Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Sini
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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.
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Hidden 15 days ago Post by vFear
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vFear monochrome boi

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Stationed aboard the ███ █████████. ██:██ local time. Galactic coordinates ██████-██████, ████████ system, ████ sector. ██:██ local time.
The white light from the hallway made the slicer squint and scrunch her face. It was an uncomfortable reminder that time had yet again passed faster than she cared to notice. It had all become routine a few days ago: she didn't leave her corner of the ship for anything short of the bathroom or an evacuation. Even then, the number of times she had been seen in the halls could be counted on one human hand.
"Come on, you've hardly touched the last one." the crewman remarked as he held the tray out to the chorus of dim strobing lights. The last tray of food waited at his feet with most of the food from the last serving intact. A metallic arm reached out from the darkness to grab the new tray by a narrow end.
"I don't need much." a feminine voice remarked as a second metallic arm, somewhat smaller than the last one, reached out and grabbed a corner. A third and then a fourth followed the four arms together bringing a husk of a woman out from the dark of the room. Three of the arms held her up as if in a seat, while the fourth lifted the new tray of food up to her eyes. "I just need enough. I can't focus if I'm full." The sickly woman sniffed at the food, assessing it carelessly before she plucked something from the tray with a set of bony fingers and sat it in her mouth.

"Surely there's one meal you like, akkdog? Something you'll eat in full? I'll smack you if you collapse on the job, y'know." the crewman jabbed. At first, akkd0g_'s presence on the ship had been something of an enigma. She was like a stray cat, hiding in dark corners and batting at computer tables all day and night. Her posting came covered in stickers and tape covered with Strategic Information Service stamps, which even the bridge crew supposedly saw fit to question. Rumors suggest that the captain of the ship had enough of hearing about it by the end of day 3 and ordered that there be no more discussion about it.
"She is here with the blessing of the Republic for the sake of our mission," the Captain asserted one evening, "and I'll hear no more about it. Just leave her well alone."

Since then, akkd0g_'s presence on the Republic vessel had slowly become something of a reluctant reality. Some of the crew had even become comfortable with it. Whenever something didn't work, like a door or a lock, all they had to do was press the button until she found them, and she'd fix it or get someone there who could. Some of the crew even started testing what systems she can and can't control from her corner and they have yet to find any. Every time she did something, she'd make the lights strobe blue for a moment. Some of the crew hated it and some of the crew found it comforting. Most of the crew didn't care.

akkd0g_ shook her head as she dusted her hands off over the tray.
"I mean... one or two things, but not while I'm on the job. As I said, I need to focus." akkd0g_ answered as she shifted the bulky goggles on her head. Several cords followed after her, running from her back in mass to all sorts of machines that dominated the room. After she sampled another thing or two on the tray, she floated back into the darkness at the whim of her four droid arms. The crewman let out a sigh as he snatched up the old abandoned tray.
"Just leave a little less food this time, okay? I hate wasting it." the crewman called out as he whisked out of the room. A disinterested 'mhm' sung in return to him as the airlock sealed shut. Once again, bar the dim red from above the airlock and the dim strobing lights from all the machines, akkd0g_ was left in solitude.

All of her orders came in through one of two encrypted channels. One was attached to the captains terminal, but that one had always been pretty quiet. The other was an encrypted channel from outside of the ship network. Most of her orders, which came from the RSIS, came through that channel.
"Spooks being spooks, I guess..." she muttered at the thought. She had 3 sets of orders for the journey. The first is to track the 'priority person' through the ship surveillance suite. akkd0g_ constantly had cameras and sometimes even audio on her, but nothing ever happened. Still, she fed it all through to the RSIS. The second was to survey neighboring systems for suspicious activity. This was a little more difficult, as this involved accessing and analyzing data from all-source intelligence on the fly, but it kept her busy. Before each jump, she got the details from the captain, automated the data collection, and would feed it through to the bridge and to the RSIS. The last one, and by far the most important one, is to maintain the security and confidentiality of the ships computer network and operation. Nobody could know who they were, who they had, and where they're going. She spent most of her time combing through all the outbound and inbound data, whether from the all-source intelligence sources or the ship itself, constantly making sure that nothing was amiss.

So far, everything was in order.
"If something's wrong, someone in the bridge will pick it up." akkd0g_ asserted before putting another small handful of food in her mouth. So the husk of a woman stayed in her corner, the epicenter of a mess of droid limbs and wild wires, blinking at interfaces in her headset and gingerly eating without care.
Hidden 9 days ago 8 days ago Post by Moskau Spieluhr
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Moskau Spieluhr A Traveler of the Binary Seas

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Lieutenant Satra Maral

The secluded hanger bay echoed with low laughter. Laughter at the same old jokes that they'd tell before each mission. Maral had learned that they never really changed. The fear never did. It was only redirected into better uses than panic. Even the Jedi felt fear, she'd seen that herself. They weren't ready for a war. They'd been too busy playing at being heroes. The battlefield was no place for heroes. The universe didn't need genocidal cultists playing at gods, it needed stability, and it needed order, real order far beyond the corrupt politicians hiding on Coruscant. The Republic was a rotten, diseased thing. It had been dying for thousands of years. It had to be stopped. The universe had to be cured of the sickness of the Jedi and the politicians they had ensnared. She was the tool, the scalpel that would separate the diseased tissue, that would save what could be saved, and dispose of the rest. She didn't need a code to tell her what to do. She had orders. She had purpose. She had seen what mercy the Republic offered. She had seen what justice meant on Coruscant.

Familiarity brought Maral back from her thoughts. Familiar patterns of movements. Familiar conversations. Familiar gear checks. Familiar weapon checks. Familiar enemies. Maral and the 975th were old hands playing at an old game. There was comfort in the familiarity of it all. There was nothing to question or doubt while on a mission. There was no time and no place for hesitation. Not if you wanted to live. Not if you still wanted to play in the big leagues. Maral felt focused. She felt ready. They were ready. It had been a rush job by necessity, but that was nothing new. The war might have gone cold for everyone else, but for the 975th, the war was still burning brightly.

The orders she had received were simple and she rattled them off in her head without a moment of hesitation.

Objective 1: Cripple the Hammerhead carrying the prisoner by targeting critical systems of the cruiser.
Objective 2: Capture the RSIS operative located aboard the ship.

Accomplishing the mission however, was not simple. Retrieving a prisoner from a Hammerhead cruiser full of Jedi with adequate time and proper resources would have been difficult. It would be even more difficult with the hastily assembled force that Captain Corvinian commanded. Maral trusted that the soldiers of the 975th would rise to the challenge and she trusted Captain Corvinian, as much as she trusted any superior officer in Imperial Intelligence. She trusted the Sith warriors that stalked the Terminus cruiser far less. They were an uncertain variable in the equation. Capable, but exceedingly dangerous and unpredictable, even to loyal soldiers of the Empire. The rest of the forces assigned to the operation were a great disappointment to Maral. Mercenaries, green soldiers, and whatever criminal scumbags could be convinced to sign up. They would do as cannon fodder and not much else. The mere thought left Maral shaking her head in irritation. Working with amateurs was never fun.

Loading their gear into a waiting boarding shuttle, the Imperial Intelligence operators showed neither the unrestrained fear of the common troopers, nor the boundless emotion of the Sith warriors. Maral wouldn't have allowed either. There was no room for mistakes when you were hunting force users. You had to be thoughtless, formless, striking from the shadows, and operating on instinct alone. But most of all you had to be creative. If there was one thing Maral had learned about force users it was that they relied too much on the force. Whatever it was. They often forgot that there were different ways to solve a problem. They never seemed to expect clever use of explosives.

Decked out in darkened battle armor the operators of the 975th were ready for the corridor-to-corridor fighting that was sure to follow. Fighting in the cramped corridors of a space ship was never ideal. There would be no way to avoid casualties. The losses to the Empire would be horrendous. But it would be worth it. The Republic would lose something far more valuable. With no need for stealth, Maral had made sure that the 975h were fully equipped for battle. Heavy battle armor, blaster carbines, and personal energy shields. The very best technology that the Sith Empire could offer and then some. Maral shifted the disruptor rifle that she held in her own hands carefully, it would make short work of any shields, and shorter work of any organics. She had no need for feigned morality. There were no rules in battle. There was no consolation price for losing a war. You fought with all you had and worried about what was right later when all of your enemies were dead.

The 975th was prepared. She was prepared. They had requisitioned all the charges they could get their hands on. They had enough shaped charges to reduce the Republic spaceship to space debris should it be necessary. For any Jedi that survived the Sith warriors they had prepared a nasty combination of poison gas, sonic charges, and glop grenades. Apart from the prisoner, there would only be one survivor. There was a greater game afoot, beyond the Republic and the Sith Empire. The endless waltz of one intelligence agency trying to defeat another. Imperial Intelligence had planned a masterstroke, a final poke in the eye of the RSIS as they recovered the prisoner. They were going to flip an asset. They were going to use one of the RSIS's most trusted weapons to ruin them. It hadn't been hard. They had only needed to push the right buttons. One button as it turned out. They had only needed to find the right man. Maral would have smiled at the thought of pulling a fast one past the RSIS, had she permitted herself that trivial sort of dalliance.

"Any word from our contact, Lieutenant?" Second Lieutenant Diruno inquired with a respectful nod. As second in command of the 975th he'd been in the briefing with Maral and High Colonel Sarkin Ziracch. He knew as much as she did about the prisoner, the mission, and their contact in Republic space.

"Our contact has confirmed that the secondary target is broadcasting. The encryption is good, very good. Good enough that I almost wouldn't be the reports if I hadn't seen the code myself, but thanks to the information our contact has provided we've been accessing the data as soon as the RSIS, maybe sooner."

"Good, good. We'll need to move fast if we're to avoid getting caught any traps."

"We have additional electronic countermeasures in place. The second we breach the hull they'll be deployed by our own specialists."

"Do you think that's going to be enough to bag us a spiced up cybernetic slicer?"

"We'll soon find out," Maral answered, silencing Diruno with a quick gesture as an incoming transmission pinged her communicator.

Lt. Maral. Operation is imminent. Official confirmation soon to follow. See that primary and secondary objectives are completed.

"975th," Maral began, addressing the Imperial Intelligence operators around her with a voice still full of ice. "We proceed as planned with Operation Harvest Moon."

Maral did not miss that Sergeant-Major Eldin broke into a broad smile, clapping his hands together with a relieved breath. The rest simply nodded, increasing the pace of their preparations She knew that Sergeant-Major Eldin had been itching for battle. He didn't believe in R&R. He said it made him too soft. The Zabrak was happiest when they were deployed on an operation. The more dangerous the mission and the worse the simulations that the Imperial Intelligence statisticians provided the 975th with were, the happier he became. He was a good soldier and that was all that mattered to Maral. It was the chief reason she didn't discipline him for his occasional outbursts of emotion. He was cold when it mattered. He was ice cold when he was pointing a blaster at the enemy.

"Prisoners?" The Sergeant-Major asked, turning an eye towards Maral.

"No," Maral replied tasting the word with the edge of her tongue. Murder.

Without a pause, Maral brought up a holo-map of the ship with her wristlink. With the press of a button a preprogrammed set of assault routes appeared, "I want a clean sweep of the control room. We are going to take their generator offline, and then we're going to take out their life support systems one by one. The emergency generator should maintain artificial gravity and a breathable level of oxygen long enough for the others to complete their mission."

Centering the holo-map on an indistinct room located in the heart of the Republic ship Maral continued, "On our way off of the Republic ship we are going to pick up another prisoner. Alive, if possible."
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Hidden 8 days ago Post by Ruby
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Ruby No One

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"There's a lot of armor."

The technician said it, again, as if that meant anything to her. Bright eyes slipped from the secondary AUX control box wiring under the floor to the Imperial wrench monkey that was light on age and experience, and heavy on try hard. She knew the difficulties all the armor would present her. Like trying to fly a metal box through an asteroid field. It's not as if the Republic task force was going to just let them waltz in. Yet Briar found herself not feeling overly worried about that aspect of the mission. She could fly a metal box through an asteroid field--she had all the confidence in the galaxy of being able to do that.

It was the mission itself that gnawed at her. It was a insect crawling under her skin, itching and burning, but nothing she could do about it without ripping into it all: the mission boss had made it very very clear that there was no going back. There was no calling this off. This had been a favor, and she was just now beginning to see why Collem had called in the fighter ace. This wasn't just tricky flying, this would have just as much to do with her sidearms, and her abilities in sussing out bullshit from reality if the mission went Sith sideways: competing agendas coming into play.

But that didn't seem all that likely to her; of the three Sith present they seemed a far cry from the warriors Briar was used to. They seemed far more dangerous to her. They were quiet enough to almost be confused for reserved had they not been so...aggressive. They were masked in black with masked faces that were near designed in some vague beastly fashion, as if the Sith below were wild and predatory. One had been downright kind to her. At least she had thought so, until that night in her rack she had dreams that weren't her dreams. She felt the dreams like a violation, a feeling that went bone deep.

She'd confronted the Sith in the tiny passageway about it. He didn't apologize, he didn't say much of anything. He called her a pretty, fragile, little thing and wished her luck on the mission. The dreams became nightmares that night. Last night? Nothing. Restful, peaceful, sleep. Maybe the Sith was just letting the pilot sleep before a mission, maybe he'd grown bored, either way Briar would be glad to be done with this mission and back with her squadron.

"Thanks. We'll be heading out soon."

The technician nodded in response as the pilot finished her visual inspection of the spacecraft prior to launch, wandering back to Collem. In her meandering she passed the 975th. As far as Collem had been willing to share and she could tell they were the competing agenda; shadowy commandos being sent in to assist the three Sith sent by the mysterious Darth in part. Their real mission? Collem knew. Briar didn't, and that was fine with her. Their leader wasn't anything like the mysterious Sith. A female shorter than Briar by an inch or two at most given the serious nature of the woman's boots and how thick their soles were. Probably not much shorter outside the boots, if Briar eyed the special operator carefully.

And Briar had. Enjoying every second of it.

Now all Briar offered a half-grin to the woman and her people as she walked by in her grey flightsuit, as well aware of how complimenting of her figure that her flightsuit was as she was aware that at least a few of the special operators would notice the same as she went by. It was a chuckle inducing kind of moment. The kind of moment that quickly fades the closer to go time Briar felt them get. When she finally got to Collem he looked almost peaceful. It was a front, and Briar knew him well enough to know that, but it was a front that even gave her a little bit of comfort.

She stood close to him. Close enough to whisper very carefully.

"This is the weirdest mission I've ever been on. There are dark things going on around us, C. Those Sith frighten me more than normal, and that group of commandos is unsettling in how good they seem to think they are," neverminding Briar fully believed they were as good as they thought they were, "Thier commander makes me as nervous as the Sith." A faint snort flared her nostrils as her head tilted just so, to allow the longer and messier than typical mission pony tail to escape her face.

"Please tell me you at least know everything that's going on in this mission. Competing agendas on the same mission always end so well for us."
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Hidden 4 days ago 4 days ago Post by Sini
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Collem kept a tight lid on his personal reservations concerning the mission, but he knew that Briar was able slip passed his stoic exterior – much like she would be able slip passed the Republic’s emergency scrambled fighters and flak. A commander was supposed to exude calm and confidence, present a bedrock for his subordinates. Nothing was as contagious as panic. He had seen one rout and one mutiny during his time with the Imperial Navy; vicious and violent experiences both of them. Collem cared not to relive anything like it again.

The blonde ace sashaying in her flight-suit neglected calling him by his rank or title, a personal privilege. It was not as if he was a stickler, but a certain distance between superior and subordinate had to be maintained. Collem was against befriending those serving under him. After all, it was hard sending your friends into the jaws of war never mind sending them to their deaths when the greater good demanded it. Briar, however, was different. There were other designs and plans in motion, things in play. Even if it was his old man pulling their strings, Collem admitted he was extremely fond of the blonde pilot. A rather considerable notion that, he thought as he reminisced of how whimsical she could be.

But not when she flew. Her concentration and skill were sharp enough to split atoms. There was no doubt in his mind as to her expertise in handling a spaceship, which was a great font of comfort for the Captain.

Even if his eyes kept on surveying the hurried but meticulous preparations for the impending strike, he saw how well the uniform suited her, how effortlessly smooth she moved, how her pony-tail swayed merrily. A woman in uniform… Why must she torment me so? He noted the other women in tight-fitting uniforms and the air of professionalism, and was forced to amend his thoughts. Women in uniform, why must they torment me so?

They stood close to one another, close enough for the omission of rank to be allowed. He grimaced, shadow flitting over his face as the mask of confidence momentarily slipped. “If they’re half as good as they think they are, we’re in the clear.” He had had little time to acquaint himself with the prowess of the elements at his disposal. Some he had been familiar with, others he knew only from military manuals, briefings and personal research. Most of those participating in the operation might had been battle-tested… but not by him. That made a world of difference.

She coaxed a wry, ragged smile from him that stripped away years and almost made him look boyish. “Are you referring to that business on Sarapin?” They had made it out alive by the skin of their teeth, and largely because of Briar’s skill with a stick. “Or that sith-spitting debacle over Lannik?”

For a moment he considered lying to her, claiming he had the full scoop on the assignment. Would that make her better at her job? Instead he clasped his hands behind his back and set his face. He saw no point in hiding from her. “Apparently I am on a ‘need to know basis’. So, you can be sure of it that several agendas are being served by this… helter-skelter OP." Collem sighed, numbing the anger in his chest. "I did some heavy digging before being told to cease. They threatened to pull me off this detail, but I could not think of anyone else remotely qualified to pull this off.” Conceited, perhaps, but also responsible, he judged. Collem could practically hear Briar playfully rolling her eyes at him. The lack of information and intelligence (the latter nonetheless thankfully augmented with the 975th's efforts) would mean a lot of people would die today. A lack of intel almost always translated in a higher loss of life. Trust had forever been in short supply within the Empire.

“I don’t like it one jot. After this is through, I intend to pick up the shovel again. This thing goes high up the food chain, very high.” The lights suddenly died, turned red as the air was cut into shreds by the horn. Even after all the years of hearing the blaring alarm, it still put the fire in Collem’s bones. “Right. On. Time.” There was nothing boyish about the grin adorning his face now. He made to turn but paused, then put a propriety-breaking hand on Briar’s shoulder and squeezed down. “I will be watching closely from the bridge the whole time. Good luck…” A surprisingly gentle look softened his otherwise stern features. “And… be careful, Briar.” He followed up with a very uncharacteristic thing to say. "No unnecessary risks... please."

Then he was gone, brightly spit-shined boots beating out a purposeful cadence in the crimson-lit corridor. Collem was already volleying commands into his comms. “I’ll have the hide of anyone not at his designated station by the time I make it back to the bridge,” growled the Captain. “Get the tractor beams running hot, all squadrons go, priority targets are their engines and comms.” If all went according to plan they would be muffling any signal trying to go out of the system, but one could never be too careful.

Soon the Imperial vessels would swoop down upon the non-suspecting Republic convoy, turbolasers and ion-cannons blazing and ripping through space to be followed by waves of personnel craft. Looking back, Collem saw the crews froth into action. His eyes caught the masked sith one last time before the door hissed shut. An epigram of some distant memory of a Kaas City play came to mind. Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.

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