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A COLD WAR STORY
HUBRIS OF EMPIRES FATAL ALLIANCE PT. I
After their tumultuous clash upon New Alderaan, the Empire and the Alliance would formally enter a state of cold war, one that would see the Empire seek to not bide its time after consolidating their hard-fought gains within the cluster. The Empire, under the leadership of the Triumvirate, saw their interference as a slight that could not be let go, and spurred on by the development of prototype weapons that could give them an edge in the galactic wars to come, made the first move before the Alliance had the chance to react.
An Imperial fleet of the size that had not been seen since the Third-Imperial Civil War would breach Alliance space at once, opening up a salient towards Ilum with a horde of support vessels in tow. The defense fleet of the sector was easily suppressed by the sheer weight of Imperial firepower, leaving the Empire to its own devices while the Alliance moved quickly to counterattack against the intrusion.
Meanwhile, the Empire had not wasted a moment on the world, suppressing any dissent that came as its legion of mining drones and support vessels dug into the planet's deposits of kyber, strip-mining the world so deep that the affected area was referred to as the Hallowed Scar as a result. The Alliance response would come sooner than the Imperials would have liked, bringing with them a mixture of elite Alliance personnel and Jedi to halt the Empire on the ground. In space, the fleet and its core of elite pilots were tasked with displacing the Imperial fleet, but most importantly, stopping this prototype weapon that has been brought to bear upon the Alliance.
OBJ I - BLACK ICE
SUGGESTED FOR: Duelists and Warposters
On the surface of Ilum, a vast array of caves interconnect with its numerous canyons and ridges, forming long chains of ice that pave the way toward the Hallowed Scar of the Empire. Cut deep into the crust of the planet itself, a result of Imperial hubris, and its desire to strip mine the world with haste and pettiness in mind, the Empire has so far left a continental-sized depression across the sacred planet of the Jedi.
While en route to relieve the security forces left to defend the around-the-clock strip mining, a contingent of Imperial Armed Forces are ambushed by a Joint Task Force comprised of Alliance personnel and Jedi alike.
A close-quarters battle ensues in the aftermath of the ambush, leaving Stormtroopers, Alliance Soldiers and Jedi alike to fight with every means at their disposal. Be it by blasters, blades or the stock of their weapons, a desperate fight for survival by two determined sides has only just reached its beginning.
OBJ II - HALLOWED SCAR
SUGGESTED FOR: Duelists, Special Forces, Intelligence Operatives
Seismic drills and their accompanying fleets of drones thunder across the surface of Ilum, ruthlessly pillaging the world's supply of Kyber crystals with each passing hour. The strip mining of Ilum encompasses miles upon miles, with the most desolate and deepest trench being referred to as the Hollowed for its size, but also due to the concentration of Imperials who are stationed there to protect their operation.
The Alliance and their New Jedi counterparts seek to frustrate, if not outright bring the Imperials' strip mining to a halt by any means necessary. The Imperials, on the other hand, refuse to allow their despoiling of Ilum to be brought to a close, and ready themselves for the impending assault.
OBJ III - FINAL COUNTDOWN
SUGGESTED FOR: FLEETERS and SPACE ENJOYERS
The Imperial Fleet sits in a defensive posture in orbit of Ilum, bracing themselves for the expected Alliance response to their intrusion within their borders. A stalwart defensive pattern of ships is arrayed to protect the vast web of mining drones, fleet tenders and support vessels strip mining the world beneath them.
The momentum is left in the hands of the Alliance to displace the Imperial threat from their space, and most importantly confirm and destroy the rumored prototype superweapon located upon the flagship of the fleet. It is imperative that the weapon is neutralized immediately before it can finish being primed, otherwise mass destruction of either the fleet, or Ilum, is inevitable.
A formidable weapon of mass destruction has been unleashed upon the battlefield, cutting through the battle lines of both fleets with its indiscriminate power and morphing the battlefield into a display of slagged vessels and floating debris. Despite the incalculable damage done upon not only the Alliance, but the Empire's vessels themselves, fleet sensors across the alliance report that the weapon is in the process of being primed to fire once more.
It is a race against time for the fleets of the Alliance to regroup and destroy the weapon, and for the Imperials, it is paramount that an unsurmountable defense is mounted against the impending response to the chaos unleashed. Regroup amidst the destruction, and rejoin the battle once more within the graveyard of steel that now serves as the battlefield in the void.
MEMORIES ON ILUM: FLASHBACKS ON A FROZEN LAKE - PART 1
Tellan Lake, The Kyber Range Mountains, 5km West of the Hallowed Scar, Ilum (Early-Spring of 877 ABY)
Whatever awaits me, I march gladly towards it.
IMPAF, the Sabretooths, and any who had caught wind of Lord Erskine's stir-craziness had told him not to wander. "This is not the time for your antics, Lord-Regent!", the majority had rightly proclaimed, but under the cover of night's frozen shroud, the Lord-Regent silently declared that it was indeed the time for his antics - in spiritual contrast to the reason he was being faced with at the time.
The lake was calling to Barran, and there was nothing that he nor anyone else could do to change it.
But not only calling to the old Woad himself, but also to the sheathed broadsword he lifted ceremoniously from Fel's throne, the same sword that influenced his mind every time he endeavoured to grasp it for war, the same basket-hilted wonder that was laid across the seat of Emperors with specific reason in mind. For if Lord Erskine would not sit the throne, then his sword would surely adorn it in an act of protective reverence to the title and all who fought to keep it's legacy intact, and such a time to do so actively had finally arisen, and ready the old Woad most certainly was for the occasion. Still just months fresh from his bout with the Mongrel, the degradations of old age still had not yet caught up with the Steward of Imperium, and though the salt-and-pepper of his hair was quickly turning a shade of silvery white, the ice-cold instinct was still there to be seen in his eyes by all.
I trust in your good plan, Dia. But must it really take so long?
Suffered through the years though the Lord-Regent had, and most of all to be felt in the entirety of his military career, but Barran only seemed to walk through it stronger every time, and in the body of an elderly man who only faced more of time's challenges as he aged even further. Yet somehow, Lord Erskine's life-weariness would never show in any aforementioned context, not in combat, in politics, his social life and marriage, nor through the lens which he viewed life with from day to day; to see, one would need to view the old Woad through a certain lens of their own, to look beyond the cold blue of his irises, to look elsewhere for cracks in Barran's mask of indomitability.
Perhaps a trace remains....
Perhaps - that of the Mongrel, as I once knew him.
A brief precursor to a larger, longer-lasting blizzard had subsided as Lord Erskine approached the east bank of Tellan Lake, giving him just enough time to take in the night skies above for a time, seeing it as a perfect opportunity to think on his past as the winds blew singular solitary snowflakes hither and yon. Thinking on what transpired the first time his boots touched base on Ilum's snowy, mountainous surface, memories of a face, one such unburdened by the cybernetics that would one day replace it, Barran couldn't help but ponder on what happened to the Mongrel between then and their final encounter on Tython, thinking on what suffering his greatest rival had suffered to become the hulking metallic form he defeated in the end.
The mage-knights think their invisible power puts them above us,
Erskine had earned something of the same in his rise to his part in the fated clash of Order and Chaos, losing his left arm to the bite of an undead Carlaci soldier, and in the process, his run of unblemished excellence had ended as the Mongrel's had before him. Forever fated to meet each other again in combat, though only as the battered, bloodied husks of the men they should have become by other circumstances, neither of the great war-hounds could ever have known that such were the wages of dedication to the final fight between them. And yet, it wouldn't have mattered, as their commitment to the Galaxy's greatest duelling rivalry would have continued with even lesser regard to the costs, as such could only serve to further-strengthen the resolve of such individuals. Swordsmen always understood such realities from the offset, but power was still there to be found within such harsh truths, such that extended far beyond the realms of resolve and galvanisation alike.
We both know better. They are powerful, but they can be made to bleed.
Words of the Scar Hounds' former Warlord had been leaking into the forefront of his mind since he looked across Ilum's surface from orbit, and all from the old Woad's recollection of events from his first experience against the Mongrel, bringing a slight smirk to the beard-covered lips of the Lord-Regent as he recalled what he felt was the best sword-duel of the previous decade. Yet the Mongrel's words in their first fight specifically, the very fight that set their course for the greatest rivalry of the century, were making the walk onto the ice feel all the more intense as the winds kicked up the snowdrifts around him, only then realising how prophetic his rival's words were at the time. Knocking the old man aback in his state of focus, not only for the sheer weight of timeless truth what had been said that night in 865 ABY, but for the fact it rang true for two of the Galaxy's most powerful leaders also.
This really is our natural habitat, Mongrel. Always has been, always will be!
Like a lash, the prophetic nature of his own words stung in comparison, for it was far from a natural habitat for his likes, bringing about the realisation that he only belonged for the sake of the Hellish destruction Lord Erskine inflicted on his enemies, as those who remained by then often walked the same crucible in their own way. Even the Jedi orders that survived the years of war had changed by then, though the old Woad had only seen just a fraction of that truth with his own eyes, destined to find out the hard way as he always was before, destined to live with the agonies as he endured every last one of life's harshest lessons with a cheeky smirk on his face. But there was no likes to be seen on Barran's face that night, not whilst thoughts were drifting to the Blue-Heart servicemen who fought, bled and died to keep Ilum out of Mawite hands, not for all he sacrificed as a result of landing on this planet for the first time.
And the worst insult of all was the fact he sacrificed much and more for control of the Kyber-Mine mountain, still somewhat easy to see though the subsiding storm in the distance, and all for the Galactic Alliance to retain control over it, the same former allies who awarded the old Woad with a Signet of Fidelity for his commitment to the long-standing alliance between their factions. The very fact the GADF were poised to strike alone felt like a slap to Barran's face, but in the Moff Council's decision to strike out at Ilum, the ire this place brought out from within him had lessened somewhat, almost as if they all knew how much this planet mattered in the grand scheme of things, even if it wasn't in any real knowledge of how much Ilum mattered to the Lord-Regent personally.
This planet had been the starting-point of Lord Erskine's path to greatness, and as far as the Lord-Regent was concerned, none had any right to set foot on it's surface but the wonder that was Fel's Empire; and whether they willed it or not, neither the Galactic Alliance nor the New Jedi Order would ever have the honour of knowing how hallowed the planet had become on the night Barran fought the Mongrel for the first time, blessing it's glowing, snow-covered surface forevermore.
And after New Alderaan, the very thought of GADF boots sullying such a wondrous region only served to steel his vengeful resolve even further.
Win, lose or draw....
I want them to suffer for every squared metre of this place.
If they want it so much, they can bleed in their attempt to take it.
Drawing the songsteel wonder from it's decorative scabbard with a nuanced flourish that sailed it's tip with swift artistry towards a lazy, low and open guard, Barran confidently stepped out onto the cracked blue ice of Tellan Lake's deeper-water segments, slowing to a strolling walk until he reached the black ice of the very center of the lake itself. If any were lucky enough to bear witness that night, they would be treated to quite a rare display to say the least, for not only was the old Woad enhancing an already-stellar connection between mind-and-muscle, but a rare fighting flow-state would be attained once more within this meditative, hallucinatory state - that which had been experienced by Lord Erskine and the Mongrel in the eye-opening first duel of their rivalry.
'Alright.... Lets see if this auld Warhound still has a bite.'
His initial choice of target, stray snowflakes.
His first choice of stance, right-hand dominant southpaw.
His leading choice of fighting-discipline, the Mongrel's Elementary.
In a complete deconstruction of the Fiorist form he was accustomed to, breaking down every single technique to strip them back to their base fundamentals, Barran let his sword-arm guide his mind as opposed to the decision's vice-versa, letting the creativity flow freely on it's own as he slashed and stabbed through the singular snowflakes kicked up from the nearest snowdrifts. First it started out with attempts at non-telegraphed strikes from surreptitious positioning, finding the usual levels of peak aptitude within moments, then the short linkages between combination strikes in completion to the warmup, leading into an all-night shadow fighting stint that saw only a few brief pauses. Almost as if every pause was a completed bout against a different simulated opponent every time, with the nature and pacing of each shadow bout appearing to differ from the bouts that preceded it in Lord Erskine's mind.
However, in his state of tunnel-like focus, the Woad would have a distant observer watching everything from afar, completely unaware that his next opponent was gazing on the silent scene from a nearby mountain, waiting for the right moment to strike. And to make it even more impossible to detect his opponent, the Lord-Regent would find himself inundated by the slow and steady beginnings of yet another snowstorm, bringing about a mythic feel for the lake on which he was still moving around on, but such that incurred serious risks as he continued to lunge and slash at the ghosts in his mind.
BORN OF BRIGHT STARSI: SURVIVING FORMER ALLIES - PART 1
FOB: Reverence, Western Kyber Mountains, The Hallowed Scar, Ilum (Spring of 877 ABY)
<"McKidd to Cairn One! What's the auld'yin up to now? Still dancin' oan the ice wi' that sword o' his?">
<"Barran to Guardian One! Solid copy, an' he'll be at it for quite some time yet so keep an eye on 'im.">
<"Copy that, Milord. Guardian One out!">
Posted at the western entry point to the Hallowed Scar, the Highland Brotherhood's main infantry contingent would be able to cover the first part of the NIO's westward push towards the GADF's encampment, hoping the blizzards beyond would do the rest as they stayed behind to offer help with rearguard actions and heavy-calibre cover for any expected fighting retreats back into Imperial territory. However, despite the dangers, the forays were patrolled in 5km increments to facilitate strategic consolidation of territory in the future, choosing a careful approach before any real aggressive moves were made, and choosing to scout the terrain with whatever time could allow on each deeper push into GA territory.
'Still got clean visuals?.... Randall, all good o'er there still?'
It was during the early-morning rotation when clear RTB orders were heard over comms for the on-duty armoured column, the very same contingent they were previously covering from the vantage points of their mountaintop-outpost, and by that point of their deployment to Ilum, that was always taken as the Highlanders' signal for the entire contingent to man their stations at the HASCO walls. But all they could do until the Cataphracts were visible, as stressful and as irritating as the anticipatory tension was for everyone concerned every time, (regardless of which patrolling Imperial contingent it was at the time) all the Highlanders could do was wait. Not that they would need to wait for long, the on-duty armoured column had found the beaten path quickly enough and were vectoring in quite close to base by the time Lord Michael found his way to the western lookout tower, sipping on scalding-hot tea as he looked out to Tellan Lake.
'Michael, please. You know I've got thermal-optics on my sights.... But yes, clean visuals maintained. Old man still ain't tirin' out there.'
But instead of keeping a close eye on the north bank from where the armoured herring-bone were expected to file in from, his eyes would wander towards his father's spot on the lake itself, watching on as his father lunged and slashed away at the snows in the distance, though growing slightly concerned for the fact the blizzards were quickly beginning to obscure the old man from view. The Lord-Regent would most certainly be on his own after that, but in the understanding of the kind of warrior his father was, the Druid was left with no other choice but to retrain his focus to the Tellan's north bank, keeping faith in Lord Erskine's swordsmanship as he always had before. Old Barran had attainted great renown with his skill as a duellist, even going so far as to make at least two Sith Lords flinch in his career as an officer, and to be the one who killed the Mongrel in the end had also served to solidify all perceptions that pertained to this aspect of Lord Erskine's reputation.
<"All units, this is McKidd! Clean visual acquired on recon-tank leading the column! Ready up at your stations-">
Suddenly snapped out of his far-gazing distraction, Barran would note a bright golden-white flash at the right-hand corner of his peripheral vision, but without being able to turn and see what it was, Lord Michael could only assume that a surprise attack had been sprung somewhere along the column in the west. And though he had no clue if it was the recon-tank or not, it was justification enough for the Woad to jump to action, looking uphill to the northern watchtower in the hopes either McKidd or Maitland were able to get a read on where exactly the blast had originated from, tough though it was to discern how distant the blast's ground-zero was through the snowfall.
'WHAT THE FETH WAS THAT?!?!?!'
The Wanderer knew his Guard-Captain wouldn't be able to hear him at that distance, but fortunately for everyone involved, McKidd was supremely decisive under pressure, and was poised to react as quickly as possible when the blast eventually kickstarted the first ambush of the GADF assault on the Hallowed Scar. Yet, Lord Michael remembered a time when higher-stakes responsibilities were loaded onto the Captain's shoulders, back in the days when McKidd was just months away from earning his promotion to Staff-Sergeant, bringing Barran to the realisation that he could leave control of the fighting-retreat in the hands of Guardian Company. Risk-factors, including those that pertained to the safety of the Lord-Regent, had multiplied greatly in the prediction a GADF-led raid was underway, and with the threats revealed so close to their outpost, the response was needed to be swift - even if only in defensive, fighting retreat by the time the rescue was eventually underway.
<"ALL UNITS, THIS IS McKIDD!!!! THEIR RECON TANK HIT AN I.E.D!!!! I REPEAT - THEIR RECON TANK HIT AN I.E.D!!!! STAND BY FOR SALLY-PLAN ORDERS!!!!">
<"Barran to Guardian One! Listen up! ENACT SALLY-PLAN: BRAVO!!!! SALLY - PLAN - BRAVO!!!! Dia protect you, brother! *CHA BHI SINN UILE!!!!">
Translated. - **'ITS ALL WE KNOW!!!!'
<"CHA BHI SINN UILE!!!!">
Within seconds, the orders went out on all the Highlanders' comm-link channels and unleashed an infantry-heavy contingent on the overlooking mountains, all noted as having considerable marksmanship skills by record and recent target-readings before being chosen as the handpicked operators in the Sally-Plan:Bravo array. There were other Imperial-affiliated contingents in the area, somewhere beyond the confines of the Hallowed Scar itself, of this the Druid had no doubts, especially in using his Force-abilities to track them down whilst he was still drinking his morning coffee, detecting their exit northward as his officer-billet's clock struck at 04:00 exactly. However, the Pellaeonist Woad couldn't rely on any of the others in these moments, nor could his Highlander-born Captain for that matter, and certainly not on the hope that they had been tracking the GADF's movements to be of any help under the circumstances.
All they had was action, the aim of the Brotherhood's best and brightest, and the strength of the Disruptor-tech in their rifles. Experience and cohesion would be needed, though everyone activated for combat that morning knew it would be in limited supply as they worked through the heavy snowfall together. Lives were expected to be lost on Ilum, especially against the best-funded army in the Galactic Core, but with the right level of determination, the Goidels could thrive under such intense fighting-retreat conditions. All who were chosen for the sallying actions, no matter what they specialised in, had made their peace with Dia, their saints and in their own ancestries - resolving to serve faithfully to the last.
Even though the heroic dead Woads, and the very memory of those among them who died on Ilum in 865 ABY, would be sullied by the very actions of the once-revered Highlanders, a sad reality of the long list of provocations thrown back and forth between both Galactic superpowers. It enraged him, and to the point Lord Michael's face grimaced with the purest disgust, and in that moment, the Druid's mind searched the entire continent for another that was as appalled as his was by then. Though much to Barran's surprise, a distinctly familiar presence was expressing almost identical amounts of disdain in these moments, and though she wasn't too far away, it was still difficult to discern exactly who it was. But when he jumped from the watchtower to land just beyond the safety of the HASCO walling, stepping out to get just that little bit closer, telepathic connections were more easily established with the distant Imperial Force-Wielder - linking with a soul he knew already from similarly distant proximities on Serenno.
~=Greetings, Mira. I have been told much of your skill in combat, but of your mind - this is yet to be ascertained.... But worry not - for you are not alone on Ilum, and I can help.=~
War was ever present in the Galaxy, and there never ceased to be conflict being waged between the political powers vying for control of their respective territories, expanding and seeking to topple the opposing forces; be that the fight between the Jedi and the Sith Order’s or Imperial decree versus those pushing for Democracy across the Galaxy.
As a Jedi Knight, Caedyn had taken part in many a battle during his time of service and duty to safeguard the innocent and stand tall for democratic leadership. He had fought against the numerous sects of Sith, defended the Silver Concord Territories from the Bryn’adul, and fought to assist the Outer Planets Alliance and the Rimward Trade League in securing the outlying territories from piracy, criminality and those who would stand against the rights and freedoms of civilian life. Now, it appeared that the battle between the Galactic Alliance and the Galactic Empire was to be his next assignment, and the world being targeted just happened to be a symbol of the Jedi Order, representing those who had come before, and those who would look to be a beacon of light in the dark times that lay ahead.
Standing aboard the bridge of the Vagabond Heavy Assault Cruiser, Caedyn watched as the vessel surged through hyperspace accompanying other vessels of the Galactic Alliance Fleet en route to Illum. His thoughts moved to his newly appointed Padawan Ariana Du Couteau
who would also be taking part in the fighting to defend the Jedi Temple and Crystal Caverns. They had not been paired up for nearly as long as Caedyn would have wished before moving into such an extremely dangerous front, but the girl had fought for her homeworld of Empress Teta and alongside her Jedi peers and Alliance personnel, he would have to rely on those she accompanied to keep her safe. Closing his eyes, he took the time to steel himself away from his concerns in order to ready himself for the coming battle, torn between wanting to be there to fight alongside her, yet being assigned to the strike team alongside his long-time ally Caltin Vanagor
“All hands, this is your Captain speaking. We are due to arrive shortly and expect to meet with heavy resistance from the Imperial Fleet. You all know your duties. Every crew member aboard the Vagabond has put their trust in you to fulfil your positions at your best. We work as one, we fight as one, and we live to fight another day. Ready all battle stations, and let's get this done. Whayeson out” Gene’s voice echoed throughout the ship's numerous sections, speaking to the entirety of the crew.
Caedyn turned to give her a firm nod of approval and then moved to stand alongside her second in command, Loni O’Jakri. The Zabrak Commander was a well-built soldier and naval officer, rife with experience in warfare and large-scale battles such as what they were expecting to face in the coming moments. He had served alongside Gene Whayeson for some years now and conveyed a sense of confidence that helped to keep the morale high aboard the bridge.
“Time you were on the move, Master Jedi” He spoke to Caedyn. The title wasn’t needed, they had been friends and allies in many a joint mission together now, yet he had never let formalities slip as a testament to his commitment to his duty.
“Yes, I believe it is. Good luck out there. I’ll raise comm’s once I’ve joined the Strike Team. I don’t anticipate a smooth flight to the surface” the Jedi Knight replied, giving the Zabrak a bow of his head in respect before moving to leave the bridge.
From there Caedyn would use the turbolift to reach the Hangar. He would need to jump ship as soon as they dropped out of hyperspace in order to rendezvous with Caltin and the rest of the Special Forces unit. They had been designated a Scientia Shuttle for the venture down to Ilum, and he had little doubt that the Imperials would do everything they could to keep them from landing safely.
“Alliance signatures exiting lightspeed! Initial estimates-” The tactical officer’s sudden outburst paused, only to continue but a moment later: “...it appears to be the vanguard of a sector fleet.” To the junior officer’s credit, he maintained the expected level of professionalism in making his report despite the undertones of anxious suspense laced within his voice.
“What is the status on the rest of the fleet?” Rear Admiral Feros inquired, his hands clasped behind his back as he peered over, and eventually broke away from his private dialogue with Grand Moff Korvan. Wordlessly, Ignacious placed a finger on his chin as he strolled over to a nearby tactical console. He noticed the subtle indications of the Ensign before him tensing up while trying desperately to keep focused on his duties. The Grand Moff regarded the junior officer evenly, but otherwise remained silent as he peered over the younger man’s shoulder.
As reported, dozens of signatures began to materialize at the edge of the engagement zone. Without skipping a beat, Feros’ voice could be heard blaring throughout the bridge like an alarm klaxon. “Prepare a wide-band volley along the entry vectors of the Alliance vessels and fire on my mark. Order general quarters across the fleet - I want all fighter pilots on standby within five minutes. I will not tolerate a repeat from New Aldera!”
Ignacious had to hand it to the Rear Admiral - he was a quick study, or perhaps he did not wish to see his command all-but usurped by the Grand Moff as it was over New Aldera. As things stood, Ignacious presence here was to preside over the deployment of the Empire’s latest superweapon. To the untrained eye, it would be all but impossible to divine its location amongst the myriad of Imperial vessels comprising the 43rd Battlegroup plus the support elements surrounding it. But amidst the massive star destroyers forming the nucleus of the Imperial formation, a singular Onager II-class Star Destroyer stood out. While the Onager in and of itself boasted an impressive armament capable of decimating opposing fleets, this particular Onager’s main armament nestled within its center was above and beyond even the normal fair.
A massive gauss coil extended through the slit through the central section of the ship, with beam emitters spaced at regular intervals - not unlike a certain ancient superweapon from the fallen Empire under Emperor Palpatine. The scale was far smaller of course, and was clearly a prototype if the reports funneling in through Korvan’s flagship could be believed. The Grand Moff perused the latest engineering reports on the display, peering over the Ensign’s shoulder as if he were an obstacle to be overcome. He casually straightened his posture and turned to the Rear Admiral: “Prepare the superweapon to fire upon the entry point. Begin primary ignition sequence immediately.”
The Rear Admiral gave an almost incredulous expression to the Grand Moff, and approached him with a low tone only the two men could hear: “Sir, this is a prototype - and the test parameters clearly state we are to fire upon the planet. Firing into the enemy position presents risk we haven’t accounted for--”
“Forgive me, Admiral.” Korvan raised a hand to interject before continuing: “I wasn’t aware I was making a suggestion.” The frozen stare Korvan affixed Feros with punctuated his words perfectly. Some of the color in Rear Admiral Feros’ cheeks faded away almost instantly. Ignacious’ hand lowered to his side, and his tone took a slightly more amiable - but no less commanding air: “Prime the main weapon of the NIV Reckoning and calculate a firing solution as best we can. The Alliance won’t even know what’s hit them. What better way to test the weapon than by exploring all of its applications?”
Slowly, Rear Admiral Feros nodded his agreement with a slightly resigned posture. Korvan smirked and leaned in, his tone lowering to that of a whisper: “Sometimes Admiral, one must do the unexpected for the expected to work when it needs to.” The two men held each other’s gaze for a moment until the Admiral once again gave the Grand Moff a fractional nod, but this time with a bit more understanding and confidence in his eyes. The Grand Moff has proven himself on Ilum, and it was clear that the Rear Admiral was slowly coming to trust in his senior’s instincts more and more with each deployment.
Without further delay, the Admiral’s voice rose up throughout the bridge: “Commence primary ignition sequence on the Reckoning; all other vessels, prepare to fire on my mark.” Feros strolled over to his command console, with the tactical stations reporting on the ready status of the 43rd, as well as the other Imperial battlegroups in the area. With one word, the wrath of the Imperial fleet would unleash.
“Fire!” Scores of autocannons, heavy turbolasers, mass drivers, solar ionization batteries, and missiles streaked through the void toward the emerging Alliance fleet - a wide band volley cascading across the entire side of the embattled area. The 43rd Imperial Fleet was arrayed in triple-layered formation angled slightly toward the rear, with the Valiant-class Star Destroyers forming the front line with the artillery frigates, and picket corvettes interlaced within to provide picket support. The secondary line was comprised of the NIV Ave Imperator herself, flanked on either side by two Pellaeon-class Star Destroyers and a pair of New Imperial Star Destroyers. The third and rear-most line was occupied by the heavily modified NIV Reckoning, escorted by a smaller force of escort corvettes and a lone New Imperial Star Destroyer.
The gauss rod began to pulse violently, with the beam emitters fading to life. Starfighter pilots began scrambling to their craft, awaiting the order to emerge into the void. The Grand Moff stared out of the observation deck, watching as the prototype weapon began coming alive.
Soon the Alliance would understand the penalty for meddling in the affairs of the Empire.
Soon they would learn the cost of interference rather than deference. And in so doing, they would facilitate the ascension of Grand Moff Korvan to a level of prominence and authority that would truly cause his rivals to balk at opposing him.
Operation: Black Ice
The Hallowed Scar, Ilum Primary Objective: Survive Ambush, Return to Convoy & Provide Armored Support to Imperial Elements Friendlies: The Empire | Michael Barran
| Bex Tarring
| Open For More Hostiles: Galactic Alliance | Kelly T. Perris
| Open For More Directly Engaging: Open Gear:In Bio
Elements of the 181st Armored Division, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Company, 3rd Platoon
The multifuel engines of a pair of XT-62 MBTb ‘Cataphract’s and the loud thrum of their wide treads shook the frozen ground as the pair of armored behemoths, namely Charlie Three-Two and Charlie Three-Four, were sent ahead of their convoy for reconnaissance purposes. Their convoy and the rest of the armored column followed roughly two klicks behind them.
The small formation of tanks, sent to provide recon, would be among the first of the Imperial units to stumble into an ambush, despite their efforts of forward reconnaissance to detect such a threat.
Kenth, turned out from his commander’s hatch, scanned his sectors with a pair of macrobinoculars in his hand just a moment before a hailstorm of blaster bolts had beset the lead tank in the small armored formation, barreling down the frozen road; the young gunner inside the armored confines of ‘332’ had firmly tugged Kenth into the tank, following a hunch; sensing the apprehension of danger towards his life, the young man had seized the initiative, giving a warning shout over the intercom, and quickly pulled the TC into the tank as the first of the blaster bolts struck the roof of the turret armor, harmlessly glancing off into the air much to the latter’s surprise; cursing and loudly shouting language that would make a spacer blush at the top of their lungs in sheer, sudden panic, the TC quickly reached for the commander’s hatch and closed it after disappearing into the vehicle with a firm tug from Hall; the hatch locked with a mechanical rattle the moment they disappeared into their vehicles as the men assumed their positions in the fighting compartment of their tank.
<”KARKSUCKERS! Where in the KARK did they come from!?”> The TC shouted in between bated breath inside the fighting compartment as he quickly looked out of the commander’s panoramic sight, scanning for priority targets to relay to his gunner, Hall. <”DAMNED IF I KARKIN’ KNOW!”> Their driver shouted over the intercom with a highly annoyed intonation as the man continued to drive the armored behemoth down the road at an increased speed.
Reaching for the radio station’s handset, Kenth began relaying enemy troops’ positions he could see, relaying the sectors they were taking small arms fire from to the rest of his platoon and other vehicles in the convoy; the radio station right beside the commander buzzed with comlink activity as the other tanks in the column began exchanging combat related information with one another; the sharp, distinct voice of their young platoon leader, Lieutenant Löwe, could easily be heard among the rest. The convoy also had come under an ambush.
<”Three-Two copies!”> the TC confirmed the orders coming down. Withdrawing his thumb from the push to talk key of the handset, the man shouted for the driver shortly afterwards. <”They’re calling us back! KALE!”>
Carrying out the orders given in by his tank commander, the tank quickly came to a rumbling halt and began turning to face the road they came from; their comrades inside ‘334’ followed their example as they also received orders to return to the convoy to provide armored support.
The buzzing comlink was soon drowned out by the sharp mechanical whine of the rotating turret as the gunner brought the gun to bear; but the young crewman, without relaying to his TC, veered off in a moment’s notice from Kenth’s command, seizing initiative to save their skin as the aimed the barrel of the 120mm gun to bear towards a different target his commander hadn’t spotted yet; he could see the faint glint of heat signatures in the far distance from his thermal vision device on his gunner optics, positioned on the low rise slope of a ridge looking at the road, roughly two kilometers away from them. Turning on the spot towards the road they had come from, the tank’s rear was facing the unidentified contact now.
The tank lurched forward as they got on the move once more, intending to return to their convoy and the rest of their platoon.
His eyes widened in fear as he could make out the details of a launcher tube placed behind sandbags with a camouflage net at the top of the emplacement, looking straight back at him. A projectile shot out the tube a not a moment after, starting its rapid glide towards them; a thin, guidance wire trailed right behind the warhead.
It was an anti-tank gun!
Quickly ranging the target with the mere press of a button, the fire control system zeroed the gun in merely less than a second; pulling back the trigger on the gunner’s sticks, the gun breech of the dreaded L77A4 violently kicked back as the fin stabilized HEAT shell darted out the barrel in lightning speed; finding its mark roughly three seconds after the shot was out the tank’s cannon, the crew of the enemy’s anti-tank gun disappeared in a cloud of white mist; a smoking crater was left in the wake of a settling cloud of snow.
<”REELAAAY!RE!LAAAY!”> Unaware of the danger they had dodged as he could not spot the concealed anti-tank gun, the TC shouted angrily at Hall as the man gave several stern nudges of his left elbow at the shoulder of the young tank gunner. Wordlessly swinging the turret towards the initially intended target in response, following the TC’s command this time, the loader quickly reached for a new HEAT shell from the ammunition stowage behind him; the armored rolling panel over the ammunition rack rolled to the side. Pulling the shell from the rack, Stege quickly opened the breech of the gun, pushing the new shell into its place in the breech. Series of loud mechanical clicks resounded in the fighting compartment as the gun breech closed shut with the gun loaded; the loader shouted afterwards.
The anti-tank warhead, guided by its crew no longer, struck the snow covered frozen ground where their tank had come to a halt and turned on point; a thick column of snow and chunks of ice violently kicked up into the air in the wake of the tandem warhead’s explosion, sending ground shaking tremors across the road in its wake.
<”OOON!”> With his gunner turning the turret towards the intended target, the man gave him the command to open fire without delay. <”SHOOOOT!”>
<”ON THE WAAAY!”>
Pulling the firing switch on the gunner’s sticks, the spent shell rattled out of the gun breech with a metallic jingle as gun recoiled backwards as the gun let out a deafening roar. <”TARGEEET!”> the sharp mixture of exhilaration and fear was evident in the young tank commander’s voice.<”RE-ENGAAAGE!”>The man ordered as Stege went about loading another HEAT shell into the gun. Waiting for the reload, the young crewman kept himself busy; switching to the coaxial machine gun with the flick of a switch, Hall let loose a maelstrom of blaster bolts of his own against their opposition, cutting down several onto the ground in the process.
They were still taking fire from the same sector; Kenth’s eyes grew wider in dread as more and more enemy infantry krept out from concealment and began firing. He could see several of them lugging around for rocket launchers, with their assistant, usually the ammunition bearer for the anti-tank gunner, running beside them.
They had no infantry support to deal with all of this by themselves!
To make matters even worse than they already were, a sudden, earth shattering explosion ahead of them shook the ground underneath the wide treads of their tank; <”KAARK!"> the young man shouted in growing frustration after turning his panoramic periscope at the source of the explosion. With the snow settling down, he could see a large crater at the side of the road, beside ‘334’s right track.
Immobalized by a roadside bomb, presumably intended to be used on the main convoy instead of the reconnaissance element, had shook the tank to its core; the tank’s guns had fallen silent, the fate of the crew unknown to the four young men within the armored interior of ‘332’.<”KALE! HALT! HALT!”>At the young tank commander’s order the armored behemoth came to a grinding halt, ten meters away from ‘334’. Spinning on the spot, the driver faced the frontal armor of the tank towards the closest enemy contact, all the while shielding the immobilized vehicle from incoming fire as best he could.
They would not leave their brothers-in-arms to the mercy of their enemies.
Pressing down hard on the push to talk key of the radio handset in his grasp, the TC shouted into the device, barely suppressing his fear.<”Any station any station! This is Charlie Three-Two! we’re cut off from the rest of our element and taking heavy fire from all directions! Charlie Three-Four is immobilized! We’re at grid: Zero! Six! Five! One! Five! Niner! I repeat! -”>a loud explosion would cut into the young sergeant’s transmission before he could read back his grid coordinates; the tank trembled as the shockwave of an explosion washed over them all, weathered away mostly by the tough armor of their tank. A high explosive anti-tank warhead shot by one of the RPG teams had struck the explosive reactive armor on the side armor of their vehicle.<”We’re surrounded! ALLIANCE TROOPS ARE CLOSING IN ON US! WE NEED INFANTRY SUPPORT!”>The man pleaded for support, desperation for reinforcements laden in his voice.
Standing their ground, the men fought bitterly, alone in the defense of their comrades for now, against a foe that possessed numerical advantage over them, who were also equipped to knock out an armored tank such as theirs.
Objective: Double-Double Cross | Find Intelligence Allies: Mandalorians | OPEN Enemies: Everyone | OPEN
War was inevitable.
As a limb of the Enclave’s intelligence apparatus, Siv had been well aware that it was only a matter of time before the Empire and Galactic Alliance came to blows. With the existential threat of the Maw receding, now the two galactic powers competed for supremacy, their ideals and politics crashing against each other. The Mandalorian people were inconsequential to the conflict, but galactic tides affected the far-away shores of the Enclave.
Sooner or later, the Mandalorians would be drawn into war. How soon was anyone’s guess, and more importantly against whom and what. Siv had been embedded with the Alliance for this operation on Ilum, but as soon as he had been able to he’s slipped past Imperial lines to remove himself from the fighting. Weren’t Mandalorians and Imps friends after all? But he was not here to fight for them, either, though he had not advertised the fact.
No, he was here on a special covert operation to figure out what the Empire was strip-mining Kyber for, and to gauge whatever military secrets they had up their sleeve so that the Enclave would be prepared for the inevitable. He’d described it as pretty much a suicide mission when Volo Dragr
had handed him the datapad, but the Karjr Guildmaster had simply shrugged it off. “What else is new?” He’d asked, and as Siv climbed through the small maintenance tunnels adjacent to the primary mining trench known as the Hollowed, he had to admit that his clan-brother was right.
For a Mandalorian, suicide was an every-day part of the job.
MUSIC Ilum, of course, he'd make an appearance here; he had to, he must do. The Jedi couldn't suffer such a potential calamity if Ilum was razed to the ground,it was a world where the next generation of Jedi forged their sabers in the cold crystal caves before the order shipped them off on some altruistic quest. Sahar wanted that animal to show his face; then she could correct things as it stood and take out another of the infidel Jedi who threatened the Empire's peacekeeping efforts.
Accompanying the Empire's efforts in the mining operation were hundreds of Sahars compatriots from the Kandaran Imperial guard, shemagh clad vibroblade wielding soldiers of the imperial desert planet who fought both for the Empire's cause and that of their mistress, who had led them in a fierce battle against the infidel Jedi and Sith time and time again.
Stood on a platform overlooking the deep dark abyss of the trench, Sahar leaned against the barrier as she watched heavy Imperial equipment move rock and crystal up and down the trench under the watchful eye of Imperial troops and knights. The cold air permeated the air and bit at the exposed skin, causing her to pull her cloak close as she turned her gaze to the sky line in anticipation of the Jedi.
I'm here you silly fool.
Sahar relished the thought of separating that bastards head from his shoulders and taking it as her due prize.
Primary targets are IMPERIAL KNIGHTS of THE EMPIRE.
Arrest and capture first.
Neutralize Force Connection when possible.
Lethal engagements are discouraged.
License to Kill: Tentative. Reports for rationale are expected to be submitted upon Knight termination.
BRIEFING NOTES: The Empire's Knights are a different breed of enemy. Loyal to order and the Imperial regime. They are not as savage or irredeemable as The Sith of The New Sith Order. Exercise caution and discretion when engaging. The opportunity for arrest should be offered during an engagement.
A Memory of Ilum
The hallowed halls of men, once vibrant with life, splendor, and culture. The old days have long since dissipated into a numb, dense existence. Planets once full of life have now been reduced to exports in the large spanning and endless chain of military logistics. Governance has been reduced to timely shipments of material supply and manpower to throw against the meat grinder of superior ordinance in a mostly pointless purpose of maintaining and expanding the borders of the Empire.
Ilum used to be a beautiful world untouched by the corrupting touch of man. It's planetside was desolate in a beautiful, picturesque way. Once you touched upon the planet, the calming presence of the Force could be felt, resonating with any life form to ground and deepen your understanding of the mortal experience and the experience external to it. An invisible presence of the will of life itself, that could even affect reality as we know, to produce fantastical acts and creations.
Now, the Imperial way of methodical and imperative hubris has infected the planet. Behemothic machines of industry and military scar the landscape, greedily carving the ground for ancient shards of pure artistry, formed from millenniums of time and growth. Kyber crystals which predated the very existence of the Empire now carelessly plundered for the purpose of war. For such an empty and meaningless reason...
The Hyena put down the holojournal of the partisan in front of him. A Jedi padawan who dared to oppose the greatest organization the galaxy had seen. He had found him on his routine patrol of the southern quadrant of the Empire's strip mining operations, attempting to disable one of the major excavation machines.
The frightened youth cowered in front of him as the Hyena aimed his blaster pistol at his head. He shook his head in disappointment at the supposed Jedi in front of him.
The padawan attempted to use his feeble combat skills, trusting in the ancient weapon of supposed elegance. A lightsaber. They always believed it to be an infallible tool but in the end, it was just a fancy tool that only found its excellence in its wielder.
His first wide swing at the Hyena resulted in an impact grenade being skillfully tossed at the padawan dominant hand's wrist, blowing it off completely before he dashed forward and crushed the boy's throat with a single jab. An efficient takedown.
As the youth stared at the Hyena, he saw a look of shock, fear and horror. Emotions that were far removed and useless to the Hyena: time that could be spent slaying another who dared to challenge the hegemony of the Empire, bringing the full wrath of the Empire's Fist against them. Suddenly, the Hyena's comlink buzzed to life as a stream of orders were yelled into his ear by the command center.
'Seems like this assignment has suddenly become more interesting.' the Hyena mused as he remembered he was posted on Ilum to guard their dumb rocks after his last scrap with one of his superior officers as punishment.
His train of thoughts were interrupted as a whimpering sob could be heard from the boy in front of him, growing more desperate and loud as the moments passed by.
Rolling his eyes, he pulled the trigger and kicked the body out of his way. Strolling over to the lightsaber that had flown a few meters away, it was still being gripped by the dead boy's charred and bloodied hand. The Hyena pried the fingers off the weapon and clipped it to his tactical belt. The Hyena had no intention of using such a pointless weapon but he was sure he could trade it with someone in Army Logistics for more detonators.
'Why have detonators when I could use a near endless cache of mining charges.'
A mad grin smeared across his face as he realized that the Hyena could get away with ... requisitioning ... the tens of thousands of mining ordinance used to blast Ilum's crust. It was time to make Ilum's mining operations into an extensively booby-trapped deadzone: no one would be leaving, dead or alive.
“History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us.” – Johan Huizinga
The most sacred world to the Jedi Order, the ancient planet Ilum is forever encased in ice, and whipped by biting winds. Hidden beneath the frozen surface is a Jedi Temple from the very dawn of the Order. It is here, within the legendary Crystal Caves, that Jedi initiates must undergo The Gathering. The rite of passage, handed down over centuries, requires Jedi younglings to trust their instincts, overcome inner obstacles, and find the unique Ilum crystal that is attuned to their Force presence. Upon retrieving the crystal, a Jedi initiate begins the process of constructing his or her lightsaber, under the guidance of Professor Huyang.
That was then, this is now.
Today the planet still holds the lore and the luster, but also holds its share of ghosts and issues. What it was turned into, the recovery, all of it was a black mark on the history of the galaxy. That does not mean that the current Galactic Empire, or Newer than New Imperial Order, or whatever they were calling themselves had any right or claim to it. Nor did it mean what it looked like they were trying was going to come to fruition, it wouldn’t. Not if Caltin, or any of the Strike team on the “Scientia” Class Combat shuttle he was flying in.
There was a Special Forces Team on board and while they were helping where they could, the operators pretty much kept to themselves and prepped their gear. There was the Mandalorian “@D I M A” a unique individual who for all of her “original” proclivities, just wanted to help. There was also the enigmatic “@Judah Lesan'', the one guy that the big man could not help but laugh when it came to trolling, he half expected some remark about his pecs. There was also the much traveled legacy that is Caedyn Arenais
, though they had known each other for years, this was the first battle the big man would actually see him in. Caltin himself was not hiding it, he was in his battle armor and had both lightsabers strapped over his back. The Ice Temple was going to be well defended.
They were screaming down into the planet's atmosphere when there was a call about some kind of “superweapon.” The big man did not need to ask, the Special Forces Team were already getting their orders altered. @Liedran Kathause’ command had sent detailed orders and since the Jedi were with them, they were assisting. So he looked at the Jedi and the Mandalorian. Why does that sound like a bad comedy? Oh well.
Hope you didn’t have plans, we're going to that ship and helping shut down that superweapon.
Rerouting back up into the soup, the massive Jedi Master was doing his best to fly and dodge weapons fire, but it was not enough. There was just too much going on around him. One of the SpecForce guys (one of the girls, actually) got on the guns, but there were just too many coming in. So he glanced back and forth at his fellow Jedi.
Wanna have fun?
Extending his hand outward, an electrical current engulfed a TIE, lurching it backward and slinging it into another.
Clear me a path?
Let the games begin… It was tense, strenuous and ultimately exciting but with the combined flying, guns, and Force action, the shuttle had a fairly clear path straight at the dreadnaught flagship. There was no way to be able to fly in normally and safely land, they were going to have to do this the hard way. That meant securing those who could not protect themselves from his idea. Listening to the conversation between Arenais and the “Vagabond” Heavy Cruise gave him pause but it was also a sense of relief as it was one lest thing to worry about. He now had a plan.
From the shadows stepped a figure with a large rifle on her back and another in her hands, her visor already on a certain Padawan.
"Don't mind if I do." said the hauntingly cold voice behind the helmet.
Time to get even. She hesitated on New Alderaan. Had to give the notification to her fallen soldier's widow. Had to sit awake at night fearing what the ISB would do. Had to push through with a wounded shoulder.
It would end here.
Whether he was a kid or not, she would not go through that again. She would not live in fear of having to put another bullet through another family member's head. That would end.
The drill continued in the background as the rest of SCAR and its contingent under Lieutenant Kriegan Tavlar
stepped forward as well, facing the Padawans in all their white-armoured glory.
Lily raised her rifle to her shoulder as they all revealed themselves to the group of young Jedi. "Hope you said goodbye to your parents."
She wanted to ship out with her brothers and sisters, on the bridge of the Vhipirheim alongside Jos. But alas, no Mandalorian would let her aboard. Not even a damn drop pod on course to a suicide mission. She was an outcast, little more than an outsider. This was her battle and hers alone.
Through the darkness, Shai studied her target for hours until he emerged from his camp, drawing his sword as he made his way to the middle of the lake. For all intents and purposes, she was invisible to any and all as she lay submerged in the snow with only her visor sticking out. She was little more than a statue. A Gargoyle lying in wait for its prey. Using motions with her eyes, she sent one single message to Xyoz
:: Almost done. Love you. See you soon. ::
She wanted little more than to be with him. Her husband. The one who stuck with her through thick and thin. But he understood what she wanted. She wanted to make things right. With the Enclave, as well as the Alliance. Except this mission required her to hunt someone she never wished ill towards. On the contrary. She prayed that the old Woad would lay down his arms and return home to his family. What remained of his family. Michael still marched, but the other… she wondered if he knew of his ‘late’ son.
A slow, heavy sigh rolled through her helmet. It was time. A storm was kicking up again.
Like a demon she emerged from the snow and took off against the wind to keep her jetpack’s whine hidden from the old man’s ears. When she was close enough, she touched down and started her long walk over the ice towards him. The shadow crept through the snowstorm until she came to a halt several feet away from him.
She greeted him with a tired voice as she removed her helmet to look at him face to face. Her mane whipped around in the wind, though she was hardly bothered by the cold. It was also the first time she looked upon the Lord-Regent with her own eyes. It made him look younger than he was. Cybernetics showed every little detail on the surface of a person, even underneath if one wished.
But cybernetics could not see the soul of a man. There the Wardog stood, finally able to see behind his icy blue eyes, the fatigue and fire that fought against one another in a futile battle against time. And for the first time ever, the Lord-Regent could see behind Shai’s glowing, crimson gaze. The conflict within her, the lack of desire to draw a weapon against one of the few people she looked up to. He would be able to see the lack of cybernetics on her. No more empty steel eyes, or lines through synth-skin. She was whole again as she stood before her mentor. The man who made a soldier out of a warrior.
A faint smile formed as she studied him. ”...You still move like you’re twenty years younger. You look the part too.” She spoke over the wind whipping at them. It will settle soon. Then all of the Empire would see the Wardog as she challenged their fearless leader…
Something in the pilot, relief? joy? rose when he saw the giant legs of an Imperial Walker buckle and the great head of the behemoth burrow into the ground, defanged and defeated. It let him know that what they were doing might actually have some impact rather than just being a futile exercise. He could grasp the significance of this battle beyond a mere strategic advantage. Many people across the galaxy viewed this as a Jedi world, the source of the everlasting symbol of the group - the lightsaber, for centuries. If it fell, who knew that sort of ramification that could have on the symbolic front?
Mylo's stomach lurched as the airspeeder dipped then soared over a jagged mountain range blanketed in pristine white snow, coming out over the embittered, embattled frozen tundra. He switched on his com, transferring to the unit-wide frequency. <"Alright Echo, form up, let's keep it tight. We need to take out as much Imperial armour as we can to slow their advance, watch for enemy fighter cover, 1 Flight let's counter fighter ops."> Mylo made a wide bank over the frozen surface, turning again, standing the speeder up on its port wing and showing its belly to the mountain range.
What with the surprising nature of the Imperial assault, it had been a scramble to get pilots, troopers and officers ready and waiting. So command had ordered him to form an ad-hoc temporary unit made up of the available pilots, along with elite Revenant Squadron pilots to slow the creeping, slow, yet deadly advance of Imperial ground forces, and help out their own.
Pitching the nose down while simultaneously throttling up, he sunk into a nosedive, hauling the Scramjet up on the stick and heading head on towards a tank platoon. Hand on the trigger, he juked to avoid AA fire, sending a burst of fire from his heavy laser cannons raining down on them. Shooting past he stamped on the right rudder pedal, making a sharp come around, pitching down ever so slightly and switching to his underslung blaster cannon, letting the droid brain do most of the work to give the bucketheads as much hell as possible. Pulling up sharply, he took the speeder across the plane of battle, positioning himself in such a way that he came head on with a walker. The scarlet slit across the head of the walker that served as the main viewport projected the same wild intensity and air of danger that came with meeting a wild animal, and he stared straight into its brain.
Mylo juked and jinked from side to side, trying to avoid the green darts of fire, kicking down into a dive below too before cutting sharply to port to avoid two another blast. This was risky and he was hoping his unit were ready to back him up. <"Alright I've engaged. Echo Three, Echo Five, pull in, target the legs with your cannons and missiles."> He ordered, taking the stick back to his chest as he pulled up across the head, pumping juice to the shields on the belly allowing the hull shields to soak up most of the damage in order to distract the war machine. Just then, the computer as a number of marks began to appear on his computer, black dots replicating like organisms on his screen. "Looks like the cavalry have arrived. Two, Four, help out the others with starfighter cover." He ordered, flicking a switch above his head to move the holographic terminal to a more general image of the battle shown across the dashboard.
"Commander Vethres, fighting has begun." Colonel O'ren said clutching a datapad within his hands as he entered into view. "The Alliance has swiftly noticed our invasion and have responded with full force like Imperial High Command predicted." Vethres said with a firm tone putting his hands behind his back as the loud machinery was heard down below deep within the North Point Mining Area set up underneath his overall command. The Planet of Ilum was at the forefront when it came to sacred sights for the New Jedi Order. If the Empire could raze the planet to the ground than the Jedi would lose something of immense value.
The fighting was intense he could hear through the wind and snow as the Imperial Forces engaged with the Alliance all across the landscape. Vethres didn't consider this wrong or doubted his devotion to the empire as a whole. They were going to restore order through force if necessary. The Brotherhood of the Maw had managed to strike deep into the alliance and would have ravaged their worlds in a straight forward path to victory if not for the empire lending their aide at the critical Shatterpoint Event on Tython. Once allies they were now back to business engaging in a war for dominance as the alliance had foolishly entered into the side of the Tion Republic.
His own detachment of the 293rd Heavy Shock Infantry had already managed to repel an alliance vanguard force from reaching this area. The 293rd was handpicked from his adopted homeworld of Bal Talmshaa deep within Imperial Core. They were used to fighting within these types of harsh elements and would be a formidable force on the field. "How goes our efforts on mining?" Vethres asked placing the goggles on his face to protect his eyes from the snow. "Considerably well, we have already managed to gather several containers full." Colonel O'ren said with some sense of pride. He was wearing the traditional winter uniform for Imperial Officers with a blaster pistol equipped to his side.
He was doubtful that the jedi would not arrive soon at his location. Moving his hands from behind his back and leaving them close to his personalized curved lightsaber which would give him an edge against a traditional blade. Although his mastery over form II was a blessing and a curse due to the form's apparent weaknesses in deflecting bolts and engaging in more than one opponent. But he would manage all the same as a member of the Imperial Templar Class.
There was only one way that the battle was going to end
It had been long since Kragr had found himself on the battlefield on something more significant than a simple skirmish. "ETA 10 minutes!" Announced the pilot as he sped through the air, dodging incoming fighters left and right. Having been briefed he decided to give the Galactic Alliance troops a helping hand. While usually, he would join a team of warriors to share the glory of battle, he had been wanting to test his Titan for a very long time and how well it did against overwhelming odds.
"ETA 5 minutes friend!" Announced the pilot finally as Kragr had already climbed into his Titan and powered it up. Walking over with heavy mechanical legs, he punched a big red button and watched as the Freighter's large ramp opened up to a glorious battlefield below. Grinning widely behind the Titan's armour, he simply stepped over the ramp and dropped like a bag of rock.
Dropping in a freefall he activated the jetpack, breaking the sound barrier and blasted towards the ground in a fiery display of reckless bravery.
Having recently restocked the Titan meant that he wouldn't have to worry any time soon about running out of ammunition as he came closer and closer to the active fighting of Ilum's surface. As he zoomed in to the surface thanks to the impressive HUD installed, he managed to locate a group of Imperials and alliance soldiers in a heavy stalemate.
With a burst of his Titan's jetpack, he flipped in the air and descended with the Titan's heavily armoured feet and landed with an earth-shattering boom behind the Alliance troopers. In one smooth motion right as he landed he drew the Titan's 40mm Slug Cannon that had been magnetised locked to the cuirass. "Ohh... yeah~" he said, watching the fear spread on the faces of the Imperial men as he landed.
With both hands on the slug cannon, the Imperial soldiers were lit up in a blaze of glory as high explosive 40mm slugs exploded their cover into a thousand pieces.
The loud clammer of drills deafened Mira. The strip mining of Ilum felt like an uncleansing, a stain, a sin. She felt dazed from the rumbling beneath her feet. The Empire was doing this. Purposefully. Desecrating this important planet and ruining it. Destroying a whole planet, millennias of history and religious significance. And for what? To prove a karking point?
With a frown, she dug her shoes deeper into the cracking ice at her feet. She crossed her arms, the heavy fur cloak blocking the blighting wind from invading her heavy armor. She just hoped to get this revolting mission done and over with. The entire time she guarded the machinery, she clenched her mother's lightsaber in her hand.
Why is this necessary?
She shook her head. She had been doubting the Empire's orders too much for her liking. She was sure there was a good reason for this. She was sure there was a good reason for this. She was sure there was a good reason for this. She was sure...
She was deceiving herself.
She reached up and grasped her helmet. The noise of the drills were too much. She moaned, activating her comlink. <<"I need to relieve myself. Send someone to take my spot and I'll be back.">>
Another Squire leapt in and she ran out. She darted into what was one of the only caverns left from the drilling. She sighed, pulling her helmet off. Despite the cold biting her face, the half Mirialan was happy to see without her HUD. She sat down, struggling to make sense of it all. She still heard the drills. Her headache only grew.
She held her mother's lightsaber. Looking at it as puffs of hot air left her mouth, Mira sadly blinked. Feeling compelled, she opened a little hatch on the lightsaber's durasteel handle. She pulled out a cyan kyber crystal, looking up to see a figure suddenly approaching.
Aoki gasped, standing up and strangely pausing as the figure came. She was a Mirialan in her late teens, wearing traditional Mirialan garb, heavy for this weather. Before Mira could react, the woman reached out and plucked the crystal from her hand. A smile grew on her face, looking down at the crystal before merrily hopping around in delight for her victory. A smile curved upon Mira's face. She knew why she felt so calm.
A tear slipped down Mira's cheek. Her few memories of her Jedi mother showed her that this was... the crystal's memories. The planet's memories. Her clenched the crystal in her hand as the memory faded. The Empire was... destroying all of this.
And Mira was an Imperial Knight of the Empire.
She grimaced, stomach turning, as she slipped the kyber crystal back into her mother's lightsaber and hung it on her belt. The sound of the drills returned to her and she bit her lip. She wished it would go away! She groaned, putting the lightsaber on her hip and grabbing her helmet. She cried out, "Make it stop!"
Then, the entire floor beneath her gave way. It crumbled and she fell.
She soon crashed against the ground. Several objects fell as she moaned. She pulled her head off the ground, vision hazy in the icy blue light of the cavern. She looked ahead of herself. Her helmet was on ice floor, but her mother's lightsaber and her father's lightsaber were sprawled across the ground to. She heard her own voice ask in an all encompassing echo.
"Do not ask why this is necessary. For it is not. The real question is..."
"Why are you still with the Empire!"
She started panting heavier. The drills were distant, but the two hilts on the ground were screaming louder still. Challenging her.
"Are you really honoring your parents' mission?"
She gasped, still panting as her vision blurred. She could have sworn she heard explosions, but they felt like a faint echo as yet another voice rattled her head.
"~=Greetings, Mira. I have been told much of your skill in combat, but of your mind - this is yet to be ascertained.... But worry not - for you are not alone on Ilum, and I can help.=~"
She reached up and gripped her hair, clawing and pulling. She gritted her teeth, telepathically and verbally responding, "Who... who are you? You sound like one of my mentors... what do mean by 'not alone?' Am I disloyal for thinking this is evil?"
Zhea called to her Padawan a few feet to her side while on was blindsiding him as she deflected another bout of bolts from the Imperial Troopers ahead of them. She tried her best not to kill the men opposing her, knowing full well they had families of their own to return to, but it was either them or the two Jedi and the Kiffar would die before she let anything happen to her Padawan.
They were in the caverns, trying to fight back the Imperials that have infiltrated without their knowledge. It was a good thing she had travelled to the planet as well, overseeing the group of Padawans that had set out to investigate the disturbances. No one had expected an Imperial attack to leech out of the shadows.
<Try not to kill them, Varen. It's not our way.> she told him telepathically as she sent a groop of Troopers flying with the Force, hopefully just knocking them out.
But then she felt it.
The presence she had not felt for well over a decade. One she had grown to know well enough to have left a hollow when he left. Zhea sighed, closing her eyes momentarily as the blur of blue kept deflecting.
Not him...please Ashla...
Aqua-blue eyes flew open. <Varen, will you be able to push forward and help the others stop that drill if I draw these Troopers the other way?> she asked her Padawan.
She had to make sure it wasn't who she thought it was...