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Topic:  VEN: The Blockade
Serpent
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Serpent
 
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  VEN: The Blockade
June 29, 2012 8:01:39 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
Governor Orzik sat in his office, a plush suite in 120 Austere Plaza, from which the rulers of the planet Lasoris Minor traditionally ruled.  In the days of the Republic, 120 Austere Plaza belonged to the planet’s elected President, but since the Galactic Empire and later Vast Empire took over, the place had belonged to the appointed governor.

Orzik had initially revelled in his post as Governor.  For a sparsely populated backwater, Lasoris Minor was a gorgeous planet, and its capital city, with Austere Plaza its heart, was a wonder to behold.  It was a gleaming district of high domed buildings, painted in all manner of glistening colours, interspersed with fountains and richly tiled walkways.  He found it breathtaking.

And now it was his prison.

The Governor turned to face a series of vidscreens that dominated the wall to his left, relaying images from the southern continent of Lasoris Minor.  There, far from the wealth and nobility of the northern continent and the capital, the ‘dregs’ dwelt.  All these lower-class scum were good for was working the mines and tending farms, and they were beneath Orzik’s attention.  Until now.

The images on-screen were of riots.  Savage, brutal riots that were more than mere political unrest (of which a career Imperial administrator tended to see a lot).  No, what Orzik stared at now was the result of a particularly virulent strain of Arkanian Hive Virus.  It had swept through the southern continent, infecting both alien and human alike, driving them into a self-destructive madness that was more appropriate to a horror-holomovie than real life.  Every image brought back from his probe droid observers showed hordes of beings cramming the major population centres, clawing at each other with bare hands, smashing property and eating the flesh of dead.  It was chaos.

Orzik’s quick thinking had cut off the northern lands from the south, saving himself and the rest of those living in and around the capital, but those fools back on Lotaith did not trust that his measures were successful.  He had been loyal to the Vast Empire, informing them of the crisis, and in response they had blockaded the whole of Lasoris Minor.  No ship was to enter or leave, and while the VE worked on some phantom cure that may never happen, the risk of the virus spreading to the north continued to climb.

That had been two weeks ago.  Since then, Orzik had been working on an escape plan.  He had not got so far in life by taking chances, and he knew how to seize the initiative to get out of tricky situations.  Originally he planned to slip off-world past the blockade alone, secretly, but those he had contacted to assist him had demanded more payment than the Governor could manage.  And so it was that he had brought a large number of the capital’s rich and powerful elite in on the plan too, and together they had financed the assistance of the Eleven Spears Mercenaries.

So where were they?

As if on cue, a well-polished droid sauntered into his office.  BD-3000 Luxury Droids were shaped like human women, with all the curves that Orzik liked, plus a submissive personality and voice to match.  “What is it, Lidia?” Demanded the Governor.

“Priority transmission, sir,” Said the droid, her synthetic voice sweet yet sultry.  “High power frequency, cutting through the jamming of the orbiting blockade fleet.  Shall I put it through?”

At last!  “Yes, go ahead!”

A moment later a quarter-sized hologram appeared to hover over Orzik’s desk.  The image was of a grizzled veteran of a Cathar with a thick mane of hair.  The most remarkable feature of the feline alien was his brilliant snow-white fur and red eyes, marking him as one of the exceedingly rare albinos of his race.  “We are here,” Said the figure with a voice that sounded born to command.

“Admiral Ralthra,” Greeted the Governor warmly.  “You have arrived just in time.  The VE continues to stall with promises of medical aid, but it does not arrive.  Instead my skies are filled with ever-more warships of the Navy, and my people grow restive at the starport.  Are you ready?”

“We are,” Said the Cathar.  “The Eleven Spears are poised at the edge of the system.  We will micro-jump into orbit in precisely one hour.  We will engage the outermost forces of the blockade fleet, and occupy them while you and any other civilian ships launch.  I stress again that my people are taking on a big risk by going up against the VEN.  We are not able to engage in a protracted battle.  We will give you a small window of opportunity, so I suggest you use it well!”

Orzik bit back a retort.  He was paying exorbitantly for the services of the mercenaries, and he was expecting more of a commitment than Ralthra seemed to be offering.  Instead the Governor swallowed his pride and said, “We will be ready.  Orzik out.”

And so it began.  Now the Governor just needed to inform everyone in the capital with their own private ship that the time to leave was nigh.  Not that he felt any loyalty to the people he governed, of course.  Orzik did not care if anyone save himself got away in the fiasco that was about to unfold.

He just needed the other civilian ships as distractions and cover...

-----

Standing in the cavernous room that the Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer Halcyon Warrior called a bridge, Captain Dracule ‘Drac’ Mihawk listened to the background noise of his dedicated crew, going through their routines with quiet competence.  Striding forward along the command walkway, the Mon Calamari came to a stop at the massive viewing port, and from there surveyed the fleet that was drifting lazily around Lasoris Minor.

Most of their ships were in geo-synchronous orbit above the planet’s capital, as it was from the starport there that any potential civilian ships would try to flee.  In the last two weeks, a handful had even tried, but the ion cannons of the fleet had put a stop to them quickly.  Drac had also stationed a few ships around the far side of the planet, but thus far no-one had tried to slip around the world and escape that way.

Also assisting in the blockade was the nearby space station Orehold One.  A major transportation hub for the refined metals from the planet’s southern continent, Orehold One was also under quarantine.  However, its people had yet to show signs of infection and had pledged the station’s formidable defensive weaponry to assisting Mihawk’s fleet.

The Captain felt sorry for those still on the planet below.  To succumb to a Hive Virus was a terrible way to go, and one that the Mon Calamari did not wish on anyone.  Still, the Captain had faith that the VEN’s science division would find a cure that would work across all races, and have enough of it made in time to save Lasoris Minor.

He was just musing on what it would feel like to help save an entire planet from madness and certain death, when the voice of one of his bridge officers spoke up to ruin his mood and indeed his entire day.

“Captain!  Hostiles incoming!” Declared the Navigation Officer Beckany Prakiri.

A moment later and Drac’s keen eyes picked up the flicker of ships exiting hyperspace, far from the Halcyon Warrior at the far edge of their formation.  At this distance it was hard to make out their markings, but the eclectic collection of vessels definitely indicated mercenaries.

Coming quickly to the Captain’s side, his First Officer, Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail, stared in confusion at the antiquated capital ships of the merc taskforce.  “Looks like a Separatist fleet, if I recall my history correctly.”

“Reading a half-dozen capital ships of various sizes,” Continued Prakiri.  “Their shields are being raised, weapons powered up, and they are moving into attack positions!  And they are launching fighters, a mix of NovaSword and Rogue-Class fighters!”

“Notify the fleet!” Ordered Drac, though he knew the competent array of captains under his command would already be reacting to this sudden event.  “All hands, battle stations!”

As Serpent relayed the order, the Navigation Officer spoke up yet again.  “Sir, now reading vessels launching from the surface of Lasoris Minor.  Civilian ships, yachts and traders, all from the commercial and private starports of the northern continent.”

The Captain took one glance at the swarms of craft now rising from the planet below, and knew at once that their unified departure was too quick to merely be them seizing opportunistically on this new foe’s arrival.  Someone had planned this.

“We have to stop the civilians fleeing at all costs!” Declared Drac.  “Com Officer!  Tell the fleet that I want fleeing ships within the blockade disabled and captured with minimal harm to the crews.  However, anyone slipping through the blockade is to be targeted with long-range missiles and destroyed!  Refusal to surrender is to forfeit their lives,” Warned the Captain darkly.

“Yes, sir,” Said the Com Officer grimly.

“Pherik!” Continued the Captain, turning to his XO, who was also the fleet liaison to Vast Empire Naval Intelligence.  “Contact VENI, see if they can find out who these Confederate-wannabes are!”

“Yes, sir,” Said Serpent, rushing off to his workstation.

Drac’s large eyes locked onto the forces now engaging his, and then flitted over to the multitude of possibly plagued ships fleeing the planet.  Quite a dilemma indeed...


OOC:

    1580 words.  The new mission has begun!

    After Action Report:  The planet Lasoris Minor has been infected with a Hive Virus that is driving the inhabitants insane.  Thus far only the southern continent has been shown as infected, and those people in the north are worried.  The Vast Empire has quarantined the whole world, sending the Navy to blockade it.  The planet’s Governor, Orzik, is trapped on his world and, panicked, wants to get away.  In response he has contacted Admiral Ralthra of the Eleven Spears Mercenaries, who have shown up to engage the VEN and distract the blockading fleet.  As the mercs arrive, everyone on Lasoris Minor with their own ship has taken off and are now making a break for it.

    Orders:  I have not stated where ships are in the VE blockade, so that people can decide what they want to do themselves.  The main priority is to stop the potentially infected civilians escaping and carrying the Hive Virus elsewhere.  Use ion weapons or simply shoot to disable, if they are close.  Any ship slipping through and refusing an order to surrender is to be destroyed by whatever means available (such as long-range missiles).  There is also the Eleven Spears Mercenaries to worry about.  Their forces are as follows:

    1 Providence-Class Destroyer The Eleven Spears Flagship Ralthra’s Claw
    2 unnamed Ruscant-Class Light Destroyers
    1 unnamed Nebulon-B Frigate
    2 unnamed Marauder-Class Corvettes
    3 unnamed CR90 Corvettes
    Several Squadrons of Rogue-Class Fighters
    Several Squadrons of NovaSword Fighters

    To counter this, our forces are:
    Halcyon Warrior
    Brilliant
    Surprise
    Chrome Fox
    Hammer
    Dead Gun
    1 unnamed Strike-Class Cruiser
    1 unnamed CR-90 Corvette
    2 unnamed DP-20 Gunboats
FO/MCPO Pherik “Serpent” Zail / ISD II Halcyon Warrior/TF: Besh/1Flt/FC/VEN/VE
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"If the crew doesn't hate the XO, then he's not doing his job." - Colonel Saul Tigh
[This message has been edited by Serpent (edited July 21, 2012 10:57:40 PM)]
Trykon
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 4, 2012 5:22:07 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
The hospital was quiet.  After a relatively busy night, Doctor Rakelle Kwang was grateful for the sudden slow-down just before dawn.  She was tired, and her knees and back ached.  But one hour before the day shift took over, a call came in, audio only.  The receptionist had trouble understanding the accent of the caller – some of the slums surrounding the ore refinement facilities in southern Lasoris Minor had dialects of Basic that defied comprehension. It was an emergency – that much was obvious – and could the hospital please send a doctor.

With a sigh, Rakelle grabbed a med-kit.  The younger doctors on staff were all from the North: they were only interested in completing their residencies as quickly as possible, so they could move back to the capital to start lucrative private practices.  They would go, if she told them to, but they didn’t really care about helping the poor drudges who worked their entire lives – and died – in the mines.  Rakelle’s father and all her grandparents had been miners; her mother had worked as a secretary at the regional offices of the mining conglomerate.  She knew that whatever the mysterious emergency turned out to be at the remote village, she would give better care to the people there than would any of the northern kids.

The village was hard to find.  Like many of the semi-permanent worker shanty-towns in the South, it didn’t officially exist, and wasn’t on any map.  Rakelle got lost several times, and had to keep asking locals for directions, battling to make sense of their accents each time.  By the time she reached the tiny hilltop village, she was fuming.  This had better be serious, she thought to herself.  The moment she saw the villagers’ faces, she regretted her wish.

There were nine patients – six Humans, two Gran, and a Duros – all splayed out on cots, all barely conscious.  The other villagers had moved them into a large shack near the center of the small community.  The high walls were corrugated metal, the floor packed dirt.  A canvas roof let in drafts of cold, damp air.  No wonder they’re sick, Rakelle thought with a frown.

“Who’s been taking care of them?” she asked form the doorway.  She would need a nurse or two.

“No one,” came the reply from an old man.  Rakelle turned in surprise.  A mousey Sullustan girl added: “It’s not safe!”

As she looked at the small crowd gathered outside the shack, Rakelle could see that the villagers were scared.  They kept their distance, whispering and shaking their heads.  Some prayed.  And then Rakelle noticed the door to the make-shift structure: it had been locked from the outside.  Anger flushed her cheeks.  Not anger at the villagers themselves, but at the socioeconomic conditions which bred such ignorance, and which cultivated such superstition.  I’m going to slap the next rich jerk who claims that miners are just too lazy to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, she promised herself.  Lasoris Minor has a de facto caste system, I’ve said it a thousand times!

She was still lost in thoughts of socio-economic oppression when she knelt on creaking knees to examine the first patient.

It was an adult Gran female, running a high fever and shivering violently.  Murmuring incoherently, she whimpered when Rakelle tried to move her limbs.  There was a wound on her right forearm: a bite mark.  When Rakelle took a closer look, she realized that it wasn’t from an animal.  The radius of the bite and the marks left by the teeth indicated the biter was a small, or possibly young, humanoid.  This must be the source of the infection, she thought, but the wound was surprisingly clean.  “Someone’s cleaned this cut,” she said aloud, turning to face the villagers, still huddled on the other side of the door, afraid to enter.  “Who’s been taking care of these beings?” she asked again.

The crowd muttered amongst themselves.  “No one,” the old man repeated.  The Sullustan girl shook her head emphatically.

Rakelle frowned again.  It couldn’t be true.  Most humanoids had filthy mouths, packed with bacteria.  If no one’s cleaned her arm, she thought, bending over to look at the Gran’s limb again, why isn’t the wound teeming with bacteria?

She examined the eight other patients.  All of them showed similar symptoms, and all of them had similar injuries on various parts of their bodies: strangely uninfected bites.  Rakelle asked one Human young man, the most lucid of the group, who or what had bitten him.  The youth told her, “He was crazy.  We had to tie him up.  He didn’t want to be tied up.  He was scratching.  Biting.”

“Who was crazy?” Rakelle asked.  “Who was biting?”

She first saw “Patient Zero” behind the locked door of an abandoned hut across town.  He was a twelve year old Human boy, his wrists and feet bound with plastic packing twine.  The skin around his bonds was chafed off, exposing the muscle beneath, but inexplicably there was no blood.  There wasn’t any blood on any of his wounds: not on the gouges on his legs and arms, nor even coming from the large, dry gap where several toes were missing from his left foot.  He was writhing like a captured animal; a gag muffled his growls.

At first the villagers tried to hold Rakelle back.  They warned her not to touch the boy, and said he was “cursed.”  She shrugged them off and pulled on a medical mask and gloves: she needed answers.  The boy’s skin was as cold and grey as the permacrete on which he lay, and Rakelle could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.  His eyes were wild, wide, and sunken back in their sockets, and remained fixed on Rakelle in a predatory stare.  He was inexplicably hostile throughout the examination, reaching for her with his bound hands, and snapping at her through his gag.

He grew so violent, Rakelle called for two of the largest villagers to help her hold him down.  There were more than a little reluctant to approach, but when she explained that there was no risk of infection if they used gloves and mask – and when she ordered them to comply, as their superior within the company hierarchy – they grudgingly lumbered over and knelt down beside her to help.

One held the boy’s arms still, while the other held down his feet, and Rakelle tried to take a blood sample.  To her horror, instead of the crimson liquid she was expecting, the needle filled with a brown, viscous solution.  And as she withdrew the syringe, the boy began another bout of violent struggling.

The boy jerked hard against the weight holding him down, and Rakelle heard his arm snap.  Jagged ends of both his ulna and radius bones stabbed through his grey flesh, and though the boy didn’t even seem to notice the horrific injury, it was gruesome enough that it made Rakelle’s two helpers retreat in disgust and terror.  Instinctively, Rakelle herself fell back a few paces, watching in disbelief and shock.

The boy twisted in her direction, and as he did his arm ripped completely free, the flesh and muscle tearing from one another until there was nothing but a ragged stump.  His now-free right arm – still tied to the severed left hand, now dangling from a short length of twine – began to drag his ghoulish body across the floor.

Rakelle ran outside, and locked the door behind her.  She leaned against the door, and jumped back when something started banging against the thin wood: it was the boy, weakly pounding on the other side.  “Gods be good,” she said, forgetting her earlier judgments about religious superstition, “it’s a Hive Virus.”  And without another word, she hurried through the crowd of distraught villagers to the hospital speeder.  She switched on the holotransmitter, dialed the hospital, and began speaking: “Activate Quarantine Protocol Senth-One-One.  This is not a drill.  Repeat, field request for activation of Quarantine Protocol Senth-One-One.  This is not a drill!"

OOC:
1,339 words.  I started a post about Surprise, but decided instead that it was important to first show why our job - blockading the planet - is important: the Hive Virus is essentially a zombie outbreak!  Inspiration for this writing exercise was heavily drawn from Max Brooks's World War Z.

AAR: Backstory about the first reported cases of the Hive Virus on Lasoris Minor.  Doctor Rakelle Kwang responds to a call for help from a rural village, and finds an infection which alters the blood of its victims, and drives them into a murderous rage.
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CNT/LT Wyl "Trick" Trykon/PLF Cappadocious/VENA/VEN/VE

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Echelon
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 5, 2012 8:24:54 PM    View the profile of Echelon 
It was early in the morning when Captain Declan O’Neal came up to the bridge intent on taking command of the Dublin for the day. He strode through the dual sliding doors with a sense of authority, but also taking his time with every step. His Second Officer, Connor, was on watch, and he saluted at sight of the captain. O’Neal nodded in return before making his way to the center of the bridge and stopping. Without saying anything, Connor quietly exited the bridge, leaving the captain alone to the silence.

Not nearly being the beginning of the Primary Watch, the rest of the bridge crew had not arrived, but O’Neal liked to be early. During the morning hours, the bridge was completely quiet, and the mass of activity that would ensue during the day was not present. He could quietly come in, sip at his coffee, and gaze out into the endless maze of stars. That was exactly what he was doing now. Of course, there were other bridge officers present in the room, but they soon learned that the captain liked his silence, and they weren’t to disturb him at all.

Not five minutes after he took over, he heard the doors whir open behind him. Instead of turning to look, O’Neal sipped at his coffee, allowing the warm caffeinated aroma to wake his body up. The new arrival was most likely Patrick, the Chief Engineer.

In the next few minutes, the bridge doors would open and close several more times, allowing the new bridge crew to enter, and the old one to leave. As always, everyone was to remain quiet so to not disturb the captain. O’Neal, still staring mindlessly out the viewport, was mentally counting each time the door slid open, and keeping track of who was in the room. When the last bridge officer came in, he turned around and faced his crew, sipping the last remnants of coffee out of his cup.

“Good mornin’ crew,” O’Neal said in his strange Corellian accent. “Today, as you probably guessed, we continue the blockade on the planet below. Our patrol routes are programmed into the Nav computer. Any questions? No? Great. Begin with your work.” As soon as he finished, the silence of the chamber vanished as each crewmember began their various roles aboard the Dublin.

One would think that pacing up and down the bridge for hours would get boring, especially with no orders to relay, but not for O’Neal. He enjoyed watching his crew work together in perfect, synchronized clockwork. Sure, he did regard times where it was perhaps a bit dull, but that was because they were going on simple patrols, but never outright boredom.

The Dublin, named after a city on Corellia, was a 6 gun-CR90 Corvette, two dual turbolasers and four single turbolasers. It had been in service for three years, and fought in a variety of battles, all of which were under its current captain. Though she had been damaged heavily at Coveway, Belgaroth, and Abrae, O’Neal still regarded her as one of the fastest, deadliest, and “best goddamn ship” in the entire Navy. To a certain extent, that was true. She was outfitted with some of the best crew in the fleet, most of which came from Corellia. Each crewmember was a veteran of at least a couple of years, and they knew the ship inside and out, and they knew how to put up a good fight.

The Captain’s thoughts were interrupted by the yell from a communications officer. “Sir!” he blared, “Incoming message from the Warrior.” Wondering what it could possibly be, O’Neal hurried over to the communications console where the message was already in progress.

“...First Fleet: Nine hostile ships in sector 5b-a2 and two squadrons of fighters. Sending details now. Engage at will...”

Jumping into action, the captain moved away from the console and yelled, “Prepare for batt-” but he was suddenly interrupted by his communications officer.

“Sir! The message didn’t end.” Hopping back over to the officer, O’Neal listened in on the rest of the transmission.

“...First Fleet: Several civilian ships exiting the northern hemisphere. Engage at will, but do minimal damage to the crew and passengers. Any escaping ships are to be stopped at all costs, use any means necessary...”

O’Neal now realized what was happening. In an attempt to flee the disease ridden planet, the civilians had hired the mercenaries for protection, and it was now up to the Vast Empire to stop them.

Back up on the command walkway, O’Neal explained the situation to the crew, ending with, “Prepare for battle!” In that moment, the once calm room exploded into a fury of activity. Weapons officers alerted their gun crews, defense officer booted up the shields, and helms officers began to move into attack position.

Somehow, through all of the noise, O’Neal managed to hear his Executive Officer Sean to his right.

“Good morning Captain,” he greeted with a nod.

“Mornin’ Sean. How was your night?”

“Well, you know, it was alright. Nothing abnormal.”

O’Neal hummed, watching his crew dart back and forth across the room. The bridge was at its busiest when it was preparing for battle, but he knew it would settle down as time went on.

“What do you think of the situation, Sean?” the captain asked respectfully.

“I’m sorry, I just got up when I heard the alarms, I hoped you would tell me what was happening.”

“Ah. Well, you see, we’ve got more civilian ships escaping.”

“Again? When will they give up?”

The captain frowned. “You didn’t let me finish. They’ve got armed forces this time. A group called the Eleven Spears Mercenaries. We’re to engage them and the civilian ships, but this time, if any civilian ships get through, we’re to use any means necessary to stop them. Including lethal ones.” At that moment, Sean’s face was drained of any color. O’Neal was surprised by the reaction. “Sean, what’s wrong?”

“Oh nothing,” he croaked, but he wasn’t too reassuring.

“Sean, you’re not from Corellia, are you? Your accent is different from everyone elses, where are you from?”

There was a brief silence between the two, then Sean muttered, “Lasoris Prime.”

OOC:
Word Count: 1,040. For this post, I tried a different method of writing. I’d love feedback on it. Also, I may or may not have made every one on the ship irish. When I think of Corellia, I think of Ireland, so, I kind of made it Ireland.

AAR: The Captain of the VE CR90 Corvette Dublin prepares his crew for battle while he finds out his XO is from Lasoris Prime. It should set up for some interesting interaction!

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Serpent
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Serpent
 
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 7, 2012 2:35:05 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
The battle raged outside, and on the bridge of the Halcyon Warrior, Captain Drac bellowed orders to his crew and to the fleet.  It was chaos out there, with capital ships and fighters rushing to both intercept the plagued civilian ships fleeing Lasoris Minor, and intercept the mercenary forces giving them cover.

Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail, First Officer and Naval Intelligence liaison officer, could not dwell on such things right now.  He was sat at a workstation on the bridge, flying through encrypted VENI files in a desperate attempt to figure out just who their strange aggressors were.  That the hostiles were mercenaries was obvious, for their ships sported a strange crest and their ships were not used by either the Imperial factions or the New Republic.

In fact, their largest ships were old vessels used thirty years previous by the Confederacy of Independent Systems.  Serpent knew that, following the conclusion of the Clone Wars, several pockets of the CIS, known as the ‘Separatist Holdouts’ remained to plague the Empire (and, most people now suspected, were deliberately left so that Emperor Palpatine could use them as a justification for his vast military build-up).  Most were later absorbed into the growing Rebel Alliance, but a few of those lost taskforces went rogue, becoming pirates or mercenaries...

There!  Pherik smiled in triumph as he stumbled across a file on the ‘Eleven Spears’, a former CIS force that turned mercenary five years after the Clone Wars.  He brought up the file, and skim read it as fast as he could.

... Modern corvettes and lesser capital ships, the Eleven Spears are built around a trio of CIS destroyers and a host of old but easily maintained Separatist fighter craft...

Definitely them, concluded Serpent, and read on.  The Neimoidian command staff turned to mercenary work... He picked out, seeing if he could find out who was in charge now and what their typical tactics were.  “Curses!” He said aloud as he read the next part.  They were usurped by a group of former pirates who were far more ruthless and cunning...  Zail grimaced.  So much for his vague hope of having to fight a bunch of aged Trade Federations bureaucrats.

He then read the profile of the current leader, a rare albino Cathar who had been in charge for some seven years.  Admiral Ralthra, as he was known, had had a great career in various militias and defence forces before turning to mercenary work.  He had eagerly taken the Eleven Spears into the Galactic Civil war, though not for any of the major factions (though Republic Intelligence had approached the alien several times).  Instead he lent his forces to neutral worlds, offering to protect them from the warring powers in return for payment.

Very steep payment, he noticed!

Suddenly Pherik had a bad feeling in his gut.  Just who on Lasoris Minor was rich enough to pay for the Eleven Spears?  Whoever they were, the mercenaries would be looking to protect their benefactor, and that may help Zail determine their next move.

Using his VENI clearance, he brought up the profiles of the richest hundred or so people on Lasoris Minor.  Invariably they were from the northern continent, but a quick glance at their net worth indicated that no one individual was rich enough to hire the Eleven Spears alone.  It had to be a group effort.

Most of those individuals had holdings in banks on the planet itself, but it would require a transfer to an off-world holding bank (probably on a neutral world) in order to route the funds to the Eleven Spears.  So who had managed to make that happen in the last two weeks?

Quickly Serpent ran a trace, plugging the Halcyon Warrior’s computer into the local HoloNet and wishing it would run faster.  There was a battle going on and he felt the pressure of time.

And then he had it.  While exact details of how much money went where would take a lot longer to acquire (and, though such information was private, it would not stop VENI) Zail was presented with a list of 7 names.  These people had all made major payments off-world after the blockade and communications blackout began.  Clearly they were the one funding the Eleven Spears.

Suddenly Pherik blinked in surprise.  His eyes locked onto one of the names on the list and that bad feeling in his gut intensified.

Taking off across the bridge, he skidded to a halt beside Captain Mihawk, saluting smartly.

“Sir!  Bad news!” He said quickly.

“Speak,” Said Drac, focused on the flow of the tactical battle hologram before him.

“Sir, our adversaries are a group called the Eleven Spears mercenaries, and their commander is very experienced and very dangerous,” Said Zail.

“Yes, Pherik, I can see that,” Replied the Mon Calamari, gesturing to the hologram.

“Yes sir, but there is more.  I am pretty sure that they are here at the request of Governor Orzik.”

The Captain’s large eyes narrowed.  “Are you telling me that this fiasco was orchestrated by a high-ranking Vast Imperial official?” He growled.

Serpent felt the wave of anger radiating off his superior, and merely nodded.

Incensed, Drac spun about to face the Coms Officer.  “Mr Warnock!  Get me Governor Orzik’s office now!”

A few seconds later, and a new hologram appeared alongside the tactical one.  This was a diminutive image of a feminine droid.  “Imperial Governor’s office!  How may be I be of service?”

“I want to speak to Orzik!” Snapped Drac.

“I am afraid that the Governor is not taking calls right now.  He will...” Began the droid in a sing-song voice, but the Captain was having none of it.

“This is the Head of Naval Warfare!  I demand to speak to Orzik!” He thundered.

“I am afraid that the Governor is not taking calls right now,” Repeated the machine in the exact same tone of voice.  “He will be unavailable until further notice.  Feel free to leave a message with me and...”

“End!” Snapped Drac, and the holo disappeared.  Turning to his First Officer, he said, “That seems to confirm it.  Orzik’s not there because he’s fleeing the planet!”

“It would seem so sir,” Said Zail, trying but failing to keep the look of disgust off his face.  For a trusted official to behave like this was pathetic.

“Pherik, you have new orders.  Use whatever VENI tricks you have.  Find out which of those fleeing ships Orzik is on and arrange his capture at all costs!”

“Yes, sir!” Said Serpent, and rushed off to his workstation again.

He had a task to do.

OOC:
1103 words.  The background info on our foes I promised.  Also, when I proposed this story to Drac, he added the twist that I would have to capture and deal with Governor Orzik.  So here I go!

After Action Report:  Serpent, as VENI Fleet Liaison, finds about the Eleven Spears Mercenaries.  Seeing how expensive they are, he wonders about just who paid them.  A check of financial transactions quickly reveals the involvement of the Governor of Lasoris Minor.  Reporting this to Drac, the Captain orders Zail to find and arrest Orzik ASAP!
MS/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / LCR Courage/TF: TH/3Flt/VENA/VEN/VE
[SoA][MC2][LoM][NAR][E][HNS][SWC][CBV][VC:S][SoV][MiD][VC:G][=*Eng*=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
Hades
ComNet Cadet
 
Hades
 
[VE-NAVY] Chief Petty Officer
 
Post Number:  233
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 7, 2012 8:12:26 AM    View the profile of Hades 
The streets were silent. Well, in this part of the once thriving city anyway. Near the spaceports, there were thousands upon thousands of civilians crowding, wanting to get off the planet despite the Imperial Blockade that was purportedly firing on civilian ships. "So much for medical aid.." Xory Vevut muttered bitterly to himself as he paused, back pressed against a wall, peering around a corner to see if it was clear. Those things.. Xory had seen a lot of horrible things in his time, but never had he seen something like this. A widespread disease that seemed to be indiscriminate as to who it infected and turned into one of 'them'. He'd heard rumours about a hive virus, but surely it wasn't real? He was just a simple Mandalorian smuggler here at the wrong time. This osik would blow over in no time. Or at least, that's what Xory thought. Confident that the alleyway was clear, he dashed forward, hurrying down the shadowy path. This place smelt of death.

It was eerie, being in the place where so many people had hustled and bustled to get to and from work, where people had families and lives and all those commitments. It didn't faze Xory in that people had died.. What did faze him, though was the sheer emptiness that had replaced them. That and the fact that many of them were walking around somewhere and would be more than happy to munch on his flesh. He had seen it with his own two eyes, so he had. He was in the middle of a nice, greasy nerf steak when an ugly-looking - well, they were all ugly looking to him - Gran had marched in and promptly bitten the face off a friendly looking Bothan. That was when Xory had really believed that it was not a drill. But Xory Vevut was not a panicky man, so he had avoided doing the panicky thing - that is to say, go with the crowds to the spaceport -  and instead had holed up in a place with a heavy door and no windows until the crowds had all fled, which meant, according to his logic, that these 'zombies' would go with the crowd. Following the food and all that.

When the crowds had died down - no pun intended - Xory had slipped out of his bastion and into the streets, heading toward his stashed ship. It wasn't that far, but it was still dangerous. He felt the blood pumping through his veins, a result of his haste to get to his ship. He could just see the top of the building that housed it now, around 500 meters away. He kept running, eyes up, until he reached a corner. As with before, he paused to check if it was clear. A dragging sound caught his attention, coupled with a few inhuman moans. They reminded him of people in a retirement home. Xory leant around the corner slowly and almost immediately snapped himself back behind the wall. The moans and dragging sounds were getting louder. He breathed deeply, chancing another look.

He groaned in despair - inwardly of course, he didn't want these.. things to hear him. There were half a dozen or more of the things just shuffling around, not fifty meters up the street - directly between him and his ship. "Osik," he swore quietly, mind working rapidly. There were two ways to get to his ship from here. One of them was straight through that group of undead monsters, the other was the long way, which would take him upward of an hour to reach. It meant he would have to circle back and around until he got to the other side of the ship. More than an hour and that was without complications. You couldn't guess anything accurately, not after the alarm had been raised by some shabla doctor. If this was the hive virus, how long had it been here? How had it got here, and who was to say that it hadn't spread off-planet already? Xory shook his head slowly. He didn't care. He just wanted to get out of here.

"Psst!" A voice came from nearby, and Xory's gaze snapped toward the source. It was a little boy, no older than ten years of age, standing around ten meters from him, across the mouth of the alleyway. Xory's eyes widened as he realised what danger the kid was in. He gestured urgently that the kid should get down, but the child merely smiled and motioned for Xory to follow him. The smuggler looked around furtively. Glancing around the corner again, he saw a break.. Now! Xory saw the opportunity and ran for it, dashing across the mouth of the street as fast as he could, his muscular legs taking him across it quickly. He slid to a halt next to the kid and peered back around the corner. He exhaled an unconsciously bated breath. and smiled. The kid had been right - none of the walkers had spotted him. He turned back to the kid with a questioning gaze;

"What are you doing here?" He hissed quietly, glancing back over his shoulder yet again. He wasn't still alive, aged 25, for nothing. They teased him as 'Vatchful Vevut' because he was supposedly diagnosed with paranoia. They also teased him with that, claiming he was diagnosed with 'terminal paranoia'. But Xory didn't call it paranoia, no, he called it being careful. The kid regarded him with a level gaze that spoke maturity beyond his years, and a knowing smile played across his lips. He raised a finger to his smile, indicating silence, before turning and padding off on silent feet. Xory took that as a sign suggesting he should follow, and started after the boy.  It wasn't long until, after a few twists and turns, the kid brought him to a door. Looking around to make sure they had not been followed, the child proceeded to knock three times on the door and press a button by it once. An electronic hiss emanated from it as it slid open. The kid smiled and walked inside, trailed closely by the somewhat confused Mandalorian.

He found himself in quite a well furnished apartment which more surprisingly held around half a dozen people of mixed species, mostly human but with one or two humanoids. He could see a Gran, and was instantly reminded of the horrible pestilence that seemed to have struck outside. A large man with golden skin and strange looking eyes, with hair down to his shoulders approached Xory, arm extended in greeting.


"I'm Hethri Rirhe. Welcome to our little safehouse and our merry band." Xory clasped the man's arm. He was quite strong and his grip almost crushed the smuggler's hand. An animalistic growl and subsequent groan came from a closed door, and Rirhe raised an eyebrow. "Well, we're not all merry."

"I can see that," Xory murmured, catching a glare from a nearby humanoid - his skin made him seem Chiss, but Xory noted his eyes were not glowing red. He had never encountered a species like that before.

"Pantoran." Rirhe noted his gaze and answered for him, "don't mind Daxos, he hates humans. Nothing personal"

"I'll try to keep that in mind," He retorted as the Pantoran continued to glare at the newcomer. "Look, I've got a ship about fifty meters back down that road, if I could just get to it I could-"

"You could what? Take us all to safety? Please. You're a Mandalorian, and Mandalorians normally look out for who? Oh, that's right. Mandalorians." The Pantoran interrupted him, "Besides which, the Imperial blockade above is impenetrable. Only a flying prodigy could get through that unscathed."

"I'm fairly good with my ship," The Mandalorian said with a cocky smirk. All eyes turned on him and he felt as if he was an Ewok on Coruscant. "What?"

The chorus of 'save us' that came afterward made him wish he'd never mentioned his ship.

OOC:
Wordcount: 1,341. Part 1 of The Zombie Smuggler arc!

AAR: Xory Vevut, a Mandalorian smuggler, is trapped on Lasoris Minor. He finds the route to his ship is blocked by a horde of flesh eating civilians, and meets up with a surprising menagerie of survivors in a safehouse. There is a lot of tension in the air, with an anti-human Pantoran, desperate civilians and strange sounds coming from a nearby room!

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Chief Petty Officer Demetrius "Hades" Aita, Tuk'ata Squadron
FL | CPO "Hades" | B-1 | S:26 "Tuk'ata" | W:58 "Javelin" | ISD Halcyon Warrior | TF:Besh | 1st Fleet | SC | VEN | VE
[MC1] [CBV] (=SWC=) [CAR] [BWC]
{INTER} {SfrM} {XenMA} {AFM} {HypM} {0Gee} {INFL}

"Life is warfare."
~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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Serpent
ComNet Member
Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 2nd Class
 
Post Number:  406
Total Posts:  1214
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 14, 2012 12:05:09 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail skidded to a stop at his workstation, and wasted no time in entering his clearance codes to log in.  He had to find suspected rogue Governor Orzik and fast.

There was a multitude of vessels attempting to run the blockade and flee Lasoris Minor, many of them luxury yachts and cruisers.  The Governor was clearly aboard one of them, but which?  Serpent’s first instinct was to scan the area for any ships bearing a high-priority Vast Imperial transponder code.  These were normal on the vessels of ranking officials, to mark such people for protection and special treatment.

Zail disregarded such a thought immediately.  There was no way that, if Orzik really was fleeing, he would be broadcasting his ID code.  Instead, the VENI Liaison brought up the Governor’s file, and checked to see just what type of craft Orzik had been known to favour.

A smile crossed Serpent’s face as the answer appeared before him.  Orzik, like so many of the rich and powerful, had lavished mods and upgrades on his personal ship, which had begun life as an Aavman Extravagance 11-S Space Yacht.  It did occur to Zail that the Governor may well have abandoned the ship as too obvious, and instead be travelling in something less conspicuous.  Then again, he looked at just how expensive all those modifications had cost.  There is no way he would leave something like that behind, he reasoned.

Satisfied that he was on the right course, Serpent then headed over to the Sensor Chief and ordered without preamble, “Find this ship!”

The female non-com nodded, sensing the urgency in his tone and thus unperturbed by the First Officer’s curt attitude.  Loading the pad’s data into the computer, she analysed the tactical hologram of the battle.  It was a mess, with mercenary and civilians ships all over the place, and Zail winced at the sight of it.  To think that one man, a VE Governor no less, had caused all this.

“Found it, sir” Said the Chief, pointing.  “The profile is an exact match, right down to the semi-legal weapons emplacements and shade of blue paint on the hull.”

“Excellent work,” Congratulated Serpent, eyeing the target.  It was Orzik’s ship alright, but the question remained as to whether the man was really on board or not.  Heading off to the Communications Officer, Zail address the Chief of that station, Jash Warnock.

Serpent and Warnock had served together at that station several times and knew each other well, but this was no time to reminisce.  All business, Zail said, “Mr Warnock!  I need you to hail a Flight of Razor Squadron.  I need fighters with ion weapons, and those TIE Defenders are the best we’ve got.”

“Yes, sir,” Said Warnock immediately, tapping his headset and finding the right channel for the Halcyon Warrior’s starfighter wing.  “Established.  Flight Leader Mar ‘Steelwing’ Astlith available now, sir.”

Serpent stepped closer to the station and lifted a microphone from the workstation.  “Mr Astlith, this is Warrant Officer Zail, can you hear me?”

“Yes, sir,” Came the reply, slightly afflicted with static, but the voice still rang with confidence and strength.  “What can my pilots and I do for you?”

“I am sending you details of a high priority civilian ship,” Said Serpent carefully, not wishing to state who he thought to be onboard.  “I wish it disabled and then tractored into range of the Warrior.  Our own tractor beam emplacements can take it from there.  Please note, I do not want this vessel destroyed, under any circumstances.  Is that clear, Mr Astlith?”

“Yes, sir!  Crystal clear, sir!” Came the firm reply.

“Excellent,” Said Serpent.  “Good hunting, Razors, Zail out.”

-----

Governor Orzik reclined in a comfi-form chair upon his yacht, the Luxurious Leap.  A glass of Kuati wine was grasped lightly in one hand, and the melodious notes of a fine piece of Chandrilan orchestral music hung in the air.  Both served to sooth his nerves as, outside, his vessel sailed on through chaos.

Leaning over, the Governor (or rather, ex-Governor) touched a hand to the ship’s intercom.  His pilots, both young and dependable men (who were quite grateful for being allowed to depart the plagued planet below with him) answered promptly.

“Yes, sir?” Said an attentive voice.

“Are we still on course, Petty Officer?” Asked Orzik.

“Yes, sir,” Came the solid reply.  “It is as you predicted.  The other civilians are keeping in tight formation, trying to shield each other from the Fleet.  By breaking away from them early we are proving too small and insignificant for them to bother with right now.”

“Excellent,” Said the former Vast Imperial official.  “However, that won’t last long.  Captain Mihawk and his people are nothing if not efficient.  As soon as they get on top of the situation it’s over.  We have to reach the jump point by then.”

“Time to jump point one minute thirty, sir,” The Petty Officer informed him.  “We are beginning to calculate the jump to Republic space now.”

“Keep me posted,” Said Orzik.  He sat back in his chair and again tried to force himself to relax.  He had left the Galactic Empire to join the Vast Empire, and now that he had made an enemy of both he had no choice but to seek refuge with those insufferable Republic scum.  It galled him, but it was better than dying of a Hive Virus.

Suddenly his ship lurched, the unmistakable sound of a weapon’s impact slamming against the shields.  “Report!” He barked into the intercom, alarm breaking through into his voice.

“Under fire, sir!” Came the somewhat more controlled reply.  “Four TIE Defenders!”

Orzik cursed.  Defenders were hardly the type of foe one simply brushed off.  With some 80 seconds still to the jump point, they would have to fight.

Fortunately, the VEN would find that the Luxurious Leap had a lot more teeth than his official reports claimed...

OOC:
986 words.  I am a bit more focused on this Orzik sub-plot than I would like.  Once it's wrapped though I shall begin writing about the grander battle itself!

After Action Report:  Serpent has identified the ship of suspected deserter Governor Orzik and has ordered it captured.  He sends in four TIE Defenders from Razor Squadron.  Orzik is alarmed by their attack, but believes that his modified yacht, the Luxurious Leap, can handle it.
MS/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / LCR Courage/TF: TH/3Flt/VENA/VEN/VE
[SoA][MC2][LoM][NAR][E][HNS][SWC][CBV][SoV][MiD][VC:G][=*Eng*=][=BO=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
Hades
ComNet Cadet
 
Hades
 
[VE-NAVY] Chief Petty Officer
 
Post Number:  282
Total Posts:  1245
Joined:  Nov 2011
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 17, 2012 8:01:00 AM    View the profile of Hades 
"I can't take you all on my ship! I don't have rooms for you all!" Vevut argued exasperatedly. Rirhe gazed at him impassively, not seeming to be fazed by the weak excuse. Those strange eyelids reminded him of something he'd seen before, but he couldn't quite remember what.

"We do not need rooms. We can share or find space in your cargo hold." Rirhe shrugged, his calm manner infuriating. "We do not need much. We have our own food and supplies. All we would need is-"

"-My time." He shot back. "Besides, my cargo hold is full. I have a shipment I need to deliver-"

"-to the hutts?" The Pantoran, Daxos, did him the favour that he had done Hethri. "We know what you are, smuggler. The Hutts are scum, and you're only just above them." At this, Vevut scowled. The Pantoran was really getting on his nerves. He let his hand drop, resting it on the butt of his Verpine. He knew he could take this impudent alien out with little to no effort.. but what would that cost him? Food? Shelter? His life, even? He didn't want to risk it. As people said, he was a cautious man. They didn't say that as a euphemism.

"I never work for the Hutts," He spat back. "They're too-"

"-Dangerous? Yeah, I thought so. Look how green his flesh is" The pantoran sneered, using a human expression of speech to infer he was a coward. That, to a Mandalorian - even a smuggler - was the line. A bump from the end room distracted him for a second, but no longer than that.

"Watch it, freezer-boy. You might just find your skin turns a little bluer in death." His words were as cold as Hoth and as serious as the Emperor's Red Guard. The Unsmiling Guard, he'd once heard them called. The room grew quiet and all eyes turned on him. The Pantoran lost most of his bluster right then. Being threatened by a Mandalorian was not something that anyone liked - after all, threats were equivalent to promises. Once the room had fallen into complete silence, he spoke up. "Alright, I'll take you. But I want payment, is that clear? And mr. Flower over here-" he jerked a thumb at the Pantoran "-sleeps in the cell block."

"This is-" Hethri cut him off with a gesture that said he commanded more respect and authority here than Vevut had been led to believe. Xory's eyes focused on the golden-skinned humanoid and he waited.

"We will accept your terms. But there is one other we would have you take," Xory's eyes darted around the room. He counted seven in all - Hethri, Daxos, a Gran, two humans, a Falleen and a Stennes-Shifter. Weird.. he thought to himself. Such a wide variety of species on what was supposed to be naught but a mining world. Something was smelled fishy here, and he couldn't see any Mon Calamari or Aqualish..

"O.K," He said warily. "Bring 'im out."

"It, more like." Daxos muttered. Hethri nodded and motioned to the Gran who, Vevut noticed for the first time, was carrying a nasty looking sword. The plot thickens.. The Gran nodded in return and moved to a door at the far end of the clinically-lit room, drawing his blade.

"Woah, what the-" Hethri silenced Vevut with a gesture.

"It is best to be silent." He mumrued. Vevut was annoyed but did as Hethri said. The Gran pressed the door release and it slid open menacingly. Vevut waited in anticipation as he heard the hum of a container field, used in cells and such. A painful lesson to whoever wanted to get out. A moaning sound came from inside the room and Vevut sighed with a depressed noise. He knew what it was. And he could scarcely believe it. As a matter of fact, from this motley bunch, he could.

OOC:
Word count: 652. Part 2 of The Zombie Smuggler arc. However, it is a poor one. I wanted to get one in before I was forced offline, though! The next post will be short to follow, though, after someone else posts

AAR: Xory Vevut reaches an agreement with the members of the merry band, and finds out what is making the strange noises..

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Chief Petty Officer Demetrius "Hades" Aita, Tuk'ata Squadron
FL | CPO "Hades" | B-1 | S:26 "Tuk'ata" | W:58 "Javelin" | ISD Halcyon Warrior | TF:Besh | 1st Fleet | SC | VEN | VE
[MC1] [CBV] (=SWC=) [CAR] [BWC] [HNS] [SWC]
{INTER} {SfrM} {XenMA} {AFM} {HypM} {0Gee} {INFL}

"There's not a finer sight in the galaxy than gassed rebels running out of a cave into the waiting blasters of your own battalion. Well—perhaps sunrises. But for those, you have to wake up early."
~Surveillance Officer Trech
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[This message has been edited by Hades (edited July 17, 2012 8:04:31 AM)]
Serpent
ComNet Member
Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 2nd Class
 
Post Number:  426
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 21, 2012 10:53:32 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
Mar ‘Steelwing’ Astlith, also known as Razor Nine, leader of the third flight of the Halcyon Warrior’s Razor Squadron, was feeling confident.  He and his three fellows raced through the tumultuous Blockade of Lasoris Minor, on course to intercept a lone civilian transport, confident in their sleek TIE Defenders.

Astlith had no idea why Warrant Officer Zail had ordered his flight to disable the yacht called the Luxurious Leap, but he did not require understanding to do his duty.  And though Steelwing and his men would have preferred engaging a foe that could fight back (like the old but still dangerous mercenary starfighters engaging the blockade) they would suffer an easy win this once.

As the target came into sight, Astlith contacted his people.  “Okay guys, you know the orders.  We must not destroy the target.  Switch to ion cannons and prepare to attack.  Ten and myself will strike first, followed by Eleven and Twelve.  Everyone ready?”

Three answers of “Yes, sir!” echoed in his helmet coms headset, and he smiled.

Throttling forward, he took aim at the yacht that drew ever closer, lining it up in his sights...

-----

On the bridge of the Luxurious Leap, the recently-abdicated ruler of Lasoris Minor, Governor Orzik, stood between the two seats that his pilots sat in.  The three men noted the approach of the VE fighters, the only things in the battlefield capable of stopping them from running the blockade and getting to freedom.

“Deploy weapons,” Commanded Orzik.  “All of them,” He added, stressing the use of the hidden weapons that he had had installed in his yacht.  None of these illegal modifications had been declared to his Imperial masters, and now he was counting on the element of surprise to hold off the attacking TIEs until they reached the jump point.

“Yes, sir,” Said the Petty Officer to his left.  “All cannons, powering up now!”

Tapping a few controls caused two quad-laser turrets to emerge on the port and starboard sides of the vessel.  The potent weapons, complete with state-of-the-art targeting systems, could be operated from the bridge.  Orzik dropped into one vacant duty station to control the port cannon, and one of the pilots took the other.

The former Governor locked on to the incoming TIE Defenders and gripped the weapons controls tightly.  There was one full minute left until they could jump to hyperspace, so that equated just 15 seconds per enemy fighter.

Orzik smiled.  He did so love a good challenge.

-----

Astlith wrenched his joystick hard to the left as the barrage of shots lanced forth from the Luxurious Leap.  Where did those come from?  He knew that the target had weapons, but nothing like those.  And worse, as he bobbed and weaved to evade the spread of fire, he found that the weapons were on turrets, enabling the yacht to maintain its course towards the jump point and yet fire back at him effectively.

“Change of plan!  Everyone strike now and strike fast!” Ordered the flight leader, trying to give the enemy multiple targets to distract them with.

The TIE Defenders swooped in, their strong shields taking a pounding from the quad lasers but holding as they drew close and returned fire.  Their ion cannons pummelled the yacht’s deflectors, but as they completed the first pass and arced around for a second, Astlith’s sensors read only a 22% depletion in the enemy’s shields.  He quickly realised that their foe’s deflectors had also benefitted from some secret upgrades.

“It’s not enough,” Astlith said to himself, with barely 40 seconds left until the jump point.  As he angled back around, he loaded up some torpedoes.  “Okay guys, I’m going to hit them hard!  If I can strip away the shields with torps, you three follow up and disable the target with ion cannons!”

“But sir!” Came the voice of his wingman, “What if you destroy the target?”

“Then I find out just how bad the bite of the Blue-eyed Snake really is,” He said, referring to Warrant Officer Zail, who had explicitly ordered a capture and not a kill.

Astlith came in hard and fast, weathering a hail of fierce quad laser fire as he did so.  His TIE rattled and shook under the repeated impacts against the shields, but he held firm.  The range to his target decreased rapidly, but he dared not release the torpedoes too soon.

And then, just as his shields teetered on the brink of total collapse, the range finder beeped to confirm optimal firing range.

“Firing!” Announced Astlith, launching two torps, which blazed blue in the black of space as they shot towards their target.  They clipped the side of the yacht, exploding with enough force to cause the ship’s shields to flare up dramatically and then fade out, completely overwhelmed.

“Razors, strike now!” Cried Astlith as he pulled away.

Alas, the Luxurious Leap’s quad lasers were not giving up.  They kept up their fire, tracing him as he shot past, and ripping through the last of his shields.

Mar ‘Steelwing’ Astlith took solace in the completion of his mission, as the lasers tore through his TIE’s hull and turned it into a fireball all around him.

-----

Orzik felt a thrill of triumph as the cursed TIE Defender exploded under his expert gunnery skills, but the feeling was short lived.  The next words from his chief pilot saw to that.

“Sir!  Those torp impacts have collapsed our shields!  We’re defenceless!”

“Time to jump?” Demanded the former Governor.

“Twenty seconds!” Replied the Petty Officer, but his tone of voice clearly indicated that he did not believe that they had that long.

Turning to the window, Orzik saw the three other TIE Defenders hurtle in, ion cannons firing with deadly accuracy.  The Luxurious Leap shook under the impacts, and suddenly blue lightning began to play over the bridge consoles.  The ion energy raced through the ship, disrupting all systems and playing havoc with operations.

“Jump!  Jump!” Cried Orzik impotently, but it was too late.  The whole ship was shutting down, the controls going dark, and within seconds even the engines were dead.

His prized yacht began to float lifelessly, and the former Governor knew that he was beaten.

OOC:
1036 words.  Nearly done with the Orzik sub-plot!  Final part of it next week, and from then on to posts about mercenary action!  Also, note the third use of the nickname my character has earned among the Fleet, ‘the Blue-eyed Snake’.

After Action Report:  Orzik’s modified yacht deploys its hidden quad lasers and opens fire on the TIE Defenders of Razor Squadron.  Despite losing their flight leader, the TIEs use their ion weapons to disable the Governor’s yacht, leaving it ripe for capture.
MS/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / LCR Courage/TF: TH/3Flt/VENA/VEN/VE
[SoA][MC2][LoM][NAR][E][SWC][CBV][SoV][MiD][VC:G][1NS][=*Eng*=][=BO=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
Hades
ComNet Member
 
Hades
 
[VE-NAVY] Chief Petty Officer
 
Post Number:  331
Total Posts:  1245
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 23, 2012 8:03:02 AM    View the profile of Hades 
"NO!" Xory thundered, "I will not take that kriffing monster on my ship! No, no , no. The answer is and will remain to be no for the rest of eternity. Your monster can burn in the correllian hells for all I care. I will take you, but not the beast."

"He comes along or you go on your own." Hethri, their leader said calmly. Vevut was getting madder and madder by the moment. Hethri's calm manner was infuriating.

"Fine, I'd much rather go by my own than with you lot. Better chance of survival." Vevut was throwing insults at them left and right. He hadn't wanted to leave them, but if he had to.. His thoughts were interrupted by the moaning sound that he could now attribute to a human -- or what once had been a human -- locked in the cupboard, that these morons wanted him to take on his ship. It was bad enough that the Vast Empire had a blockade, but if he was caught smuggling a known victim of this virus, the consequences would be quarantine, if not death. Osik, Vevut swore inwardly. I should have known this was too good to be true. Paranoid, they say..not cautious enough, I say.

He turned away and made for the door without another word, but found it was locked. He hammered on it and turned back to them. "Open it." He said imperiously, a scowl on his features. None of the gathered mob moved. "Open it!" he repeated, more forcefully than the last. Still none of them budged; his only response was the bump that came from the closet. He rolled his eyes and turned, drawing his Verpine. He took aim easily and-

Thwack. Something big and solid, heavy, smacked into the back of his head. His whole world spun, and he saw stars. Funny, the Mandalorian thought in a daze, I'm not even in space and I can see the stars. He chuckled madly before he blacked out.


- - -


He awoke several hours later -- or at least it seemed that long -- to a steady jolting and hum that indicated he was next to an.. engine? Impossible!. He tried to sit up, but his head smacked against something and it was only then that he realised his eyes were open and he was still seeing darkness. He could also hear muffled voices. Bad. He scowled at himself. Paranioa? How did he not see this coming if the rumours were true. At least he would have some proof that he wasn't paranoid when he went back to his usual circle. His scowl deepened as he realised he didn't know when that would be.

The movement stopped, as did the humming with a gentle jolt. He could hear the voices, louder now. Suddenly he was blinded by light "What the.. let me.." He was silenced as they pulled him from the compartment of the luxury speeder. He was completely confused, blinded by the sudden light and yet he recognised this place as.. my hidden landing pad.. how the? He did not have time to answer the question his mind played to him, instead the one known as Daxos shoved him roughly. "We gave you the chance to fly us willingly, now you'll fly against your will." As his vision cleared up he could see the Pantoran was wearing.. armour? He was confused. Daxos could see it and he smirked. "What, virus got your tongue?"


Then he realised. They were mercenaires. Hired to get something or someone off this planet, undoubtedly by a high paying client. He hadn't even thought about the weapons he'd seen until now. Gods, he felt like such a fool. The laughing stock of all Mandalore, he would be.. There was hope yet, but little of it. All the friendly people he had met before were now stony faced and armed to the teeth,Damn..


He felt helpless. Rightfully, of course, and he groaned. "Could I get some water.. my head hurts." It was true, his head was thumping from that blow. Who had thrown it? Daxos, he presumed. Damn fridge boy.


OOC:
Wordcount: 690. Another poorish post before I'm forced offline. Part 3 of the Zombie Smuggler Arc

Xory finds out that they are actually mercenaries hired to extract a person or package from the planet, and willing to do anything to secure their passage. Including kill.

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Chief Petty Officer Demetrius "Hades" Aita, Flight Leader & Training Officer
FL | CPO "Hades" | B-1 | S:26 "Tuk'ata" | W:58 "Javelin" | ISD Halcyon Warrior | TF:Besh | 1st Fleet | SC | VEN | VE
TO | CPO "Hades" | PLF Cappadocious | VENA | VEN | VE


[MC1] [CBV] (=*SWC*=) [CAR] [BWC] [HNS] [SWC]
{INTER} {SfrM} {XenMA} {AFM} {HypM} {0Gee} {INFL}

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Drac
ComNet Marshal
 
Drac
 
[VE-DJO] Uninitiate
[VE-NAVY] Captain
[VE-VEMC] 2nd Lieutenant
 
Post Number:  1956
Total Posts:  2191
Joined:  Jan 2009
Status:  Offline
  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 26, 2012 3:09:25 PM    View the profile of Drac 
[Naval Headquarters aboard Station Cappadocious]
 
Captain Dracule Mihawk frowned, bulbous eyes slitting, as an emergency alert tone went off in his office accompanied by red strobes from the light placed in one corner of the ceiling for that purpose. That wasn’t good. Those specific alarms were something he had to deal with as Chief of Naval Warfare, and were installed in his office and quarters to give him immediate notice when a high level emergency took place.
 
A second later a Vast Imperial crest stylized with a warning symbol and crimson in color popped up on his main holoscreen and a beep announced a comm line waiting for his approval. Straightening in his chair, he spoke, “Accept call.”
 
Serpent, his XO and VENI liaison, appeared to replace the crest and saluted smartly, “Captain. We’ve received a Senth-One-One bio-threat alert from Lasoris Minor.”
 
The Mon Calamari’s frown deepened as he tried to recall the little used code, “Remind me what that one is, Warrant Officer.”
 
“Yes, sir. Senth-One-One refers to epidemic infection by a Hive Virus. The virus is easily transferable through fluid contact with wounds or other ingestion, and jumps species effortlessly. Victims die, but soon reanimate and attempt to consume nearby people and animals.”
 
Drac grimaced at the grisly thought of urban centers teeming with reanimated corpses chasing down fleeing civilians, “How did the epidemic begin?”
 
“Unknown at this time, sir.”
 
Drac grunted in acknowledgement, “Well, it may have arrived on Lasoris Minor, but it’s not leaving. Ready the taskforce, Mr. Zail. I’ll be aboard shortly. And find me any information you can about orbital platforms around the planet. Civilians will be trying to escape, and we’ll need help containing them.”
 
“Aye, Captain. We’ll be ready to move shortly after you arrive.”
 
The transmission ended and Drac stood. Reaching into his desk, he withdrew his DC-10 and slipped it into the holster at his hip as he did any time he deployed. Now armed, he marched quickly out of his office and headed down the hall. This section of the Navy’s home space station hosted nothing but the offices and private hangars and other such facilities of the NHC. Drac turned after perhaps a minute’s walk and entered the suite of offices that hosted the Naval Commander in Chief and his staff. The Admiral’s secretary looked up as he passed the security checkpoint and waved him through, “He’s expecting you, Captain.”
 
The Mon Cal entered immediately and saluted, but neither officer spoke until the door shut behind him. Then Stormz returned the salute and spoke in his species’ language, “[At ease, Drac. What’s the situation?]”
 
Coming forward to stand behind a chair facing the desk, he ordered his thoughts for a moment before replying, “Sir. A Hive Virus epidemic has broken out on Lasoris Minor. I’m about to take Halcyon Warrior and my taskforce out to interdict the planet- full quarantine. We’ll be departing within the hour.”
 
The huge alien’s scowl was fierce as he processed the news, “[Very good. What else do you need?]”
 
“My fleet can keep anyone from escaping and spreading the disease to other worlds, but we can’t do much for the civilians and other personnel on-planet. I’d like to get one of the science & medical frigates released to follow us in and attempt a cure. Or at least discover a way of identifying infected beings so they can be isolated while we eventually evacuate the uninfected.”
 
The wookiee nodded and rumbled, “[It will be done. Good luck, Drac.]”
 
Drac saluted and turned to leave, but as he approached the door the Admiral spoke again, “[Captain.]”
 
Mihawk turned his head and rotated his right eye to look back at his superior, “Sir?”
 
Stormz was silent for a moment, but blew out a large sigh after a few seconds, “[We cannot allow a hive virus to escape the planet and propagate on other worlds in the Vast Empire. You lived through the plague wars too- you know what it would be like. Use any means necessary to prevent that from occurring…even if it means slagging the planet. Understood?]”
 
“Understood, sir. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” Drac’s voice was quiet as he turned to face forward again and exited the office.
 
~~~~~

[In space near Lasoris Minor]

The taskforce led by Drac on his flagship, the Halcyon Warrior, flickered into existence within the system. The various ships began to immediately maneuver for blockade positions and to broadcast emergency quarantine notices including dire warnings for those who might disobey. After only a few minutes, Serpent approached Drac on the bridge, “Captain, the orbital station Orehold One has hailed us. They’re offering their services in the blockade.”

Mihawk nodded, “Convey my personal thanks and the following orders: All crewmembers on the station are to wear biohazard gear at all times when not in designated safe zones- which need to be sealed off from the rest of the station with controlled access only. All other available space is to be converted into individual holding cells with any sturdy material they have at hand. Any spacecraft that attempt to escape the planet will be disabled and tractored into proximity of the station where the occupants will be isolated in individual cells until we can confirm that they are free of the Hive Virus. We will ensure their needs are met as the demand for resources increases.”

~~~~~
 
[Weeks later, in orbit over Lasoris Minor]
 
“Captain, I have a report regarding Orzik.”
 
Mihawk turned from studying the tactical display and clasped his hands behind his back as he faced his Executive Officer, “And?”
 
The man’s lip curled ever so slightly in what seemed to be half sneer and half smile, “Our traitorous former Governor is currently being tractored back to the Warrior by Razor Squadron’s Cresh Flight. They disabled his ship shortly before it would have jumped to hyperspace, but lost their Flight Leader to previously unknown illegal weapons and shields upgrades.”
 
“One more crime for him to answer for, then. But, excellent news. Please have him brought to the bridge when his ship is secured.”
 
“Aye, sir.”
 
“As you were, then.” Drac turned back to the tactical display, noting Lieutenant Trykon surging his new command, the Victory-class Star Destroyer Brilliant, into the mercenary formation with Hammer in close formation behind and below. They were risking Ralthra’s Claw’s proton torpedo batteries by doing so, but had also gained an advantage of position over the Ruscant-class Destroyer Long Claws. The narrowest part of that ship, a cylinder of durasteel connecting the engines with the main body of the ship, was now exposed to their fire. He nodded, “A good risk to take.”
 
On the wider scale of the battle, only the three heavy capital ships of the mercenary fleet had stayed in close formation. The rest of their forces had quickly scattered all over the field of battle. Some directly engaged his forces, while others seemed content to pick up freighters and other fleeing civilian craft to escort and to try to run them through the blockade. It made sense, really. The worn, outdated, and often poorly maintained mercenary craft couldn’t hope to win in a stand-up fight, while their three main ships together might cripple or kill any one of his Star Destroyers. So the small fry ran off in different directions to spread his forces and facilitate escape for their benefactors.
 
That just wouldn’t do.
 
Drac considered his forces and options for a moment, then began issuing orders, “Mr. Warnock, communicate this to the fleet: Halcyon Warrior will accompany Brilliant and Hammer in engaging the enemy capital ships. Dead Gun and the rest of our forces will remain scattered throughout the system to destroy mercenary craft and disable fleeing civilians.”
 
Once the orders had been disseminated, Drac turned to a Starfighter Control officer stationed on the bridge, “Retain two Interceptor squadrons to provide cover for Warrior and Brilliant. All other VE starfighters in-system are released to pursue fleeing ships.”
 
Stars shifted outside the viewscreen as the Imperial-II Star Destroyer shifted orientation slightly and accelerated toward Brilliant’s battle with the trio of enemy capital ships. Drac watched them grow larger with proximity and thought grimly to himself, ‘Let’s see just how gutsy you are, Admiral Ralthra. You had a fifty-fifty shot on taking down the Brilliant. But when my Warrior comes into play, will you turn tail and run? Or will you stay and fight and die?
 
OOC:
Word Count: 1,411
 
AAR: The post begins with a flashback to the initial alert regarding the epidemic, and details Stormz’s grim order to Drac to pull no punches in keeping the VE safe from the hive virus. The post then jumps forward into the battle, where Drac analyzes the enemy tactics and orders counter-moves to oppose them. Brilliant, Hammer, & Halcyon Warrior, along with two Interceptor squadrons, are all heading for the concentration of the enemy’s three biggest ships. Everyone else is on intercept and destroy/disable duty.
TFC/CAPT Drac/ISD II Halcyon Warrior/TF: Besh/1Flt/FC/VEN/VE
Captain of the ISD II Halcyon Warrior
Chief of Naval Warfare
CNW|Captain Drac|NHC|VEN|VE
"Think Ackbar, but Imperial."

TRN/UNI Drac/VEDJ
[This message has been edited by Drac (edited July 26, 2012 3:12:25 PM)]
Hades
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Hades
 
[VE-NAVY] Chief Petty Officer
 
Post Number:  353
Total Posts:  1245
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
July 26, 2012 9:03:53 PM    View the profile of Hades 
"Why?" He croaked, sipping on the water lightly. Daxos grinned; the rest of the merry band were somber and silent. Almost like a funeral procession, dressed all in black. A squawking from nearby made his unanswered question seem to be irrelevant. They had forced him to open his ship and, for lack of a better reason, he had obliged. They were now gathered around his spacious living room, some sitting some standing while others still searched his ship for the 'cargo'. While it was no big deal for them, the cargo was presumably valuable. Little did they know he had no cargo, he was using it as an excuse. He had been dropping off cargo when the blockade had been put in place. Damn those Imperials! He cursed inwardly. If it weren't for them, he would not be a prisoner on his own ship, held captive by a fridge boy, a man who placed too much value on a golden tan, stalk-eyed Gran, and a man called Reiys.

Reiys made for excellent conversation, too. Everything you said he moaned or groaned in assent; sometimes he even growled and let his mouth water when you were talking of an excessively juicy nerf steak. It was more akin to foam than water, but Xory liked to think the man was still alive. The leader of the motley crew, -- the Firrerreo with golden skin -- Hethri, tapped keys into his holo-terminal, trying to get an outgoing transmission. Vevut knew his communications was strong enough to break through the static generated by thousands of cries for help and encrypted well enough to resist hacking and prevent unwanted eyes. Sometimes he cursed himself for being so good; this was one of those times. A figure in a plain white lab coat appeared. With white hair and very pale eyes, Xory easily identified him as an Arkanian. The logo on his shoulder suggested even more. Is that-- he was cut off in his thoughts by Hethri speaking.

"We have the package aboard." Rirhe said in his unerringly calm tone, the one that was undeniably frustrating to Vevut.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The communications officer listened, warily at first. He was unsure of what he was hearing. "--package aboard--" Of course, he could just be listening to a merchantman with an innocent cargo. But the tone of voice and the usage of the term 'package' suggested something else. Merchantmen didn't deliver packages. A smuggler, perhaps, the Communications officer mused. But he didn't believe that either. "--get him--" Static blurred out a part of the transmission, and the comm. Officer refocused his signal tracker. "--Arkania. Is the subject live--" The communication officer felt blood drain from his face slightly. Someone is trying to smuggle one of the infected off the planet - live! While he was not high up the chain of command, he was the section leader for comms. And someone higher up needed to know. Lucky enough, the ship's XO was standing close to him/

"Sir!" He called urgently. Serpent's calculating gaze looked down from a tactical projection of the battle, annoyed at the interruption. He had bigger concerns on his mind than communications, he knew, but he thought it was important. Besides, he's supposed to be a VENI liaison. I'm sure Intel will love this.

"What is it?" Serpent asked. His tone was as calm as ever, but it was clear he did not need to be disturbed. Especially since they were bearing down on an enemy vessel. The section leader looked up to him.

"You might want to hear this." Serpent came closer and he began playing the transmission out loud. It was still going/ "--Adascorp will pay you handsomely if you succeed, but only if--" more static buzzed through the transmission and Serpent shifted his stance irritatedly. "--subject is alive. We do not pay for dead tissue. The disease will be weapon--" the transmission dissolved into static again and the comms. officer worked frantically to get it back, but Serpent had heard enough.

"Record that transmission, get a lock on both ends if you can." Serpent's eyes blazed, and for a moment the lowly section leader felt important. Only for a moment. Serpent's eyes narrowed and he stared out into space "I want to know just who is trying to smuggle zombies." The XO muttered. Drac gave him the typically unreadable Mon Calamari glance -- well, it was unreadable to this comm. officer -- and Serpent strode away from the console. The section leader had his orders, and there were more pressing things on Serpent's mind. Namely the three ships they bore down upon like big gray behemoths, ready to spew energy on their opponents and turn them into molten slag.

"Aye sir," The section leader muttered in return. He had begun recording the transmission the moment he had picked it up. Nobody aside from the military was using encrypted transmissions and, although this was a poor encryption, it was encrypted all the same -- hence the recurring static. The transmission locked on somewhere far away. Adascorp was on Arkania, he knew, and the voice had been silky smooth like an Arkanian's would be. The other end, however, was much closer. Lasoris itself, in fact, one of the major towns. If you could call it that.

But it was not moving as yet, so it was no threat. Or was it? The holo-terminal could be anywhere. "Sir, I've got a lock." Serpent shot him another glance and nodded. He relayed the lock to the tactical display, and it popped up alongside a dozen other reports and movements.

"This only makes it more important that nobody gets through the blockade." The young yet talented XO narrowed his eyes again, focusing on the lock. It could be anywhere, he reiterated to himself.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adascorp? Vevut thought, confused. What do they want with Lasoris minor? The Arkanian nodded silently as Hethri confirmed the package was alive and prepping for delivery.

"Adascorp will pay you handsomely if you succeed, but only if the subject is alive. We do not pay for dead tissue. The disease will be weaponised and for that, dead tissue does not work." The Arkanian's eyes were eerily pale. They were like the whites of an egg, with no other colour and if he did not know better, Vevut would have said he was blind. Sloppy, the Mandalorian smuggler thought with a smirk. Only a fool shows his hand, even to his allies. And these are no allies. Vevut had made the mistake of trusting them as allies, even with his legendary paranoia he had been taken unawares by their treachery. Mercenaries, he cursed them to himself, then realised more than half his people were mercenaries so saved any other slanderous accusations for such a time when he was in the afterlife.

"Understood. We'll be taking off shortly; we've got a pilot who says he can get us through." Rirhe told the Arkanian, simultaneously gesturing off-screen at Daxos. The Pantoran nodded and moved toward Vevut. The Mandalorian made to open his mouth, "I-" he was cut off by a blow that left his ears ringing and his world spinning. I never said I could get you through, he finished the sentence in his head. Damn, that Pantoran's got a hell of a backhand. Vevut had noted before that he filled his clothes, and now he had no doubt that there was no fat beneath that black armour.

"See that he's disposed of before you get here." The Arkanian responded, as if irritated by the very thought. Rirhe nodded sagely and ended the transmission. Xory paled as Rirhe turned around, but he lost none of his bluster.

"So what does your bunch of nobodies and nincompoops call themselves?" He asked through the daze that the blow had left him in.

"We don't need a name. We simply are, and that is enough for us." Rirhe responded, like some priest or other.

"You simply are a bunch of nincompoops, you mean." He corrected. Daxos backhanded him again, not as powerfully this time.

"Our organisation works for the highest bidder." The Firrerreo mercenary shrugged, "we are but limbs of the main body; a hand, if you will."

"Yeah, the hand that scratches the shebs." Xory grinned, "and no doubt dirtier things."

That earned him another backhand, and his vision began to blacken. "Daxos, enough!" Rirhe barked. "We need him as a pilot." The Pantoran looked suitably chastened and stepped back, regarding Vevut with a hateful stare. Well, as hateful as a stare from a fridge boy could be. Rirhe gestured toward the cockpit with his blaster. "Up." The command was simple, and Vevut looked from one black-clad mercenary to the next. It was evident that they weren't simple mercenaries like he was used to -- they were something else, a step above the rest. Xory sighed and stood up. A dark thought made him grin.

Being a step above the rest only means you have one step further to fall

OOC:
Wordcount: 1,512. Finally a long post! Part four of the Zombie Smuggler arc.

AAR: And so the title is revealed! Xory is unwillingly contracted into doing the dirty work for the mercenaries -- getting them off the planet -- and they reveal their intent and the intent of their employer. The section leader of Communications aboard Halcyon Warrior picks up the transmission and brings it to the attention of his superior, Serpent! The next post should be my last in this arc.

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FL | CPO "Hades" | B-1 | S:26 "Tuk'ata" | W:58 "Javelin" | ISD Halcyon Warrior | TF:Besh | 1st Fleet | SC | VEN | VE
TO | CPO "Hades" | PLF Cappadocious | VENA | VEN | VE

VENI

[MC1] [CBV] [CAR] [BWC] [HNS] [SWC]
{INTER} {SfrM} {XenMA}  (=*SWC*=) {AFM} {HypM} {0Gee} {INFL}

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Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Adept
[VE-NAVY] Lieutenant
 
Post Number:  1842
Total Posts:  3784
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
August 1, 2012 9:59:21 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
[Two weeks previously...]

Wyl Trykon stood on the bridge of his new command – the Victory II-class Star Destroyer Brilliant – and watched the swirling vortex of light beyond the transparisteel viewports in stoic silence, with his hands clasped tightly behind him, as the mighty warship raced through hyperspace toward a little-known world called Lasoris Minor.  Despite his calm appearance, though, Trykon’s internal emotional landscape was as chaotic as the lightshow outside, as he ruminated on his present circumstances, on long-suppressed memories of his past, and on the uncertainty of his immediate future, rapidly approaching on the other side of the hyperspace jump.

On the one hand, Wyl was ecstatic.  With this new assignment, he had finally achieved a long-standing personal career goal: command of a Kuati-built Star Destroyer in Vast Imperial service.  As a child on the planet Kuat, Wyl had dreamt of escaping the rigid caste system he’d been born into, and more often than not, those dreams of flying away from his circumstances featured literal flights out of the system, on the majestic white spaceships which were so tantalizingly near: the Star Destroyers under construction in the Kuat Drive Yards orbital ring, that looked almost close enough to the planet’s surface to touch.  To finally be standing at the forward bridge viewports of such a vessel, with six thousand beings behind and beneath him, ready to obey his every order… it was the consummation of his childhood dream, which had been deferred for a lifetime.  From this bridge, Wyl fancied he could one day push the usurping New Republic out of his home system, liberating all those he’d left behind, and then forcibly end the humiliating, dehumanizing telbun institution, once and for all.  Truly, Trykon’s career – which had been characterized by an almost pathological pursuit of power, to be wielded on behalf of the powerless – had reached an apex.

And, even more than the general thrill of the situation, there was the specific pride that came from captaining that specific Star Destroyer.  In a long and storied career of service, in both the Imperial Navy and then the Vast Empire’s Navy, Brilliant had distinguished herself as a fierce and dependable old battlewagon: the ship was an undefeated, indefatigable veteran of literally countless skirmishes, fleet battles, and major campaigns.  Trykon smiled again unconsciously, at the thought.

But then, the dancing blue light outside grabbed his attention again, and he was reminded of the mission at hand.  His grin curdled.  Lasoris Minor, as its name suggested, was not an important world.  A lackluster producer of common ores, it was culturally backward and strategically insignificant… hardly a likely flashpoint in the ongoing wars.  And yet, Trykon, the Brilliant, and the rest of the Task Force were all hurtling toward the little planet at faster-than-light speeds.  The reason was simultaneously disappointing and ominous, for Wyl: planetary authorities had reported an outbreak of an as-yet-unidentified Hive Virus.  In the wake of the xenocidal barbarism of the deadly Plague Wars period, no sentient still living would underestimate the threat posed by biological agents, and so Wyl was duly worried about the consequences to the VE if their mission should fail.  But since the mission was a routine blockade and quarantine of a planet deep within VE space, Wyl was also a bit disheartened: Brilliant’s guns would likely not be fired in anger, during this particular mission.

Suddenly, a sense of foreboding washed over Wyl.  Be careful what you wish for, admonished a voice in his mind, which sounded disconcertingly similar to his mother’s.  With a sinking sensation, Wyl realized that there was a very real possibility that the citizens of Lasoris – desperate to escape their own deaths – would try to run any blockade.  And if they did, Brilliant’s guns would fire, after all.

But before he could move past that grim thought, the light tunnel outside stopped spinning, starlines became visible, and then finally the ship dropped out of hyperspace altogether.  Lasoris Minor loomed, and there was no more time for quiet reflection, and no more room for any doubts.

With a practiced, regal grace, Trykon spun around and made eye contact with his new Executive Officer.  “Mr. Martell,” he intoned, “deploy all fighters, and begin patrol.  We have a job to do.”

~~~~~

[The present...]

“Very well, Doc,” Trykon said quietly, his tone making it clear that it was not, in fact, very well at all.  “I’ll forward your findings to the medical frigate, and let Drac know we’ve hit another dead end in the search for a cure.”

Suddenly, the shrill voice of the head sensors technician called out, cutting through the quiet of the bridge: “Sir, I have enemy contacts entering the system!”

Trykon turned to face the Twi’lek’s station in the port crew pit, even as the alarm klaxons began to blare.  “Full report, Mr. Notra!” he barked.  Doctor Gibbs harrumphed, and left the bridge, no doubt bound for sickbay.

Providence-class Destroyer, accompanied by two Recusant-class Light Destroyers and a half-dozen support craft,” Notra replied, noticeably more calm.  “They’re launching fighters… looks like older models: NovaSwords and… looks like P-38s.  They’re making straight for the planet!”

“Right,” Trykon said with a frown, as his XO pulled up beside him.  “Keep broadcasting the quarantine warning,” he called back to the comms people in the signals foyer, “and warn them that if they don’t stop immediately we will open fire!”  He strode forward along the command walkway, so he would be in the center of the action, as his brain began running the numbers; his second-in-command kept pace.  “All ahead flank,” Wyl ordered after a mere three steps-worth of thought, and Delak  Martell grinned with obvious approval.  “We probably can’t beat all three of them alone,” Trykon thought aloud, for the Abregadoan officer’s benefit, “but we can bloody their noses a bit, and see if they turn tail.  Ships that old, they’re either pirates or mercenaries, and they may not have the stomach for a protracted battle.”  The other man nodded.  “Okay.  Have any friendly ships close enough to help follow us in, and tell everyone to target the closest Recusant-class.”

“Aye sir,” the Abregadoan officer said eagerly, his tone betraying a wolfish anticipation.  He loped off to coordinate the synchronized violence, smiling, and Wyl was left alone on the command walkway.

Well, he thought to himself, as the first long-range turbolaser blasts lit up the forward shields, here we go

OOC:
1,069 words.  Finally got another one up.  Mostly CD, plus introducing Brilliant and my new NPC XO.

AAR: Trykon considers his career, his new ship, and the coming mission.  Then, when the Eleven Spears Mercs show up, he barely hesitates before ordering the attack.
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SCAP/LT Wyl Trykon/VSD Brilliant/TF:B/1Flt/FC/VEN/VE
CNT/LT Wyl "Trick" Trykon/PLF Cappadocious/VENA/VEN/VE

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TRN/AD Trykon/DJO/VEDJ
Serpent
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Serpent
 
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
August 4, 2012 1:14:13 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail had appraised Captain Mihawk of the capture of the Luxurious Leap, and both men were more convinced than ever that Governor Orzik was on board.  Serpent’s orders had been clear, to have the captured former-ruler of Lasoris Minor brought to the bridge, but Zail was not about to entrust such a duty to others.

Excusing himself from the bridge (and reminding himself that, however good an XO Serpent was, Drac was more than capable of operating without his shadow for ten minutes), he raced from the bridge.  Setting a swift yet dignified pace, he hurried down corridors and through turbolifts, arriving in the main bay just in time to see the highly modified Aavman Extravagance 11-S Space Yacht touch down on the polished deck.

Striding forward boldly, Zail gestured over a squad of Stormtroopers, and with a few practiced hand signals had them surround the captured vessel.

The yacht just sat on the deck, unmoving.  The lights inside were dimmed, the vessel powered down.  Whoever was inside seemed to have accepted that they were not going anywhere, but had yet to summon the courage to actually emerge and face their captors.

“Crew of the Luxurious Leap!” Bellowed Serpent, his words echoing around the cavernous bay and given extra strength by the anger in his voice.  “You have acted in defiance of the Blockade of Lasoris Minor, and committed several breaches of Vast Imperial law!  Come out with your hands up or we will come in after you, and deadly force will be authorised!”

He gave that a moment to sink in, yet still the luxury transport remained quiet.  Barely containing his rage at the continued audacity of the ship’s crew, Serpent whirled on the Stormtrooper officer at his side.  “Lieutenant!  Have your men blow the doors and commence assault!”

The white-armoured trooper said “Yes, sir” and was a split second from passing the order on to his subordinates when the Luxurious Leap responded.  The landing ramp lowered, the drawn-out moan of its hydraulics oddly loud in the quiet hangar.  Then three figures, hands locked atop their heads, slowly descended.

Serpent eyed the first two, who from their uniforms and age he judged to be simple pilots.  He paid them little more attention as his eyes locked on the third man, shuffling slowly behind with his eyes downcast.

He had never laid eyes on Governor Orzik in person, but Zail had been reviewing his file a mere ten minutes ago and had burned the man’s image into his mind.  Taking a few steps towards the man, Serpent glared at him, but managed to bring his anger under control enough to speak with a level voice.

“Governor,” Said the Alderaanian, permitting the other use of his title (no matter how much he had abused and disgraced it), “Welcome to the Halcyon Warrior.  I am the First Officer, Pherik Zail.  Captain Mihawk requests your presence on the bridge.”

The other glanced up, meeting Serpent’s brilliant blue eyes.  “What is to become of me?” He asked, and his voice, indeed his entire body language and demeanour, were tired, lifeless.

Zail knew right then that Orzik had no expectation of surviving the day.  He had gambled all and lost, and for a split second the Warrant Officer pitied him.  And then he recalled the havoc that this man had caused with his betrayal of his position, and the anger hardened him instantly.  “I will not speak for the Captain,” Said Serpent.  “Now, come with me,” He said, phrasing it like an order.

The walk to the bridge was direct and Serpent and the Stormtroopers moved at a brisk march, forcing Orzik to keep up.  Soon they were entering the command deck, and Captain Mihawk turned to regard them as they entered.  The Mon Cal Captain was framed by the battle raging in the viewport behind him, and something about his large alien eyes showed that, though he hid it well, Drac shared Zail’s contempt for the former Governor.

“As you requested, sir,” Said Serpent, presenting Orzik for the Captain’s inspection like he was some sort of present.

The Mon Cal stepped close to the Governor, looming over him.  “I have only one question for you,” Began Drac, his voice full of quiet menace.  “Is this,” He said, gesturing to the battle, “Worth your life?  Hundreds fighting and dying so that you can run and hide from your duty?”

“I do not have to justify myself to you,” Said Orzik, voice dripping with contempt.  “And don’t drag out this farce any longer.  If you want me dead, just do it already.”

“As you wish,” Said the Captain.  “Mr Zail!  Deal with this.”

The Alderaanian’s face twitched in confusion.  “Sir?”

“Part of being a commander is knowing how to make an example and send a message,” Said Drac.  “As the ranking officer here, having weighed all the evidence, I hereby sentence Governor Orzik to death!  Sentence to be carried out immediately.”

The condemned man barely reacted to the news, and oddly it was Serpent who took it worse.  Crossing swiftly to his superior’s side, he whispered, “Sir, I really don’t know...”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Pherik,” Snapped Drac, eager to get this over with and get back to the directing the battle.  “You have done far worse than this with VENI, I am sure.”

Zail swallowed further protests.  So, Captain, you haven’t entirely gotten over my somewhat split allegiance?  Very well.  If it’s a test you are giving me, then I shall pass!

“Lieutenant!” Said the XO, turning to one of the Stormtrooper escorts.  “Your sidearm please!”

The warrior handed over his blaster pistol without protest, barrel first.  Serpent took the weapon by the handle, tested the weight of it, and checked the charge.  “Mr Warnock!” Zail ordered next, addressing the nearby Communication Chief.  “I want this broadcast to all vessels, civilian and mercenary alike!”

Warnock typed in a few commands, and then said, “Live feed now, sir.”

Serpent took a deep breath, and then began.  “Gentlebeings attempting to violate the blockade of Lasoris Minor!  I am Warrant Officer Zail of the Vast Empire Navy.  The man before me is the former administrator of this world.  Governor Orzik is responsible for this incident, from the hiring of the Eleven Spear Mercenaries to the current flight of civilians.  He has been found guilty of these crimes, and I have been charged with carrying out the sentence of death.”

He paused, staring long and hard at the man before him.  Orzik stared back, silently defiant.  Slowly he raised the blaster pistol.  “Anyone seeking to surrender can avoid this fate.  However, continued defiance of the blockade will cost you your lives.”

He pulled the trigger, and a single red shot tore through Orzik’s head, killing him instantly and dropping his lifeless body to the deck.  “As it cost him his,” Finished Zail.  “End transmission.”

Warnock nodded a moment later, noting the end of the show, and Serpent relaxed instantly.  He let out a breath he did not know he was holding, and handed the blaster pistol back to its owner.  “Clean that up,” he said to a nearby Junior Bridge Officer, pointing to the corpse.

When Zail glanced over at Drac, the Captain nodded in silent approval, and then resumed his duties as if nothing had happened.

Serpent wondered if he could put this incident behind him as quickly.

OOC:
1233 words.  That’s the Orzik subplot tied up!  Coming up next some mercenary NPC posts!

After Action Report:  Zail escorts the recently captured Governor Orzik to the bridge of the Halcyon Warrior, where Drac charges him with executing the renegade administrator.  This Serpent does, broadcasting the act to the forces present at the blockade.
MS/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / LCR Courage/TF: TH/3Flt/VENA/VEN/VE
[SoA][MC2][LoM][NAR][E][SWC][CBV][SoV][MiD][VC:G][1NS][=*Eng*=][=BO=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
Trykon
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Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Adept
[VE-NAVY] Lieutenant
 
Post Number:  1900
Total Posts:  3784
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
August 10, 2012 4:33:57 AM    View the profile of Trykon 
As the Victory II-class Star Destroyer Brilliant leapt forward, Wyl Trykon fancied he could feel the ship’s acceleration, if only as a humming vibration of the deckplates beneath the soles of his boots. Ahead, the ragtag fleet which had hypered in to challenge the Vast Imperial blockade of Lasoris Minor reacted to the sudden, aggressive movement.  The smaller vessels scattered, like a pack of scavengers, racing into the system on oblique axes which would keep them out of Brilliant’s flight path.  But at the center of the enemy task force, the foes’ three heaviest warships had clustered together in a classic, mutually-supportive formation, and they were barreling in at the VE Destroyer like apex predators.  Hungry, angry apex predators.

Evir Norith, Trykon’s Communications Chief, reported, his crisp diction and professional, even tone cutting through the quiet tension of the bridge: “The corvette Hammer has responded.  They’ll follow us in.  Waiting for word, now, from the Warrior.”

Trykon spun to face the man.  “Very good, Mr. Norith,” he said with a nod.  Then he turned again, this time to face his Trandoshan Chief Gunner.  “Mr. Zark, primary target is that light destroyer to starboard.”  His eyes flicked to the area of the tactical monitor which listed the vessel’s name: “The Long Claws, I suppose.  Everything else is secondary, understood?”

“Yesss,” the reptile hissed, flashing his fangs in a sort of grin.

Trykon considered the relative positions of Brilliant and the enemy formation with a frown.  “Helm, give me negative twenty degrees pitch, and... call it thirty degrees roll to starboard,” he said after a moment of thought.  “Then pour on the speed.  All you’ve got.”  The acknowledgments were terse, as his people focused on their jobs.  The adjustment would more fully shield Brillant’s hangar bay while her second squadron of TIE Interceptors, Awe, launched to join Shock, which had already been out on combat aerospace patrol.  But even more importantly, the move would set Brilliant up for the coming engagement.  The mercenary flagship, the Providence-class Ralthra’s Claw, was nearly a match for Trykon’s ship: they were both heavy hitters from opposite sides in the Clone Wars.  No doubt, the merc leader wanted to repeat history, and start a slugging match between the two old battlewagons.  Ordinarily, the notion might have some appeal – Trykon appreciated military history, and the lost art of dueling retained a sort of romance in his mind – but under the circumstances, going head-to-head with the Ralthra’s Claw was more than ordinarily unwise, given that the ship was accompanied by two escorting light destroyers.  Hence, Trykon’s course correction: by passing underneath the enemy formation, Brilliant could get around and behind the big ship, then swing about to rake one of the smaller escorts with fire.  If he was particularly lucky, he might get far enough around to trap Long Claws in between Brilliant and Ralthra’s Claws, frustrating the gunners’ targeting solutions aboard the enemy flagship.  Of course, if we want to kill one of her escorts, we have to survive this initial pass, Trykon thought grimly, even as the volume of incoming turbolaser fire suddenly increased.  A particularly nasty volley slammed into the forward shields, and Brilliant seemed to stutter slightly.  And that’s not exactly a given, he thought, grimacing.

-----

Captain Dar Vamm, the Duros commanding officer of the Recusant-class light destroyer Long Claws, strummed nervously on the arm of his command chair with the long blue-green fingers of his right hand, staring intently at the holo display of the developing battle.  He sat hunched over, absentmindedly chewing on the tip of one of the fingers on his left hand, as the Vast Imperial destroyer advanced, rushing headlong into yet another volley of fire from the trio of Eleven Spears ships.  His lips turned downward, in an expression that was equal parts derision and worry.  “Why do they not wait?” he wondered aloud, before stuffing his fingertip back in his mouth.

A voice answered from behind him, unexpectedly: “The Imperial is overconfident.  Overeager to draw first blood.”

Vamm started, and half-turned, before he recognized the snide, insinuating voice of Raym Mantion, the Human male Admiral Ralthra had appointed as Long Claws's nominal second-in-command.  “I’ve told you not to do that,” Vamm said sulkily, without looking at his tiresome subordinate.  “It’s impolite.”

“A thousand thousand apologies, Traveler,” Mantion said, using the Duros mode of address that indicated respect, but with a tone that hovered alarmingly near to undisguised sarcasm.  The man paced forward with exaggerated swagger, and turned to face his captain.  “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Vamm snorted quietly, to indicate his incredulousness and his own superiority and aloofness, all at the same time.  “The Imperial is stupid,” he corrected.  “The proper strategy would be to wait for the larger Star Destroyer, and then to attack together.”

“Masterfully reasoned,” Mantion agreed in his haughty voice, “but the Imperial seems to disagree.”

“Then he will die, along with his crew,” Vamm snapped.  “Shouldn’t you be doing something?” he asked acidly.

The human’s disingenuous smile disappeared.  “I’m sure.  Sir.”  And then he slinked away.

Intolerable, Dar Vamm thought to himself.  For seven years, the Duros had contracted with the Eleven Spears, and after several of the old guard had finally retired earlier in the year, his relative seniority had recommended him for a command position.  The career-minded criminal had leapt at the offer to command Long Claws, even if it was a droid-crewed wisp of a capital ship.  After all, it was still a capital ship.  But now, I finally get to take her for a spin, and Ralthra saddles me with Raym Mantion.  He grimaced.  Intolerable.

The Human’s voice intruded again into Vamm’s thoughts: “Captain, we’re getting a holo-feed from the enemy flagship.”

This should be diverting, he thought.  “Put it on,” Vamm said, waving his fingers in a gesture of impatience.

Mantion flipped a switch, and another Human male, this one wearing the grey uniform of the Vast Empire’s Navy, shimmered into being.  “…before me is the former administrator of this world,” the holo-man was saying.  “Governor Orzik is responsible for this incident, from the hiring of the Eleven Spears Mercenaries to the current flight of civilians.”

Dar Vamm sucked in a breath.  “That’s our client!” he squeaked.  “And they’ve already ID’ed us!”

“He has been found guilty,” the Imperial continued.  “Anyone seeking to surrender can avoid his fate.  However, continued defiance of the blockade will cost you your lives.”

And with that, the Imperial officer shot the Imperial governor, right in the head.

Vamm gasped.  Mantion let out a low whistle.  Somewhere toward the rear of the bridge, a battle droid added a quiet, “wow,” in a mechanical whisper.

The transmission cut out.

“Reminds me of the old Empire,” Mantion said softly, but then he noticed the tactical holo: “Sir!” he warned.

Dar Vamm followed Mantion’s line of sight, and saw it: the Vast Imperial VSD had gotten around behind them, while they’d been watching the holodrama, and the blasted droids hadn’t said anything about it!

“Intolerable!” Vamm screeched, and then he began shouting orders in all directions at once.

OOC:
1,184 words.  Not much in the way of plot advancement, yet again, but some fun playing with Trykon's opposite number aboard Long Claws: a none-too-bright Duros named Dar Vamm.

AAR: Brilliant heads straight at the trio of merc capital ships, before going under and behind them, all the while under intense fire from all three.  The inept sentient command staff of the Recusant-class light destroyer Long Claws isn't paying enough attention, though, trusting their droid crew to do the heavy lifting while they watch Serpent execute Orzik.  As a result, the battered Brilliant is now in a prime position to put the hurt on Long Claws, which - though skinny - is also perfectly positioned to block most shots the Ralthra's Claw might take to try to hit Brilliant!
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SCAP/LT Wyl Trykon/VSD Brilliant/TF:B/1Flt/FC/VEN/VE
CNT/LT Wyl "Trick" Trykon/PLF Cappadocious/VENA/VEN/VE

[SoA][SoV][BWC][NSM][E][NAR][HNS][DSM][SWC][1NS][VC:B][LoM][VC:S][NC][GWC][VC:G]
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TRN/AD Trykon/DJO/VEDJ
[This message has been edited by Trick (edited August 10, 2012 4:39:31 AM)]
[This message has been edited by Trick (edited August 10, 2012 4:41:12 AM)]
Serpent
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Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 2nd Class
 
Post Number:  453
Total Posts:  1214
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Status:  Offline
  RE: VEN: The Blockade
August 24, 2012 7:36:18 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
Admiral Ralthra stalked the bridge of his flagship, the Providence-Class Destroyer Ralthra’s Claw, unable to hold still.  He knew that some men of his rank opted for chairs, but not he.  The albino Cathar could never sit still during a battle, he had to be all over the command deck, and oversee everything himself.

The engagement had not been going well, but then it was not intended to.  The Vast Empire Navy was all over his force, trying to defeat the Eleven Spear Mercenaries in a pitched battle.  No doubt they assumed that Ralthra and his people were battling with the same goal.  Ralthra was not.  His force was here to surprise, distract, and then get out.  This whole engagement was about buying time for their client to escape.

And the fool had failed, getting himself first captured, and now killed.

The Admiral had watched the transmission from the Halcyon Warrior showing Governor Orzik’s death, and had not shed a tear for the human’s demise.  Most of our payment was in advance anyway, Ralthra mused, We will still come out of this endeavour with a profit.

After a moment’s internal debate, the veteran mercenary made his decision.  “People,” He announced to his bridge crew, “We are leaving.”

His bridge crew, consisting of several dozen living beings (old C.I.S. droids only being used elsewhere in the ship) nodded in acceptance.  None of them wanted to pursue the fight, not for glory or honour or to avenge the fallen or any other nonsense that normal militaries believed in.  Ralthra’s people believed in money, and they understood that their Admiral was as much about business as war, and they followed him in both.

“Sir,” Said his Com Chief, an overweight Bothan with a ragged right ear, “We are receiving a transmission from the Long Claws.  They have engaged an Imperial VSD that is trying to flank us.  They cannot easily withdraw.”

Ralthra frowned, and turned to the nearby tactical hologram to get a firmer idea of exact positions.  His blood-red eyes took in the scene before him, years of combat experience giving the ability to instantly get a feel for the ebb and flow of battle.

His fleet was currently fully engaged with the VEN force and performing a decent holding action.  Their Rogue-Class and NovaSword Fighters were doing well against the TIE Interceptors, but losses were slowly beginning to mount.  Meanwhile corvettes of both sides were slugging it out on the left flank.  Ralthra’s flagship and its two destroyer escorts were holding the right, and it was one of these that a Victory-Class Star Destroyer called the Brilliant was engaging.

It’s not a mess just yet, Mused the Cathar, But it soon will be.  We need to start untangling ourselves from these engagements, recall the fighters, and get out of here in a painless fashion.

The problem, mused Ralthra, was the destroyer being pinned down by the VSD.  Were it any other of his ships, the Admiral would have been inclined to abandon both the vessel and its crew and leave without them.  However, old as it was, the Long Claws was a powerful asset to his fleet, one of the three key ships around which the Eleven Spears armada had coalesced.  Were it to be lost it would definitely need replaced for them to keep up their fighting strength, and the cost of that would push this whole mission from the black into the red.

In other words, Ralthra had to deal with this aggressor quickly before they could all withdraw.

“Signal the Steeljaw,” He ordered, referring to the Nebulon-B Frigate on their left flank.  “Have them come around and hit Brilliant with everything they have!  No fancy moves, no clever positions, we just need to distract the VSD momentarily while the Long Claws withdraws.”

“Yes, sir,” Said the Bothan Com Chief, relaying the message.

Turning to his astrogation officer, the Admiral then ordered, “Begin making the calculations for the jump to hyperspace.  Arrange a series of jumps, three stops long, before actually returning us to our base.  I doubt that the VEN will follow us, but I want to be safe.”  Then to his helmsman Ralthra said, “Realign the ship 75 degrees away from the planet in preparation for our escape, and have the Gold Claws do likewise,” He added, referring to the second of their destroyer escorts.

“Sir!” Came another voice from elsewhere in the bridge, this time the high-pitched voice of his Sullustan Sensor Chief.  “The enemy flagship, Halcyon Warrior, has moved in near the Brilliant.  It appears to be altering course to intercept us.”

The Admiral glanced at the tactical hologram and concurred with the Sullustan’s prediction.  The ISD was indeed coming for them.  For a few moments, Ralthra savoured the sight.  The sleek angular vessel, an incarnation of the power and grace that all naval men craved to command, was deeply impressive to the Admiral, and for a few moments he wondered what it would be like to fight such a worthy foe.

The feeling was instantly squashed.  Ralthra was in this for money, not glory.

You’ll have to be fast, He thought at the Star Destroyer’s commander.  As soon as the Steeljaw gets into range and completes its distraction, we are out of here.

Catch us if you can!


OOC:
884 words.  This post is NOT intended to be a prelude to wrapping up this story.  It is just a reflection of that fact that, with Orzik dead, the Eleven Spears are changing gears towards leaving.  There is still plenty of fight left in this one!

After Action Report:  Admiral Ralthra of the Eleven Spears mercenaries decides that it is time that his people were departing.  However, like any businessman protecting his assets, he wants to save as many of his ships as possible, and so needs to work out a way to cleanly disengage from the VEN fleet.  To this end he sends the Nebulon-B Frigate Steeljaw to assist the destroyer Long Claws in engaging Trykon’s Brilliant.  Meanwhile the flagship re-aligns for escape, while bracing itself for a possible confrontation with the Halcyon Warrior.
MS/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF: TH/3Flt/VENA/VEN/VE
[SoA][MC2][LoM][NAR][E][SWC][CBV][SoV][MiD][VC:G][1NS][=*Eng*=][=BO=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Adept
[VE-NAVY] Lieutenant
 
Post Number:  1949
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: VEN: The Blockade
September 10, 2012 6:47:22 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
The risk was paying off.

Wyl Trykon stood in the center of the Communications Foyer, just behind the main bridge of the Victory II-class Star Destroyer Brilliant, staring intently at a tactical holo of the ongoing Battle of Lasoris Minor.  Ever conscious of the need to maintain professionalism, he kept his expression carefully neutral – as ever when he was on duty – but it was hard not to smile, as he watched the feed.  When the engagement had begun, Brilliant had faced a trio of ships which outgunned her more than two to one.  Facing those odds, a more cautious commander might have held back, waiting for the other ships of the Vast Empire’s blockading task force to join him, before moving to attack.  Trykon himself was a very cautious commander… but only in strategic terms.  Tactically, he’d always preferred swift – and decisive – actions, and today was no different.  And, as the holo showed another full broadside of turbolaser fire lance out of his ship’s batteries and slam into the slender mercenary light destroyer, he knew he’d made the right decision yet again.

Charging at the enemy formation had obviously taken them by surprise.  By itself, that unexpected action could not have overcome the odds, but thankfully the captain of the enemy light destroyer was demonstrably incompetent, as evidenced by the relative positions and attitudes of the four fighting capital ships: Brilliant had swung in below the others, and was battering the Long Claws from behind, effectively hidden from the other two enemies by the slender superstructure of her target.  The Long Claws seemed to hesitate in space, as if unsure whether or not she should run.  And every moment wasted in indecision brought her shields closer to total collapse.

“Won’t be long, now,” said Trykon’s Executive Officer, from behind him.

The captain of the Brilliant allowed himself to flash an indulgent grin at his subordinate.  “Indeed, Mr. Martell.  Once Long Claws loses her shields, I want to bring us up and over, along this axis,” he said, turning back to gesture at a section of the tactical holo, “so we can fire directly at her engines.”

Martell’s eyebrows rose, as did the corners of his mouth, as he looked past Trykon at the holo.  “Aye, sir.  That should be a fine position, indeed.  Oh,” he added, seeing something else in the chaotic swirl of three-dimensional icons, “it looks like their flagship is turning to run.”

Wyl Trykon turned his gaze back to the holo.  Sure enough, the Ralthra’s Claw had turned away from Lasoris Minor – and from the rapidly approaching Vast Imperial fleet, spearheaded by Drac’s Halcyon Warrior – but something about the angle of her retreat set off warning alarms in Trykon’s mind.  “Yes, they’re leaving,” he said slowly, “but I wonder if…”

He never finished his thought, for as he watched the holo, his worst fear blinked into being, between the facsimile of the enemy flagship and the facsimile of Brilliant itself: a dozen or so icons, indicating launched proton torpedoes.  “Redistribute shield power – full power to dorsal shields!” he yelled, turning his head to face the Defense station in the bridge proper.  He saw the defense coordinator’s nod of acknowledgement across the intervening distance, just before the world seemed to explode, all around him.

When next he opened his eyes, he faced the deck plating.  Growling, he pushed himself to his feet, and bellowed, “Report!”

Delak Martell wasn’t smiling, as his fingers danced across a secondary console at the Comms station.  “Ralthra’s Claw,” he said, panting.  “As she cleared Long Claws, she launched sixteen proton torpedoes.  Point defense caught one,” he added with distaste.  “Our dorsal shields are gone.  One of the ion batteries is out of commission.”

“Roll the ship!” Trykon ordered, and he felt the slight motion as the mammoth engines began to respond.  “Status of Long Claws?”

Martell’s face betrayed hope, then satisfaction, then frustration: “They’re down, but not out.  Their shields are gone, and they seem a little slow, but it looks like their major systems are all fine.”

Trykon’s gaze was fixed on the tactical holo again.  For a half-second it faded, as the Brilliant’s power distribution grid adjusted to the rapidly-shifting energy demands of the battle, and then another cloud of icons announced another barrage from Ralthra’s Claw.  “Brace for impact!” Trykon called out.  "Brace, brace, brace!"

This time, the crew was better prepared, and everyone kept their feet.  Still, the stress on the shields was no less extreme than it had been the first time.  Worse, another enemy ship was pulling alongside for an attack: a Nebulon B-class frigate.  Its guns wouldn't ordinarily be much of a threat... but that was assuming Brilliant still had its shields, which was no longer true.  Reluctantly, Trykon came to another quick decision: “Bring us about.  Rendezvous with the rest of the task force, flank speed.  And reinforce aft shields.”

“We’re running?”  Martell’s voice was a mixture of disappointment and relief.

“Falling back, Mr. Martell,” Trykon responded.  “I thought the mercenaries either didn’t have torpedoes, or else they were too cheap to use them.  They are expensive, after all.  Well, it would appear that this ‘Admiral Ralthra’ judged them less expensive than replacing a light destroyer.  And, rightly so.  So, we’re falling back.”

“Yessir,” Martell said, and with a final wistful look at the tactical holo, he turned to coordinate the bridge crew for the withdrawal procedure.

Trykon frowned, and pulled up the damage reports: light casualties, and no severe structural damage.  He nodded to himself, and glanced back at the holo.  “Well,” he muttered under his breath, “the risk almost paid off.”  The Long Claws was heavily damaged, and limped along after the rest of the Eleven Spears’ fleet, which was fleeing for a hyperspace jump and busily recovering starfighters.  But, critically, the Recusant-class light destroyer was not destroyed, and the Brilliant was effectively out of the fight.  “Almost,” Trykon said bitterly, and turned away from the holo to rejoin his officers on the bridge.

OOC:
1,002 words.  Brilliant's done, by and large, for this one.  I wanted to show Trykon failing: he's just as fallible as the next guy.

After Action Report: Just before Brilliant can fully press home the attack on Long Claws, Admiral Ralthra decides to retreat and save the ship.  The proton torpedo barrages from his flagship take down Brilliant's shields, forcing Trykon to withdraw with Long Claws still intact.  If the heavily-damaged ship is to be taken out, someone else will have to finish the job.
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SCAP/LT Wyl Trykon/VSD Brilliant/TF:B/1Flt/FC/VEN/VE
CNT/LT Wyl "Trick" Trykon/PLF Cappadocious/VENA/VEN/VE

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TRN/AD Trykon/DJO/VEDJ
[This message has been edited by Trick (edited September 10, 2012 8:49:47 PM)]
Serpent
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Serpent
 
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
September 14, 2012 8:12:59 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
As Admiral Ralthra stared out of the forward viewport of the Providence-Class Destroyer Ralthra’s Claw, he could not suppress a smile.  From behind, his Sensor Chief added commentary to what he was seeing.

“Admiral!” Said the bridge officer.  “The VSD Brilliant took heavy damage from our spread of torpedoes!  Their dorsal shields are gone, and the Vast Imperial ship appears to be withdrawing!”

That it is, thought Ralthra.  And now, so are we!

The departure of the nuisance warship gave Ralthra’s core force a chance to escape, and he was going to take it.  “Order the Long Claws and the Gold Claws to form up and escort us out.  All other ships to follow to the jump point.  Only send our hyperspace co-ordinates once we are clear of Lasoris Minor.  I don’t want the Vast Empire to intercept the transmission and know where we are heading.”

Ralthra then turned his eyes to the tactical hologram, checking the position of the rest of his fleet.  Most of the fighters had been recalled and his smaller capital ships were disengaging.  All was good, but there was something out of place.  Where was the Steeljaw?

Suddenly his eyes fell on the Nebulon-B Frigate.  He had ordered it to assist in the attack on the Brilliant, but had not needed it in the end.  Still, the ship had dutifully altered course to intercept, and with its target gone, the Steeljaw was woefully out of position.

The Admiral cursed.  The Frigate was right in the path of the approaching VE fleet’s flagship, the Halcyon Warrior!

-----

The sleek and deadly behemoth glided implacably forward.  The arrow-shaped Star Destroyer looked all but unstoppable as it hurtled towards its foes, and from the side of Captain Drac, Serpent could not help but feel invincible.  The Clone Wars-era ships of the Eleven Spears mercenaries once menaced the finest ships of the Republic, but now they ran scared from the Halcyon Warrior, the ultimate expression of Imperial might.

Zail frowned as he saw the Nebulon-B emerge before them, currently located between the Warrior and its prey, the enemy flagship Ralthra’s Claw.  “Do they mean for that to slow us down?” Exclaimed the confused XO.

Captain Mihawk waved a webbed Mon Calamari hand dismissively.  “I don’t care what they intend for that vessel, it’s not my target,” He said, massive eyes locked firmly on the retreating Providence-Class Destroyer.  “Pass it on its port side, Mr Zail, and let our gunners make sport of it as we do.”

“Yes, sir,” Said Serpent, and turned to the address the bridge officers.  “Adjust heading two degrees to starboard but do not reduce speed!  Increase power to port shields!  All gunners, prepare to fire at will as we pass!”

The Nebulon-B was turning, evidently try to come about and rejoin the rest of its fleeing compatriots, but it was not oblivious to the monster rushing up on it.  The vessel fired back with its laser and turbolaser canons, but they could only bring a dozen of these to bear on the passing Halcyon Warrior.

The brilliant emerald beams splashed against the Star Destroyer as it came closer, but none of the impacts seemed to have any effect.  Shields blazed brightly as the energy was absorbed and dissipated, and none of the laser fire got through.

On the bridge, Captain Mihawk gave the order.  “Fire everything.”

Turbolaser batteries and canons erupted into life, and to add to the carnage the Warrior brought some of its ion canons to bear too.  It was a devastating broadside, like an ancient galleon passing in a sea battle.  Serpent guessed that they had responded with three or four times the firepower that the Nebulon-B was using, and while the formidable shields of their Star Destroyer was up to challenge, the shields of their foe were not.

“Their port shields are collapsing!” Called a junior bridge officer at the sensor station.  “They have taken damage to three decks!”

“Keep firing until we are clear,” Ordered Zail, watching the pounding with fascination.  Part of him longed to bring the Halcyon Warrior around and finish the job, but they had much bigger fish to fry.

A few moments later and the pass was complete.  The Nebulon-B continued to function, but it was wounded badly and had little chance of escaping the Lasoris System.  “Order one of our capital ships to intercept that Nebulon-B,” Said Captain Mihawk.  “Give the crew a chance to surrender, and if they refuse, finish them.”

“Yes, sir,” Said Zail, and relayed the order to the Com Chief.  When he returned to the Captain’s side, he saw that the Mon Calamari was still fixated on the fleeing mercenary flagship.  There was a hungry look in the CO’s eyes.

“More speed, Mr Zail,” Said Drac, “I want that mercenary Admiral!”

-----

Admiral Ralthra watched the scene play out on the tactical hologram.  The Steeljaw was lost.  Even if it was functional, there was no way it could escape now.

He felt a twinge of regret at that.  The Captain of the Nebulon-B, a grizzled human spacer by the name of ‘Twaris’, was among the few people that Ralthra counted as a friend.  And now either death or imprisonment awaited the old merc, and the Admiral was responsible.

He pushed the feeling aside, as any true officer should.  His responsibility now was to the crews and ships left under his command.  “Time to jump point?”  He asked his Chief Helmsman.

“Three minutes, sir!”

This, he thought, will be close...

OOC:
912 words.  The battle is winding down, but there is still story left if people want to post.  The Eleven Spears mercs are in full retreat.  Can we catch them before they jump to hyperspace?

After Action Report:  Admiral Ralthra’s core force of his three largest capital ships (the Ralthra’s Claw, the Long Claws, and the Gold Claws) are free from combat and are now heading out of the Lasoris System.  However, his Nebulon-B Frigate, the Steeljaw, is out of position, and swiftly attacked by the Halcyon Warrior. Drac and Serpent perceive this as a stalling tactic, and blitz the Frigate aside quickly as they press on for Ralthra’s flagship.
MS/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF: TH/3Flt/VENA/VEN/VE
[SoA][MC2][LoM][NAR][E][CBV][SoV][MiD][VC:G][1NS][GWC][=*Eng*=][=BO=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything
just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
Hades
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
September 26, 2012 9:47:31 AM    View the profile of Hades 
Xory's hands moved lightning fast over the console. TIE fighters were closing fast and he had no gunners, thanks to the stupid mercenaries aboard. "I need two of you on the guns!" He snapped as the Pantoran watched over him. With a quiet but dissatisfied nod, the blue-skinned man moved off to talk to his comrades. Shortly after Xory could hear mutters over the comm.

"We've got you covered, Vevut." One voice said. He didn't know who, but it wasn't the Pantoran or their leader. Another voice chimed in with a similar mission -- this one from the lower battery. Vevut stood up slowly, knowing that Daxos would be back soon. He pulled a Verpine from under his seat -- they hadn't searched his ship very thoroughly and they would most definitely regret it soon. Pressing himself against the wall by the bulkhead, Vevut waited. The sound of boots on the metal floor told him someone was coming. Whoever it was was not friendly, so Xory readied himself. While he was a Mandalorian, he knew that Daxos was most definitely in better shape than he was and probably more experienced, albeit more aggressive. He'd have to use that to his advantage.

"Vevut?" Daxos called as he stepped through the doorway. Vevut leveled his Verpine, but Daxos was already moving. His instincts were far too good, his fist whirling around and catching the Verpine as it was pointed at his armoured chest. The small weapon went flying, skittering across the floor to rest under the console. Daxos charged, taking a low stance as he increased speed, hurling Xory backward into the wall, a few beeps emanating as he hit some largely obsolete controls. With a grunt, the Mandalorian smuggler brought a knee up into the armoured man's chest and immediately regretted it. While it put Daxos off balance, his knee was now in agony. A foolish mistake. As Daxos fell backward he twisted, landing on his knees instead as if to begin doing push-ups. Xory moved forward, intent on doing the man harm but instead was sent sprawling as Daxos' right leg shot out, catching Xory's own leg and sweeping it out from under him.

Daxos scrabbled toward the Verpine that had fallen to rest underneath the pilot's controls. Xory, sitting up slowly, knew that he was too far to get there in time and so instead thought quickly, pulling the hydro spanner from its hook on the wall and hurling it at the controls. It hit the stick dead on, sending the ship into a forward dive and sending the Pantoran mercenary crashing into the underside of the console with a satisfying thud. Xory smirked and got to his feet, scrambling toward the console in an effort to gain the upper hand, Daxos had other ideas and although slightly dazed, he was still deadly. A kick to Daxos' face saw him sprawl back underneath the console but just as quickly as he sprawled, a hand shot out and grasped Vevut's ankle with bone-crushing force and pulled. Vevut kicked again, hearing a sickening crunch before the grip slackened and released. Daxos' eyes closed slowly and Xory grinned, turning away. He had to get to the escape pod.

A click that was almost inaudible caused him to freeze. Disappointment and fear shot through his body like tendrils of ice as the characteristic loading sound of his Verpine reached his own ears. "Thought it was that easy, huh?" Daxos said quietly. He sounded dazed, which was no wonder given what he'd just been through. "Thought you could take me on. Well, you did alright I'll give you that, but now I'm going to end you, once and for a-"

Daxos was cut off as the ship jerked violently, shaking from laser impacts. "Evasive action! Incoming TIEs!" One of the voices from the comm shouted. Xory ignored it and ran, heading toward the escape pod. Coming around a corner he was knocked to the ground by an outstretched arm. It was Rirhe, standing in his way. "So you slipped Daxos' grip. Incompetent of him.." His tone was more dangerous than the wild aggression in Daxos' own voice. But Xory knew Hethri was more reasonable than his hyper-aggressive Pantoran Lieutenant. "Hard to find good help these days, you know." The ship shuddered again and Rirhe almost stumbled, but kept his footing -- no mean feat for someone who wasn't a pilot. Alarms began pulsing throughout the ship. The turrets were gone -- and that meant Rirhe's friends. Boots clanking made Xory think otherwise, but he realised it was only Daxos as the blue man came into view.

"Sir, the bugger jumped me! I say we kill him now, and-" Rirhe raised his blaster and fired once, striking Daxos directly between the eyes. Xory paled and began to think twice about who was more dangerous.

"As I said, hard to find good help these days. Besides, the cut's better split one way." Rirhe was casual, almost like having a normal conversation. Like he would discuss the weather. "You know," He began, pulling off his armour. It was cumbersome, and the ship was somewhat cramped. "I trained with the Empire for seven years as a fighter pilot. I never needed you." His chestplate was off now, exposing a heavily muscled upper torso. "What I did need was your access codes, and now I have them, you're of no use to me."

Another armour plate hit the floor and Xory grimaced -- so this was the end. Rirhe raised his blaster, leveling it with Vevut's head. "You know, your courage is admirable. But I really can't afford to leave you al-" An inhuman scream erupted from the Firrerreo mercenary as the sound of broken flesh reached Xory's ears. He looked up to see the zombie that they wanted to transport so badly  clinging to Rirhe's muscular shoulder, flesh dripping from the sides of his mouth, eyes wild with blood lust. Vevut jumped back and landed on Daxos' corpse. Rirhe began to collapse from shock and the virus combined.  The zombie turned, uninterested with the defeated prey, and began towards Xory.

"No, no, not me. Him!" He cried desperately, but to no avail. The zombie kept coming. Suddenly, Vevut felt something pressing against the small of his back -- his verpine!. Daxos must have had it on him when he died. Without another thought, years of training took over and Xory's honed reflexes pulled the deceptively powerful pistol up and fired two shots straight through the zombie's skull, sending flesh flying. He almost laughed as the zombie collapsed and got hastily to his feet, looking around. The escape pod was within reach. Xory paid no mind to the dying Rirhe till a hand grasped his ankle again -- Rirhe's.

"Please.. help me.." The man croaked, eyes blood shot from pain and infection. "Please! I can make you rich!"

"I'd rather be poor alive than dead rich so thanks," He shook his foot loose, "but no thanks."

Xory turned after releasing a globule of spittle on Rirhe's chest and began toward the escape pod again. "We know who you are! They'll find you! They'll kill you!" The man screamed wildly. It was the infection taking over, sending madness through his body.. but in their last moments, people were known to be painfully honest. "Watch your shadow, because we'll be there! YOU'RE A DEAD MAN!"

Xory shuddered momentarily, before continuing into the escape pod. He sat down on the sterile white seat and looked out at Rirhe. "I already was a dead man." With that, he pressed the big red button, the airlock slamming shut and the cabin pressurising. A slow countdown of 3, 2, 1 rang through his ears before the small pod ejected from the ship. Not a moment too soon, as his ship exploded behind him, finally giving in to the pounding of the TIE fighters. He sighed -- it had cost him a bomb. It was his home, too. Better to be alive on a dead world than to be dead. The mandalorian thought grimly.

Looking out the viewport, he could see explosions in the distance. It was quite beautiful, he noted.

OOC:
Wordcount: 1,300. The final post in The Zombie Smuggler arc.

AAR: Xory Vevut takes the fight to the enemy, managing to best his Pantoran tormentor before facing his death at Rirhe's hands. He is saved by an unlikely and brief ally, the zombie, before escaping from the ship with some dark words. Xory will be looking over his shoulder for quite a while, even on the infected world of Lasoris minor...

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Serpent
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Serpent
 
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  RE: VEN: The Blockade
September 28, 2012 9:40:48 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
Around the planet Lasoris Minor, chaos reigned, but it was a chaos now being brought under control.  The rag-tag fleet of civilian ships that had seized on Governor Orzik’s attempt to run the blockade were now turning back to their diseased planet.  Some were intimidated by the former administrator’s execution, and others were simply guided back by the warning shots of Vast Imperial TIE Interceptors and capital ships.

A small minority of the civilians were not deterred, however, and pressed on in a bid for freedom.  They ignored hails, they ignored warning shots, and it fell to the men and women of the First Fleet’s Taskforce Besh to deal with them.  Did some officers flinch, did some hesitate before doing their duty?  Yes, but in the end they knew what had to be done.  If the Hive Virus sweeping across the planet below got to a major centre of the VE (like Belgaroth, or, even worse, Lotaith) then the death toll would escalate into the millions, even tens of millions.

That could not be allowed.  And so the officers of Taskforce Besh used deadly force, obliterating any civilian vessel in danger of slipping through their blockade’s capture net.

Many lives were lost this day, and many more, both civilian and military, would be scarred by the deaths they had witnessed or caused.

The blockade had held, but this was no victory.

-----

From the side of Captain Mihawk, Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail looked out the viewport of the bridge of the Halcyon Warrior.  Just ahead of the massive vessel, achingly close yet still out of weapons range, lay the ones who had allowed this chaos at Lasoris Minor to begin.  The Eleven Spears Mercenaries had struck fast, distracted Taskforce Besh, and were now trying to escape.

The Vast Imperials were determined to stop them.

“Cut shield power another five percent!” Ordered Zail, “And channel the power to the engines!  They are almost at the jump point!”

Chief Engineer, Tlig Marril, promptly replied, “Yes, sir!” As the Quarren made the command a reality, Serpent turned and spoke to his CO in a low voice.

“We can’t stop all three of those capital ships, Captain,” Said the Alderaanian.  “What are your orders for when we catch up to them?”

“Hit the flagship,” The Mon Calamari answered firmly.  “We will disable Admiral Ralthra’s vessel.  The others will run – they are mercs after all, Pherik, and unlikely to show any loyalty to their leader – but Ralthra must answer for his crimes this day.”

Zail nodded in agreement, and could not help but wonder what ‘answer for his crimes’ meant.  Drac had already had his First Officer execute Governor Orzik.  Would Serpent be carrying out a second act of capital punishment this day?

There was no point in idle speculation, so he focused instead on the chase.  On the tactical hologram nearby, the range to target kept counting down.

Closer.

Closer...

-----

Admiral Ralthra’s stark white fur was ruffled and standing on end, a primal reflex of the Cathar species that betrayed his nerves but that he could not consciously suppress.  The monster warship pursuing his force was gaining in speed, and the tactical hologram was now anticipating that the Halcyon Warrior would be within range in just fifty five seconds, and it was still twice that long until they could jump.

“Get me Captain Minphar of the Gold Claws!” Snapped the mercenary leader to his Com Officer.  A moment later and a second hologram appeared beside the image of the battle, this one of a vibrant Duros male in the prime of his life.  Minphar was an up-and-coming star of the Eleven Spears Mercenaries, and the youngest Captain in their ranks.

“Yes, Admiral?” Asked the CO of the Gold Claws.

“We need to do something about that ISD,” Said Ralthra quickly.  “It’s almost on top of us!”

“Agreed,” Said Minphar, “But what?”

“We attack!” Declared Ralthra boldly.  “Their chase has taken them far from the rest of their fleet.  We turn and strike, hard and fast.  They are so sickeningly over-confident, they won’t be ready.  We can drive them off, maybe even disable them, and then we’ll be clear to jump.”

“We don’t have the firepower to handle an ISD...” Began the Duros, but the Admiral cut him off.

“There’s no time for debate!” He snapped.  “Don’t worry, Minphar, we aren’t alone,” Soothed the Cathar with an evil grin.  “I have secretly had our secondary force waiting in reserve at the edge of the system!  I’ll bring them in now, we hammer the Halcyon Warrior, and then we are all gone!”

Captain Minphar’s face split into a big smile.  “You always have a backup plan, don’t you Admiral?  Okay, let’s do it!”

-----

“Time to weapons range...” Called the Halcyon Warrior’s Weapons Chief.  “In three... two... one... now!”

A smile crept across Captain Drac’s face as the mercenary ships loomed large and close before his warship’s pointed bow.  “Fire,” He ordered with glee.

“You heard the Captain!” Barked Zail.  “All turbolaser and ion cannons, fire!  Focus on the flagship, the Ralthra’s Claw!”

A deadly hail of fire erupted from the Imperial-Class Star Destroyer, lancing out towards the old Clone Wars-era Providence-Class Destroyer.  The shields of the antique, yet still formidable, vessel weathered the hail, but could only bring a few of its own guns to bear in retaliation.

“Can we break through their shields to their engines in time?” Asked Zail aloud as he and Drac watched the show.

The Mon Calamari Captain nodded.  “Have faith, Pherik, we can do this.”

And no sooner had he spoken than something totally unexpected happened.  One of the Ralthra’s Claw’s escorts, a powerful Ruscant-Class Light Destroyer, suddenly broke formation from the fleeting merc armada.  It began angling towards the Halcyon Warrior, opening fire with all its weapons as if it meant to challenge the ISD all on its own!

“They are blocking off our field of fire on the Ralthra’s Claw!” Cried Serpent, stunned by the turn of events.  “These mercs are actually sacrificing themselves for their Admiral!”

“I’m as surprised as you are!” Confessed Drac as the bridge erupted in shouts.  The Defence Officer, Ulyssa Vicaro, began reporting about the shields suddenly weakening under the barrage, and the Weapons Officer, Maroo Feldunarra, demanded clarification of target.  “Switch priority!” Shouted the Captain.  “Target that suicidal Light Destroyer instead!”

Serpent watched as the Halcyon Warrior’s gunners adjusted and instead began assaulting the Ruscant-Class warship, the transponder of which indentified it as the Gold Claws.  There was no way it would last long under that sort of offensive.

And in the distance, he saw the rest of the Eleven Spears force continue on towards the jump point.

-----

Admiral Ralthra was ready for the hail from the Gold Claws, as once again the image of Captain Minphar coalesced in hologram form before him.

“Admiral!  Why are you continuing towards the jump point?” Demanded the angered Duros officer.  “And where are our reinforcements?”

“Somewhere in Hutt Space, doing an anti-piracy job for the Cartels, I believe,” Replied the Eleven Spears commander nonchalantly.  “And as for the jump point... well, you didn’t really think we’d tangle with an ISD, did you?”

The look on Minphar’s face said a thousand things at once.  He had been duped, tricked into sacrificing himself, his crew, and his ship.  The Duros Captain knew despair at his own foolishness, knew hatred for his manipulative Admiral, and he knew them and so much else with such sudden and all-consuming intensity that it made his head spin.

He did not even respond to the Cathar.  He just ended the transmission.

“Die well, Captain,” Said Admiral Ralthra softly.  He projected indifference to his crew, for they expected a merc to be hard and uncaring.  Inside, though, he felt somewhat less than indifferent to his actions.  “Time to jump point?” He asked, wanting to dwell on something else.

“Thirty seconds!” Came the reply from his Helmsman.

There was no way that the Vast Imperials could catch them now.  However, the price had been steep.  First a Nebulon-B Frigate, and now a Ruscant-Class Light Destroyer, but he and the Eleven Spears Mercenaries had prevailed.

He should have felt better than he did.

“Jump,” He ordered when the time came, and the merc armada vanished into hyperspace.

-----

Explosions rippled along the length of the Gold Claws, as the Halcyon Warrior pounded it relentlessly for daring to get in its way.  Serpent watched the aged warship wither under the hail of fire, wondering what had gotten into the captain of the merc vessel.  Was he tricked?  Coerced?  Threatened?  Or was it a genuine sacrifice born of loyalty?

That last one Zail could understand, and would have expected from an Imperial foe, maybe even from a Republic foe.  But mercs?

He would never know.  What he did know, however, was that the suicidal gambit had worked.  In the distance, beyond the dying wreckage of the Gold Claws (which was now spewing escape pods), the remaining ships of the Eleven Spears Mercenaries were leaping to hyperspace.

“Track them,” Serpent ordered the Navigation Officer, for all the good it would do.  She could reasonably tell, from their angle and probable destinations along their route, where they were going.  However, Zail knew full well that any half-competent foe would make multiple stops and course adjustments to throw such predictions off.

He then turned to his Captain.  Drac was staring into the distance, at the patch of space where the enemy had been mere moments before.

“Capture the escape pods, then return to the fleet to continue the containment operation, Pherik,” Said the Mon Cal eventually.  “I will go and inform High Command of our victory,” He added, then turned and walked towards his office.

Serpent watched him leave the bridge, and mused over his superior’s words.  Yes, this was a victory, just far from an ideal one.

The Vast Empire would settle up with Admiral Ralthra another day...

OOC:
1661 words.  And that’s a wrap, people!  The story will remain open for a few days for any last codas people want to do, but the focus will be on the next big story about to launch.  Check the Discussion thread for stats!

After Action Report:  The Halcyon Warrior bears down on Admiral Ralthra’s core force, and the wily Cathar knows that he can’t escape.  He lies to the Captain of the Gold Claws to distract the ISD.  Sacrificing the ship, Ralthra and the bulk of the Eleven Spears Mercenaries escape.  Lasoris Minor’s blockade is secure, but those involved escape punishment.
SCAP/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Besh/1Flt/FC/VEN/VE
[SoA][LoM][NAR][E][CBV][SoV][MiD][VC:G][1NS][GWC][MC1][=*Eng*=][=BO=]

"It isn't the killing, you know.  It's the beauty of battles that I love - the choreography and the challenge of executing everything
just right - and the challenge of matching your wits against a capable opponent." - Gilad Pellaeon
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