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Topic:  2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Adept
[VE-NAVY] Lieutenant
 
Post Number:  2009
Total Posts:  3784
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  2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
September 28, 2012 3:34:09 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
It was three hours before local dawn, and a late-night squall had settled over the central landmass of Tilsec Prime, concentrated over the capital city of the planet, from which the leaders of the Imperial Dominion ruled their interstellar polity.  Most of the metropolis’s residents slept fitfully, under curfew in their homes, but in the middle of the broad avenue fronting the Governor-General’s Palace, a lone figure stood defiantly, braced against the gusting wind and staring at the mansion’s ornate façade.

To an outsider, the mysterious man with the athletic frame and the hard look in his eye might have been mistaken for some rebel assassin, but no one born on Tilsec Prime could fail to recognize the familiar, striking facial features of the highest-ranked elected official in the Dominion’s government, Premier Donnel Zaqarian.  To all the citizens of all the planets of the Dominion, he was unmistakable.

But, though the Dominioners would no doubt have recognized the man (if they had been allowed to wander the streets at night in a time of war, which they were most definitely not), they would probably not recognize his behavior.  The career politician was always resolute on the holo-news shows, and comfortingly self-assured; the lone figure in the rain who wore Premier Zaqarian’s face seemed pitifully indecisive, in comparison.  He took halting steps toward the Palace’s front doors, before seemingly thinking better of it, and retreating back to where he’d begun.  And then he repeated the strange, pathetic little dance-like movement, again and again.

At length, he took a deep breath, and straightened to his full height.  Suddenly, the attitude from the holo-shows was back, and the figure crossed the avenue at a steady pace, marched up the long staircase, and knocked on the huge portal three times.  Almost immediately, the intricately-carved double doors opened, bathing Zaqarian in a bright light.

An E-3PO droid stood in the vestibule, as if it had been waiting.  “Welcome, Premier Zaqarian,” the droid said with its flat, vaguely prissy voice.

Zaqarian harrumphed, and shouldered his way past the silvery droid.  He shed his overcoat, and made a point of shaking off the rain directly over the hideously expensive (and aesthetically hideous) carpet, before handing it to the droid.  “Where’s Karstok?” he demanded curtly.

“Governor-General Karstok is expecting you.  Follow me, please.”

As the protocol droid tottered off with his coat meticulously folded over one of its arms, Donnel Zaqarian raised an eyebrow.  It was virtually unheard-of for anyone – no matter his or her socio-political standing – to “drop in” on the Governor-General at home.  It wasn't exactly prohibited by law, but it was more or less understood to be the way things were.  That Karstok was anticipating the Premier’s visit – despite that unspoken rule – underscored the gravity of the situation facing the Imperial Dominion, and the extent to which that situation had altered the balance of power on Tilsec Prime.  “He’s weak,” the Premier muttered under his breath, as his self-confidence soared at the realization, “and he knows it.”  A gust whistled outside, like the very winds of change, ready to transform the Dominion.  Zaqarian smiled at the thought, and followed the droid.

They passed through the main receiving chamber, which seemed cavernously empty in the gloom of the late hour, and then paced down a grandly appointed hallway until they came to a small room: Karstok’s private study.

The droid opened the door, and then stepped aside.  “Premier Donnel Zaqarian,” the silvery automaton announced.

Donnel scoffed, and then shoved his way past the protocol droid again.  “Governor-General,” he bit out, sketching an abbreviated bow.

Silence greeted him in response, and Zaqarian straightened to consider the scene, and his options.

Governor-General Vasilov Karstok was an impressive – and dangerous – man, Zaqarian knew.  The gaunt off-worlder had come to Tilsec twelve years before at the head of an Imperial Navy task force, and announced that he was Emperor Palpatine’s vice-regal representative.  He’d then laid out grand plans: the Unknown Regions would be explored and conquered, and Tilsec Prime would become the cosmopolitan capital of a full-fledged client state of the Empire.  The extravagant promises of prosperity and power for those who cooperated with his rule – and the thinly-veiled threats toward anyone who might've been thinking of getting in his way – were fairly typical of newly-appointed planetary overseers.  But unlike most new governors assigned by the central Imperial bureaucracy, Karstok had proven capable of actually following through on his words: he'd actually done everything he said he would do, and he did it all with a brutal efficiency.  Within a year, three new populated systems had been integrated into the Dominion, several trade agreements with regional powers had been finalized, and all domestic opposition to Karstok, the Emperor he represented, and the New Order Palpatine had ushered in had been ruthlessly snuffed out.

So, when Zaqarian saw Karstok, sitting behind an unassuming metal desk and gripping the desktop so hard his knuckles were shining white in the subdued lighting of the little room, his throat went dry.  Piercing, intelligent blue eyes stared back at him, from over a sharp, aristocratic nose and a cruel mouth, and the thin lips were not smiling.  The uncomfortable silence stretched out, while the protocol droid quietly hung the Premier’s coat on a hook near the door designed for that purpose, and then discreetly took its leave.

When they were alone, Zaqarian spoke again.  “No, Karstok: you can’t intimidate me, not this time.  I want answers.”  He drew himself up to his full height.  “The people of the Imperial Dominion deserve answers,” he amended.

The Governor-General’s eyelids seemed to flicker, but he never blinked.  “Premier,” he said, drawing out the syllables and relishing the triphthong, continuing the formal courtesy of the exchange-of-titles, as if the tension in the room had not become stifling.  He rose as he spoke the word, and bent in a stiff-but-proper court bow.  He sat again, and resumed his iron grip on the desk.  When he looked up, his eyes found Donnel’s again.  “Answers…”  He seemed to consider the word for a while before continuing.  “I’ve just received word from the fleet.”

“Well?” Donnel asked, impatiently.  “What happened?  Did we take out their command-and-control, or not?  Were our losses bad?  Tilsec Prime has bled for these wars… You can’t keep the Legislature in the dark any longer about the fate of our young soldiers!”

The Governor-General’s nose twitched once, and then he grimaced.  “I can’t...” he repeated softly.  He seemed to taste the words as he mouthed them, and a serene smile broke out on his face, as if the flavor reminded him of a favorite dish from his childhood.

Zaqarian’s eyebrow shot up again.  “What’s the matter with you, Governor-General?” he asked, unconsciously slipping into the formal mode of address as the thrill of power politics gave way to genuine confusion, and the first stirrings of concern.  “What’s happened?”

Still, the most powerful man in the Imperial Dominion remained stock-still, his hands clutching as his desktop, as if he were desperately afraid.  Zaqarian didn’t know what to make of it: Vasilov Karstok, scared stiff?  After long minutes of baffled observation, the Premier decided it must be shock.

For a split second, Donnel Zaqarian wished he'd brought the other leaders of the populist movement with him, so they could see the supposedly-omnipotent Vasilov Karstok brought low by fear.  But he instantly thought better of it: though he wanted desperately to reverse the balance of power between the Premiership and the Governor-Generalship, Zaqarian knew that it was not the right time to make his move.  The military was still fiercely loyal to Karstok personally, and only his access codes linked the Dominion's rudimentary HoloNet with the rest of the Galaxy's.  With the fate of the invasion fleet known only to him, it would not do to seize power from the man.  Not yet, anyway, Zaqarian thought.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun.

Resisting the urge to smile, Zaqarian walked around the desk, approached the shell-like husk that was once the feared leader of the Imperial Dominion, and pulled back his hand.  “Snap out of it!” he yelled, and slapped Vasilov Karstok hard across the face.

Or, he would have, if the cadaverous dictator hadn’t suddenly exploded up out of his chair with a well-practiced grace, effortlessly side-stepped the blow, and countered with a vicious right hook of his own.  Stars exploded behind Donnel Zaqarian’s eyes as Karstok’s fist slammed into his temple, and he suddenly found himself looking up at the ceiling.

A fuzzy round shape obstructed the view.  It was Karstok’s head, he eventually realized, and as it came into focus it started to speak.  “You 'snap out of it,'” the Governor-General spat, and he punctuated the final plosive consonant with a kick to Zaqarian’s ribs.  The Premier doubled over on his side, and vomited.

Karstok waited until the noise died down, and then continued: “The fleet is gone!  Gone!  Do you hear me?”  He kicked at Zaqarian again, and the man coughed as he nodded in the affirmative.  He heard him.  “The so-called Vast Empire knew we were coming.  They even guessed where,” Karstok seethed.  “Or, if they didn’t guess, they were told.”  He bent down, and again his snarling visage filled Donnel Zaqarian’s out-of-focus field of vision.  “Has your inexcusable insolence and insubordination driven you to outright treason, Donnel?”  A cold eagerness burned in his eyes, as if he were daring Zaqarian to confess.

“N- n- no, G-governor-General,” Zaqarian managed to stutter, through the miasma of his own sick and blood.

“We’ll just see about that,” Karstok promised savagely.  “The Vast Empire is a perversion of the New Order,” he continued, his voice feverish, “and someone – someone here – has betrayed us to them!  Xeno-loving rimward separatists!  And someone has chosen them over civilization.  So be it.”  The fuzzy face floated out of Donnel Zaqarian’s vision.

The room seemed to grow darker, and fear swept over Donnel Zaqarian.  “What happens next?”  The man who had been the most powerful elected official in the Imperial Dominion wasn’t sure if he’d whimpered the question, or screamed it at the top of his lungs.

“Next…” repeated the Governor-General, calculating.  “No doubt the Vast Empire will strike back, thinking their counterpunch will take us unawares.  And if you were ruling the Dominion, Donnel, perhaps it would.  Thankfully, you are not.”

Unseen behind Zaqarian's crumpled, battered body, Vasilov Karstok smiled.  “I rule, here.  And as long as that is true, the New Order will never be overturned.  Not by aliens.  Not by criminals.  And not by traitors who sully the name of Empire.  When they come - and they will come - I will be ready for them.”

OOC:
1,787 words.

After Action Report: After their fleet's defeat at the Battle of Abrae, the leaders of the Imperial Dominion meet.  Governor-General Vasilov Karstok teaches a pointed lesson to a populist politician, Premier Donnel Zaqarian.
CNW/LT Wyl "Trick" Trykon/VSD Brilliant/TF:A/2Flt/FC/VEN/VE

[SoA][SoV][BWC][NSM][E][NAR][HNS][DSM][SWC][1NS][VC:B][LoM][VC:S][NC][GWC][VC:G]
(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)

TRN/AD Trykon/DJO/VEDJ
Trykon
ComNet Marshal
 
Trykon
 
[VE-DJO] Adept
[VE-NAVY] Lieutenant
 
Post Number:  2010
Total Posts:  3784
Joined:  Feb 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
September 28, 2012 3:53:27 PM    View the profile of Trykon 
It had been weeks since the Imperial Dominion’s failed attempt to invade Abrae, and still, the clean-up efforts dragged on in the space around the headquarters of the Vast Empire’s Navy.

From the forward bridge viewports of the Victory-II class Star Destroyer Brilliant, Delak Martell stared out at the Vectra System, his features contracted into a scowl.  From the awe-inspiring starscape, the sharp-eyed former starfighter pilot picked out several points of light which were brighter than their fellows, and which seemed to slowly move, and he recognized them as the running lights of distant vessels: various shuttlecraft, and lumbering, debris-laden barges.  He distinguished over a dozen of the hard-working ships before he lost count, and then his gaze was drawn to a dark, arrow-shaped absence of stars, a huge geometric shape slicing through space: the massive super star destroyer Atrus.  He marveled at the majestic battleship for long moments, and then snorted quietly in disdain.

“What in hell are we still doing here?” he muttered, with a sigh.  Brilliant and the other ships of Second Fleet had been called in to reinforce the Atrus’s armada (the defensive First Fleet) when VENI had caught wind of the imminent Imperial Dominion invasion.  Martell had no problem with that.  After all, the concentrated VE forces had soundly defeated their foes, in a decisive demonstration of superior strategy.  But the thing that the Brilliant’s Executive Officer could not understand was why, in the weeks since that battle, Second Fleet’s orders hadn’t yet changed.  Aside from an emergency sortie to blockade a disease-ridden colony world, the Vast Empire’s main offensive naval fleet hadn’t moved since winning the most one-sided and decisive victory yet in their faction’s war with the rival Imperial Dominion.

What are those jokers on the Naval High Command doing?!, Martell thought viciously.  It’s like they’re too scared to leave port!  Once again, he remembered the performance review he’d received the week before from his commanding officer, Wyl Trykon (who’d served on the Naval High Command in two different roles, over the years), and his cheeks burned.  Recalling the cold Kuati captain’s precise, cutting words, Martell replied to the critique aloud, as if Trykon could hear him: “I may be bluff and unimaginative, but even I know that this is a mistake.  The best defense is a good offense, in grav-ball just as well as interstellar war,” he grumbled.

“Mr. Martell, you’re a poet,” the familiar cold voice responded, from just behind him.

Delak Martell felt the adrenaline spike in his system at the sudden interrupting of his thoughts, and it peaked as he recognized the Kuati’s accent and bone dry tone.  His shoulders shot up in a cringe, and he closed his eyes for long seconds, holding his breath.  “Captain,” he began, turning around, “I—”

“You didn’t know I was back aboard,” Trykon finished for him.  The older man’s grey-green eyes were unyielding.  “I can see that.”  He took a step past Martell, and looked out the same viewports the younger officer had stood at for so long, oblivious.

“Sir, I—”

“You want to apologize,” Trykon spoke over him again.  “Don’t bother.  Oh, I am disappointed by your childish monologue,” the captain continued, when he saw his XO’s momentary look of mingled surprise and hope, “to be sure, but your analysis – unimaginative as it may be, and as bluffly delivered as ever – has the virtue of being more or less correct.”

Martell had the wherewithal to hold his silence.

“I appreciate candor in my command staff, Mr. Martell.  My comments in your review were not meant disparagingly; they were meant to inspire you to improve.  Regardless, you’re getting your wish.”  And with that, the captain spun around and paced away, down the central command walkway towards the aft areas of the bridge.

Martell sputtered for a moment, then followed, awkwardly loping along to catch up.  “Sir?  What did you mean, my wish?”

Trykon stopped short, and again faced his young XO.  “We’re taking the fight to the Dominion.  All hands to stations, Mr. Martell; I’m about to address the Fleet.”

***


Evir Norith, Brilliant’s communications chief, gave a thumbs-up, and Trykon’s holographic likeness was broadcast to every ship in the Vast Empire's Second Fleet.

“Gentlebeings, I have just come from Naval Headquarters, where I met with Vice Admiral Krazanr and Captain Grey,” Trykon began.  “Captain Dracule Mihawk has been called away for a special assignment, and as his Executive Officer I hereby assume temporary command of Second Fleet, to continue until further notice.”

To the right of the holorecorder, Norith’s eyes went wide at the news.  Trykon continued, unphased: “Naval Intelligence has managed to recover most of the astrogation logs from the Loyalty’s navicomputers, and those data points have revealed the route the Imperial Dominion invasion fleet used to get from their space to ours - a route previously unknown to us, which cuts through the hyperspace-disruptions which surround the Unknown Regions.  Armed with this information, we have prepared a massive counterstrike, consisting of multiple probing assaults by diverse elements of our own forces, culminating in a full-scale invasion of the Imperial Dominion home worlds.  Orders are being transmitted to you now.”

Trykon waited a beat, and when Norith nodded to confirm receipt of the data packets from his opposite numbers aboard the other ships of the Fleet, he went on.  “In the first stage of our plan, Halcyon Warrior will lead the main body of the Fleet to the star system designated T-8-chex, which we now know is a critical staging point along the main trade route use by the Dominion.  Your orders are to jump in, and destroy any and all vessels present, as well as any other ships which enter the system.  You will also be provided with the coordinates for the surrounding stops along that trade route: all of those systems are to be cleared of all shipping and settlements, as well.”  His grey-green eyes seemed to smolder with an unnatural fire.  “We are going to wipe out their merchant marine, and starve their border worlds, in a bid to destabilize their central authorities.  Details are in the formal orders just sent to you, ship captains.  One final thing I’ll add, for the record: with Captain Mihawk gone, Pherik Zail will be acting-captain of the Warrior, and he will have autonomy over his task force for this mission, since I’ll be taking Brilliant away on a separate mission.”  He paused, and frowned.  “Less than a month ago, the Imperial Dominion tried to swallow up Abrae, but they bit off more than they could chew.  Thanks to your efforts, they choked on their foul ambitions.  Now, with this counterattack, we grab hold of their collective throat, and we squeeze.  You have your orders.  Trykon, out.”

OOC:
1,128 words.

Counterpunch - a new, multi-story arc - has begun.  This thread (called "Famine") is the Fleet Command story, for most of the Second Fleet, under the command of Serpent, who is acting-captain of the Halcyon Warrior.  Your orders are to raid - quite... harshly - along the main trade route into ID space, centered on the T-8-chex system.

After Action Report: After long weeks, VENI has managed to extract all the intel from the Loyalty - the Allegiance-class super star destroyer the VEN captured from the ID at the Battle of Abrae.  That intel has revealed the existence of a second route into Imperial Dominion space from the plane of the Galactic disk, which was previously unknown to the VE.  That's important, because the ID home worlds are in the Unknown Regions, surrounded by "The Tangle" - a series of naturally-occurring phenomena which interfere with hyperspace, and seriously complicate travel in or out.  Armed with that information, and with the sudden mysterious disappearance of CNW Dracule Mihawk (IC, that is), Trykon assumes command of Second Fleet, and orders the attack to begin.

Please see the OOC discussion thread for more information.  Happy posting!
CNW/LT Wyl "Trick" Trykon/VSD Brilliant/TF:A/2Flt/FC/VEN/VE

[SoA][SoV][BWC][NSM][E][NAR][HNS][DSM][SWC][1NS][VC:B][LoM][VC:S][NC][GWC][VC:G]
(=*AE*=)(=*SAE*=)(=*TG*=)(=*SCFE*=)

TRN/AD Trykon/DJO/VEDJ
[This message has been edited by Trick (edited September 28, 2012 4:07:27 PM)]
Serpent
ComNet Member
Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 2nd Class
 
Post Number:  495
Total Posts:  1214
Joined:  Jul 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
September 29, 2012 1:27:38 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail’s boots rang loudly as he marched briskly across the permacrete floor of the hangar.  He had spent a gruelling afternoon doing VENI liaison work at the Naval High Command building on Abrae, and was eager to get back into orbit and to his waiting ship.  He had only just recently passed his Captaincy Exam, and was anxious to get back to his new command, the Corellian CR90 corvette Defiance.

As he approached the shuttle that would take him to his small but proud vessel, a voice stopped him in his tracks as it echoed across the hangar bay.

“Warrant Officer Zail!”  Came the desperate voice of a youthful Petty Officer.  “A moment please!”

Serpent sighed, angered at the interruption.  My ship can wait a few more minutes without me, the anxious CO-to-be assured himself.  “Yes,” He said, managing a somewhat civil tone as he turned around and the Petty Officer skidded to a halt before him.  “What is it?”

“New orders, sir!” Said the young man, handing over a datapad.  “They are from the Fleet XO, Wyl Trykon.”

Zail did not know why the youngster was wasting his breath.  Serpent knew full well the name of the new XO, and even if he did not, the name was clearly written atop the message on the datapad that he now glanced at.

He quickly read through the orders, his eyes widening in ever-growing shock as he did so.  “There must be some mistake...” He exclaimed under his breath.

“No, sir,” Said the overly-helpful Petty Officer, falsely believing himself to be spoken to.  “You are to proceed to the Halcyon Warrior immediately and assume command of both it and the bulk of Taskforce Aurek.”

“Where is Captain Mihawk?” Asked Zail suddenly, for the orders did not specify where the actual CO of the Star Destroyer was.  All they said was that he, Serpent, was being thrust into a major command position with no warning, and he was shocked, outraged, and terrified by the prospect!

The other man shrugged.  “Captain Drac’s current location is not known, sir.  At least, not to me.”

“And apparently not to me either,” Mused Serpent, feeling angry.  He was the Liaison to Naval Intelligence!  Knowing things was- quite literally- his job!  How could be in the dark like this?

“Very well,” Said the Alderaanian at last, taking the datapad to read the rest of it on his impending flight.  “Inform the Halcyon Warrior that I am on my way,” He declared, and then turned and stalked up the boarding ramp and into the shuttle.

He gave the pilot the change of destination, and a minute later he was taking off from Abrae to the waiting Second Fleet in orbit.

-----

The Lambda-Class Shuttle raised its wings as it came in for a graceful landing on the gleaming clean deck of the Halcyon Warrior’s main hangar.  As he descended the ramp, Serpent took in the sight of the cavernous hall, and breathed deep of the stale recycled air of the Imperial Star Destroyer.

It is said that the sense of smell is more closely linked to memory than any other, and in this case it was certainly true.  One breath and Zail recalled all sorts of memories about serving on the awesome warship, some unpleasant, but most far from.  Truth was that he missed this place.

Standing at the end of the ramp, waiting to greet him, was a muscular woman of average height, with striking hazel eyes and lush dark brown hair.  “Welcome aboard, Captain!” She said with an Inner Rim accent, saluting smartly.

“Ah, Miss Blondeau,” Said Zail, returning the salute and gesturing at her to stand at ease.  He had met Ellesmere before, when he had briefed her about taking over for him as XO of the Surprise.  She seemed like a competent officer, and he was glad to hear that she had been made a Bridge Officer here on the Halcyon Warrior.  “Perhaps you can explain this madness for me?” He asked her, waving his datapad full of orders.

She grimaced.  “Alas no, sir.  We don’t know anything about Captain Mihawk’s disappearance.”

“Perhaps the First Officer can explain,” Said Serpent, breaking into a brisk walk to head for the bridge, and Ellesmere had to suddenly hurry to keep up.

“There isn’t one,” She blurted out as he made for the tubolift.

Zail stopped dead in his tracks.  “Isn’t one what?” He demanded a little more sharply than he had intended.

“A First Officer,” Replied Blondeau, keeping her composure despite his tone.  “The Captain never got around to appointing one after you set off on your Ship Captaincy Training Programme.”

“Oh this is intolerable!” Thundered Serpent, wondering just what High Command were playing at.  He then noticed that his short exclamation had drawn the attention of several nearby deck officers, and Zail quickly reminded himself to keep his temper in check.  He already had a reputation on this ship from his XO days, when his attitude with the crew had earned him the nickname ‘the Blue-eyed Snake’.  Such unpopularity would not serve him well as acting Captain.

He took a deep breath to steady himself, then pressed on to the bridge, with Ellesmere still following.

Arriving on the command deck of the Halcyon Warrior brought another flood of memories and emotions back to Serpent, but he had no time to dwell on them.  He headed to Drac’s office, looking for answers, but before he entered he turned to Ellesmere.  “Miss Blondeau, please excuse me while I have words with our new Fleet Executive Officer.  In the meantime, you have the bridge.”

“Yes, sir,” She said, and strode off along the command walkway as Zail vanished into the Captain’s ready room.

Dropping into the vacant chair at the large desk, the Alderaanian typed in a few command recognition codes and put in a transmission to the Victory-Class Star Destroyer Brilliant.  After a few moments on hold, a hologram appeared before him of his friend and superior, Wyl Trykon.

“Trick,” Began Serpent, “What the frak is going on?”

-----

A few minutes later, Zail emerged from the office, and walked across the bridge towards Ellesmere.  Many eyes followed him across the room, the bridge officers he knew and had worked with here for so long.  I suppose if I must take command of another ship, he mused, makes sense that it be one that I am familiar with.

“Sir?” Asked the female Petty Officer as he approached.

“We are going hunting, Miss Blondeau,” Said Serpent.  “Captain Trykon will be addressing the fleet in just a few moments, but first I must officially assume command.  And I can’t do that until I have selected a competent XO to act as my right hand.”

He grinned before continuing.  “So, do you want the job?”

OOC:
1141 words.  Just the first post, setting it up for Ellesmere’s first post.  Everyone else feel free to write an intro post for their characters, saying where they are and what they are about, and my next post shall advance us into the action!  (Note, this one is set just before Trick’s post where he broadcasts his message to the fleet)

Amendment: Have now removed references to Trick being CNW

After Action Report: Serpent is on Abrae when he gets a shocking set of orders, assigning him to command the Halcyon Warrior and a large chunk of the Second Fleet in the upcoming offensive.  He travels to the ISD and is greeted by Ellesmere, who he then offers the role of his First Officer.
SCAP/WO2 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
[This message has been edited by Serpent (edited September 30, 2012 6:22:18 PM)]
Ellesmere
ComNet Cadet
 
Ellesmere
 
[VE-NAVY] Petty Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  289
Total Posts:  311
Joined:  Mar 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
September 30, 2012 10:51:05 PM    View the profile of Ellesmere 
Michele couldn’t believe all the buzz going ‘round…Rumours about Commander Drac supposedly having disappeared were spreading fairly quickly. Not wanting to believe the nonsense, she went off to do some investigating of her own. Sure, she wasn’t a sleuth but she knew the right people to ask and knew some of the Commander’s most frequented hang-outs.

After some time searching the Halcyon , she gave up and went off to one of her favorite spots. As odd as it sounds, one could find incredible calm and peace in the most unlikely places- such as a hangar bay for example; which was her current thinking-spot.

“Petty Officer Ellesmere?”

At the sound of her callsign she turned on her heel swiftly to notice a young fellow who looked to be just fresh out of training standing a few feet away looking worried and maybe even a little fearful? Did she really look that fearsome? Sure she spent her share of time at the gym, as could be noticed by her physique she was one of the unfortunate women who could pack on muscle and look somewhat bulky. She had a love-hate relationship with her looks but lifting weights was one of the things she found calming and which permitted reflection.

“Yes?”  She asked crisply; not wanting to scare the junior officer away too quickly.

“I was told to come find you and hand these over” Whipping out a datapad, he extended his hand and seemed to hop she would snatch it and dismiss him quickly. Taking a firm hold of the datapad, she thanked him and after looking him over once more dismissed him and watched him bolt out of the bay as though someone had sent a massive shock through his body.

Sighing deeply, she looked over the brief instructions. They were clear and precise yet she found them puzzling. Commander Drac was indeed absent, no reason was given however. Instead a familiar name jumped out at her Zail ‘Serpent’ had been the XO of the Surprise before she had taken over his duties. They had met briefly so he could brief her over the details and whatnot; she hadn’t seen much of him since. He was due to arrive any minute.

Hurrying out of the hangar bay, she made her way over to the main bay to await his arrival – and not a minute too soon. As she walked in at a brisk walk, she saw a shuttle making its final approach before executing a smooth touch-down. As the ramp lowered, she had a glimpse of the man she thought she would most likely not see until much later into her career, but here they were to meet once again. Before he had a chance to make his way down the ramp, she stood rigidly and offered up a crisp salute; not having forgotten her place or manners.

“At Ease” once the greetings were exchanged, she could tell he was somewhat agitated and moving about briskly. Before he managed to reach the Bridge, she confirmed that Drac was in fact absent and that like him she was displeased to find his whereabouts to be unknown.

As they entered the Bridge, she felt many sets of eyes on her and started to feel a little nervous – sure she had been second in command at some point but never to this crew; and Trykon had been a very helpful mentor to her which made her somewhat comfortable once she knew the people but here…
She wasn’t sure where she’d be posted, but she hoped her position would be figure out soon.

A few minutes after Zail had excused himself into the Captain’s ready-room, he re-appeared with an expression on his face which she wasn’t sure how to read.

“Sir?”

“Captain Trykon will be addressing the fleet in just a few moments, but first I must officially assume command.  And I can’t do that until I have selected a competent XO to act as my right hand.”

“So, do you want the job?”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing! A man whom she respected very well was standing there, with a grin on his face and offered her the executive Officer position? This was something she really couldn’t let pass her by.

“Yessir” she replied calmly, letting a smile tug at the corners of her mouth before nodding her head and facing the many Bridge Officers present.

OOC:
736

AAR: Little bit of CD in terms of things Ellie does on her down time, finds out Drac can't be found anywhere; meets up with Serpent on short notice, gets offered the XO position and accepts 
BO/PO1 Ellesmere/ISD II Halcyon Warrior /TF:B/2FL/FC/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]

TO/PO2 Ellesmere/TF:B/Raptor/VENA/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]
Echelon
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Echelon
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 2nd Class
 
Post Number:  503
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 1, 2012 4:58:45 PM    View the profile of Echelon 
Ancient scholars told years ago that sleep was vital to a man’s health. Rhycus Bandoran knew that for a fact, and he was determined to get eight and three-quarters of an hour of sleep every night - to the second. There were a few things Rhycus was compulsively obsessive about, but sleep was one of them. His sleeping routine set his schedule for the day, and if he was ever a minute late to anything, it would drive him mad. Therefore, he would have to go to bed and get up at the precise time everyday in order to preserve his daily agenda.

In the deep caverns of sleep, a faint noise was heard in the distance. As it persisted, it grew louder, and louder, gaining a chilling discomfort as it strengthened. Rhycus finally sat up in bed, partially awake. The noise, a loud an artificial buzz, was coming from his personal terminal, glowing at the far side of the room. It went on and off every few seconds, each time giving Rhycus more and more of a headache. He drearily pushed himself out of bed, only becoming fully awake when reaching the terminal.

What can be so important to bypass my terminal and wake me up in the middle of the night! Rhycus fumed, groaning to himself. Of course, he realized, he was still on Belgaroth time. Here, in the system of Abrae, everything was a few hours off. It was only afternoon, not night. Belgaroth should have been on Abrae time, like the rest of Vast Empire territory, but the system used Coruscanti time before the invasion, and they had not switched yet.

With a slow hit of a button, the beeping stopped, and a message appeared on the screen. Only a moment after he had done it, he heard a dull knock on his door.

“Come in,” he grunted. He meant it to sound like he was fully awake, but his dry throat croaked it out.

His bedroom doors slid open, allowing bleak rays of light to enter the darkened chamber. His eyes forcefully squinted to adjust to the excessive light. “What is it?” he asked to the silhouette in the doorway, distaste underlining his tone.

“Well sir,” the man said, his voice marking him as Elbatt Andia, the Stonewall’s Executive Officer. “New orders from the Chief of Nav- from Lieutenant Trykon.”

“I can see that, Mr. Andia. I just got the message on my terminal.”

“Have you read it yet?”

“No. Enlighten me.”

Andia’s expression darkened at the bitter comment, but continued anyway. “Well, apparently Captain Mihawk is gone.”

Rhycus raised an eyebrow. “Gone?” he questioned, “What do you mean, gone? Members of Naval High Command do not just disappear.”

“Lieutenant Trykon did not go into further details, he just said that he was gone, and he was assuming control of the fleet.”

Rhycus sat himself down on his bed, just realizing how embarrasing of a state he was in. His hair was messy, he was dressed in his sleeping ware, and his face was covered in stubble. “Mr. Andia, excuse me for the state I’m in. Can you give me five minutes?”

“As much as you want sir,” he said, quickly exiting to room. With the door shut, the thick darkness soon returned. Rhycus sighed, scratching his head. He had not started the day well.

=====

Exactly five minutes later, the captain’s quarters opened, revealing Captain Bandoran. Dressed cleanly in his uniform, his hair was combed, and his face was cleanly shaven. One could say that Rhycus was handsome, but he always bore a cold and emotionless expression. During his tour on the Atrus, he had been involved with a woman, but that was when he was much more immature and hardened. That was before his first true taste of war. He then rose in ranks, received more training, and became a Ship Captain. In those few months, his maturity had tripled, leaving him cold and heartless, on the outside of course. He still had emotion, he just was not sure how to show it, so he kept it to himself.

“As you were saying, Andia,” Rhycus greeted at the salute of his XO.

“Well sir, we’ve received orders from Captain Trykon that we’re to raid an Imperial Dominion system, T-8-chex, destroying any ships present. After that, we’re doing the same to a series of border systems. We’re to leave for the rendezvous point in a few hours. Also, sir, Captain Zail will be the acting commanding officer of the Halcyon Warrior, with Captain Mihawk gone.”

“Zail? CO of the Warrior?”

Andia nodded. Rhycus silently cursed, smiling briefly afterward. Zail was a good friend of Rhycus. They had completed the Ship Captain Training Program together, getting to know each other during their courses. Of course, Rhycus would have loved to command that ship, but he knew Zail was more fitted for the task. Afterall, he was the XO of it for months. “Well, I’ll know he’ll do a good job. Send him my regards.”

“Absolutely, sir.”

“And Mr. Andia?” Rhycus added.

“Yes sir?”

“You’re doing a great job as my XO. I see a promotion in your future.”

“Thank you sir. I’ve improved a lot since we met in that hangar on Abrae,” he replied, smiling at the praise.

“Keep it that way. Get to work!” And with that, Andia sped off down the hall.

Now, I’ve got some business to attend to...

=====

Sitting at his personal communications station, Rhycus opened up a frequency directly to Lieutenant Trykon’s personal quarters. The line was silent for awhile, then Trykon’s soothe voice entered the line.

“Lieutenant,” Rhycus began, “I want answers.”

“What of? The current plan?”

“No. Mihawk. Where is he?”

“Rhycus. You’re a good friend, but I simply cannot tell you that. In fact, I cannot tell anyone.”

Rhycus frowned. He was getting frustrated now. “Wyl, come on. I’m on the Naval High Command! You can tell me! I deserve to know!”

“I cannot tell you, Rhycus, and please do not pester me further. That is an order. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“Then I suggest you prepare you ship for the upcoming mission.” With a faint beep, the conversation ended, leaving Rhycus back to his own thoughts. He sighed, letting his frustration out. He decided that if he cannot know...then, he should not know, but it still would not leave the back of his mind.

High officers did not just disappear.

OOC:
Word Count: 1,089. Well, that begins my posts for this story. I think I probably could have done a better job, but now I’ve got to go do homework. I hope that little bit with you and me, Tryk, works.


SCAP/WO2 Rhycus 'Echelon' Bandoran/CR90 Duty/TF:B/1Flt/VEN/VE

CNT/WO2 Rhycus 'Echelon' Bandoran/PLF Cappadocious/VENA/VEN/VE

[SoA] [NAR] [CAR] [MC2] [BWC] [HNS] [MC1] [SWC] [1NS] [LoM] [VC:B]
[=*ENG*=] {VehM} {SfrM} {HypM} {Astr} {LogS} {Shut} {Gunn} (*SCFE*)

Naval High Command

MVP of Out of the Invisible

Serpent
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Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 2, 2012 8:16:47 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail was oft given to self-analysis and contemplation.  He firmly believed that constantly checking and rechecking one’s thoughts and emotions were the only way to understand oneself, and, through that understanding, achieve a measure of self-control.

And yet, as he tried to get a grip on his thoughts right now, he failed utterly.  His stomach was churning, nervousness gripped him, and his thoughts were sporadic as they tried to encompass the enormity of the task and responsibility laid before him.

He had command of the Second Fleet’s Taskforce Aurek.  Him.  A Warrant Officer whose only achievements in the realm of command had been an escort mission where he’s lost half the ships he was escorting, and a botched first contact mission that had probably earned the Vast Empire a new alien race as an enemy.

On the other hand, he was a Zail.  From the proud world of Alderaan, he could trace his heritage back to the planet Anaxes, and the fine naval traditions of the Fortress of the Core.  In his veins flowed the blood of Captains, Commodores, and Admirals.  Every one of them probably had their own doubts when their chance for greatness came, and every one somehow prevailed and made it into the history books.

If I do this wrong, my career is finished, he thought, but if I do this right...

“Miss Blondeau,” He said to the female officer at his side, “Is the ship ready?”

“Yes, sir!” Said Ellesmere, having already collected readiness reports from the bridge officers.  She had jumped at the chance to be his First Officer on this and Serpent knew that Blondeau would not let him down.  “And communications from the Taskforce report that all other ships are standing by.  We can depart on your word, Captain.”

Zail suppressed a smile as he heard her term of address.  Captain.  The word was still new to him, as he had only just passed his Ship Captaincy Training Programme, but here, in the context of commanding the formidable ISD Halcyon Warrior, it sounded even stranger.

“Signal the fleet.  We jump to T-8-chex in one minute!”  Ordered Serpent, managing to sound more confident than he felt.  “I want shields up and battle stations across the Taskforce the moment we arrive!”

“Yes, sir!” Responded Ellesmere crisply, and then she strode briskly to the Com Officer to relay the orders to the other ships.

Zail stood there, at the front of massive hall that was the bridge, and looked out across the gleaming white pointed bow of the Imperial-Class Star Destroyer.  His eyes were fixed on the distant stars, and the challenges that they offered.  And then he felt the ship lurch, saw the stars elongate into lines, and the fleet jumped.

-----

They emerged from hyperspace some time later in the system known simply as T-8-chex.  It was a backwater, lightly populated, whose fortunes had risen dramatically with the collapse of the Empire.  Located on the edge of the territory that had become the Imperial Dominion, T-8-chex had risen in a couple of years to establish itself as a major trade hub.

Serpent took in the dismal world before him, a grey and brown swamp planet with few redeeming features.  Perhaps Hutts would enjoy the place, but not humans, and settlements were few and far between.  In orbit, however, lay the colossal space station known as Chex Isle, and this was to be the focus of their offensive.

Like some bizarre mass of spiders, Chex Isle was a collection of central hubs (some cubic, some spherical, some... something), each with a collection of arms that extended away from the station at strange angles.  Each of these arms was a docking tube, and fully half of the hundred or so berths currently had ships docked at them.  The vessels there ranged in size from light freighters all the way up to capital ships, and composed a random collection of traders and smugglers and pirates.

They, however, were not his immediate target.

Gliding around the massive centre of commerce floated a small defence force from the Imperial Dominion.  Mostly smaller ships like Guardian-Class Light Cruisers and CR90 Corvettes, there were also two larger ships, a Strike-class Cruiser and, leading the fleet, a beat-up old Dreadnaught-class Heavy Cruiser.

Hardly an easy win, Zail assessed, but they would be no match for Taskforce Aurek.

“Miss Blondeau, order the fleet to begin the attack,” Serpent commanded.  “Engage the ID vessels first.  Once they are crushed, we shall deliver an ultimatum to the station.  If it defies us and we need to overcome it with force then so be it.  However, once we conquer these systems, the Vast Empire will need this trade hub as much as the Imperial Dominion does, so I would rather take Chex Isle intact.”

“And what of those civilian ships?” Asked Ellesmere, for already vessels were disengaging from the starbase and preparing to flee the coming conflict.  It was just a trickle of ships now, but as crews returned to their vessels it would soon turn into a flood.

“Let them go,” Said Zail, but then added sternly, “However, if they are foolish enough to get in our way, do not hesitate to destroy them.  I shall not have our ships holding back for fear of harming civilians, and I shall not shed a tear for the deaths of those who did business with our enemies!”

“Yes, sir,” Replied Blondeau, trying not to appear too shocked at her superior’s callous attitude.  She then hurried off to relay his orders.

Rather than turn back to the viewport, Serpent instead strode a few meters to the nearby tactical hologram projector.  As it came alive with a real-time simulation of the impending engagement, he took pride in beholding the fleet.  His fleet.  And at its centre was the Halcyon Warrior, advancing forward into battle...

OOC:
977 words.  Okay folks, the first battle begins!  My character has avoided giving specific orders, so people are free to attack what they want.  And remember, this is a moderate challenge, just to test ourselves a little.  No need to go overboard here!

After Action Report: Serpent ponders his new command, both of the Halcyon Warrior and of Taskforce Aurek, and then orders the fleet to hyperspace.  They arrive at the Imperial Dominion system T-8-chex, a major trade hub which has a small but tough little defence fleet.  Zail orders the attack to begin.
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Ellesmere
ComNet Cadet
 
Ellesmere
 
[VE-NAVY] Petty Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  293
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 2, 2012 10:30:02 PM    View the profile of Ellesmere 
As they prepped for the jump, Michele stared out the viewport at the starlight. Something about them she found to be fascinating; she wasn’t sure what she found specifically attractive about them, but something kept her imagination going. Out there, in the vacuum of space in those small pinpricks of light lay galaxies – too many to fathom she knew.

As they jumped into hyperspace, she watched the pinpricks of light elongate to never-ending, somewhat glowing lines of pure light and tried to imagine what the ship would look like from the outside; an impressive battle-worthy vessel stretching to infinity before vanishing in the blink of an eye?

Already she was feeling the advanced stages of battle-readiness that felt so familiar to her. Even though she was no longer a fighter pilot, she still trained regularly in a simulator to keep her skills razor-sharp; after all you never knew when your CO would be asked to jump in a fighter and join in the fray. She had only been serving on ships as either an Executive or Bridge Officer for  a few months, but already she wondered how she would feel if she absolutely had to jump back into a fighter and engage on the front lines.

Her wandering thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the sudden, slightly unexpected sight of T-8-chex. She knew light-speed could make you travel large distances in mere seconds but she didn’t think she had been deep in thought for that long!

She had studied up on the planet as soon as she had gotten her orders what now seemed a too-short while ago. It was nothing impressive and she had seen a holo-projection of it, but to actually see it up close it looked…unimpressive. Why on earth would even a small population live on there?

Chex Isle she found to be a more interesting sight. Seemed easier on the eyes and the oddness of its overall shape could easily catch someone’s attention. It looked to be a vast station for this seemingly inhabited planet it was orbiting, but then again there was always some sort of trade going on so seeing this amount of ships shouldn’t be a surprise, really. Damn, my mind keeps wandering..Focus Ellie, focus! 

Prying her eyes away from the viewport and onto more important things, she wasn’t surprised to find Serpent already in the thick of things. Barking orders away and before she could stop herself she was coughing out the word Captain but she knew his experience on ships such as these and so wasn’t surprised he was in such a position. She always made it a point to do a bit of reading on her Commanders and fellow shipmates overall once she knew where she was stationed; after all it was always easier to know a bit of their background as it could be potentially helpful in tight situations.

As she carried out her Commander’s orders swiftly, she really hoped they wouldn’t have to take down any civilian vessels. As much as she knew duty came first, preservation of life was also important. You never knew when people could become valuable allies.

Quickly studying the fleet of ID vessels she really wanted to have a go at the Dreadnaught. It looked to be in need of repairs and would be an easy enough takedown provided it wasn’t packing an overwhelming amount of firepower. Relying on all the experience she had, she sent two Flights to take care of the beast and ordered the rest to disperse their attacks on all the other ships. Knowing they would have a slew of fighters of their own, she hoped the rest of Aurek would send out their own fighters soon. Her current goal was to disable the biggest threats first and work on the secondary ones later. She had also made sure to issue orders which involved a quick, stealthy approach. They were to go in for quick stabs before retreating if need be; the fewer casualties their initial assault brought them the better.

Taking a few steps back after having issued final orders, she surveyed the Bridge and spied Serpent looking her way out of the corner of her eye. Unfortunately for him, she tended to keep her face free of any emotion so if he was hoping to gauge her reactions to his attitude he would have to find other means to do so.

Sighing deeply, she rolled her suddenly tight shoulders before clasping her hands behind her back and focusing her gaze straight ahead. Soon the expanse of space in front of her would be ablaze with action, and she couldn’t wait for the party to get started.

OOC:
780 words. AAR: Bit of CD, a glimpse into Ellie's brain and current general thought process. Ellesmere carries out Serpent's orders and awaits the beginning of the battle
BO/PO1 Ellesmere/ISD II Halcyon Warrior /TF:B/2FL/FC/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]

TO/PO2 Ellesmere/TF:B/Raptor/VENA/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]
Serpent
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Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 5, 2012 7:28:49 AM    View the profile of Serpent 
The gleaming white Star Destroyer smoothly advanced, implacable and unstoppable, towards the defence forces of T-8-chex.  The Imperial Dominion fleet was a small taskforce, the ships old, but the crews were well-trained and efficient.  They assembled up for battle quickly, preparing to face the full wrath of the Vast Empire’s Second Fleet.

At the centre of the ID formation was the Dreadnaught-Class Cruiser Glorious Reign, an Old Republic vessel that had changed hands several times since the outbreak of the Galactic Civil War.  The grey behemoth was, at one time in its long service, one of the biggest warships in space.  Now, though, it was eclipsed by a larger breed of capital ships, of which the VE’s Halcyon Warrior was a prime example.

The two vessels advanced towards each other, and the smaller ships of each force fell in beside them.  Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail stood on the bridge of the Star Destroyer and watched the Glorious Reign drawing into weapons range.

At his side, his XO, Miss Blondeau, was barking orders.  It was heartening to see how easily she fell into the role of the Warrior’s First Officer, and Serpent could easily believe she had rehearsed it all in her head a hundred times.  He himself had often fantasised about being XO back in his own days as a Bridge Officer on the ISD.

“Weapons stations ready!” Said Ellesmere.  “Turbolasers prepare to fire at will, ion cannons stand by!  All starfighters launch and prepare to engage the enemy TIEs!”

As Bridge Officers rushed to relay Blondeau’s commands around the ship, Zail cast a glance to the tactical hologram at his side.  Taskforce Aurek was advancing straight at the foe, who were actually coming forward to meet them.

“Do they have a death wish?” Asked Serpent aloud, shocked by the audacity of the inferior fleet, who were opting to forsake the support of the nearby space station, Chex Isle.  No, wait, that’s not it!  He realised suddenly.  The enemy commander is trying to keep the station out of the fighting!  He wants to let the civilians get away!

He instantly reviewed the calibre of his foe, giving them points for bravery and duty if not for tactical competence.

“Weapons range in thirty seconds!” Reported the bridge’s Sensor Chief.

Serpent glanced over at Ellesmere, and the young woman looked back at him.  Her face was a brave mask, but her eyes betrayed the nervousness she was feeling.

“Here we go,” Said Zail conspiratorially.  “Let’s do well, Miss Blondeau, for I don’t want Drac to return to a ship full of holes and hold you and I responsible!”

She smiled at his words, at his feeble attempt to lighten the mood, and then the battle was upon them.

“All turbolasers, firing now!” Cried out the Weapons Chief, and the Battle of T-8-chex was underway.

-----

Lieutenant Stronast gazed out the viewport of the Glorious Reign, and imagined the commander of the enemy taskforce doing the same.  It amused him to imagine their eyes meeting, but that was not possible.  Their fleets were ‘close’ by the reckoning of space, on the edge of engagement range, but even that was kilometres.

Stronast stood parade-ground straight, his uniform immaculate, face clean-shaven and his brown hair neatly trimmed.  He was the model of an Imperial officer, and encouraged those under his command to be the same.

Except...

Stronast sighed.  No, he was not an Imperial officer anymore.  The Empire he served was dead, and his superiors had pledged themselves to the Imperial Dominion, a tiny and insignificant regime.  What he admired, what he had sworn an oath to, was gone.  He had nothing left but his professionalism, his sense of self as an officer, and so he continued to serve as best he could.

And right now, that meant fighting these invaders from the Vast Empire.

“Keep our smaller capital ships close and in tight formation, but spread our fighters out,” He ordered.  “Form a fighter screen to help shield the station.”

“Sir,” Began his XO hesitantly, “About your plan to defend Chex Isle...”

“Those were our orders, Mr Facris,” Stronast strongly reminded him, “And so that is what we shall do.”

“Yes, sir,” Replied the young Warrant Officer, a resigned sorrow in his voice.

The CO did not miss the lack of heart in his First Officer.  “Relax, Mr Facris.  They are stronger than us, but this is not a suicide mission.”  He smiled.  “Load the concussion missile tubes and inform our fighters to stay clear of our firing solution.”

“Yes, sir!” Replied the XO with a little more enthusiasm, and began making preparations.

Stronast smiled.  The enemy was coming straight in, horribly over-confident, having simply assumed that they would be safe.  It had not occurred to them that their foe would be packing heavy ordinance, heavy enough to put a sizable dent in even an Imperial-Class Star Destroyer.

Come closer, urged the Lieutenant, I have a surprise for you...

-----

Serpent’s face was lit by the light reflected off the spread of bright green turbolaser fire that flew forth from the Halcyon Warrior the moment that weapons range was achieved.  The shots were as accurate as they were deadly, and Zail marvelled at the skill of the gunners.  The flagship of Taskforce Aurek attracted the best in the Vast Empire Navy, and Serpent was always impressed by them.

Around the edges of the hail of fire, TIE Interceptors rushed to engage their rivals from the Imperial Dominion fleet, engaging in high speed dogfighting that Zail had never himself experienced.  Had he missed out?  So many of his fellows had once sat in a TIE cockpit, but not he.  What extra perspective on battle had that given Trykon, and Drac, and the others, that Serpent himself lacked?

Suddenly, his eyes caught sight of something on the enemy’s lead vessel, the ship the transponder named as the Glorious Reign.  There were twin flashes of orange, like mini-explosions, and Zail quickly realised what was happening.

“Missiles!” He shouted, now spotting the two torpedoes as they hurtled towards his (or rather, Captain Mihawk’s) Star Destroyer.

Ellesmere barked hurried orders, and the gunners swiftly changed targets to try and shoot the deadly devices from space.  Closer and closer they came, and Serpent took heart as a green laser lanced one and detonated it prematurely.

The second one slipped through, though, and the whole ship rocked hard as the missile ripped into the hull and detonated amid the lower decks...

OOC:
1079 words. 

After Action Report: The Halcyon Warrior cruises in to attack the Dreadnaught-Class Cruiser Glorious Reign. Fighters launch and the fleet assembles, and Serpent worries about the trouble he’ll get in if he returns a damaged ISD to Captain Drac.  Meanwhile his opposite number, Lieutenant Stronast, prepares a nasty surprise for Serpent and Taskforce Aurek.  As the Star Destroyer closes, the Dreadnaught fires a couple of missiles, and the Halcyon Warrior is hit hard.
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Rocketman
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Rocketman
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 6, 2012 12:37:34 AM    View the profile of Rocketman 
Rocket looked out the window port of the shuttle that he was on, and sighed. A lot had happened since the training mission that he was sent on, but the attack on Abrae came as somewhat of a surprise to everyone even though there had been clues leading up to the attack. Due to the circumstances of the training mission Rocket had to send the Chrome Fox ahead to go buff of the defense of the first fleet without him due to information that he had interrogated out of the captured pirates which were agents working for the ID. He had just finished dropping off the prisoner off at one of the VENI outposts, or holding areas as Rocket liked to call them.

I hope Ms. Hellray has kept the ship together since I have been gone I trust in her command ability's all though she does a certain way of getting things done that I have grown a liking for. I just hope that the NHC viewed me leaving my ship in the hands of my XO as proper protocol well I will find out when I get back to Abrae I guess. It was nice having a break from everything though I just wish that it was under different circumstances. Well you can't always get what you want I guess.

"Sir"
"Yes"
"We will be docking on the Chrome Fox within the next couple of minutes Ms. Hellray says that you have order's from the fleet XO, also she says that the ship is waiting for you to arrive to start the jump to the systems for the orders, and she is waiting on the bridge for you Sir."
"Alright"

==========
The Bridge of the Chrome Fox

"Welcome back Sir I take it that your mission was a success."
"I suppose you could say that."
"Did you get a chance to read the order's from the Fleet XO?"
"Yes I did I see you kept the ship in one piece from the last battle I assume that we are battle ready Ms. Hellray."
"Yes it is Sir just waiting on coordination from the Halcyon Warrior to jump Sir."
"Good well you have the con Ms. Hellray I have figures to go over."
"Aye Sir, also I have sent the fleet wide broadcast that happened earlier to your office."
"Good let me know when we are a hour out from the coordinates."

Rocket exited the bridge, and went to his office which was on the same deck which, also in the next room contained the Battle Board. After reviewing the orders and the fleet broadcast he went to his room and laid down for  a bit of rest which had not been a lot within the recent weeks.

==========
Sometime later

Rocket woke to a knock at the door and opened it standing there was his Xo before she could speak, "I assume that we are an hour out then."
"Yes Sir"

Once Rocket was on the bridge he began, "Now I know you all have been impatient while waiting for orders to come down from higher but I will tell you now that we have the full second fleet with us and whatever we run into we will come out on top. Now prepare for battle stations I don't want to be caught off guard when we get into system."
"Ms. Hellray I want a full statues"
"Crews are beginning battle preparations we also are at full readiness for all systems."
"Alright now all we do is prepare for the exit."

==========
After the exit

"Sir picking up multiple ships what are your orders."
"Send me a list of all the ships we are picking up."

Rocket looks over the list.

Which ship to pick, suppose I could wait for orders to tell me I think that would be best at this point. It seems they only got two heavy hitters though I could take on the strike might have enough power to do that. Of course I can just hit it in its weak spot that would make it easier. Even if they did fix that if I focus fire on that point that should at least give them something to worry about.

OOC:
706 Words: Well here's the first one.
There are many aspects of the Force we have no knowledge of. The subject still requires further research and study.


SCAP|[url=http://www.vastempire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Rocketman[/url][u][color=#FF0000]ENS Rocketman|[i]ICF-II Chrome Fox[/i||TF:Besh|1Flt|FC|VEN|VE [=*IM*=][=*NE*=][=BO=] (MC1)(NSR:H)(NT:H)(BWC)(NSR:1)(SOL)(SWC)(MC2)(LoM)(=A=)

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Ellesmere
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Ellesmere
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 6, 2012 3:34:59 PM    View the profile of Ellesmere 
Michele started to relax a bit as she found her niche once again and issued out orders fluidly. It was good to be back in the thick of things, and to have Serpent at her side as acting Captain. While she was very much confident in his abilities, she really hoped they wouldn’t be bringing Drac his ship in real need of help – or even worse to be towed him and have to explain themselves to him. Sure, it’s all battle-related but they were in command of his ship! So naturally you had to give it some level of care and consideration and not blow it all up to smithereens.

As the battle commenced, she maintained a calm exterior but inside she knew something was going to go wrong. She wasn’t too sure of when and where, but she had this feeling in her gut that something, somewhere was in store for them.

As the two hulks advanced steadily towards one another, Ellie felt the familiar anticipation which tended to creep up on her moments before the beginnings of a battle. As she waited for the gunmen to fire their first volley she couldn’t help but rub her hands together and fidget a little. What’s taking so long?!
Before she could blink, the Weapons Chief called out the firing of turbolasers which prompted her to watch with a sense of pride starting to come over her. Mere hours ago she had met the crew of the Warrior and was pleased to find that they all seemed to accept her as second in-command. And to think yesterday she had been a Bridge Officer after being transferred from the Surprise!

As the battle grew in intensity, she noted with mild interest the reflection the green light had on the crew. She had never taken the time to note this fact before and imagined it would make for a very interesting light-show if it involved something other than turbolasers and other firepower.

Wait…Something was different! Out of the corner of her eye she caught two orange pricks of light which were growing by the second. These were… “Missiles!” Serpent roared from beside her. Oh hell no! Well, here’s hoping for the best… As the first of the missiles missed them she breathed a very small sigh of relief. As the second missile came around right on its predecessor’s tail, she knew that they wouldn’t be able to escape that one. Sure enough, as soon as she saw it she heard a deep, subdued thud! before the ship rocked before her and klaxons went off.

“Damage report!” She barked as she steadied her footing and stared hard at the viewport. I’s go time!

“Ma’am heavy damage to decks Four through Eight; we’re also venting plasma”

“Shields at 60 percent and holding!”

“Fire at will, let’s show them what we’ve got to offer – don’t put all our cards on the table right away. I have a feeling if we keep a few surprises up our sleeve for the time being it will put them more on edge”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“I want progress reports on repairs every ten minutes or so – let’s get our scrapes and bruises taped up and get all repair crews at the ready for more eventualities. I don’t want us dead in the water any time soon!”

As she watched the fierce battle before her, she seriously hoped she had made all the right decisions just then. Only time will tell… With her jaw firmly set, she paced up and down the command deck with her hands firmly clasped behind her and grim determination burned deep within her. 

OOC:
612 words; definitely not my best but my good ideas I had when starting the post flew away steadily somehow... AAR: Ellesmere reacts to the missile attack
BO/PO1 Ellesmere/ISD II Halcyon Warrior /TF:B/2FL/FC/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]

TO/PO1 Ellesmere/TF:B/Raptor/VENA/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]
DeepSix
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DeepSix
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 7, 2012 1:15:27 PM    View the profile of DeepSix 
The ship rocked and shook for a few brief seconds before loud alarms started blaring throughout the Halcyon Warrior. Right about now the officers would bark orders through busy comm channels, the maintenance crew would be mobilized to the affected areas of the ship and the fighter jocks that did not yet have a chance to deploy would no doubt attempt to get out there and score some kills in the name of the Vast Empire. Most of the Warrior's hangars were as such bustling with activity - launching starfighters, running techs and readying security forces...

There was however one particular hangar that stood eerily silent amidst all the frenzy. It wasn't all that big and the general crew avoided it on account of previously sent out memos stating there was a problem with the force field stabilizers. Strangely enough not one of the repair teams aboard the large ISD was sent to deal with the issue - a realization that struck some members as odd given the manner in which Captain Mihawk commanded the large vessel. Then again the Mon Cal wasn't there and the former XO likely had bigger things on his mind than a simple non-critical issue - or so the ones that knew of this speculated in regards to the most likely explanation.

There were however a few crew members that believed something else was at stake there. This latter category managed to put together a bunch of small and at a first glance inconsequential details and managed to turn and twist them around until they had a whole conspiracy theory on their hands. At the center of this theory stood the former XO, now the current CO - the man whose previous cold attitude towards the crew earned him a reptilian nickname.

The men and women that managed to put together as much were officially mistaken of course. Unofficially however the situation was a whole lot different of course. There, in the middle of the empty hangar were five crafts, one larger and four smaller ones, all of them having their engines already powered up but otherwise just waiting there. Waiting for someone else to make a move...

"Yes?" a loud voice was carried back through the private channel that had been opened only moments prior. Although the tone of voice was certainly a bit higher than it may have been required under normal circumstances, the one listening to the reply could not however find any clear undertones of fear, uncertainty or anxiety.

"Shadow Package prepped and ready to deploy", the listener next became the speaker, him too uttering the words in a clear and businesslike manner. There was a brief pause before the first voice could be heard once more "Understood. Permission to deploy Shadow Package granted. Godspeed!"

The simple exchange over the comm system now completed, all five vessels shot forth from the secondary hangar. The larger Sentinel-class shuttle in the middle and the TIE Avengers foursome accompanying it, all around it.

Doesn't look too serious, the fellow from before thought as he stared outside through the shuttle's viewport. The enemy had neither the numbers to match the sudden invaders, nor the firepower to drive them back. The battle's result could be easily deduced as such right from the beginning. The only unknowns were just how long the fire exchange would last and just how many casualties there would be as a result of it.

"ETA... 90 seconds", the same man alerted the dozens of other armored men and women in the back of the shuttle. Although the real battle over T-8-chex would be fought right here in space, between the VE's Star Destroyers and the ID's obsolete counterparts, the men and women aboard the shuttle dubbed Shadow One would not however participate directly in the chaos there.

No, the VENI handpicked marines would instead be deployed on the Chex Isle space station, where they would be able to perform their own classified mission - a mission that the rest of the 2nd Fleet present in the system will likely be kept in the dark about thanks in no small measure to the one commanding the entire task force, Blue Eyed Snake Zail.

The sudden approach with the station drew too much unwanted attention unfortunately, a fact which in turn led to the destruction of one of the escorting TIE Avengers. The remaining three however quickly compensated and by using their missiles managed to clear some of the point laser defenses surrounding one of the station's hangars. This allowed the Sentinel-class shuttle to land whilst still bolstering over 50% shields capacity.

No sooner had the small ship set down on the Imperial Dominion's installation that the trapdoor sprung open and the armored contingent in the back rushed outside to create and ensure a starting perimeter. Before joining the rest of his team, the shuttle's pilot switched on the comm system one more time and delivered another cryptic message "Shadow Package delivered. Unwrapping now..."

"Acknowledged", the same voice from the beginning spoke simply before the heavily encrypted channel once more got deathly silent.

OOC:
WC: 849
AAR: Setting the stage for some intrigue and ground action. Thus far a Sentinel-class landing craft and 4 TIE Avengers are launched from one of the Warrior's smaller hangars. One of the Avengers gets destroyed while protecting the shuttle, but the latter manages to dock with the Chex Isle station. The boarding action will now commence. Expect this arc to make more sense as more and more details are revealed and explained in the future posts, be them also my own or not

WC/ESN DeepSix/A-1/S:412th Razor/W:58th Javelin/ISD-II Halcyon Warrior/TF:A/2Flt/SFC/VEN/VE [=*TG*=] [=*VIM*=]

TRN/JRN DeepSix/DJO/Training Sect/VEDJ
Serpent
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Serpent
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 10, 2012 7:51:10 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail listened as his XO, Ellesmere, barked orders and requests for damage reports, responding well in the face of the sudden missile impact.  Blondeau spoke with confidence, being the rock that a crew needed their First Officer to be.

Unlike Zail, who was certainly not what the crew needed.  Serpent felt terrible for having miscalculated so badly.  He had ordered Taskforce Aurek straight in, confident in their superior firepower to win the day.  It had not even occurred to him that the enemy flagship, the Dreadnaught-Class Heavy Cruiser Glorious Reign, was modified for carrying missiles.

And now his ship, the Halcyon Warrior, had paid the price.  According to the reports, several decks had been torn asunder and were now venting plasma.  Zail’s plan of not damaging Captain Mihawk’s pride and joy had been pretty much ruined, and with it, he feared, the odds of his promotion.

He was still dwelling on that thought, when he overheard another Bridge Officer speaking to his XO.

“Eleven reported dead as result of the damage,” Said the young non-com, “Twenty-three others are now headed to Sick Bay with various injuries, a few of them serious.”

Ellesmere took the report stoically, but when Zail overheard the news his mind raced.

He had lost men before, even ordered people to their deaths, but he suddenly realised that, when the missile hit, he did not even think about the lives that were in danger!  No, he had been too concerned about getting dings in Drac’s Star Destroyer, about his mission’s success or failure, and its bearing on his next fraking promotion!

When had he become so selfish?  When had he stopped seeing the people in this conflict and instead simply saw his chance for a new shiny?

Now was not the time or place for Pherik to start re-analysing his life or its priorities, but he vowed to think on this again later.  For now, Serpent had a fight to win, and he owed it to the fallen to ensure that it was done with as little life lost as possible.

“Rotate the ship eighty degrees to port,” Said Zail, “Make sure that they can’t fire at our damaged side!  Now, concentrate all fire on that Dreadnaught!”

As bridge officers rushed to obey, Serpent turned back to the nearby tactical hologram and studied it again.  The battle for T-8-chex was now in full swing, with the display showing various capital ships – and plenty of starfighters – now heavily engaged.

Away from the main conflict, his eyes fell on the nearby station, Chex Isle, and the stream of civilian craft fleeing it and jumping to hyperspace.  That’s it, he thought, get out of the way.  We have plans for that starbase...

As if she could read that thought, Ellesmere suddenly stepped forward to his side.  “Sir, we have just launched a shuttle and four TIE Avengers from the... the other hangar...” She said, somewhat conspiratorially.  The XO’s face betrayed her confusion.  Like the rest of the crew, she had been kept in the dark about the secret VENI marine force stationed in a small hangar on the Halcyon Warrior.

A force that Zail, as the Naval Intelligence liaison, was fully informed about.

Serpent glanced at her sideways. “No,” He told her simply, “We didn’t.”

“Sir?” Asked Blondeau, even more confused.

“I said you are in error, First Officer,” He stated, turning to face her and locking his piercing blue eyes on her.  “We have launched nothing from that hangar.  And the ship’s records will bear that out.  Won’t they?”

Ellesmere was sharp enough to get the totally unsubtle hint.  She knew Zail’s connection to VENI, everyone did, and knew enough to shut up.  “Yes, sir.  I shall just check the records to ensure that this error does not persist.”

“Thank you, Miss Blondeau,” Said Serpent, and turned away from her, returning his gaze to the tactical hologram.  Again, she took the hint, and knew that the conversation was over.

Meanwhile, the attack on the Glorious Reign continued.

-----

Lieutenant Stronast felt the shudders run through the Glorious Reign as the Halcyon Warrior pummelled it.  He was a veteran of many battles and engagements, but did not need his keen tactical sense to know what a one-sided battle this was becoming.  His Dreadnaught was heavily outgunned by the Imperial-Class Star Destroyer, and he needed a way to gain an advantage.

“Prepare another two torpedoes,” He told his XO.

The younger man, Mr Facris, frowned.  “Sir, won’t they be ready for that now?”

“Indeed they will,” Said Stronast.  “Which is why, when they focus on shooting them down, our TIE Bombers will slip in un-noticed.”

The First Officer smiled, pleased with the plan, as if his approval mattered.  “Very well, sir, I shall order our bombers into position.”

The Captain nodded, and pointed to the nearby tactical hologram.  “Have them hold here, just outside our firing solution.  Few enemy fighters will be a rush to engage them there.  Then have them wait for my signal to go in.”

“Understood, sir,” Replied Facris, and hurried off to make it happen.

Stronast felt another shudder from the Halcyon Warrior’s turbolaser batteries, and just hoped that his ship would hold together long enough for his plan to unfold.

OOC:
876 words.  A little CD in this one, as Serpent begins to realise what a career-obsessed and heartless person he’s becoming.  Expect a little more on this angle as the story unfolds!

After Action Report: Serpent responds to the damage to the Halcyon Warrior and focuses on the threat posed by the Imperial Dominion’s Dreadnaught-Class Cruiser Glorious Reign.  He muses his lack of concern for the lives of his crew, and then orders Ellesmere to silence about the VENI marine force that just launched.  Meanwhile, the Imperial Dominion’s Lieutenant Stronast prepares another cunning strike at the VE flagship.
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Hades
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Hades
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 11, 2012 12:13:00 AM    View the profile of Hades 
Sir! Boarders have landed in the hangar!" One of the young non-coms cried despairingly.  The middle aged-officer let a frown flicker across his weathered features as he contemplated the move. Either they were a saboteur team come to undermine the station's considerable defenses or they were after information. Either of those was a viable goal for the intruders, but a triumphant smirk lit up his features as he realised how to counter them.

"Mr. Hyl!" He called imperiously, "Vent the hangar bay."

"Aye sir." The non-com in question had been infected by the smirk as his fingers dashed over the controls before finally pressing a large red button. That will teach them for boarding my station.

---

Red lights began to flash as the warning blared -- the hangar bay was being vented! Rue Vykros, callsign 'Regret', growled loudly. "They're venting the hangar bay!" His eyes flickered to the entrance at the far end. There was no way they'd make it that far. Instead, his gaze alighted on a console not ten meters away. Seeing his opportunity, the marine sprinted for all he was worth, drawing his commando knife and slamming it into the console just in time. As a result, the bulkheads slammed closed -- locking them in, for now. Regret exhaled a breath he had unconsciously been holding, and their team leader gave him a nod of approval. A strange figure was this new team leader, mysterious and deadly to boot.

"Let's move; they'll be sending company soon." He gestured forward with his head, and the team raised their blasters, moving forward in a quick sweep of the hangar. The shadows cast by the artificial lighting danced over the durable floor, often sending the impression that the marines were greater than ten feet tall. After a short journey, they reached the open bulkhead at the other end of the hangar. Regret took the time to surreptitiously study their leader. He certainly moved and spoke like a Marine, but there was something off about him. Something decidedly not marine.  The sound of boots slamming against the polished floors caught Regret's attention.

"We've got incoming.." One of the other team members murmured.

"Take cover." The team leader glanced upward, into the vent above them with decidedly thoughtful mannerisms. "Regret, get up into the vent and surprise their rear guard."

"Aye sir." Regret responded as he moved down the corridor, starting in a run, jumping onto one wall then onto the opposite before finally leaping upward into the middle and grasping hold of the vent's lip. The strong marine easily pulled himself up -- in full armour -- and made sure he could see downward. The rest of the team were retreating into better positions in the hangar in the wake of the opposition's appearance. A shot rang out, followed by several shouts as the enemy ran directly beneath Regret. He counted eight, led by a senior NCO. Easy enough, then..

"Now." The leader's voice came tersely over the comm, prompting Regret to drop feet-first from the vent, landing in a crouch with his commando knife drawn. The enemy were down to seven, focused on the main team in the hangar and their leader behind them all. Fool.. Regret loped silently closer as the sounds of blasterfire masked any he could possibly make, bringing his knife up into a ready position, before reaching around the senior NCO's neck and drawing the blade quickly across his throat. The man dropped with a faint gurgle, but the sound of blasterfire had masked most of it. Most. One of the enemy turned and spotted Regret, letting out a shout. Without hesitation, the marine hurled his commando knife, burying it directly between the man's eyes and in the same movement drawing his blaster pistol. The enemy security team made the mistake of abandoning their cover and clustering together as they moved toward Regret, who fired off two shots, one of them wounding someone before he ducked into cover.

More shots came, this time from the hangar, and he heard shouts of alarm. They'd been foolish enough to not leave a rearguard watching the hangar, and so the main team had easily decimated them, leaving only one who sprinted past Regret's cover at full speed. He made another mistake -- this one being that he ran straight down the long and narrow corridor. Regret sighted the man with his pistol, taking four slow breaths and squeezing the trigger on the fourth exhalation. The bolt struck the man dead between his shoulder blades. I still got it. He turned slightly, surveying the carnage. The enemy wouldn't be so foolish as to send such a small team again, and the whole team knew it. “Good job” Team leader rasped, emerging from cover. “But they won't be as stupid next time. They know we're aboard, now, and that we're no normal team of boarders. They'll reinforce strong points and send teams with one objective – search and destroy.”

“Won't they try and capture us?” One of the other marines asked. Their leader shook his head – or at least, Regret was fairly certain it was a he.

“I doubt they care what we came here to destroy; we've made a fool of their point-response team and now they'll want to annihilate us. So,” The leader gestured to a passage down the corridor, “we'll split up there. We all know our objectives. I'll lead Aurek team, Regret, you'll lead Besh. Primary and secondary objectives respectively.”


“Understood.” Regret responded. He – like the rest of the team – had memorised the mission objective long ago, and he had the perfect plan in place to execute his. I only need to find a terminal.. he thought absently. “You heard the boss, let's move!”

This marine team had been assembled for the very mission they were carrying out and it showed. The men moved like a well-oiled machine – slick, silent and deadly – and were loyal to a fault. Both were necessary factors of a high-risk team like this.

---

“Sir, we're getting no response team from Spear-team!” The non-com responsible for communications cried. The middle-aged officer frowned, brows knitting to form a deeper frown than before. The enemy boarders had not only managed to foil the venting of the hangar bay, but also overwhelm his point-response team, one of the best there was. What would I do if I were them, the middle-aged former ID marine thought. Head straight for my objective. I'd realise my luck would run out sooner or later.

“Reinforce our strong points. I want men on critical systems and locations and I want teams of 10 to sweep the corridors” The former marine barked.

“ROE, sir?”  The comm. Officer responded tentatively.

“Search and destroy. No quarter.” The man's dull eyes misted over slightly as he thought about his teams tearing them to shreds. It gave him a sense of pleasure. His thoughts were interrupted by the brazen comm. Officer.

“Are you s-”

“Just do it!” The officer snapped, displeased by the interruption. The comm. Officer paled and went back to his console, relaying his CO's orders.

Yes, this was his station. Boarders or no, he commanded here.


OOC:
Wordcount: 1,213

AAR: The VE marine team is in and, having overwhelmed the station's first wave of defenses, they make plans to split up. The commander of the station, a former ID marine, tries to vent them from the hangar but fails thanks to a timely intervention by one of the VE marines, but now he has dispatched teams of ten to hunt the corridors for them with orders to shoot on sight, as well as reinforcing important areas.

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Serpent
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Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  519
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 15, 2012 8:09:32 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
Serpent focused on the criss-crossing lines of turbolaser fire that danced between the Halcyon Warrior and the Dreadnaught-Class Heavy Cruiser Glorious Reign.  The two massive vessels had been pounding each other relentlessly, deflectors blazing bright in the dark of space, as shield generators struggled to deal with the intensity of the fire.  Zail focused his stare, as if seeking some sign or portent in the intricate display.

“Sir, sensors are reading a build-up of power in their launchers,” Said Ellesmere at his side.  Now that the bridge officers knew what to look for in the rival warship, they could spot the readiness of ordnance this time around.  “They will be firing missiles again any moment now,” Added the First Officer.

Zail nodded, taking it in his stride.  They would not be taken by surprise by their foes tricks again.  “Order the forward guns to shift target.  As soon as those torpedoes emerge, shoot them down!” He ordered, confident in the ability of his gunners.  Striking such small but fast moving targets would be simple for the crew of a Star Destroyer.

“Incoming!” Called a bridge officer.

Zail watched the varied spread of fire from the Halcyon Warrior as it narrowed in focus, zeroing-in on the pair of approaching warheads.  “Come on, hit them...” He whispered under his breath, urging the gunners to success.

And so intently was his eyes on the battle to shoot down the missiles, that he totally failed to notice the TIE Bombers lurking at the edge of the Warrior’s field of fire.

However, the woman nearby was not so hindered.  “Sir, look there!” Said the XO, pointing across the Star Destroyer’s massive white bow.

“What is it, Miss Blondeau?” Asked Serpent, following the gesture and spying the four fighters.  “Very good,” He congratulated her, as he saw the TIEs making an attack run.  They came in as fast as their twin ion engines would allow, passing under the cover of the attack on the missiles.

Serpent marvelled at the tactics and timing, once again upping his estimation of the enemy commander.  Whoever the Imperial Dominion had assigned to defend T-8-Chex, he or she was quite capable.  Perhaps a more capable Captain of the Halcyon Warrior would have weathered the storm better, but to Zail’s continuing self-recrimination, he had almost failed to see the Bombers.  He cursed his foolishness, but vowed to learn from it.

“Direct some of our TIE Interceptors to take out those Bombers before they get too close,” Ordered Serpent, though Ellesmere was already on the case.  The quartet were closing quickly, and Zail knew full well that they were packing torpedoes of their own that could cause just as much chaos as their carrier’s missiles.

No sooner did he have that thought than his attention drifted back to the attack on the Glorious Reign’s ordnance.  A few moments after Serpent glanced that way, than a bridge officer announced, “Missiles destroyed!”

“Excellent!” Said Zail, delighted.  He now knew that they were just a distraction for the TIE Bombers, but they were still a threat themselves.  “All gunners, resume fire on the Dreadnaught itself!” He ordered, wanting to pin down and take out the enemy fleet’s biggest player as quickly as possible.

The assault continued.

-----

Lieutenant Stronast did not let his disappointment show, as a pair of his TIE Bombers winked out on the tactical hologram and the other two withdrew.  The four fighters had been close to striking range when they were intercepted by Vast Imperial TIEs, and he was starting to hope that his plan had worked.  Alas no.

“The rest of Delta Squadron are withdrawing,” Said his First Officer, “And both of our latest missiles have been shot down.”

Stronast did not need the commentary, but knew that Mr Facris was just doing his job.  “Shield status?” He asked.

“Forty-six percent and dropping,” Reported the XO promptly.  “And the Halcyon Warrior’s shields are still around eighty percent.  We are losing this one, sir,” He added in a low voice, making sure that the rest of the bridge crew could not overhear.

“I know,” Concurred Stronast in an equally subdued voice.  “We can’t match them in a straight up fight.”  And, he observed, the enemy commander was becoming wise to their tricks.  “Okay, what we are going to do is...”

He never got a chance to finish.  The ship suddenly lurched, and crewman across the bridge who were standing staggered to remain upright, including Stronast and Facris.  “Damage report!” Snapped the XO once he had regained his footing.

“A turbolaser hit two decks below us,” Came the reply from a junior bridge officer.  “Shields have completely collapsed on the port side!”

There were another few shakes, and the sounds of explosions rang through the hull of the Dreadnaught.  Stronast abandoned all pretence of officer decorum, and ran across the bridge to the damage control station.  Looking over the shoulder of the Petty Officer there, he had a look at the readout of the Glorious Reign.  The Star Destroyer they were facing had noticed the sudden absence of port deflectors and were now pouring all their firepower onto the exposed area.

Facris was a short step behind his Captain, and as soon as he saw the situation he barked, “Move the ship!  Present our starboard side to the Halcyon Warrior and...”

“It’s too late for that!” Snapped Stronast, as the damage reports continued to steam in.  The hull of the Glorious Reign was now breached in several locations, as the relentless stream of fire shook the vessel every moment.  “I’m issuing a general call to abandon ship!  We’ve done our part, now let’s get out of here!”

For a moment it looked like Facris was going to protest, but no.  He knew the reality of the situation, and had in fact known it from the moment they engaged an Imperial-Class Star Destroyer.

“Yes, sir,” Was all he said in reply.

-----

Zail watched as flames vented from the impact points along the hull of the Imperial Dominion’s flagship, knowing that it was finished.  The fight had never been in question, the Halcyon Warrior was always going to prevail, but the enemy had pushed them far harder than he expected.  Damage control teams were still struggling to contain the chaos that the earlier missile hit had unleashed.

“Shall we keep firing?” Asked Ellesmere, as the Dreadnaught began to list in its death throes.

“No,” Said Serpent.  “We have other targets to attack, and the Glorious Reign is out of the fight.”  As he spoke, he began to notice escape pods ejecting from the massive warship.  They launched from all over, including from the command deck.

“Miss Blondeau,” Said Zail after a moment’s thought.  “Tell our tractor beam gunners to target the pods from the bridge.  Bring me the commander of that vessel...”

OOC:
1138 words.  The battle with the Dreadnaught is concluded, but there are still other Imperial Dominion ships to face!

After Action Report: The Imperial Dominion’s Dreadnaught-Class Cruiser Glorious Reign launches a two-pronged attack on the Halcyon Warrior, with missiles used as a distraction for a quartet of TIE Bombers.  Serpent nearly fails to notice the starfighters, but XO Ellesmere does not.  They drive off the Bombers, then strike back hard, crippling the Glorious Reign.  As the crew begin to evacuate the dying Dreadnaught, Serpent orders the bridge escape pods captured...
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Ellesmere
ComNet Cadet
 
Ellesmere
 
[VE-NAVY] Petty Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  299
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 18, 2012 10:42:16 PM    View the profile of Ellesmere 
As she watched the Bombers either get pulverized or retreat; she mentally patted herself on the back for noticing this small but equally important detail. As she scanned the scene in front of her, she tried to decide which target was their biggest threat. The Dreadnaught would soon be history and so one must move onto bigger and better things. As she glimpsed more Bombers fleeing in the distance she couldn’t help but think that the T-8 chex crew had trained their Pilots somewhat smartly; now If only they could give that same attention to their vessels…

As she concentrated on her duties as well as the action in front of her; she couldn’t help but wonder how this battle would play out. As she watched, she could tell their primary target was in worse shape than they were; and sure enough as soon as these thoughts came to mind she saw escape pods emerge from the doomed ship.

As Zail ordered the commander and their XO be taken in she really had to work to not sigh. It would be a bit of a logistical nightmare what with everything going on in the lower decks; nonetheless she dutifully followed through with his orders and had the pods brought in.

Amidst the chaos that was the command deck, she conferred with Serpent and summoned an additional security team to follow her. One had been in place as soon as they had locked onto the escape pods but a second, smaller one was to go with her for extra security.

As she neared the bay where the pods had been brought in, she couldn’t help but tense up a little. These kinds of situations always made her tense for some reason. Forcing a deep breath, she slowly drew it out before forcing her shoulders to relax a little and walked into the bay.

  Both the Commander and Executive Officer looked haggard as well as angry of course. She didn’t blame them, she wouldn’t like to get captured herself but what is done is done! “Gentlemen” she greeted them with hands firmly clasped behind her back, eyes scrutinizing the two men in front of her, face set with a stony look.

“We’ve been expecting you – follow me” As she turned around, she signaled the security detail and the group made their way to the holding cells. Turning to one of the guards, she assured him they would be fine from here on and ordered him to update the Commander on the situation.

As they made their way to the holding area, she couldn’t help but take in the sights and sounds. She could smell smoke faintly and could see a fine smokescreen coming from various points on their short journey. “So, how did we do?” chimed one of the prisoners in a harsh, but somewhat satisfied tone. “Quiet!” she snapped back, not looking at the two gentlemen walking behind her. As soon as they’re in their cells I’m out of there and will let Serpent deal with them – I can’t wait to hear what he’ll have to say!
As soon as they had reached the holding area, she personally shoved them in one by one and ordered two of the security detail to stay and keep a watch. Walking the halls on her way to the turbolifts she made a sudden, quick decision to check in on the repair efforts and account for any casualties. As she reached the bank of turbolifts, she sent off a quick report to her CO before proceeding to the areas damaged by the missile hit.

Upon reaching the disaster zone she was glad to have made the decision. Repairs were under way at a steady pace, there seemed to be minor structural damage in some areas as well as a few injured crewmen. Whipping out her datapad, she quickly wrote up an updated damage report before personally walking up to each cluster of crewmen and handing out words of encouragement or slipping a calm word here and there. She focused mainly on the injured as she knew they were the ones who would need the most support. After a quick tally to ensure her first impressions were correct, she also sent a report detailing the condition of the crew. All had survived, twelve were injured; three of them critical. That done, she ordered the injured be promptly brought up to sick bay.
Her duties complete, she made her way back up to the bridge to check up on that front whilst Serpent was with the prisoners.


OOC:
WC 761

AAR: Ellesmere reacts to Serpent's orders and takes it upon herself to check on the efforts done on the ship repairs as well as to account for any casuakties
BO/PO1 Ellesmere/ISD II Halcyon Warrior /TF:B/2FL/FC/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]

TO/PO1 Ellesmere/TF:B/Raptor/VENA/VEN/VE [MC2][MC1]
DeepSix
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DeepSix
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 20, 2012 4:11:07 AM    View the profile of DeepSix 
"They're venting the hangar bay!" one of the more veteran marines part of the Shadow contingent suddenly announced as the surrounding lights changed color to red and a strong draft of current started forming within the previously sealed area of the station. Had the Imperial Dominion's ruthless maneuver succeeded then everything not firmly bolted down would've been flung into the open space like little more than no longer needed pieces of garbage. A cruel and rather humiliating fate no doubt... yet one that the Vast Empire prepared for beforehand just in case.

Both the Sentinel landing craft as well as the armor suits of the entire marine task force had been modded to include strong magnetic locks so as to ensure nothing of that nature could possibly foil an otherwise well planned out operation. In fact most of the marines had already activated their mag-locks as soon as it became apparent that the defending station did not plan to welcome them in without a fuss. One marine's quick thinking and equally quick reaction time however managed to diffuse the situation in an even more elegant manner - stopping the venting process whilst also maintaining air pressure within the small hangar. A good thing as this meant the rest of the team could now disengage their magnetic locks and thus gain an improved mobility in exchange - not a bad trade in the slightest, one that even the team's leader could not help but show a small token of appreciation for.

"Let's move, they'll be sending company soon", the same team leader, known simply as Kaos by the other members of the TF, finally ordered after things settled down once more. The man knew full well that the greatest strength that a boarding team had at its disposal was its speed. It was not numbers, as boarders were almost always numerically overwhelmed. It was not even firepower, though that probably came in second... No, it was the speed with which a team could deploy upon an unknown vessel or installation, the speed with which that team could get from the point of entry to whatever location their objectives were located at. It was the speed with which the invading team could flabbergast, confuse and intimidate the defending forces. The quicker the invaders were the more dispirited the enemies became as a result - this was the general rule that experience taught with time.

The armored contingent moved fairly fast as well, despite the range of firepower they were carrying with them - anything from blaster pistols, rifles, sniper rifles and heavy repeaters too. The men and women taking part in this mission were clearly well prepared for almost any situation that may occur, expected or unexpected alike.

"We've got incoming", one of the scouts running ahead of the larger group reported soon after reaching the exit. This was one of those expected scenarios that the team had been prepared to deal with many times in the past, both in drills and actual combat scenarios as well. Whilst it was a fact that no two battles were ever alike, the fact remained that the lessons taught in one of them could very well be applied in the second one just as easily. Same principle applied here as well as the other members of the team began taking their positions even before Kaos gave the actual order to fan out and take cover.

When the small security force finally showed up, the VE marines were already in place and waiting for them. First to open fire were a few VE riflemen that immediately upon doing so took cover and braced themselves against the enemy's reaction. Of course the security forces returned fire just as expected, focusing in the same direction from which the enemy bolts came flying at them. This however allowed the snipers and heavy wielders in the sides to take position and at a moment's notice unleash a quick and lethal counterattack.

The entire maneuver was made even more effective thanks to a single marine that had managed to get behind enemy lines and draw enemy attention over there. It is both unclear as well as inconsequential whether Shadow Leader orchestrated this strategy thinking the main force would act as a diversion whilst the lone operative in the back would strike stealthily or whether he knew the man behind enemy lines would end up as bait, allowing everyone else to strike a decisive blow in exchange. Either way, the man leading the operation did unmistakeably know just how useful a flanking attack was, especially when combined with a stealthy ambush.

Whether mowed down by heavy fire or taken out with a single shot taken from behind a sniper rifle's advanced scope, the security team sent in to investigate simply had no chance whatsoever. The whole confrontation lasted for less than a full minute and concluded with the VE marines' overwhelming victory. Not only did the VE forces not incur any losses, but they not even received any wounds or even scrapes. When the last of the ID defenders hit the ground, the team leader also removed himself from cover and inhaled deeply. The smell of victory was intoxicating, though the man knew not to get addicted to it nor lose sight of his true goals because of it. That was a mistake many field commanders made. One that many of them paid heavy prices for as well. Kaos had no intention of becoming one of those men however...

"Good job", the man offered the rest of the team after they all regrouped. New orders were next delivered and the group divided itself in two - one half to be led by Kaos, taking the Aurek designation, and the other half to be led by Regret, henceforth to be known as the Besh group.

It was Aurek team's goal to reach the station's command room and once there capture and subdue the command staff as well as secure the terminals and data storage devices. Their task was thus to seek out useful information, a task that VENI hoped would help out in the later stages of their invasion against the Imperial Dominion.

Whilst Kaos would be busy advancing his group towards the command room, Regret was expected to lead his men to the station's engineering bay. Once there they were tasked with sabotaging the station, both internally and externally alike - taking out the automated defenses, cutting power to certain areas, opening certain sealed rooms whilst on the contrary sealing other ones and of course silencing the station's main guns outside so as to help out the rest of the Vast Empire fleet as well.

"Move out!" Shadow Leader ordered once more and the men and women remaining under his direct command complied almost instantly, once more jogging ahead towards their objectives, once more knowing full well that things would likely complicate themselves before too long.

OOC:
WC: 1154
AAR: Orders are revealed for the two newly formed TFs. Aurek would head towards the heavily defended command room, whilst Besh would try and reach engineering.

WC/ESN DeepSix/A-1/S:412th Razor/W:58th Javelin/ISD-II Halcyon Warrior/TF:A/2Flt/SFC/VEN/VE [=*TG*=] [=*VIM*=]

TRN/JRN DeepSix/DJO/Training Sect/VEDJ
Serpent
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Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
October 22, 2012 8:48:40 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
Zail could see for himself that the Imperial Dominion fleet was breaking up, but he still turned to the tactical hologram to confirm it.  At the heart of the enemy taskforce, the Dreadnaught-Class Heavy Cruiser Glorious Reign, the enemy flagship, continued to die its slow death.  The rest of the vessels in its armada were now milling about in ever-increasing confusion.  As Serpent had hoped, taking out the lead vessel had led to a swift breakdown in their command structure, and it was starting to show.

Pherik allowed himself a tight smile.  At least on that front his plan had gone well.  Getting the Halcyon Warrior shot full of holes was not, however, and he still held a poor evaluation of his command of the Star Destroyer thus far.

“Shields now back up to eighty-nine percent, sir,” Came the report from the Defence Officer, intruding on Zail’s thoughts and brightening them significantly.  The Warrior was nearly back to full fighting strength, and no enemy ship left in the space around T-8-Chex could hold a candle to them now.  Victory was assured.

Serpent regarded the tactical hologram, wondering what their next target should be.  The most powerful Dominion warship left was a Strike-class Cruiser, but it was pinned down by several other capital ships.  What drew the Alderaanian’s eye instead, however, was a trio of CR90 corvettes.  They were out on the far edge of the engagement, blitzing through a swarm of Vast Imperial TIE Interceptors and making a break for it.

Zail considered them.  His regular command, the Defiance, was itself a Corellian Corvette, so he knew the capabilities of such craft.  Potent yes, but not likely to be a difference maker in this battle.

If they were to escape and rendezvous with other Imperial Dominion ships in the area, however, He mused, They could easily do us harm later.

Serpent decided quickly that dealing with these foes was best in the long run, and the long run was his responsibility as task force commander.  “Miss Blondeau,” he said to his XO, “Bring us around to heading 292 by 13 and prepare to stop those CR90s from escaping!”

Ellesmere nodded swiftly in acknowledgement and began snapping off orders to attendant Junior Bridge Officers.  She had just got back to the bridge from securing a crop of prisoners, captured from the escape pods fleeing the dying Imperial Dominion flagship.

Zail was still pleased with himself for snaring them.  According to reports from the Stormtrooper capture teams, they had both the Glorious Reign’s Captain and First Officer in custody.  Either one would yield up a fine crop of useful information for Vast Empire Naval Intelligence.  Such insight would then bode well in the next stage of their mission.  Again, he was taking the long view of things.

“Bearing down on the CR90s now, sir!” Blondeau reported back a few moments later, bringing Serpent’s thoughts back to the present.  “Time to weapon’s range forty seconds.”

Zail tried not to let his surprise show.  The massive Star Destroyer had such size that he often forgot just how quickly the Halcyon Warrior could move when it needed to.  “As soon as we are within range open fire,” He said casually, staring through the viewport at the three vessels in the distance.

“Turbolasers ready!” Ordered Ellesmere as the time to intercept continued to count down.

“And tractor beams!” Added Serpent.  “We don’t want them escaping.”

The CR90s grew in the forward port.  So small they looked to Zail, though he knew well how large they felt to command.  Closer they drew, ever closer, as Blondeau gave the order.  “Ready... and... fire!”

No sooner had the words left her lips than the command was relayed through the bridge to the gunnery crews, who opened fire with the deadly accuracy for which they were rightly renowned.  Turbolaser fire streamed in continuous pulses of green right into the lead corvette, even as it pushed its engine hard to escape the pursuit of the monster vessel bearing down on it.

The other two CR90s broke, getting clear of their dying fellow and laid on ever more speed in a bid to avoid a similar fate.  The shields of the targeted Imperial Dominion ship failed surprisingly fast, and Zail wondered if they had sacrificed deflector power for extra speed.  Within a few minutes, the Halcyon Warrior’s turbolaser fire began rending the hull, and then a single lucky shot found the reactor.

Serpent and Ellesmere both blinked as the blinding flash washed across the bridge, the CR90’s death spectacular in a way that the ID flagship’s was not.  When the black splotches retreated from Zail’s vision he instantly looked about for the other two corvettes.

He did not have to look hard.  One of them was still streaking towards the jump point at the edge of the T-8-Chex system, but the other seemed to have had a change of plan.  It had come about and was now coming hard and fast at the Halcyon Warrior!

“They mean to ram us!” Exclaimed Serpent needlessly, for everyone else on the bridge could see the enemy vessel’s intent quite clearly.  “Fire everything!” He roared.

Both turbolaser and ion cannon blasts erupted forth from the mighty Star Destroyer, hammering the small but dangerous corvette that was careening towards them.  Zail could see quite clearly that the suicidal Imperial Dominion captain had his ship lined up perfectly with the Warrior’s bridge, and his fear grew as he realised the very real danger he was in.

“It’s not slowing!” Said Ellesmere in alarm, as shots continued to splash across the CR90’s forward shields (which, no doubt, we now drawing all their power from the side and rear deflectors too).

Zail glanced at the tactical hologram, and the time to intercept.  They would never destroy it in time, but then again maybe they did not have to!  “Tractor beam emplacements, fire!”  He ordered.  “Don’t try to capture it, just shove the ship to port, knock it off course so it passes us by!”

“Yes, sir!” Came the prompt reply from the Chief Gunner, as he passed the order down the line.

“Here it comes!” Said Ellesmere, panic leaking into her voice.

Serpent could see the ship beginning to drift.  Ever so slowly it was being shoved of course, and was no longer headed straight for the bridge, but would it be enough?

Closer and closer it came, and for a moment Zail found himself contemplating making a break for the turbolift.  But no, he would not abandon his crew or his post.

The Corellian Corvette grew ever so large in the viewport that Serpent was convinced that they were dead, and then....

Nothing.

The Alderaanian blinked a couple of times, seeing nothing but space in the forward viewport.  Turning to the tactical hologram, he saw that the ID vessel had passed the main bridge superstructure high and port, missing them by a good 50 meters.

Serpent’s shoulders sagged as he let out a breath he did not realise he had been holding.  Turning to Ellesmere, he said, “Now, destroy them.”

The XO did not need telling twice.  The enemy had indeed put all their shields to front to survive their head-on charge, and now the Halcyon Warrior fired into the ship’s exposed rear as it passed.  It blew in moments.

Zail savoured the destruction of their foe for a few seconds, glad to have survived.  However, when he again looked at the tactical display, he was unsurprised to note that the third CR90 had now escaped.

No matter.  There were other Imperial Dominion ships in the area to deal with.  The enemy fleet was falling apart under the onslaught of the Second Fleet, but there were still foes for the Halcyon Warrior to pick off.

The battle rolled on towards it conclusion.

OOC:
1303 words.  The battle is now winding down a bit, and we are looking to conclude this part of the story by next week!

After Action Report: The Imperial Dominion’s flagship is dying, and with it the organisation of their fleet.  Serpent turns the attention of the Halcyon Warrior towards three fleeing CR90s.  One they destroy outright, but the other comes close to ramming the bridge of the Star Destroyer, and while also destroyed, allows the third to escape the T-8-Chex system.
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Serpent
ComNet Member
Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  530
Total Posts:  1214
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Status:  Offline
  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
November 5, 2012 5:43:29 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
The Battle of T-8-Chex was over.  The floating debris that had once been an Imperial Dominion fleet attested to that.  As the last few enemy TIEs were chased down into either oblivion or surrender, Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail looked out over the carnage and felt a mix of emotions.

He had expected to be elated, for this should have been a great victory.  Granted, Taskforce Aurek held the advantage over their vanquished foes from the start, with more powerful ships and far more starfighters, but he had still had his doubts.  Serpent had never led a fleet before, and he worried that his inexperience would hinder his force fatally.  To have prevailed should have given him great joy and pride.

It did not.  He had presided over a one-sided pounding, and that rang hollow in his heart.  Worse, he had made mistakes, and good men of the Vast Empire Navy had lost their lives as a result.  Not for the first time he wondered how Drac or Trick would have performed in his place.

Breaking his thoughts, his XO, Miss Blondeau, approached.  “Sir!  All TIE squadrons are returning to their carriers and the fleet is forming back up on us.  We have won the day.”

“Very good,” He said in flat tones.

“And... er...” Began Ellesmere, speaking nervously in a low voice.  “The... um... the boarding party that doesn’t exit and I know nothing about seems to have secured the station, Chex Isle.”

That, at last, brought a smile to Zail’s lips.  “Thank you, Miss Blondeau.  I shall pass that non-existent information along to Naval Intelligence,” He said.  “Inform me when the records fail to note the boarding party’s return.  I shall be in the Captain’s...” He trailed off, thinking hard about his next words, and then corrected himself.  “I shall be in my office.”

She nodded as he strode past her, along the command walkway and to the back of the bridge.

-----

The images of several Taskforce Aurek Captains hovered before Zail, as he sat in Captain Mihawk’s office working out the fleet’s next move.

“As you can see,” He said, continuing the briefing as the image of the local sector map joined those of the officers, “T-8-Chex is just the key world to the Dominion’s main trade route.  Now that we have broken their forces here, we are to travel this trade route and wreak havoc upon it.”

“A sound plan,” Said Captain Bandoran.  “I take it these are to be stops where we strike and leave, rather than occupy?”

Serpent nodded.  “Hit and run,” He confirmed.  “High Command wants us to simply decimate their supply planets, but I have a more specific plan in mind.  If we just hit their planet-side star ports and hangars, we can cripple their capability to trade without annihilating their production of food and other materials.”

“The point being?” Queried another Captain.

“The point being that, when the VE conquers the Imperial Dominion, we can utilise such facilities for ourselves,” Explained Zail, a hint of impatience in his tone.  Some people, he mused, could not tell the different between mindless destruction and conquest.

“Very well,” Said another officer, “We’ll do it your way, Zail”.  There was something dark and threatening in his tone.  This Captain, like several others, technically out-ranked Serpent.  The Alderaanian only had fleet command as temporary CO of the flagship, and wondered just how many superior officers he had antagonised with his sudden ascent to the position of taskforce commander.

The hologram conference continued for a few minutes, as a plan of what planets to hit and in what order was agreed upon.  A short time later, after some light repairs and the covert recovery of the VENI boarding party, Taskforce Aurek leapt from the T-8-Chex system.

-----

The first stop on the fleet’s rampage was a rich opal-blue water world known as Tooloos.  Serpent had run his eyes briefly over the report on the planet, seeing it to be lightly populated at best.  Though in the future it may well aspire to large floating cities such as Mon Calamari or Manaan, for now only three major settlements with a total of a million people existed.  They were all located on a small equatorial island, and it was above this spot that Taskforce Aurek hung in orbit.

“Two small starports planet side,” Said Ellesmere as she and Zail stood upon the Halcyon Warrior’s bridge command walkway.  “No orbital facilities.  Do you want us to open fire?” She asked, and though she tried to keep her voice neutral, Serpent could hear the hesitation.  Fighting an inferior force was one thing, but the orbital fire they were about to reign down on this island would be a real massacre.

“Not yet,” Said Zail.  “Coms Chief!  Hail the planet, all frequencies.  I want everyone on that island to hear me.”

A few moments, and then Chief Warnock replied, “You may proceed when ready, sir.”

“People of the Imperial Dominion affiliated world of Tooloos, this is Captain Zail of the Vast Empire Navy!” He announced.  Part of him wondered if he should have given his name, but it just tumbled out and it was too late to take back now.  “Your food production favours a regime hostile to us, and thus you are our enemies.  However, the Vast Empire has no quarrel with your people, only the pretenders to the Empire’s legacy that you serve.  In ten minutes, we will open fire on every Dominion emplacement upon the planet, including your starports.  Your homes and your businesses will not be harmed.  You have until then to evacuate the starports.  Anyone trying to flee will be pursued and shot down.  This is your only warning.”

He finished with a throat-cutting gesture and Warnock flicked a switch, ending the transmission.  Serpent then turned to Ellesmere.  “Have our smaller capital ships drop into high atmosphere and prepare for precision bombardment.  Larger ships like ourselves shall remain in orbit, but have TIE Interceptor squadrons standing by to launch.  I meant what I said about shooting down escapees.”

“Yes, sir,” Replied Blondeau, and went to make it happen.

-----

In the end no one tried to flee Tooloos, and with an Imperial sense of timing and efficiency the attack began precisely ten minutes after Serpent’s transmission ended.  From the bridge of the Halcyon Warrior he studied the tactical hologram of the target zone, and watched as the landing pads and hangars of the settlements below were decimated.

No one tried to defy him.  No enemy taskforce arrived to defend the planet, and there were no secret turrets or cannons below to return fire.  The whole attack was carried out with almost bored ease, an exercise, not a battle.

After a few minutes, when he was satisfied that the inhabitants of the planet were now truly cut off from interstellar travel and trade, Zail ordered the fleet to regroup.  As hyperspace calculations were made for the next planet along their route, Serpent again lamented the ease of the victory.

They can call me ‘Captain Easy-win’, He mused, And laugh about how my meteoric rise to command was based on shooting down ships and installations incapable of defending themselves.

As the fleet jumped to its next target, Zail felt like he was going to throw up.

OOC:
1216 words.  The battle is over, but our mission continues!

After Action Report: The Imperial Dominion fleet at T-8-Chex is defeated, though the victory does not sit well with Serpent.  Focusing on his mission, he prepares for a series of follow-up raids along the ID’s main shipping route.  The first of these, the ocean world of Tooloos, is the first that Taskforce Aurek hits.  It offers little resistance, further darkening Zail’s mood, as the fleet moves on to its next target.
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Dunny
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Dunny
 
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  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
November 18, 2012 11:45:27 PM    View the profile of Dunny 
The small cockpit blared as the 'target lock' warning screamed into his ears yet again, and Flight Leader Tarik Zaid of the Imperial Dominion Starfighter Corps (Reserves) twisted the control yoke and at the same time wrenched it to the side, sending his outdated TIE Vanguard into a tight snap-roll that took it to the left and slightly upwards, shooting off in an entirely random direction in an attempt to bleed off speed and shake his pursuer. Even with the enhanced speed afforded to it by the souped-up Twin Ion Engine, his Vanguard was still slower than the TIE Interceptor on his tail, and that lent him a slight advantage.

It saved his life, as the Interceptor pilot was forced to waste a precious moment correcting his flight path and regaining target lock with the elusive prey. In the incredibly agile Interceptor, however, it only took a moment for the situation to go back to exactly what it had been before: one step away from the death of Zaid and his little recon fighter. It was a deadly dance – so swift that in the blink of an eye, it could be all over, and so cutthroat that not a single quarter was given by either side. It was, however, entirely one-sided. Even as he threw his fighter into another equally desperate evasive manoeuvre, Zaid knew this was his final hour.

The old pilot felt the heat as another quartet of green lasers raced past his craft, close enough to scorch the paintwork and leave another battle-scar, another reminder of how close he had come to death. His reactions, he noted with a hint of sadness, were not what they had once been. As he took his place and continued the deadly dance, Zaid listened with half an ear to the comm channel, listening out for whatever tactical input he could get. His flight was already gone, but maybe the others were having better luck than he.

“We've lost Aurek 3! Aurek 4, Break break break!”
“Cresh Leader, move your flight to...Cresh Leader, come in?”
“I can't shake him!”
“The station is breaking up!”

It was a list of woe and failure, as the reserve fleet was overwhelmed by the enemy. Of course they were, they were just a garrison force! The pride and joy of the Imperial Dominion had been sent to Abrae, to deal with the upstart Vast Empire and expand the territory of the Dominion by bringing their wayward, xeno-loving brothers into line. They had all expected their fleet to return victorious, to welcome their comrades home. The best and brightest had been drafted for the invasion fleet, leaving only the boys and old men behind to man the fort.

When the enemy fleet had jumped in-system without warning, Tarik Zaid and his flight had been caught completely unawares. The outcome, he admitted to himself, had never once been in any doubt. A glancing hit set his fighter spinning out of control through the void of space, his left solar panel struck by one of the ever-persistent emerald beams of death. He struggled to control his fighter, and was saved once again by lady luck as the fighter's wild, uncontrolled dance brought it out of the way of the follow-up volley. As he struggled to re-master his craft, he knew the next shot wouldn't miss...

.

Squadron Commander Ulrik Nico's face, hidden under the helmet of his flight suit, was grim as his gloved finger squeezed on the trigger of his control yoke. Six brilliant green laser blasts, fire-linked for maximum firepower, lanced from the blaster cannons built into his TIE Interceptor and impacted with the shields of the prey he had been duelling against, overwhelming the deflector field and punching into the vulnerable durasteel armour inside. The Interceptor exploded as the reactor was overloaded with destructive energy, but Ulrik never saw it, already peeling off and hunting for the next target.

“Target eliminated.” His wingman confirmed for him tersely, his voice tense with concentration as the two threw their fighters into a tight turn, aligning themselves to engage the next enemy to present itself. He spotted the bent-winged TIE Vanguard of Besh Leader as it rolled drunkenly through the stars, a hostile TIE Interceptor hot on its tail. Even with his Squadron in tatters and his home base breaking apart under sustained bombardment, Ulrik's mind was stuck in the past. He'd been told that he was one of the best Squadron Leaders that the Imperial Dominion had seen. Only his political ineptitude had kept him from the Invasion Fleet, and right now, he was cursing himself.

He could have made a difference where it had really mattered – over Abrae! The presence of the Vast Empire here meant that the invasion fleet had failed, and now he was stuck fighting a useless holding action against an enemy he couldn't possibly hope to hold. Curse it all! He jammed his finger on the trigger and held it, his teeth gritted in silent rage as he turned the Interceptor that was hounding Besh Lead into scrap, another kill that he would never get to paint onto the side of his beloved Interceptor. The fighter tore apart, and he tapped his comm as he opened a channel with Besh Lead, known as the squadron's 'Grumpy old man'.

“Get out of here Zaid! They'll be hitting the other worlds along the route once they're done here – they need to be warned!”

The comm array had been one of the first things that the Vast Empire had taken out in the opening salvo, and the other worlds, outposts and waystations had no idea of the armoured fist that was about to crash down upon them. If nothing else, Ulrik could at least warn them, give them time to prepare themselves for what was coming. Zaid's voice came over the comm, weary and a little uncertain as the TIE Vanguard righted itself. As the only fighter in the Squadron with any form of hyperdrive that wasn't scrap metal, Zaid was the only hope of getting that warning out.

“Your will be done, sir.  It has been an honour.”

There was no questioning of orders, no inquiring as to what Ulrik and the survivors of Aurek Flight would do.
“Likewise, old man.” Was all that he said as his voice cracked. The calm that he had managed to hold onto for the brutally short battle snapped as the young pilot found himself coming to the realisation that he had just condemned himself to death. His fighter had no hyperdrive, and he was not the kind of man to use his Ejection Seat and surrender to the enemy. A sigh slid forth from his lips as he tightened his grip on the control yoke. Of course the old man had not questioned what Aurek flight would do – there was only one option available to them.

As he angled his Interceptor in towards an enemy fighter that had made the mistake of considering Zaid's recon fighter a target, and he adjusted his targeting computer, his face grim. He would do what he did best. He would kill, and keep killing, and give Zaid the time he needed to program the hyperdrive and get clear of this doomed battle. Then, he would do the one thing that he had always known in the back of his mind that he would someday do.

He would die well.

-

Senior Crewman Tomas Halsey reclined in his chair, content with his lot. When he had signed up for the Imperial Dominion, he had not been looking for anything too exciting or dangerous. He'd joined the Empire for the chance at a better life, for the chance to make a respectable living instead of being an underworld fence like his father before him. His sons had made the same decision, and now along with 22 other crew members, they staffed the small waystation at the edge of Tooloos's system. It wasn't glamorous, and as a sensor and comms operator it was his job to watch the scanners and listen to the comms, in case smugglers or pirates attempted to sneak past. The Dominion had a very harsh policy when it came to piracy.

Behind him, his two sons, Jak and Dan, played Sabaac at the nearby table, passing the time while they were off-duty and keeping their old dad company. Their good-natured banter kept him from getting too bored, and he was grateful for their presence. When the boy's mother had died, the family had stuck together to help each other get through, and now they were closer than they had ever been. They'd worked hard to get a nice, quiet posting far away from the cares and troubles of the galaxy, and the Imperial Dominion had treated them well. Now, they lived a simple life – a sharp contrast to Nar Shadaaa, back home.

His thoughts were broken by an insistent flashing on the comm – a hyperspace disturbance! Something was about to jump into the very edge of the system.
“Boys, I think we got somethin.” He called out to his sons. Jak quickly put down his cards (face down, of course) and got up from the table, eager to have a look. Dan got up a moment later with a disaffected sigh. It was obvious which of them had the better hand in the game by their reactions. As he heard them approach him, he tapped on the keyboard in front of him, trying to get more information on the spaceship that had just jumped into the system.

The signal was very small – the craft couldn't have been any bigger than a fighter. Tomas punched in a few more keys, bringing up its IFF Transponder to see what side of the war the little fighter was on. The symbol of the Imperial Dominion appeared on-screen and blue text lit up, identifying it as a Vanguard-Class Reconnaissance fighter. Tomas quickly contacted it on the comm. A lone, unescorted fighter jumping into this backwater system? Something had to be up. The boys watched over his shoulder as he spoke into his headset's microphone.

“164 Besh 1, this is Dominion Outpost Tooloos Aurek 3. What brings you out here?”

The reply was immediate, and though the voice on the other end of the comm was calm, it seemed somewhat...strained. As if the speaker was struggling to keep his composure. The voice sounded old, and tired, weighed in a way that age along could never really produce.

“Outpost Aurek 3, this is 164 Besh 1. T-8 Chex has fallen! I say again, T-8 Chex has fallen. Expect hostiles inbou-”

Without warning, the message was cut off mid-word. Only static remained. There was a blip on the scanner for a split second, bright as an explosion, before it disappeared from view. 164 Besh 1's sensor signature disappeared with it, leaving absolutely nothing on the comms. There was no trace of the fighter, nor what had destroyed it. Just a slowly expanding cloud of debris. Tomas turned to look over to his boys, his expression grim. If what that pilot had said was true, then there was going to be an invasion fleet jumping in-system any second, and when they did, this station would be dust.

He keyed in the station-wide channel. “All hands, evacuate the station. Enemy fleet incoming. I say again, all hands, evacuate the station. Enemy fleet incoming.”
He turned to his sons, and faced a difficult decision. He really ought to be racing for the escape pods himself, but if the warning wasn't passed on to Tooloos, and the systems further down the route, they would be ambushed one by one and taken out piecemeal. The enemy fleet would be unstoppable.

“That means you too, lads. I've gotta get the warning out so our troops can get some kind of defence ready. Go on, git outta here.” His voice, and the grim, drawn expression on his face brooked no argument, and Jak, his eldest, nodded and drew his father into a tight embrace.  Tomas hugged his son, then watched as Jak led Dan out of the room at a dead sprint, neither of them looking back. He found himself thinking that their mother would have been proud of the fine men they'd become. He knew that he was.

He turned back to the console as proximity alarms began to blare through the ship.
“Tooloos control, this is Outpost Aurek 3. Be warned, invasion fleet incoming. I say again, invasion fleet incoming. Looks like it's from the V-”

He never got any further.

.

Jak Halsey raced through the corridor connecting the outpost's comm array to the escape pods, dragging Dan behind him as the pair fled for their lives. The floor beneath their feet shook as something impacted with the station and tore through the hull behind them, back at the comm room. Jak didn't bother trying to hold back the tears as he ran. They'd finally gotten settled into a life that wasn't surrounded by danger and terror, curse it! For the first time in the family's harsh life, they'd found some measure of peace, and now it was all falling apart around them. The alarm lights flashed and klaaxons blared.

An impact shook the floor beneath his feet, and he found himself thrown into the nearby wall, knocked clean off his feet. Stars danced over his vision, and he felt hands grab his arms and lift him back up onto his feet. Turning, he saw Dan, his eyes also watery with tears. His younger brother nodded to him, and they were off again, sprinting towards safety. They were all that they had left now, with father giving his life to warn the rest of the Dominion of what fate was rapidly approaching them. Jak would see to it, he thought to himself as he ran, that his father got every honour that the Dominion could bestow.

The man had died a hero.

As he stepped into the escape pod chamber and punched the nearest console with the flat of his palm, opening up the doors to the nearest intact escape pod, he realised that all the escape pods were still in their berths. No-one else had made it. He reflected that many people would die heroes today...and many more would die messy, undignified deaths. Determined to not be one of them, he stepped into the escape pod as Dan closed the door behind them, hitting the 'eject' button. As the escape pod tore free from the doomed station, the two brothers watched through the windor as the station broke apart...but the space around it was empty and clear.

A few seconds later, they both watched in awe as an Imperial Star Destroyer appeared, as if from nowhere, filling up the viewport they both stared through. They both recognised the markings as those of the Vast Empire, the enemies of the Imperial Dominion. Jak sighed to himself – he'd had enough of war and death to last a lifetime. He was done. As he turned to look at his brother, he immediately could tell from the look on his face what he was feeling. It wasn't resignation, or sorrow. As his younger brother stared at the Star Destroyer and the ruins of the space station where their father had died, all Jak could see on his face was hate.

The console lighted up, and over the comms came a voice in a haughty Coruscanti accent, addressing the occupants of the escape pod. The only escape pod, Jak realised with a start as he found he couldn't see the ion trails from any more pods.

“This is Ensign Hal Jaran of the Vast Empire. Disengage your engines or you will be shot down. You are now prisoners of the Vast Empire.”

-

“C'mon sir, you heard the announcement. This whole place is going up in ten minutes!”
Warrant Officer Nolan Shyde of the Imperial Dominion waved off the crewman as he tapped furiously on his keyboard, overriding security protocols as he shut down every single non-essential system (and quite a few essential ones) one by one. The more power he had to play around with, the more that he would be able to shunt into boosting the comm array's range. Again, he waved off the crewman as he insisted that Nolan leave the spaceport and evacuate with the others.
“Not now, Crewman. I've got to get this message off. Ten minutes will be enough, I'll be right behind you.”

Ten minutes would be enough, he assured himself as he shut down the lights and the TIE Fighter charging bays. It would have to be. Their world had been caught almost completely by surprise, as the Vast Empire fleet had jumped in from seemingly nowhere. If it hadn't been for that signal from the listening post at the very edge of the system, they wouldn't even have known about the impending orbital bombardment until just a few seconds ago. As it was, Nolan Shyde had spent the last few minutes diverting power from systems to the comm array. It was not intended to be a system-to-system comm, merely a relay for the powerful systems of T-8-Chex, but if he put enough power through it, then maybe...

He heard a clicking sound behind him, and turned to see the Crewman, a young human by the name of Seamus, take a seat on the next station over and begin to divert systems as well, helping to get the work done as quickly as possible, whilst the rest of the crew raced for the exits.
“You're right, sir. Someone has to be warned about this.” He said in agreement, and the two worked quickly, in unison. Derided as 'desk jockeys' by the rest of the Imperial military, the support crew were often overlooked and unappreciated because of the simple fact that they were not at risk of getting shot themselves. Nolan Shyde was not an especially brave man, nor was he a good shot with a Blaster.

His skills lay elsewhere. He had an eye for detail and a meticulous patience that few could hope to match, and the ability to concentrate on one task to the complete exclusion of all else. He was an ace in the field of paperwork and technical work, and now he put every single lesson into use, working at a rate that would have quickly exhausted the fighter pilots up above. He blocked out thoughts of his wife and her unborn child from his mind, as well as his ambitions for promotion and his hopes of someday finding a nice place to retire and help raise his first child. None of that mattered now, it was just distraction, and as the timer counted down, the comm array's range became even closer and closer to its destination – the next planet along the route.

Finally, with a single minute to spare, he had succeeded in his task. He turned and nodded to Crewman Seamus. “Thank you, Crewman. I couldn't have done it alone. Get out of here.” He said, and the young man saluted smartly. Quickly, he returned the salute as the junior technician turned and sprinted out the door. As the timer wound down to zero, Warrant Officer Nolan Shyde grabbed the nearest microphone.

“Attention, attention. This is Tooloos flight control. We are under attack by a Vast Empire fleet. T-8 Chex has fallen, and we believe the fleet will continue to decimate worlds across the sector. I say again, we are under attack by a Vast Empire fleet. T-8 Chex has fallen. Prepare yourselves, and resist with whatever capacity you can. Do not let these alien-loving dogs get the better of us!”

There, it was done. The next system ahead was warned. It would be more prepared for the incoming fleet than Tooloos had been. His work was done, and he finally allowed himself to think about his family as the first turbolaser bolts lanced down from low orbit.

He had just enough time to say goodbye.

-

Crewman Seamus watched from the safety of a nearby hill as the first brilliant green turbolaser bolts rained down from the heavens, lancing from the sky above and striking the spaceport with all the force of an angry god. He gasped aloud at the sheer awe-inspiring power of the orbital bombardment, watching as the port was quickly and efficiently reduced to a crater. No-one dared try to escape, not a single TIE fighter launched to resist the invasion. The Vast Empire commenced their bombardment entirely unopposed, and it concluded it without a single fist raised in anger, the populace shocked into silent compliance.

As the shockwaves from the bombardment knocked him off his feet, he simply sat there and watched. Nolan was still in there, he knew. Seamus realised with a resigned sigh that he would have to tell Cerasi why her husband wasn't coming home. As the bombardment finished, he slowly got to his feet, and started the long walk back to the residential areas. Even now, a full minute after the last bolt had fired, his vision was still tinged green.

The scars the bombardment had left on his memory and his retina would follow him to his grave. He turned back for a moment, looking up to the sky, and wondered if the next system in line would fare any better than Tooloos had.

OOC:
Word Count: 3,600.
As the Vast Empire fleet burns through T-8 Chex and through the Tooloos system, the outmatched reservists of the Imperial Dominion, unable to stand against the sheer power of the enemy, resist in the only way they can – they warn everyone they can of the incoming storm. Families are shattered, lives are fruitlessly lost and people are scarred forever in the wake of the terror attacks.

The next system will not be caught by surprise...but will it matter?

Trn/PO1 Sam "Dunny" Dunn
PLF Cappadocious/TF:Academy/3Flt/FC/VEN/VE
[SoA][M1(x2)][NAR][IG-HSC2011] [CRotS]
[1vM] [Scout] [SfM] [=SWC=] [VM] [CQB] [5.1]

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Serpent
ComNet Member
Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  546
Total Posts:  1214
Joined:  Jul 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
November 19, 2012 7:02:54 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
They had spent days jumping in and out of star systems, raiding planets along the central trade corridor into Imperial Dominion space.  How many planets had they hit now?  Six?  Seven?  Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail had lost track.  All he knew was that, at his head, Taskforce Aurek had struck hard and fast.  Countless facilities related to trade and industry had been hit, costing the Imperial Dominion heavily in terms of money, equipment, and lives.

“Sir!  We will be dropping from hyperspace in one minute,” Said Michele Blondeau, standing at his side.  Ellesmere had been a loyal and capable First Officer, despite her somewhat nervous start, and over the last week or so Serpent had grown used to her presence.

“Excellent,” He said, growing bored of this hitting and running.  It was too reminiscent of the cowardly tactics of the old Rebel Alliance and Zail found that he had little stomach for it.  “What’s the name and significance of this planet again?” He asked.

Blondeau’s hazel eyes flickered slightly, suspicious of the question.  He could almost see her thought processes.  Was her captain really asking a question, or testing her?  Whatever conclusion she reached, she answered with only minor hesitation, rattling off the details from memory.  “Gatron Three,” She said.  “It’s a Vultan colony with a population of one hundred twenty million.  The planet’s tropical landmasses are rich and fertile, and they grow everything from food crops to medicinal products.  The planet is only nominally loyal to the Imperial Dominion, and the independent-minded locals have a rebel movement that has been giving the local ID garrison trouble.”

“Exactly,” Said Zail.  “Which is why I would like to avoid doing too much collateral damage.  When the Dominion falls, it will be worlds like this that will be eager to shake off that tired regime and flock to a new banner.  Hopefully, that banner will be ours.”

“Understood sir,” Said Ellesmere, and he knew that he could trust her to heed his words.  It was then that she heard the helmsman speak, and she promptly relayed his words to the Captain.  “Arrival imminent, sir!”

He nodded, and then the mighty Star Destroyer Halcyon Warrior shuddered as it exited hyperspace.  The rest of the armada, Taskforce Aurek, pride of the Vast Empire Navy, was in perfect formation with them, a deadly triangle of warships with its tip aimed at the lush emerald world nearby.

With the wave of his hand over a sensor, Serpent turned on the tactical hologram, taking a look at the surrounding space.  A few klicks from their position lay the moon of Gatron Three, a desolate rock of little interest to anyone.  The planet ahead had several cities and countless smaller settlements, but little in orbit save positioning satellites and communications relays.  Travel on the planet was handled by ground-side starports, and it was these that Zail now ordered the fleet to hit.  “Move into position and prepare for orbital bombard on the largest city.  Hit their landing pads and...”

“Captain!” Piped up an officer from the crew pit, “Reading multiple contacts from the planet!”

Serpent’s eyes picked up the new ships as they were rendered in glowing holographic red on the display before him.  A full squadron of TIE Interceptors, escorting a large freighter, were lifting up into orbit.  Whatever they were protecting, Zail knew that it had to be important.  “Scramble three squadrons!  Intercept those ID fighters and disable that transport!”

“Yes, sir,” Said Blondeau, snapping off orders to the bridge crew.  A few moments later and Serpent watched as holograms depicting the Halcyon Warrior’s TIEs emerged and began making rapid progress across the tactical display.

His cool blue eyes followed the passage of the Imperial Dominion vessels.  They angled away from the Vast Empire fleet, but not towards the system’s jump point.  Instead their angle took them across the planet.  What were they doing?

Suddenly, one of the VE TIEs blew up!

“What happened?” Demanded Zail.  “Enemy contact?”

Ellesmere shook her head quickly.  “Negative,” She said, conversing quickly with the bridge Sensor Chief.  “It was a mine!”

Suddenly Serpent realised.  “That freighter is a mine layer!  They are mining Gatron Three’s high orbit to prevent us getting into bombard position!”

“Worse than that,” Amended his First Officer.  “It’s a trap!”

With growing horror, Zail saw a series of new holograms emerge from the shadow of Gatron’s moon.  It was an Imperial Dominion fleet, larger and far more of a threat than the paltry force they had faced at T-8-Chex.  Taskforce Aurek was trapped between the mines around the planet and the armada coming around behind them.

He snarled as he saw the forces arrayed against them.  Thankfully, nothing as large as the Halcyon Warrior, but leading their formation was a pair of Venator-Class Star Destroyers.  His father commanded such a vessel, so Zail knew their capabilities well.  They could be a problem.

In addition to the Venators, there were three frigates and a host of smaller ships like corvettes.  This was clearly an ambush that had been well planned, and Serpent actually felt oddly happy about that.  Not only were the Imperial Dominion taking him seriously, but they were committing even more forces that would not be distracting Trykon and his half of this operation.

“All hands, battle stations!” He bellowed.  “Signal the fleet!  We are going to fight and hold the enemy here.  Let’s make them regret trying to trap the Second Fleet!”


OOC:
907 words.  The world-raiding is over, and the final battle of this story has begun!  And yes, Elle, in this one you got to say the immortal Ackbar line!

After Action Report: Taskforce Aurek jumps into the Gatron system, the latest of several targets for their raiding mission against the Imperial Dominion.  However, as they approach Gatron Three, they find the planet mined, and then an ID fleet spills out from behind the nearby moon.  Trapped between the mines and the fleet, Serpent orders the armada to fight!
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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
Serpent
ComNet Member
Imperial Baronet

 
Serpent
 
[VE-NAVY] Warrant Officer 1st Class
 
Post Number:  563
Total Posts:  1214
Joined:  Jul 2011
Status:  Offline
  RE: 2nd Fleet: Counterpunch: Famine
November 28, 2012 6:34:24 PM    View the profile of Serpent 
The opening salvos lanced between the two forces as they drew ever closer, an almost playful exchange as they closed the distance to proper engagement range.  The Imperial Dominion taskforce advanced swiftly, trying to take full advantage of the element of surprise as the Vast Empire’s Taskforce Aurek hurried to prepare.

“Have the fleet reform on us!” Barked Pherik ‘Serpent’ Zail as the battle got underway.  The point of the advancing wedge formation had just been pointed at the nearby sphere of Gatron Three, and every ship now how to come about one hundred eighty degrees to face the new threat behind them.  “And be on the lookout for more mines!” He added, casting a nervous glance at the tactical hologram, as if he expected the vessels of his fleet to just start exploding spontaneously.

“Yes, sir!” Said Ellesmere, rushing to and fro among the bridge crew.  Orders were quickly relayed and snapped off by communications officers, while all around the din of excited and frenzied activity filled the oft-peaceful command deck of the Halcyon Warrior.

“Launch all fighters!” Barked Zail, “Strengthen forward shields and take them head-on!  Helm, steer us towards those two Venator-Class Star Destroyers.  All gunnery crews open fire upon them the moment we are within range!”

Like two sets of teeth closing together, the two taskforces fully engaged, a long skirmish line several ships long and deep.  Serpent reiterated his command for his forces to tighten up, sticking to the tactical basics of ships giving each other covering fire.

“Order the Dead Gun to intensify fire on that Carrick-Cruiser!” Bellowed Zail as the clamour on the bridge grew louder.  “And have the Stonewall and Chrome Fox tighten up their formation!”

Serpent’s blue eyes traced the movements and data flowing across the tactical display beside him, and he spoke almost without thinking.  The time for second-guessing was gone, and he found himself speaking with confidence and clarity.  Something inside the Alderaanian just seemed to click, and all the training and preparation of his career was suddenly paying off.

“Send Rend Squadron to cover the Defiance!” He told Ellesmere the moment she had finished her latest activity.  That Corellian Corvette was Zail’s own ship, and was currently under the command of his competent though unremarkable XO, Vagen Eosel.  So far the Kel Dor had not gotten Serpent’s vessel seriously damaged, and he planned to keep it that way.

It was then that a deep and dull thud shook through the Halcyon Warrior, indicating a serious impact.  It took a lot to make the mighty Star Destroyer wobble and place the crew in danger of losing their footing, but that Serpent had noticed the impact at all spoke volumes about it.  “Damage report!”

“Torpedo impacts along the main hull!” Came the reply from a Junior Bridge Officer who had rushed to the captain’s side.  “Minimal damage though, engineering teams are already responding.  It came from the Venator Star Destroyer on our port side, the Chancellor’s Decree.”

Fraking awful name for a ship, mused Zail, but he did not say it aloud.  Instead he responded swiftly, “Pull the Warrior back and rotate ninety degrees to port.  Strengthen shields on the starboard side and have all starboard and forward weapons focus fire on the Chancellor’s Decree.  Then bring up the Fearless to help cover us when that other Venator attacks.”

Nearby officers voiced their affirmative and hurried off to carry out his commands.  Once again Serpent’s eyes fell on the hologram, the coloured light rendering of the battle raging all around him.  Already he could see patterns and subtle manoeuvring emerging on both sides, and the challenge of it filled him with glee.  This is what he had wanted throughout his naval career!  The chance to pit his wits against titanic fleets in a life or death game of skill, honour and glory...

“Sir!” Said his First Officer, suddenly at his side.  “Urgent communication from High Command!”

Zail suddenly felt a bad feeling grip his gut.  “Yes, Miss Blondeau, what is it?”

“We are ordered to immediately break off our offensive against the Imperial Dominion and return to Abrae!” She said, and though she attempted neutrality in her tone, Serpent could hear a pang of regret in Ellesmere’s voice.

...ordered to immediately break off... Mused Zail.  Could they really mean that?  High Command was probably unaware that Taskforce Aurek was currently locked in battle, and that changed things, right?  Surely if they were apprised of the situation they would let him win this battle first before returning?

Pherik warred with himself for a few moments, but deep down he knew what this was about.  Returning home would mean the end of his temporary command, and though returning to the position of Captain of the Defiance was a position of honour, there was no comparing command of a corvette with command of an Imperial Star Destroyer and its attending fleet.

Worse, immediate recall could be to deal with an emergency, and a battle such as the one unfolding here at Gatron Three could take hours.  Far too long if a crisis was happening back home.

And finally, there were the lives of the people under his care.  Every moment brought more death to the loyal men and women of the Vast Empire Navy, but everyone knew and accepted that.  However, dying for the mission was one thing, but if the mission was over?  No, Pherik realised, they would be dying for his ego.

Zail had only one course of action.

“Very well,” He said, a regretful sigh slipping out as he spoke.  “The enemy have no Interdictors, we can break free quite easily.  The fleet are already in formation around us, so have everyone drive forward here,” Ordered Serpent, gesturing to the hologram.  He had noticed the weakness in the enemy formation a few minutes ago, and was musing on the best way to exploit it.  Now it would prove to be the exit route for the entire of Taskforce Aurek.

Such a disengagement was far from simple or clean, however, and it took fully ten minutes for the Vast Empire’s armada to untangle itself from their Imperial Dominion rivals and blitz their way through their lines to freedom.

Finally, as the fleet jumped to hyperspace in unison, Pherik allowed himself one last moment to savour his time in command.

He had done his best, and now his superiors would be the judge of his performance.

OOC:
1074 words.  And as we flee, the story is complete!  However, the carnage of the Counterpunch arc will continue!

After Action Report: Taskforce Aurek engages the ambushing Imperial Dominion fleet and the two forces begin to slug it out.  As the fighting gets underway, Serpent gets a recall order from High Command, bringing an immediate end to their raiding mission.  Serpent toys with the idea of seeing the battle through, realising that returning the Vast Empire space would mean the end of temporary fleet command.  However, he decides that the live of the Second Fleet’s personnel are worth more than his ego trip, and orders the Taskforce to depart.
SCAP/WO1 Pherik “Serpent” Zail / CR90 Defiance /TF:Aurek/2Flt/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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