Chapter the Second:
CT-90/2010, aka, Blur was a gunnery officer aboard the Cardan class Heavy Defense Station, Birth Right. Birth Right and its two sister stations, Damascus and Assassin’s Bane were assigned to guard the relatively secret project, Eclipse. It certainly eclipsed the station’s views of the rest of the shipyards. Blur however cared nothing of the Emperor’s little toy, all he wanted was a nice quiet life running a small farm, maybe on an abandoned world like Qutub, but that wouldn’t happen since clones didn’t get retirement or even a voice. Conversely, he was content with his posting being at the most peaceful place in the galaxy, Kuat.
It was when Blur heard the Red Alert and saw the flashing lights that he grew marginally worried, but not overly concerned. He posed a question to the other gunnery officers in Assault Concussion Missile battery ISU-145, “Who has their heads so far up their shebs that they’d attack Kuat?”
“Beats me Blur’ika, but let’s give these fat ugly fierfeks a massive Imperial welcome!” said the battery leader, Tsarre CT-12/1941.
The rest of the gunnery officers yelled, “Hooah!”
That mood quickly changed when they saw the first Aggressor class Destroyer come from hyperspace. It darkened even further when the transmission came in saying that the Emperor and Darth Vader were dead from some unknown Admiral named Pellaeon. Worse still, a Rebel fleet jumped in too. Needless to say, Blur knew it was going to be a very miserable day to be an Imperial.
Tyber Zann stood aboard the bridge of the Merciless, the Aggressor class Destroyer he took for a flagship. He gazed upon the Eclipse for the second time and still only felt awe and blinded by the power it represented. The naval personnel onboard the bridge simply stared gaping at the 17.5 kilometer long Star Dreadnaught. Tyber just found it amusing. That was until he saw the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo opened up a communications channel with Tyber, “Alright Zann, what are you doing here?”
“Solo, I’ve heard of the victory at Endor, and I was hoping that I could help in destroying this thing.”
“What do you care about this ship?”
“Like you, the Empire made a powerful enemy, and I’m simply doing what it is that enemies do, shoot them first.”
“Alright, I’ll hold you to your word for now, but the moment something goes fishy, you’ll have a blaster shoved in your face before you can say ‘He shot first.’”
“It’s nice to see you too Solo.”
Tyber thought there couldn’t be better timing. Now he could cripple both of his sworn enemies in one smooth stroke. He signaled the rest of the fleet to move in; thirteen Aggressor class Destroyers, five Kedalbe class Battleships, twenty six Vengeance class Frigates, forty five Interceptor-IV class Frigates, twenty Crusader class Gunships, three Tartan Patrol Cruisers from the Consortium’s early days dropped out of hyperspace. The larger ships then started contributing their own fighters and bombers giving around 400 of the small ships.
Tyber looked at the enemy resistance on his console: three Cardan class Heavy Defense Stations, twenty Imperial 1 class Star Destroyers, six Imperial 2 class Star Destroyers, fifty six Victory 1 class Star Destroyers, fourteen Victory 2 class Star Destroyers, twenty seven Acclamator 2 class Assault Ships, one Immobilizer class Interdictor frigate, thirty three Tartan class Patrol Cruisers, over 800 TIE type craft were arranged in a rough phalanx. The fleet was rapidly closing ranks to form a tight defensive line along the Cardan’s perimeter.
Not very great odds but with the Rebels swayed, he thought this would be a cake walk with the right tactics. Even so, the Rebel fleet was still small by comparison: just ten MC-80 class Star Cruisers, nineteen MK-2 Assault Frigates, twenty four MK-1 Assault Frigates, thirty Nebulon-B class escort frigates, twelve CR-90 corvettes, sixteen DP-20 corvettes, a number of Gallofree Medium Trasports, and 200 or so fighter and bomber craft.
Forty seven pre-arranged battle formations and plans had been formed by Tyber and his chief Admirals over the last few months. In a situation where the enemy is heavily hunkered down with superior forces, he resorts to battle formation Indigo, translation: the main portion of the fleet creates a delta formation while the remaining third sit in the center. The fleet then charges and spears the defensive line with the main formation moving to plow through any rear elements before circling back to destroy the main line being distracted by the formerly protected group. This plan however requires an almost brainwashed sort of soldier taking orders without question, without which the formation might break and the enemies instead pour into friendly lines.
Tyber initiated the battle formation and the fleet began to move into position. They were disciplined and loyal, so he didn’t have any reason to fret about there being any rebellious captains. The Merciless naturally took up the lead ship, and was flanked on port, starboard, and aft by three of the Kedalbes. The Rebels however had simply rushed the Imperial line while the Consortium fleet moved into its position. Surprisingly they weren’t getting their bungholes ripped open by Imperial captains ravenous for revenge, but rather they were the ones doing the bunghole ripping.
Tyber then opened a line to all ships under his command and uttered one word, “Charge!” As if they were Reek cavalry riders in space, the Consortium fleet flew straight at one of the Cardans firing every weapon emplacement they had once in optimal range. The mega charged shots from the Merciless were quite a spectacle to behold as a blue/white ion pulse shot from the top of the twin barrels while a pulsing green plasma shot erupted from the lower of the twin barrels. Both shots smacked the Cardan in the face bringing down its shields and destroying its communications towers.
A far different vessel had also entered the battle, a small RZ-52 shuttle transporting the best Marines and Droideka MKIIs the Consortium had trained. This transport would move far away from any actual fighting and sneak its way to the Eclipse with the intent of latching onto the command tower and capturing the bridge, and superlaser if they could. From the starboard side view ports the Marines watched in grim silence as they saw flak knocking out fighters and the hulks of burning ships falling swiftly into Kuat’s atmosphere. The droidekas being droids simply stood waiting for the ship to land and open its cargo hatch to exit the craft and eliminate any initial resistance offered on the Eclipse.
A stray TIE Fighter, seemingly almost destroyed discovered the small transport as it passed by one of the Cardans and promptly started putting laser cannon shots into the shuttles aft. The rear gunner then began firing back, but even heavily damaged, the TIE evaded all of the shots. Just when the transports pilot yelled, “Prepare for an atmospheric breach,” a squad of StarVipers swooped in and knocked out the TIE. Every marine in the Consortium had a tremendous respect for their fleet brethren, but for this group of soldiers, that event practically made them bow down and worship the fighter pilots of that squad as though they were gods.
StarViper squadron, Nexu was the first to break through the Imperial lines and to their great surprise and relief suffered absolutely no casualties. They zipped through a small shipyard and began engaging TIE Fighters to cover the run of Skipray Blastboat squadron Acklay on an Acclamator behind the main defensive line. One of the TIEs managed to escape and found the transport which was the entire mission’s ace in the hole. Nexu broke contact with the TIEs temporarily and promptly destroyed it before he could reciprocate the actions performed on his squad. Resuming their mini-campaign, the remaining TIEs were destroyed in a matter of seconds and created a window of opportunity for Acklay squad.
Acklay squad flew into the gap and engaged their proton torpedo targeting computers. The Acclamator 2 Assault Ship while not Imperial Star Destroyer large was still significant in size, looming like a fortress in their view screens. Acklay Leader then broke comm silence, “Squad, we only have one run before we need to divert, so let’s make this one count.” One by one, the other eleven members of the squad confirmed this new directive. Point defense laser cannon flak began to detonate around the squad. That was also when the Acclamator decided to fire a salvo from its turbolaser batteries. Acklay broke formation to evade, but several of the shots came way to close for comfort.
Acklay leader then ordered, “Fire torpedoes on my mark!” Again, the other members of the squad acknowledged the new order. Acklay leader continued evading flak and tubolaser shots until the distance was two kilometers. “Mark!” The Skipray’s gunner fired and two torpedoes belched from the tubes on the port and starboard side of the craft. Pretty soon after, twenty four proton torpedoes streaked through space and found their mark. Ray shielding on even a ship as large as an Acclamator was unable to stop the unique Consortium proton torpedoes. Three of the torpedoes exploded in the Acclamator’s own proton torpedo tubes detonating those in the magazines. Another three found the concussion missile tubes and accomplished the same thing. Five destroyed the command bridge and the accompanying tower. Three others detonated most of the main turbolaser banks. Five other torpedoes created a giant hole in the center of the ship exposing the internal components and systems. The remaining six flew into the new found gaps and made the reactor go critical. The Acclamator belched flame and split in half after the reactor exploded flinging both pieces far away. One unlucky Victory 1 class Star Destroyer took the bow section of the ship and was crushed by the kinetic energy with both spinning and falling into Kuat’s atmosphere barely missing a Vengeance class Frigate, the Sturdy.
Captain Traylor Nes’ik saw the plummeting mass of the Victory cruiser and shouted, “Brace for impact!” No such impact occurred, but the mass came down a mere 200 meters from the Sturdy’s bow itself, an almost unprecedented distance in space. Relieved by being rid of one threat, but not all, he resumed tactical command. His opponent was a wily Victory 2 class Star Destroyer, and the two vessels had been exchanging fire before the other Victory cruiser interrupted their fun. Nes’ik said, “T1 through M6 turbolasers, fire once he exposes himself. Mass drivers, reload and charge up the capacitors. Send 50% power to the engines and maneuver to behind that space dock, let’s see if we can get some shots in on his aft.”
Bridge officers acknowledged and issued the orders to their subordinates. The Sturdy swiftly streaked through the open space and reached its destination unopposed. A Tartan Patrol Cruiser however tried his luck and devoted all his power to weapons hoping to penetrate the shield-less Vengeance’s armor. A couple shots from the turbolasers with line of sight quickly destroyed the impatient ship as if they were clubbing baby Nerfs.
Nes’ik issued the same order again with more emphasis since the crew was clearly distracted by said Nerfs, “Move around the dock, get up in his rear.” The Sturdy moved around the space dock and found their quarry, and unfortunately also facing them directly. “All batteries open fire!” and so they did. Mass driver slugs fired from the triple barrels of each of the four mass driver cannons, shattering through ray shielding and punching holes in the Victory cruiser’s deck plating. Turbolaser fire from each ship also probed weak spots and subsequently found them detonating ammo stores. The upper starboard side mass driver took a hit in the barrel, so when it next fired it detonated and took both cannons with it. Heavy turbolaser fire managed to destroy the shield generator protecting the main bridge of the Victory. A turbolaser shot from the Vengeance though impacted the bridge of the Victory and passed through the other side creating a massive hole which certainly killed all its officers. The Victory listed and collided into the space dock snapping off one of its arms and which flung off all of the ships then being constructed underneath it. That was when the closest Cardan detonated in a flash of blinding white light with pieces of semi-molten metal flying out in all directions.
What came next was a milestone in galactic history for ages to come, the moment when everyone in the galaxy knew of the power acquired by the Zann Consortium.
“Fortress Alpha Ten!” That was all marine commander Tralzik van Bernron said in a special communication directly to the Merciless. Translation: the shuttle has landed on the Eclipse and we are heading to the bridge. Tyber would then broadcast an order to all other ships in the area signifying that they go and guard the Eclipse while the superlaser takes out any ships larger than a corvette. In this regard, Han Solo and the Rebels knew they had been betrayed when they saw the remains of the Consortium fleet move with all speed to the Eclipse.
“You almost had me convinced Zann. Almost.”
“What can I say Solo, you’d never let me keep the ship, so instead I’ll have to kill you.”
“Run those lips all you want, it won’t save you.”
“Solo, you and I both know that I am hard to kill. So Emperor’s Black Bones help me you are the one who will die!”
“Well then I’ll see you in hell!”
“Which one is more dead, the one who’s there first, or the one who follows him eh?” Tyber heard what sounded like a facepalm over the comm and then decided to cut contact.
Meanwhile, van Bernron and the three squads he was leading moved down the corridors with full intent of capturing the two hard targets. “Split up, half of the Droidekas come with me and Hunter to the bridge, the rest of you go with Teeth to secure the superlaser, copy?” “Aye commander!” and just like that, they split. Hunter’s Droidekas rolled through the halls and killed the one technician they saw, cowering in a corner likely praying for his life. The bridge ended up only being a hundred meters away from the shuttle down a straight corridor, so it wasn’t too hard to find. Upon entry, it was empty save for a couple of data pads and a spilled cup of caf indicating that the place had just been evacuated.
The commander felt very off in this ship. There was something about how the dark grey and black bulkheads illuminated only by dim red emergency lights that made him feel as though the ship was alive and ready to eat him. He noted the uneasiness and tucked it away; fear is natural, an early warning system, use it to your best ability and it’ll keep you alive. van Bernron then moved to what appeared to be the main console and started conjuring up schematics to relay to Teeth squad. There was no security in the system, more reason for him to feel anything but safe. He pulled up the information Tyber wanted and pulled it aside so that it would be ready when he came aboard for his inevitable inspection. The coordinates for the superlaser firing station finished being summoned from the depths of the computer system, and the commander sent them off to Teeth. Blaster fire from a Droideka began to echo from the corridor, so he left his two technologically savvy men in the bridge to their work and joined the fight outside the bridge. Sorry Teeth, he thought, looks like you’ll be having company soon.
IG-88, a droid bounty hunter then under the Zann Consortium’s employ, had been assigned as a slicer to get through any security guarding the superlaser aboard the Eclipse. Teeth squad’s CO, a lieutenant named Roon Ofod told him to get through the door, then return to his ship and rejoin the space battle. Accomplishing his work in little under a minute, he clanked back to the IG-2000.
Ofod and his team secured the room and found it to be empty save for one computer console. As if the Emperor wanted to stroke his ego, he had a sign welded to the bulkhead above it saying “ReblZ SuK” in poorly drawn black marker. Ofod was a skilled slicer, and would be the best in the Consortium if not for the hiring of IG-88. Even so, he knew an easy hack job when he saw one. Teeth knew their job, protect the one at the console and by extension, the longevity of the superlaser. Ofod broke through the pitifully inadequate firewall and began finding targets to destroy with the weapon. The targets were ones pre-selected by Tyber as being priority one; mostly capital ships like Imperial Star Destroyers and MC-80 Mon Calamari class Cruisers.
Ofod opened up a comm channel with Tyber, “The Eclipse is ready to fire on your order.” Tyber didn’t respond for a few seconds, likely because he was issuing orders on his ship. When he did speak he said only two words, “Good… execute.” Ofod didn’t need telling twice, so he found the closest ship from his targeting spree and pressed the big red button on the console.
Commander Reca Skirata, CO of the Crusader Gunship Kyorimut, was about to pounce on a group of TIE Bombers from behind a dry dock when a terrifying green laser beam erupted from the bow of the Eclipse and vaporized both the TIEs and an MC-80 Star Cruiser that they were about to attack. Utter shock flowed through him and all who had just seen that blast. Reca stood there for another moment before regaining his senses and seeing another few squads of TIEs. “Fire everything!” Point defense lasers shot down proton torpedoes and concussion missiles fired by the TIE Bombers. Laser cannons on their swift turning mounts kept up with TIE Interceptors trying their luck in flanking and subsequently shot them all down.
Reca felt piercing pain for every pilot that was just shot down; those clones had no more voice than his father did until he had deserted from the army almost twenty three years ago due to his injuries suffered on Gaftikar. He was proud to be the son of Fi Skirata, but even more so, he was proud of being able to defend his home of Mandalore from the Imperial oppressors.
The Zann Consortium had only a small presence on the planet at first, but it was clear from the get go they were not friends with Palpatine. They had entered a contract with MandalMotors and Mandal Hypernautics where both of his parents worked, and began providing Mandalore with an almost unprecedented amount of credits which were put to use designing planetary defenses under the nose of the Imperial garrison. Reca joined with them about a year ago thanks to clan Skirata having a Crusader made for the clan. He was one of sixteen representatives of the most powerful clans on Mandalore and was only in it to represent the clan and make sure the Consortium lived by their end of the bargain to remove the Imperial presence from the planet. So far they were living by that promise.
Reca scolded himself for the mental tangent and proceeded to look down at his tactical display and saw an Imperial Star Destroyer vanish after being hit by the superlaser. He didn’t trust that amount of firepower in the hands of an almost random grunt, but he wasn’t there to complain, only to kick ass and drink the blood of his enemies. Considering that those enemies were in the high Kuat atmosphere and were mostly clones, he was less than inclined to go out and fetch it. Another Star Destroyer blew up and unlike the others; this one was less than two klicks away. The shock wave expanded like a sphere and rocked all the ships within a five klick radius. The Kyorimut groaned as the overpressure wave passed through the ship. A couple bolts flew out of their sockets and clattered down onto the deck.
War is hell. There was nothing glorious about it. That being said, the location the Kyorimut was in was like a combination of all the seven Corellian hells. Three DP-20 corvettes were firing concussion missiles at the ship along the port side. A trio of Acclamators were along the underside of the vessel but thankfully ignoring it. Lastly, the Millennium Falcon entered the vicinity and opened up with its massive quad laser cannons. Reca was losing patience. “Fire all batteries on that freighter. Comms, let Merciless know the Falcon is over here and that we need back up. Let any ships in the area know that we have multiple gunships on our ass and we need them gone yesterday. What are you, Hutts, get moving!” Lieutenant Ralroost, the Bothan communication officer, complied.
An Interceptor IV, the Two for Flinching responded almost immediately and fired four concussion missiles at one of the DP-20s. The gunship spiraled as its engine block took a hit and then drifted into space a dead ship leaking coolant and lubricants. The two turbolaser banks on the Interceptor caught the other two gunships off guard as well. One tried to feed its engines all the power it could but ended up accelerating into a repair dock and detonated on impact. The other vessel was overpowered by the turbolasers and broke up into three pieces along the seams of the modular component sockets. An Aggressor entered the fray responding to the distress call and fired off its mega cannons into the closest Acclamator. The ship exploded and sent shrapnel flying every direction. The other Acclamators concentrated on the new comer and managed to disable its cannons leaving only two turbolaser banks. It was clear that the Aggressor wouldn’t make it, so its captain flew straight at the ships and activated its self-destruct. The three ships became a second sun for an instant, and then there was nothing.
The Millennium Falcon however was unharmed. Nevertheless, the Kyorimut continued to send laser cannon fire down range. The Two for Flinching now finished dealing with the gunships fired all of its remaining concussion missiles in one massive salvo and caught the Rebel flagship right in the gut. The Falcon was defeated, but before a final blow could be dealt, the Falcon jumped into hyperspace and escaped. Victory seemed inevitable, but then retribution came in the form of Kuat’s iron fist.
The Annihilator, an Executor class Star Dreadnaught entered the combat zone with three Imperial Star Destroyers as an escort. The ship entered in such a way that it was highlighted by the local sun, and if it weren’t the enemy, than many would have called it beautiful. Tyber Zann however thought it was anything but beautiful at this particular moment. The superlaser aboard the Eclipse fired again and one of the escort Star Destroyers vanished in an instant. It was only a matter of time before all osik hit the fan, “The superlaser has malfunctioned! We need time to repair it!” came the voice of Lieutenant Roon Ofod. Tyber was now in full panic mode, he had lost his trump card and a full quarter of the fleet had either been destroyed, disabled, or had retreated to the secret space station near the Maw to undergo major repairs.
“Comm issue a general order, all remaining ships are to guard the Eclipse while the superlaser undergoes repairs! Any vessels too damaged to fight are to retreat back to the Maw,” Tyber ordered. Communication officer Ell Haallouf, a Twi’lek relayed the message fleet wide. Tyber looked through the viewport and was grateful to see only a few ships jumping back to the Maw. All others were forming a defensive phalanx and were denying the Empire their target. Another saving grace was that all of the Kedalbe battleships were reporting 100% effective, and they needed to be too for the task ahead of the fleet.
One of the remaining Imperial Star Destoyers charged at the line and found himself under a concentrated capital ship bombardment. It disintegrated under the intense fire, but the Executor was a different story. As it waddled forth, the 500 plus turbolasers and ion cannons fired and destroyed a couple Interceptors in a single volley. The eight remaining Aggressors fired their mega-cannons and the combined salvo brought the Executor’s shields down to half. All of the Skipray Blastboats began a bombing run while their StarViper friends engaged the numerous fighters coming at them and distracted the point defense gunners. Concussion missiles and proton torpedoes firing from the Annihilator were mostly intercepted by well-timed uses of the Crusader gunships point defense systems, but some got through and knocked out ten of the gunships severely limiting the fleet’s defenses.
Tyber ordered all ships to bombard the Executor and saw its shields finally come down. Battle formation Grand Slam was initiated. The remaining Interceptors gunned their engines and started to flank the massive warship. The ship's commander was an Admiral named Gaarn, and he was anything but incompetent, so seven of the small warships succumbed to its fire while the rest dove to the belly of the beast where major guns were much less common. Turbolasers began to fire on the Executor’s underside, but many were simply absorbed by the armor of the behemoth. When it became apparent conventional attack wouldn’t work, the Interceptors concentrated on the hangar and sufficiently disabled it from launching or accepting ships before continuing to the engines and the reactor core far to the aft of the ship.
Several of the main weapon banks were destroyed by the Skipray squadrons, but enough remained to destroy a Kedalbe after a direct hit to its reactor core. A couple of the Vengeance frigates went into stealth mode and joined the Interceptors in their flanking maneuver. Among them was the heavily damaged Sturdy.
Once the majority of the chemical leaks and fires had been halted, the crew in the damaged sections evacuated to the rest of the ship and the entire remaining starboard block was ejected, making the ship stealth worthy again.
Mass driver fire direct on the Annihilator’s main bridge was an unpleasant occurrence for it, but the secondary bridge located inside the hull was not harmed so easily. The Executor would not go down like her namesake, the Executor, for this ship was not caught in a gravity well.
The Aggressors cannons had recharged and another single second bombardment targeted the Annihilator. At the lead of the formation was the set of supercharged shots fired by the Merciless. They drilled into the section weakened by the bombing run of the Skiprays and snapped off a solid five kilometer chunk of the bow. Even this heavily damaged, the fight was proceeding very poorly as more ships continued to fall around the Merciless. Tyber wondered if this was the end.
“Superlaser repaired! Firing on the flagship!” Roon Ofod was yelling when he discovered the problem was an intentionally sabotaged power circuit. A quick replacement was installed, the culprit executed with a blaster bolt to the face, and he sprinted back to the gunnery station. It took him a solid minute to get back to the room at a full sprint. He didn’t have any targeting data on an Executor class Star Dreadnought so he had to manually aim the massive cannon. He commed commander van Bernron to move the ship seven degrees port. van Bernron knew it was their only chance so he managed to activate the maneuvering thrusters and succeeded in moving the ship while snapping the construction scaffolding attaching the Eclipse to the dry docks. Ofod had only one shot, so he made certain it was worth it. He moved the joystick on the console until the reticule on the display was firmly aimed at the Executor. With the grace of a grunt, he slapped down on the red button which fired the cannon. The massive green bolt of energy sheared through the Annihilator and ended the second battle of Kuat with a bang.