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The Drums of War (PM for invite; unless tagged)

Captain Larraq

An opportunity had presented itself. Or that was what Rygel Larraq had been told as he stood in stunned silence. The communicator at his secretary's desk chirped endlessly as dozens of his clansmen tried to contact him. Outside his office, it seemed like the whole planet was in a state of chaos. Every resource available was being mobilized. Citizens were donating weapons and ammunition from their personal stock. Some were even lining up to board the ships that were hastily being gathered in orbit above Mandalore.

On his desk, written in paper of all things, was a hand delivered note signed by the Mand'alor. Not 24 hours since the title had changed hands, rumors were being whispered from one ear to the next that the Shokita Station network was picking up unusual signals. But this note confirmed it. The jetti and dar'jetti had committed themselves to an offensive against each other. It was not an unexpected event. But the scale of the forces involved were a surprise to everyone.

And so it was deemed an opportunity. An opportunity that the clans had no intention of wasting. From what he had heard, representatives had quite literally broken down a door to make their demands of the new Mand'alor. Demands that he had reluctantly yielded to. And reluctantly, he committed the Mandalorians to war once again. Or so the rumors said.

In his office, Rygel Larraq stood in the corner and gazed out the window. Behind him, Talyn sat upright with ears perked and attentive. The Vornskr knew that something was wrong. For Larraq's part, he knew it as well. Someone, somewhere, had volunteered him for a role he didn't know if he could fill. He'd never given much thought to his people as a whole. His whole life, Rygel Larraq had had to focus on himself and his clan. He had been asked to put the company first. And he had complied. He had sacrificed everything else for this company.

Larraq had been asked many times why he never wore his armor. And while he sometimes offered them one explanation or another, he never told them the truth. He had forsworn it. When his clan had assumed control of Mandal Hypernautics, they needed to place it in the hands of someone they could trust. Someone who would put it and the investments of the clan before all else. When they had chosen Larraq, it was with a condition. He would never wear armor again. The company would be a part of him as he would be a part of it. Just like the relationship between a Mandalorian and his armor. His true face was that of the Company. And the face of the company was Rygel Larraq.

But now... The Mand'alor had called upon Rygel Larraq to put his company aside and put the needs of the Mando'ade before all else. He had been asked to assume command of the Mythosaur. He had been asked to lead the invasion of Dromund Kaas. But as far as he was concerned, he had been asked to walk naked into the Dragon's lair.

It was an ambitious plan. Strike hard and fast at the heart of the Empire while it was exposed. The clans thought it was infallible. Larraq thought it was suicide. Successful or not, they would be alone and surrounded. The Sith would come at them like a Tsunami. Swift and vengeful, striking from every direction.

Closing his eyes, Larraq could see it now. Hyperlanes cut off by interdiction, engines failing, Sith fleet baring down on him... By the time they finished their assault of the planet, it would be too late to retreat. There were no hit and run engagements to be had here. Only assault and defend. Take and hold. It would have to be an invasion.

Wiping his brow, Larraq turned from the window and returned to his desk. Staring at the note, he read it again. They would contact their allies and ask for whatever help they could muster. They would contact the Republic. They would contact the Protectorate. They would even contact the Witches of Dathomir. Yet somehow, deep in his gut, he knew that it wouldn't be enough. The Republic and Protectorate would be bogged down with their own battles and there was no guarantee that the Witches could be contacted at all.

Larraq sighed and sat heavily in his chair. Closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers, Larraq tried to think. The Mandalorians needed something else. They needed more men and more ships. And he knew that neither the Republic nor the Protectorate would be able to provide either. What they needed... Was a new alliance.

A new alliance...

Larraq stood and turned towards the holodisplay on the far side of his office. Mining sites, factories, and shipping lanes were highlighted on the map. But there, on the far side of Mandal Hypernautics existing trade routes, was what drew Rygel Larraq's gaze. There was more than one Empire in this galaxy. And if Larraq's hunch was right...

“Linda. Get me the CEO of Imperial Galactic.” He said into the intercom on his desk. Staring again at the holographic map of the galaxy, Larraq let himself have a moment of hope. “This just might work...”

@[member="Cyrus Tregessar"], @[member="Akio Kahoshi"], @[member="Masaru Mori"], @[member="Togashi Yokuni"], @[member="Aditya Amadis"], @[member="Somarae"], @[member="Gilamar Skirata"], @[member="Hutuun'Kyramud"], @[member="Basaba Willamina"]

Masaru Mori

Entirely Legitimate Businessman
Of all the things to cross his desk, this was an opportunity that caught Masaru Mori completely off guard. A secure emergency holo-conference was called immediately when the Mandalorian intentions were realized. The Empire was represented by himself, @[member="Aditya Amadis"] and Admiral @[member="Cyrus Tregessar"].

He rested his elbows on his desk, folding his hands together in front of his mouth. His expression remained impassive as he stared at the holograms of the rest of the delegation.

It'd be nice if we were all in the same room, but given the timeline...

"Mr. Larraq... your message was quite interesting. Though I think you understand you have us in a rather difficult position," he lowered his hands to the desk, reaching out to pick up a cup of tea, "Your proposal is intriguing, but before the Empire can commit to anything we need to know specifics. Given the time frame, I hope you'll forgive me cutting to the heart of the matter. What is it you want from us, and what can you provide in return?"

@[member="Captain Larraq"]

Captain Larraq

Larraq sat upright at his desk and watched the man in the hologram. As he reached for his drink, Larraq's eyes couldn't help but to glance at his own empty coffee mug. He had had to go through quite a few middle men before he had gotten to anyone with any real influence over the Galactic Empire. "We have an opportunity that we cannot pass up. The Sith have left themselves exposed and no one but the Mando'ade have a strike force close enough to take action." Larraq said to the hologram as he maintained perfect posture and body language. His hands emphasizing each point perfectly with one subtle and calculated gesture or another.

"The problem... Is the Sith counterattack." Larrq admitted to the Imperial. "Even crippled and disorganized from their fight with the jetti, the Sith fleet will have us trapped with our back to the wall. We may kill them to the last, but not a single Mando'ad will be coming home from this fight unless we get support. Your support." He said pointedly before taking a moment to glance at the locked door to his office. Technically, he was drastically overstepping his bounds right now. But Larraq knew that this was the right course of action and the only way to get his people home again after this invasion. When the time came, the Mand'alor would see the truth of this. "We both know there is no time for you to join us in the initial assault. But if you launch a fleet now, you can arrive in time to ensure that some of my brothers can make it home alive. With your help, we may even be able to hold the planet." He said with a glimmer of optimism.

"Best case scenario... We push the Sith back and keep them far from your boarders, forcing them to focus their efforts on their lost capital instead of invading out worlds. At worst... We die with honor. One way or another, we both know what the Sith have in mind for the galaxy. This may be the best chance any of us have at putting them in their place." Larraq said with honest anger in his eyes and a clenched fist.

@[member="Masaru Mori"]
Grand Admiral, First Order Central Command
The message from Yovshin Mori was unexpected, to say the least. It had arrived at a most inconvenient time as well, when Cyrus was in the middle of hyperspace enroute to the capital. But one couldn't simply ignore a request from a member of the High Council, whether or not that someone was a flippant dandy and scoundrel. Rather than risk an unstable connection, he had given the order to reenter normal space in the middle of nowhere and then brought up the holo-message in a secure room. He entered the conference in observe only mode at first, taking the time to review what information he had on the condition and state of readiness of the Imperial fleet.

His gut reaction was to charge in guns blazing, but suppressing that thirst for blood and battle had been something he had mastered long ago. A rational decision was needed here. The logistics of putting together a task force and sending it across half the galaxy with dubious supply lines and to face an unknown foe was a daunting task. The political ramifications could be huge as well. There were a hundred variables to consider, and that was just on whether a large enough force could formed.

The battle over Atrisia had been brief but bloody. To be sure, there had not been very many ships destroyed, but dozens were still in the shipyards and orbital drydocks around the Imperial Capital. Furthermore, while the performance of the Imperial captains and their vessels had been admirable, Cyrus considered them generally outmoded and outmatched by their contemporaries around the galaxy. A hundred projects were underway to reorganize and refit the fleet, but none would be finished anytime soon.

These were the main concerns. There were others of course, but they could be dealt with later. The Oyabun had just started negotiations and instantly jumped into standard political bullspeak. The sort of fething crap that could be sorted out later on someone else's time.

"Our help is impossible without secure lines of communications. You want our help, we need at the very least the ability to supply, rearm, and refuel in your territory, and a provision to allow us to set up a system of fleet couriers as long as we're operating in Mandalorian space. That's a minimum. If I can't get a line of supply my ships don't go."

Masaru Mori

Entirely Legitimate Businessman
"We must, of course, defer to the good admiral's judgement on matters of logistics and strategy. Consider his words to have the weight of the Emperor's on those subjects," he set his cup back down and leaned back slightly in his seat. The Sith and Republic were both making their strength felt. Against each other for now, but stars only knew how long that would last. If the Mandalorians were confident in their strategy, the possible gains were immense. A blow against the Sith was one thing, but even beyond that the potential of continued cooperation between Empire and Mandalorian was an extremely tempting thought.

They were brutes, yes, but they had enough honor to hold to friendship and repay favors. With the Fringe's treachery still being repaired on Atrisian soil, it certainly seemed that a reliable friend was something the Empire currently lacked.

"Admiral Tregessar, if you and the good Captain can come to an arrangement, I will ensure you have the support of the Council and Emperor. Once the Admiral finds your agreement acceptable, we can discuss the exact terms of our cooperation, Captain."

@[member="Cyrus Tregessar"], @[member="Captain Larraq"]

Captain Larraq

There was a potential for betrayal here that Larraq could not overlook. If he gave the Imperials unchecked access to the fuel depots, arms caches, and Shokita relay stations scattered throughout the Mandalorian territories, he could be leaving Manda'yeim as vulnerable as the Sith had left Dromund Kaas. And yet, as soon as the Admiral had voiced his conditions, Larraq recognized the simple efficiency behind it. The man wasn't looking for a tactical edge. He wasn't sizing up an opponent. He was speaking the basic facts of war. He needed fuel. He needed ammo. He needed food. And he needed to be able to contact his superiors, his subordinates, and the baggage train that followed him.

Rygel Larraq leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment. The issues this Admiral faced on a daily basis were no different from what he had been taught in his clans' academy or what he was faced with on a daily basis with Mandal Hypernautics. Fuel, supplies, cheap labor, and good leadership were the laws that ran all business. When one of those four pillars of industry failed, the company failed.

Somehow Larraq just couldn't see Admiral Tregessar having any ulterior motives than to simply get the job done right and without getting his men killed. It was the same that he would expect from any Mando'ade. And it was with that in mind that he reluctantly agreed to his points. “I can get you access codes to the Shokita stations. IFF tags and encrypted frequencies will get you safely through our borders without cutting you off from your superiors. You'll register as Mandal Hypernautics freighters, but that's the best I can do right now. Not to mention them charging me directly for whatever fuel you suck up between now and when the Mand'alor is available for negotiations.”

Larraq had no idea how the new Mand'alor would react to him negotiating without his approval. But for the moment, he didn't care. The naval battle for Dromund Kaas had been placed in his hands. From tactics to logistics, if it involved a fleet, it was his call to make. And since he didn't see any other alternative, this plan would just have to do. The risk of a hacked communications network would be no worse tomorrow than it had been yesterday. Every risk that The Galactic Empire could pose to the Mando'ade over the next few days, the Sith Empire had posed for years. The only difference this time would be that he would be blamed for it all.

It was the biggest gamble of his life. But we was going to see it through. “Manda'yeim needs its allies now more than ever. I'll get you the access you need. If you can come through for us, we'll come through for you.”

((I've been up for 40 hours. This post is probably crap, but its the best I can do at the moment and I feel you deserve having something respond to while I'm passed out. I'll hop on here and make this flow a little better when I have the chance.))

@[member="Masaru Mori"], @[member="Cyrus Tregessar"],
Grand Admiral, First Order Central Command
It had been meant to be a painful request. A test of sorts, to see just how desperate the Mandalorians were. The truth was that half of the demands weren't necessary, though would certainly be appreciated. But Cyrus now knew just how desperate the Mandalorians were, and that meant that the Oyabun did as well. He nodded slowly as Captain Larraq grudgingly acquiesced to his request, then pulled up a screen and began to run some numbers. The same calculations from before, but modified based on the concessions by the Mandalorians. The results came back good. Not ideal, but far better than before. Well past the point where Cyrus would have been unwilling to commit.

"Very well Captain, that will suffice. Pending further negotiations, you can except an Imperial task force on your border ready to jump to Dromund Kaas within a few days. Less, if you don't mind fewer ships. We can take either the van or the rear, but the main force will have to be your own forces."

@[member="Captain Larraq"] @[member="Masaru Mori"]