-50 assassin droid pounded up in front of Bess in five quick lethal strides. He cocked his head on its neck servos—unbeknownst to anyone, a trick he had patterned after one of Bess's mannerisms.

    "Answer: There are two public wireless networks localized in this section of the ship. I have detected many secured networks. But, without a docking port, it will be impossible to…

    "Ah! This will work. Please wait."

    The silver droid tramped over to a short wall panel, and after a few dozen tries with blurring fingers, found the correct sequence for the lock. A blue and white R2 unit trundled out of the recharging alcove beeping and whirring happily. Its dome swiveled about until the main optical receptor came to rest on the murderous droid. Wonofor silenced its electronic shrieks when he pulled its head off.

    "Am I sickened, afraid, or simply feeling both?" Mardo Tel whispered to Cami'rytha as they watched Wonofor sift the R2 unit's innards.

    "Xas. Mis doh tolima ardiqi," Cami answered the Mon Calamari.

    "Wonofor, hurry," Bess urged. "Security is going to be crawling all over the ship once they piece together what happened with the ATR. Those IDs Jost Bisu cooked up won't stand up to scrutiny. There will be real stormtroopers then."

    "Master Jedi," the lieutenant began. Bess blanched, but the disguised Antarian Ranger missed the muted emotional cues in Gotal physiology. "The brig is a few dozen meters in that direction, just up the next ladderwell." He pointed down the passageway. "I will take the squad—"

    A shipboard warning blared: "Imminent launch. Imminent launch. Imminent launch."

    Pupfshhh-Pupfshhh-Pupfshhh-Pupfshhh-Pupfshhh-Pupfshhh!

    "Missile launches!" a disguised ranger exclaimed. "The Metellosian fleet is here. They'll not last long against this Star Destroyer!"

    "We'll set a barricade at the ladderwell and seal this end of the brig," the lieutenant said to Bess. "Are you sure you four want to go in there alone?"

    "Maintenance team to 17-128-2-A, alcove MA02-R2-2," the disembodied speaker barked in the emptied hallways.

    "How expeditious," Mardo said in a low voice.

    "You're in the bright stars now, Ranger," said an armored soldier standing beside Mardo. "Welcome to the 2nd Imperial Fleet."

    "We stick to the plan," Bess said, returning them all to the mission. "Securing the prisoner is our objective. Cami, Mardo, and Wonofor will come with me. Buy us that time, Lieutenant."

    Wonofor's robotic eyes glowed as he held his electronic prize aloft; three limp wires dangled from the pilfered piece. "Statement: This will give me access to many restricted systems!

    "Statement: Cami'rytha, if you would pop this in here." A tiny port flicked opened on the side of the assassin droid's skull.

    A cloud had passed over Bess's long face; her mouth drew slim. Absently, she brushed a lock of hair from her brow. Her receptive horns delved deeply into the wavery electromagnetic spectrum.

    "What is it?" Mardo asked her. "Is it Lord Negs?"

    "There are many living beings here," Bess murmured vacantly, her eyes closed. "Electronics fuzzing things... but yes, this feeling is—" Gesturing vacantly overhead, she voiced the touch her mind had made: "This one underlies Abrupt and he holds Jagged; filled with thunderclouds and yellowed lightning that rolls low over his rain-washed green. Regret, anger... and a thick blue sorrow."

    If Mardo understood his close friend, he did not speak it. The Force and its emanations were mysteries to even the highest orders of Antarian Ranger. Behind them, Wonofor babbled: [44 69 61 67 6e 6f 74 69 63 3a 20 68 65 6c 6c f 20 67 61 6c 61 78 79 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00]. Cami'rytha and the nearest troopers took several expectant steps back.


    Bess Heiger stirred and her eyes regained their clarity of summer honey. "Come. We haven't much time. Bisu engineered this mission almost to the minute."

    The door behind the team opened with the sharp pop of an airtight seal. It swished shut again just as quickly. "Nenna jekjek tar, Unerfur," Cami'rytha said to the killer droid.

    "Commentary: That was rather good, was it not?" Wonofor answered the Twi'lek, pleased with his test. "Of course it's not as gratifying as ripping the door from its hinges."

    * * *

    "Oh, dear. I don't know what's quite come over me! But I suddenly feel the need to go to the door." The prim protocol droid straightened its servomotors and clankered off. Edwin Chorus glanced up, from the departing 3PO unit, to the silent line of KX Imperial security droids standing on their recharging pads outside his small staff office. The enclosed room was a reinforced island in the open security area at the junctions of two long prison bay corridors. A shorter third hallway ran sharply off to the right: to Processing and Reception and the brig's main entrance.

    He returned to reading the data pad in his hands.

    Report of Investigation of Prisoner 00343
    Session Number: 04, duration: 3 h. 26 min.

    40:2:25 T19:48^^Prisoner showed continued resistance to Level 2 interrogations with no degradation in her tolerance for sustained physical discomfiture and cognitive diffusion techniques. Physical apprehension and restraints were required for prisoner transport to and from the interrogation room. A bite block was administered on the prisoner by the attending physician.

    Information supplied by Prisoner 00343 has been accorded to known Metellean Resistance doctrine (i.e., agents possess unrestricted, noncritical details. Divulge when captured). All information collected and validated has been passed to the CI for actionable—

    Edwin skipped to the end.

    The Command Investigator (CI) authorizes Stage 3 interrogation.
    [Select Approve or Reject]


    His finger hesitated over the green approval icon; a thin arch nested in Edwin's left eyebrow. "Helena…" he whispered.

    "Oh..."

    The heat from his fingertip had reached the terminal interface. The green Approve icon flashed, and the screen cleared. Edwin laid his pad on the desktop and leaned heavily on his elbows. After a minute, he rose from the desk and went to the water dispenser that someone had wrestled into a corner of the office.

    Edwin Chorus, as Lord Negs and as an Inquisitor for His Excellency the Emperor, had bridged the gap between the Royal Metellosian and the Galactic Empire for the better part of a decade. He was sensitive to the Force, and had sailed the hate storms of the late Emperor and his trog, Darth Vader, during their rapacious quest for… for what? Power they had. Dominance—there had been no greater Empire in recorded history. Edwin had brought prosperity back to an entire galactic region while its peace and stability were nearly his.

    The paper cup slammed down on the counter. The capture of Helena Loym at Hyaab and the destruction of her rebel cell was his final milestone for the Empire and absolutely essential for this swath of space called the Negs. Helena, housed alongside drunk and disorderly crewmen, stolidly awaited her execution for treason upon her return to Metellos; her verdict having been levied by the Metellosian High Court of Justiciary, and sealed by Imperial Decree.

    Helena Loym, who Edwin had watched grow into a young woman within the Chorus household under the tutelage of his own mother. The woman he had once… loved.

    Edwin looked at the water cup crumpled by his hand. His dark eyes became fixed to it, his breath tightened into small bursts. The cup shook and a crease began slowly smoothing its way out.

    "All personnel. Impact imminent. Brace for impact."

    The Obana Lettle lurched under three rapid punches. Edwin collapsed, bruising a knee on the hard floor. He spun quickly onto to his buttocks and grabbed for the counter above his head. The KX droids outside swayed with the collisions like practiced sailors; then they suddenly popped their magnetized feet and surged forward into the vestibule. Blaster fire erupted, joined by the unmistakable buzz-hum of a lightsaber.

    * * *

    Caroline Black would have bypassed the damaged dorsal gun station to deal with the more pressing emergency of a hanger fire during battle, but Master Chief Samaniya had sent her an insistent followup. She met the man outside the Gun 3 hatchway reseating a storage container onto its base.

    "Master Chief... make neutrinos blush and tell me what's up. I've got a fire in H1."

    Usually an agreeable man, the Master Chief's drawn face prompted Caroline to follow him into the gun station without another word. A strong smell of ozone permeated the usual grease and solvent.

    "Number 3's ruptured power cells generated a feedback in Modulation," the Master Chief said. "There weren't causalities, but the big gun is out of commission."

    "Yes," she said, glancing over to the yellow tape stretched over a compartment door. "The circuit breakers should have tripped."

    "Aye, that's what should have happened," the Master Chief agreed. "But all the digital monitoring was pulled offline. Hopkins there went down to check on the RCDs after we got everything all buttoned up. He found this..."

    Samaniya motioned to a large tarpaulin pulled over something on the floor. A crouched ensign flipped back a corner of the tarp to reveal the badly damaged, but unmistakable body of a dead Gand. The Chief blew out a loud breath. "Found it down amongst the sense coils, he did. Must've disabled the control circuits and got caught up in the blast."

    Caroline crouched next to the crewman, grimacing at the cracked bits of Gand head, leaky brains, and random goo. She ran a quick search of the insectial creature's thick leather jerkin; stopped when she found buttons and wiring on the heavy bandoleer. "It's not a bomb," the crewman reassured.

    Caroline nodded and flipped the tarp back further to reveal a small clear cuboid on the Gand's studded belt. "No other bodies?" Caroline asked the young red-haired man standing by a bulkhead wearing fire protective gear.

    "There weren't. I didn't find any other signs of—" Hopkins paused, unsure of what to make of the Gand saboteur, "—these."

    "There will be five others," Caroline finished, standing up. "Speak nothing of this to anyone."

    "Inaccurate sensor readings, my Auntie Matter," she muttered, keying up her wrist comm. "This is the XO issuing a Silent Alert. Security bands only. Unknown agents aboard. Possibly Gand infiltrators cloaked with holographic emitters or masking their bio-signatures otherwise. All sensitive areas now require clearance from one of the Big Three." She looked over at the Master Chief, who nodded grimly.

    "Chief Warrant Officer Monotoni is to be located immediately," Caroline continued into her comm. "And find the stormtrooper detachment from the ATR. They are enemy agents. Transmitting IDs now."

    * * *

    Bess's lightsaber pivoted at her wrist as she kept her elbow and shoulder locked: her blade circuited through a round moulinet from classical Soresu. Green and orange laser bolts sparked and whined against a blue-white blur.

    "Mardo," she called, "—the gun turrets. Wonofor, rear block. Cami, hammer anything holding a blaster." The blue-skinned Twi'lek grinned viciously, and Bess felt his gleeful energy surge through the Force. Mardo hunkered just behind Bess and opened up with his powerful A280 rifle.

    Had Mardo and Cami known it, Bess had them arranged in the Old Old Republic Jedi Battle Wagon formation. Wonofor's yellow-on-yellow lightsaber buzzed and swept with machined precision over the sides of two shooters between Bess and him. Cami sighted down the snub barrel of his DC-15S and pulled the trigger a few times.

    The red blaster bolts bounced off the black armor of the KX droids. "Criecona ditha blahsta zepf ninna!"

    "Keep shooting, Cami!" Bess called back to him over blaster fire staccatos. "Something's bound to give."

    One of the robots suffered a limp arm, but the neighboring KX unit instantly pulled in closer and shielded the wounded robot on that side. Mardo lowered his long gun and put a round through a photoreceptor of the injured KX. The charred eye smoldered, but droid continued fighting. "Their brains have gone remote!" he said.

    "Wonofor?" Bess cried above the rising noise level.

    "Conclusive Statement: These security droids are not on any network that I have access to. They must be an upgraded model."

    Bess gestured towards the leg of the KX unit leading the phalanx with her free hand. The droid's foot slid fractionally on the polished deck, but clamped down when the magnetic tread activated. She clenched her hand into a fist and yanked the air. Nothing happened.

    They'll cut us down in pieces if we stand here. Learning my blocking routines. Predicting counters before I make them. I am—afraid?

    A droid snagged the EMP grenade Cami tossed into their ranks. Its eyes glowed and the grenade snuffed out obediently. Wonofor jerked sideways from a blaster bolt pinging off his reinforced clavicle.

    they can stand there and take you down one by one—

    Bess's slanted a chin-level block, but the move was sluggish and her lightsaber knocked heavily. She just managed to rebound the next two shots into the phalanx before spinning her blade tip down to intercept a third.

    "We've got to retreat!" she yelled over the clamor.

    back away—

    A bitter pang twinged her neck muscles and white pain sprinkled brightly down her spine. A thudding knot roiled inside her hip and numbness stung her left leg. Grey shapes and shadows filled her world as Bess's other senses fled.

    "Mardo?" she cried out. The Core take me—am I shot?

    you are no Jedi–you don't help anyone–people suffer because of you—

    "Mardo?!" she cried again. "My head..."

    A flippered hand, the scarred one with its two missing fingers, rested on her shoulder. The hand squeezed lightly, and Bess felt memory lessen her fear.

    "Be the Jedi you are," the Mon Cal said in her ear. "You are Gotal, you are Friend; Melioken's last Padawan, the wielder of his given saber. You are the Warrior for all people everywhere, great and small. You fight, Bess. Fight!"

    Munto Codru. Melioken. Training. Wonofor. Lightsaber… and Atzerri.

    An impregnable shield enveloped her mind and solidified over the sanctum of her soul. Using her will alone, Bess counter-punched brightly through the connection to its other end: to the owner of the pernicious voice now vivid and distinct in her mind. She tried often afterwards to relate the flooding of sensation in that moment: at once there and caught up in it. Yet, also being a few steps detached and watching through the Dream Wall: 'You'd have to be a Gotal to get the full holo.'

    She swirled a tangerine cloak of sticky magnetism around and over the attacking KX droids and then tugged it straight down. The droids slammed flat to the deck. Not liking what she saw, Bess twisted the field into purple-reds, and crumpled the droids into mindless bent tubes and jittery limbs. Still not satisfied, her lightsaber flew into the sparking jumble to spin and play.

    Two blaster turrets misfired on their wall sconces and melted in brown-silver fashion; Bess's silent saffron suggestion had touched off their electronic suicides. A lumbering acrid-buzz-taste intensified in her horns, stealing her attention in the next second. Bess turned Wonofor into an implacable dart, flinging him head first—with his yellow lightsaber leading—expertly at the last security droid just emerging from the left-side cell bay.

    ~~here~human~here~~

    Trickling black tendrils of the Force like a dawn-smothered campfire, a pale Lord Negs fell out the office doorway. His limp form sagged as he sailed up into the middle airs. Smashed into one wall, he then flew across the open foyer to smash into the opposite. Bess let the man drop, unconscious and inert, for the black tendrils were swirling around her fist and forearm. Bess pulled her arm eye-level and studied the wicked, seething mass: Dark Power invisible to Mardo and Cami, and hers for the taking. Her fingers unfolded and the tendrils uncoiled to fade, to die out.

    The long, steady barrel of the A280 judged the immobile Negs, but Bess stayed the sniper with a hand. "It's over, Mardo. The Lord Negs will be a threat no longer. All his power that once was is now gone."

    She called to Wonofor to finish slashing and dismembering the last KX unit. "Find Helena Loym and put Negs in her cell. Bring her to me."

    Turning to Cami'rytha she said, "I need you in that office. Figure out a way to get through to Jost Bisu. You have his code cylinder?"

    The Twi'lek nodded. "Xas."

    "Good." Bess rubbed her neck and said in a kinder tone. "I'm going to see if there's any BactaGenic stashed away in a drawer. We could all use some patching." She noticed Cami hadn't moved.

    "Bess?" he said quietly, looking down has his toes. "Cavadus Helena, mis doh yulenn kanetrada. Erm... Bahktarwa tepanos mis dohn eggæt onacien. Mis doh ney li d'tama."

    "I see: she's a friend to your family. Certainly. Go help Wonofor, and I'll try to reach Bisu. I will inform him on… Force matters." Cami'rytha handed Bess the code cylinder with a warm smile.

    Bess sighed, watching Cami's lekku jounce as his jogged to meet up with Wonofor. "He had me, Mardo, this Lord Negs. For one second, he had me," she said to her friend. "His words sunk inside my head, somehow spreading pain and weakness." She beckoned with a finger to the heap of broken security droids. "So subtle... it was far more dangerous than facing a hundred guns or knives. Thank you for—for bringing me back."

    "His poisonous talents could not help him against a true Jedi," Mardo said thoughtfully. "Truth is a powerful antidote."

    Bess cast the Mon Cal a speculative look. "You can sound a lot like Master Melioken at times, you know that?" she answered, clicking her saber hilt back in its clip. Mardo smiled in his Mon Calamari way.

    * * *

    In another part of the ship, Caroline Black had watched the firefight in the brig and the incredible Jedi Master through the tiny surveillance cameras mounted in the brig's high ceiling. She pinched her bottom lip before signaling to the Obana Lettle's Security Forces to proceed with the capture. On the monitor, the Jedi was in the office trying to slice into the communications network with a data pad. The XO reached out and touched a key on her terminal.

    "Master Jedi, this is Commander Caroline Black, Executive Officer of the Obana Lettle. Please stop what it is you're doing." The Gotal's face filled Caroline's screen as the Jedi looked into the lens on the pad. Caroline forced herself to speak in controlled tones. "This message is being broadcast ship-wide: I am placing you and all persons who arrived on the ATR, the Allitor, under arrest."

    Caroline paused: a purposeful delay, before continuing. "In a moment, the agents posing as stormtroopers who accompanied you will be ushered into the brig—unharmed if they disarm and do not resist. You will all remain confined there until General Quarters is lifted and the captain decides his course of action concerning you."

    Her eyes glittered as she played her last card. "Undoubtedly, Master Jedi, you could counter this given your impressive combat skills. You may even eventually slaughter your way to capturing the Lettle as your prize.

    "But this I hope you do not do," Caroline said. "I am currently holding back the brigs' lethal riot controls which includes a rapid nerve agent dispersal. You might escape and evade us, but your companions will not. Master Jedi, you speak for your entire team, for every living soul now in the brig, and for the lives of those who serve aboard this ship who will resist you to the very end. Do you understand and comply with these orders?"

    The Jedi nodded solemnly. "I do."

    Caroline cut the transmission and sank into the nearest chair to watch the capture operation commence. A Jedi! Her wrist unit buzzed, and she glanced at it before her rational mind logged a mild complaint. The urgent message consisted of just one shortly-worded question from the captain:

    > XO- is that Jedi Bess Heiger??


    End

    Look for the final chapter
    The Battle of Metellos: Blue Side
    Spring 2021
    † Royal Metellosian: (The Royal Metellosian Parliaments of Metellos, the Dependencies, Sovereignties, and Territories; and Intersubjective Realities): The governing body of Metellos and cultural-political bodies to which Metellos has authority.
     
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  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wow! That was one absolutely epic and detailed battle scene, and it’s exciting to see Mardo, Bess, and Cami back and on what seems to be one of their most exciting and danger-fraught missions ever! So, let me see if I have this right: did they just attempt to perform a jailbreak of sorts? On Lord Negs? But not before he performed (or at least attempted to perform) some sort of mind attack on Bess—and then apparently died in the attempt? Interesting how his corpse still seems to be oozing dark energy, though I imagine it’s no small load off Bess and co.’s shoulders that he is no longer a threat. But now XO Caroline Black seems to have the three in her power, and I wonder what that will portend for them. (Also, Bess is going along with it much more easily and readily than I anticipated… does she have a plan? [face_thinking] ) Will be eager to see how it all wraps up in the Blue Side whenever it’s ready—thanks so much for sharing! =D=
     
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  4. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Red Side deals with antagonistic forces, namely Bess, Cami, Wonofor, and the Antarian Rangers (Mardo is a Ranger: The Last Deep Breath). I've put the Negs Region on the verge of becoming an Allied Territory post-Endor.

    Without giving too much away from Blue Side, Jost Bisu of BoSS tasks Bess & Co., with sneaking aboard the Obana Lettle to recapture a high-value target: Helena Loym (details to why will be given in Blue Side). Bisu knows that Edwin is in TF 221, and must be dealt with. Hence his testing of Bess in The Dark Jedi and using the Antarian Rangers as a strike team (Luke & Co., are gallivanting elsewhere in the galaxy—plus, the Royal Metellosian wouldn't be too keen on the New Republic at this point in time).

    The finale's original plan had a longer conflict between Edwin and Bess. But then, Bess has been a master force-wielder for far longer than Edwin has been alive. Edwin's Force fortes are in subtly, divisiveness, and manipulation; when Bess rejects that, it's becomes a very short contest. Edwin is very much left alive (Bess tells Mardo not to shoot him), is held along with the others in the brig, and is a pivotal character in Blue Side. I tried to frame the micro-scene using a Gotal's impressions.

    I also wanted to show my respect for the training and dedication in our military forces, so I used Caroline as a device to show the complexities of Duty, Command, and Ship. I've tried to emphasize differences between a Core World Fleet serviceman and the more familiar, more ideological Outer Rim Imperial. Caroline will probably fade back into the rest of the ship while the captain deals with the fallout from the Green and Red sides in the final chapter. But answering your unspoken question: the Empire is on a defensive footing; Caroline is following her training and containing an enemy force while protecting her crew and ship.

    Things to make you say "hmm":
    - What's up with the Lambda shuttle, Tymithum, in Green Side?
    - Why rescue Helena before getting to Metellos? Why rescue her at all when Metellos sees her as a traitor?
    - Hey... what about the Gand?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2020
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