"You think you can take whatever you want! Things you didn't make, didn't earn; things you don't even understand!"
- Ezra Bridger
GHOSTS OF LOTHAL
Alliance Complex, Lothal City
Planetary Shield Strength: 15%
1700 Hours System Standard
The entire surface was in chaos.
Captain [member="Sol Stazi"] of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry Company shouldered his way through this undisciplined rabble that called themselves the heart of Defense Force operations planetside. He had been off duty enjoying what little entertainment this rust belt's capital held to offer for as long as his shore leave lasted when word of the First Order's arrival in force had finally leaked to the public.
By the time he had made it outside the run down little cantina he had been holed up in when the news broke, the city's streets were in complete disarray. Sol had narrowly avoided more than one close call from out of control landspeeders to stampeding civilians on his way to his objective, the primary Alliance Complex at the very heart of Lothal City.
"Sergeant Khalua! Bones!" he shouted, flagging down the first of his own men he came across, "Report!"
"Captain Stazi! Thank the Force!" Sergeant Khalua hustled over, followed closely by one of Twilight Company's surgeons, a Vratix whose actual name was so unpronounceable in Basic that everyone just called him Bones, "It's a gorram mess here!"
The Nabooian noncom filled him in on their tactical situation to the best of his knowledge. For months the entire planet had been waiting for the hammer to drop, drilling on what to do in just such a circumstance, and still somehow the First Imperials had managed to take them by near complete surprise. Shortly after their warfleet's arrival in system there had been some kind of massive explosion aboard the planet's Uldyr defense station, throwing their orbital defenses into disarray and eliminating much of their command hierarchy.
By the time General Anders had managed to assume some kind of control here at the Complex, the bombardment of Lothal's planetary shields had already begun. Khalua believed it would be a matter of minutes, not hours before it failed completely and the real fighting began. In the meantime, the General was about to address them before battle.
"Soldiers of Lothal, warriors of the Alliance, hear me!" as if on cue, General Anders' voice was broadcasted throughout the Complex, his Eriaduan features covering every holodisplay, "The enemy is at the gate! Take heart, distress calls have been sent to Sullust and Fondor, all we need to do is-"
His speech ended abruptly when a crimson lightsaber exploded out of his chest cavity.
"For the Lady of Shadows! For the Empi-"
The signal cut out.
"We've been compromised!" Sol grabbed Khalua by his uniform and nearly threw his sergeant towards the main threshold, "Get on comms and get everyone back here fething now! We need to start fortifying for ground assault!"
"What about you?!" Khalua shouted back shortly before he was lost in the turmoil all around them.
"I've got a Sith to hunt," the duros muttered to himself, drawing his heavy blaster.
FIV Invictus, Vanguard Class Fleet Carrier
In Orbit Above the Planet Lothal
1705 Hours System Standard
On the bridge stood Captain Ulfurin Tartis. A proud man dressed immaculately in his officer’s uniform. His dark skin spotless, his hair trimmed in a short orderly fashion and face shaved to perfection. He was the epitome of the perfect First Order officer. He gazed down at the peaceful world below. It would not remain peaceful for long.
The world had been disarmed in the treaty handed down between the First Order and Galactic Alliance in wake of the Alliance’s defeat at Hoth. The treaty the Supreme Leader had mysteriously and suddenly discarded in favour of more war a few months before.
Not that Captain Tartis would openly question the actions of the Supreme Leader, that would tantamount to treason.
He had not complained when the navy moved in to blockade the far most systems from the Alliance’s wealthier core worlds nor had he complained as they pushed further out into the putrid swamp of Dagobah. It was all part of the plan to split the enemy’s territory apart and overwhelm the cut off pocket. It seemed that plan had changed as he’d been made aware of by a mysterious and most sinister young woman.
“The Supreme Leader’s patience is at an end,” she had said, her voice somehow sweetness and venom both at once. “The Alliance still supplies their far flung territories despite victory upon victory on the battlefield. He has grown weary of these strategies, it would have been swifter to take it all by force directly! Lothal will be ours by right of conquest. The Fondor shipyards shall be dust, Coruscant terrorised and Sullust in ruins. This is Sieger’s will.”
Tartis had protested, he had been pleased with the initial plan. Draining the Alliance’s worlds of supply would make them easier to mop up later but the woman, this small yet terrible woman, had spoke with his voice and he could not be denied.
Beyond blind loyalty the strategy was there. Despite their best efforts, Lothal was not being drained of supply, it was not becoming weaker. Quite the opposite. It was rearming. Striking now, before it was complete, was sound.
Tartis was merely disappointed that his orders for it had come not from his superiors in the military but this… girl. The same one who stood next to him now.
Although Tarpis did not know her name, it was [member="Samka Derith"], Master of the Knights of Ren. She was smiling, seemingly transfixed on the world in their sights. It was a bright smile which would look endearing on her were it not tainted by the sickening Darkness which swirled within and around her presence. The Dark Side in her was clear even to a man like Tartis.
“This is where it began, Captain,” her voice was soft and she did not spare so much as a glance at him. Were he not personally addressed, he might think that she spoke to herself. The girl seemed mad enough to do so. “I was there but a weak little child at the time. I return as a conqueror,” a humourless snort followed. “Look at them,” In the background, Star Destroyers pummeled heavy fire down at Lothal’s shields. “This invasion force is a far cry from the small strike team I came with before.”
Captain Tartis nodded, what else could he do? The man could not reminisce with the young woman about events he was not party to. “Once the shields are down, I’ll deploy my fighters to cover your approach and the bombers to destroy ground defences.”
“Good,” she turned to beam at the captain. “I hope your men and women know what they’re doing, could you imagine if they let the Supreme Leader get shot down by a Lothal farm boy in an outdated X-Wing?”
At these words, Captain Tartis spun to face her, his jaw agasp. He hadn’t been privy to this information. “The… Supreme Leader has joined us?” The Captain found his words flounding. Sieger Ren so rarely took a personally role in their conquests.
“Indeed,” the girl replied, Tartis noticing once more just how eerily pale she was. “It’s of critical importance that we succeed. The Sith will strike soon and with it our opportunity comes.”
“The Sith?” The Officer’s lips pursed together in displeasure. The Sith claimed to bring order but left death in their wake. Their Empire, while sharing interests with the First Order, was morally reprehensible. “I will not be a collaborator to another Sith massacre!”
“The Sith’s whims and pleasures are not our concern,” with that his anger was dismissed with a flippant gesture of the girl’s hand and somehow he felt compelled to listen. “Only how much use they are to throw at the enemy and I think they’ll be very useful indeed.”
She smirked at him and Tartis knew she knew something he didn’t. This woman was infuriating yet far too oddly intimidating for him to stand up to. Did this make him a coward? No. It made him an Imperial. Loyal to his superiors.
“I’ll begin landing, the bulk of our forces shall be heading to Lothal City but don’t let that distract you. You are to concentrate foremost on defending the craft heading to the Jedi Temple. The Supreme Leader’s goal lies there, all else is a distraction,” the mysterious woman clad in black turned to leave and Tartis released a breath he did not know he had been holding. The further she walked, the warmer the air became. “I want your fighters ready to scramble.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he nodded respectfully at the small figure leaving the bridge, still unsure of what to make of the encounter. The spooks always made him uneasy but that one was special.
Turning back to the world they orbited, Captain Tartis frowned. What had made this unremarkable world so special? Perhaps that would soon be made clear. By the end of the day, Lothal would be theirs.
Lothal Jedi Temple
Planetary Shield Strength: 10%
1710 Hours System Standard
Gather the Temple Masters, to Inquisitor [member="Varex"], commands came easily, Dispatch Sentinels to the capital at once.
Some would call that a breach of their Code, who believed that a Jedi should always serve and never lead. But the Vaemath Jedi Knight had grown up on a world where hierarchy was everything, and the New Jedi Order's philosophy was that defending the Light was paramount over all other considerations. Today, that philosophy may very well save lives.
The Jedi Inquisitor had been dispatched to this world following another unlikely lead on this so called Order of Shadows operating within Alliance space, confidence bolstered only slightly by the knowledge that this mission came directly from Grand Marshal [member="Taeli Raaf"] herself. Instead, he had found himself in the middle of a system wide siege.
Nevertheless, Varex was confident that ultimately this incursion would be repelled. When he had first felt a deep disturbance along with the rest of the Temple that had shortly preceded the First Order's arrival, he had sent a personal message to the Grand Marshal informing her of the current situation here. It was now just a matter of biding enough time.
Ignorant as he was of events transpiring even now on Coruscant and Fondor, the Jedi Knight had no way of knowing that their requested reinforcements would never arrive.
SIEGE OF LOTHAL ENGAGEMENT ZONES
With Defense Fleet forces in this sector all but scattered by a massive enemy blockade group, there is nothing to stop the First Order's impending planetary assault. It is only a matter of time before their artillery ships in orbit overwhelm Lothal's shields, and what's left of the Alliance command structure is rallying in the capital's main Complex.
The Lothal Jedi Temple has stood as a beacon of the Lightside throughout the Outer Rim ever since it was restored by the New Jedi Order. Some would argue that the Temple's uncompromising response to unauthorized Ren activity on Lothal is what precipitated this entire conflict. The Jedi prepare their defenses and dispatch aid to Lothal's cities, unaware that this sacred ground is the Order of Ren's true objective.