What a shambles. This was a rushed, badly prepared pile of bantha crap someone had dumped into his lap. A catastrophe in the making, the kind of which Collem had not seen since the later days of the Great War. Whilst staring out from the bridge, Collem reviewed the recent events. There was some mild chatter in the pits behind him, but he felt their tension. The long-range scanners had picked up something. Into the breach, let's get this shit-show over with, rang his grumbling thoughts.
The strike was supposed to be surgical: quick and clean. He had need of stealth ships, black-ops teams and commandos… Instead, they had given him a small flotilla of run-down vessels scraped together from wherever they could have been found and a roster that smelled of improvisation.
Furthermore, this was a Deep Core theatre, and that meant none of the massive Harrower-class Dreadnoughts. They were needed to keep local systems in line, and menacingly patrol borders. Besides, their size would have made the hyperspace jumps (of which there had been many) harder than they already had been. That was alright, he preferred smaller and more mobile forces anyway.
Even if the Terminus-class Cruisers around which he had built his task force were crewed by green boys and officers, Collem was happy for it. He was confident they would rise to the occasion. After all, these vessels were perfect for pursuit and interdiction missions, and would more than be able to go toe-to-toe with the Republic’s convoy. The rest of the Imperial detail: two modified Class VI bulk freighters (which were antiquated and hideous to look upon) and an Ajuur-class heavy cruiser. Their job was to vacate their complements of fighters and smaller craft which contained the boarding parties, and then draw the Republic’s fire. Some of these smaller craft would be auto-piloted or controlled from a capital ship’s bridge. Collem thereby intended higher survival chances for his assault teams, and hoped to increase the element of shock.
Once the target had been located and taken into custody, the boarding parties were to get her to one of the waiting Terminus cruisers. Meanwhile, the Class VI and Ajuur would serve as little more than sponges to soak up laser and ion fire, as well as give the ambush a sufficiently dubious character. The Empire needed to be able to plausibly deny having executed this deep strike. They were at peace, after all.
According to his intel, the Republic would be transporting the high-profile target on one of three Hammerhead-class cruisers. They being Hammerheads as opposed to the sleeker Thranta-class meant they could field substantial starfighter support which matched their own. He would rather have had the upper-hand there. In fact, he had requested a carrier-role vessel but had been denied. In addition, Hammerheads were notoriously sturdy and would be able to take an almost vulgar amount of punishment.
As he had just had to explain to his captains, this was a boon. It meant they would be able to lay down heavy fire, while not having to pull too many punches due to the risk of hurting the subject of the Emperor’s obsession. Of course, he had not used those exact words… that would have been madness. The Emperor did not obsess!
The main boarding parties were each put under the command of a junior officer assigned to the Sith who had joined the mission. He was counting on their force powers to aid them in locating the high-profile force-user the Empire wanted to lay their hands on so desperately. Let them sniff one another out. One squad, Collem remembered, had a Mandalorian mercenary assigned to them. The chap had bridled at the position, made some crude jokes about it too. Clearly, the fellow preferred working alone but Collem was not about to just allow that. This was a matter of Imperial interest. Besides, troopers (as much as it pained Collum to say) were expendable. He would rather they took a blaster shot than a mercenary tracker… that was what they were there for. He had said as much to the man. Like the Sith, this Zaek Saxon was there to hunt. And like a hunting dog, the Mandalorian would do as he was told. Collem wagered he would know better than to bite the hand that fed him.
After the final briefing, he had ordered the flotilla to dip into a nearby nebula with their bridge crews and captains looking at an extensive set of coordinates. He had sent ahead a small scouting party which had covertly mapped the vicinity of the refuelling station, providing them with the proverbial lay of the land. Already the 975th Special Duties Battalion had proven its worth to this mission. Now, once the Republic convoy of Hammer- and Axeheads would show for a rapid refuel, the Imperials could fall upon them with ease. Collem had ordered battle-stations and cloaking measures in effect. Like Dxun’s Maalras, they were lying in wait.