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The Dark Winds of Fate (FT, INTRO, OPEN)

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:48 am
by The Republic of New Coruscant
OOC: Obviously looking for someone to own the system I've just dropped into. My only request is that people only respond if willing to put a decent level of effort into this thread.

Jedi Padawan Skye Arkada
RNS Novastar, Unknown Star System
Day 1,114 of the Clone Wars

The Republic Star Destroyer Novastar was in disarray.

Several days travel away from the Republic World of New Coruscant, a major colony that had been established on the far side of a hyperspace wormhole from the Home Galaxy, the Novastar was dead in space and chaos reigned on her decks. The two thousand Clone Troopers of the 2,241st Regiment were sweeping the ship with murderous intent, her seven thousand strong non-clone crew were either actively assisting, caught in the crossfire or doing their best to hide from the mayhem; with anyone not helping viewed as an enemy. The ship had already suffered significant damage as a result of the fighting that was taking place within her hull; the main hyperdrive engines had been deliberately sabotaged and other systems had taken collateral damage as a result of blaster fire or the occasional thermal detonator. In many respects it was a miracle that the ship was still in one piece and able to sustain its crew, given the amount of damage that had been done to the ship over the past few hours, and it was only the fact that the ship was in space, well away from the various planet so the star system she had so recently entered, that meant there was little imminent risk to the ship.

At the very centre of the chaos, and it’s primary cause, was Skye Arkada, a Padawan of the Jedi Order who had suddenly found herself under attack by the same troopers she had so often led into combat across the Home Galaxy. She had been hesitant at first to even defend herself, but after reaching out with the Force to touch the minds of her formerly loyal soldiers she sensed their murderous intent and righteous anger and knew that if she did not they would kill her. She had done her best to defend herself in a non-lethal manner thereafter, but nothing she said or did seemed to make the smallest bit of difference to the Clones. It was less clear cut with the naval personnel, which arguably made matters far more dangerous for her as she moved about the ship; some would try and gun her down as well, screaming about treason and orders, others would beg her not to hurt them or otherwise run away from her whilst yet more briefly hid her from the searching troopers.

Nevertheless, as she moved through the ship, searching without much luck for a way off the ship that was unguarded, Skye had never felt so alone. Her master, Togrutan Jedi Knight Zorhee Menyr, had been summoned back to New Coruscant to discuss an urgent matter with Jedi Master Jalen Sedaya who was in charge of all the Jedi stationed in this new galaxy. More than any other time during her training, which had been coming to an end with her Master intending to recommend her for the Trials in a few short months, Skye missed the quietly confident wisdom with which he had trained her. He would, she was confident, know what to do. As far as she could tell, her only chance of survival was to get off the ship and try and head back to New Coruscant. From what she had been able to gather, there was something wrong with the Clones that meant that they couldn’t be reasoned with; fortunately given the need for troops to fight the Outer Rim Sieges there were only a handful of clone regiments in this new Galaxy; with most military forces being normal recruits rather than clones. As such, Skye hoped that whatever was going on would be a little more under control on New Coruscant.

Of course, there was a major problem with her plan; the 2,241st knew what she was going to attempt as much as anyone else and had locked down the main dorsal flight deck meaning that it would suicidal to try and steal a fighter from there. From her reconnaissance the ventral hanger deck was far less well defended, but the only fighters that were stored down there were the ARC-130 heavy starfighters, which usually required a minimum of two pilots, ideally a third gunner, and slow, shuttles that would be lucky to get clear of the ship. It was not ideal, but she was going to have to try and steal an ARC-130, even if flying it alone would leave her at a tactical disadvantage if the clones launched fighters to pursue her. After a short time watching from the maintenance ducts, Skye dropped down into the pilot’s ready room, intending to try and sneak across the hanger deck to the nearest ARC-130, when she felt a hand on her shoulder and almost had a heart attack even as she turned and began to energise her lightsaber.

“Hey, steady on, it’s me!”

Letting out a sigh of relief as she recognized the young man in front of her, even as she cursed herself for not paying attention to her surroundings, either physically or through the force, and getting snuck up on.

“Markus!” Skye exclaimed. “Your still alive.”

“I am,” Flight Officer Markus Revik replied with a nod. “I could say the same about you.”

“I’m fine,” Skye said firmly. “What is going on aboard this ship?”

“We’re not sure,” Markus replied, gesturing to a handful of other pilots who emerged from their hiding place. “As far as we can tell, the Clone Regimental Commander received an order from the Home Galaxy, it all went to hell after that… trying to kill you.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” Skye sighed. “I need to get off this ship.”

“We agree,” Markus nodded, clearly speaking for the other pilots. “There is enough of us here for three ARC-130s… that way we can cover each other.”

“I can’t ask you to come with me, Markus,” Skye said firmly. “The clones are trying to kill me, and anyone who helps me, it’ll put you at risk.”

“Skye, whatever is happening, I don’t like the sound or feel of it,” Markus shook his head. “Besides, I will not leave you to face this alone.”

Skye paused for a moment, her eyes searching her friends features carefully, before she nodded and glanced at the other pilots who all nodded their agreement with Markus’ sentiment. At some point over the past year they had all fought together, and Skye had made a point of leading rescue teams to recover downed pilots, so there was a lot of loyalty there. For whatever that was worth, after the betrayal of the Clones.

“Alright then; there’s maybe three dozen clones out there; I can hold them off whilst you get to the fighters and get them powered up,” Skye said firmly. “You’ve only got pistols, so you’re going to struggle to range on the clones across the hanger, so focus on the fighters.”

The gathered pilots nodded their understanding of her instructions and after a deep breath Skye led the way onto the hanger deck. The clone platoon was gathered behind defensive positions near the main door into the rest of the ship, and were caught by surprise as their target emerged from behind them, but they reacted quickly and opened fire. Skye energised her lightsaber and began to deflect the blaster bolts away from herself, feeling the force to allow her to also deflect those bolts that would have gone on to hit the pilots she was protecting. As an adherent to the third form of lightsaber combat, Soresu, favoured by Jedi Padawans being trained during the war for obvious reasons, Skye was able to defend herself, and her pilots, from the clones with an ease that amazed even those that had seen her flow through the fiercest firefight without a scratch. As the clones tried to move around to flank her on both sides, knowing the best way to kill a Jedi was to overwhelm them with concentrated fire from multiple directions, Skye reached out with her free hand and used the force to throw containers and other heavy objects at her assailants to dissuade them of the attempt.

Behind her, Skye could hear the engines of three ARC-130s firing up and, sure enough, a few moments later she heard Markus’ shout.

“Skye! We’re good to go.”

Closing her eyes and reaching into the force, Syke released a powerful force push that sent containers, and other debris flying at the clone troopers, keeping their heads down long enough for her to leap from her position to the wing of the nearest ARC-130, scrambling into the pilot’s seat even as Markus brought up the shields from the co-pilots seat. Just in the nick of time, as it turned out, as a flurry of blaster bolts slammed into the fighter’s shields as the clones renewed their efforts to kill their Jedi target. Fortunately for Skye and her compatriots, the ARC-130’s shields were designed to stand up to significantly more powerful weaponry than mere blaster rifles, and the pilot manning the rear gun immediately opened fire himself, putting down a withering barrage of laser cannon fire that kept the clone’s heads down long enough for Skye to lift the fighter off the deck before gunning the throttle and speeding from the bay.

Almost as soon as the fighter had cleared the hanger bay it came under fire from the Star Destroyer’s point defence laser cannons, however these too were frustrated by the ARC-130s shielding; it wouldn’t stand up forever but it would be more than enough to get clear of the ship.

“Where to, Skye?” Markus asked once the point defence fire from the Novastar began to lighten.

“New Coruscant, eventually, but I want to make sure we lose our tail and try and contact the Jedi Enclave before we head back,” Skye replied. “There’s a star system a short jump away from here, we’ll head there first and take it from there.”

“Roger that,” Markus said immediately. “Course laid in.”

Syke smiled slightly and pushed the hyperdrive throttle forwards, leaping the fighter to hyperspeed alongside the two other craft in their ad hoc flight, and soon enough they were speeding through the blue-white maelstrom of hyperspace. It was only now, that they were truly safe, that Skye allowed herself to slump back in her seat and breath a sigh of relief. After hours of fighting for her life it was only now that she could consider the implications of what had happened to her; the very real possibility that this was happening all over the home galaxy to countless other Jedi. She had been too caught up in her own situation that she had not felt the disturbances in the force that now flooded into her mind; even this far away from home the feeling was unmistakable as thousands of Jedi cried out in pain, agony and terror as their lives were snuffed out. Whatever was happening, it was obvious that it was on a galactic scale to be felt this far away, and only underlined her desire to get back to New Coruscant and regroup with her Master and other Jedi. She only hoped that the lack of any disturbances far closer was a good sign that at least some Jedi were still alive on New Coruscant, not that they had simply been drowned out by the sheer weight of the disturbances from the Home Galaxy.

It did not take long for the three-craft flight to reach the target star system, and they were soon decelerating rapidly and emerging into unknown space. No sooner had they returned to normal space did they find themselves under fire; behind them a dozen Alpha-3 Nimbus-Class starfighters, utilizing Syliure-45 hyperdrive rings, had followed in their wake and set upon them as soon as they returned to normal space themselves. The three ARC-130s scattered even as their own rear gunners opened fire on their assailants, each taking three or four enemy fighters with them, although two of the gunners, including Skye’s, scored direct hits against the far weaker shields of the Alpha-3s and started the battle to even the odds. The ARC-130 could not match the Alpha-3 in either unmaneuverability or speed, so they had to rely on a combination of their rear gunners and co-operation with flight mates to lead enemy fighters in front of the guns of another ARC-130. It was largely for this reason that the ARC-130 possessed such strong shields, as they would take a pounding whilst doing so.

Once the ARC-130 had a target in its sight, however, its powerful medium laser cannons (as opposed to the light laser cannons normally found on a fighter-sized craft) made quick work of the Alpha-3s. It took a few minutes for the ARC-130s to leverage their foes into positions where they could be destroyed by a flight mate, or their own rear gunner, but their superior shielding and firepower shone through, although they had all taken a pounding.

No sooner had the proverbial dust settled when the ARC-130s communications systems lit up as they were hailed by a totally unknown communications signal.

“You can’t be serious,” Skye sighed. “We’ve landed in an inhabited system?”

In the months that had passed since the foundation of New Coruscant, no Republic ship had encountered another space-faring civilization and here Skye and her allies had stumbled straight into one.

“Looks like it,” Markus replied. “Got at least one ship on intercept course for us.”

“I suppose we better respond,” Skye sighed, thumbing the communications system. “Attention local vessel, this is Padawan Skye Arkada of the Jedi Order… we have no hostile intentions against you and request permission to approach.”

“You do realise they just watched that fight,” Markus commented dryly.

“They’ll have a lot of questions, I’m sure,” Skye shrugged. “Let’s just make sure they don’t just blast us out of space!”

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:05 pm
by Sub Sector Protractis

Standard Procedure; Patrolling the Border

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:23 pm
by Olimpiada

Crimson, Atenai
Nautikos XV Atenai, FWOS Invocation

Incoming unidentified starships. Designated Vampire 1 through 3. Dispatch to intercept, Invocation.

Copy, Basilisk. Characteristics?

13 meters length by 20 meters width. Seemingly uses reactionless drives. Lightly armed at best.

“Alrighty folks, ya heard dispatch. Combat jump in five, let’s go get us some parking tickets.”

“Aye sir,” came a chorus of voices directed at Captain Nikephoros Kymineianus. The crew was scattered around a boundless meadow, tapping away at holographic projections surrounding them. In the sky overhead, was Crimson. Puffy white clouds floated above azure seas, scarlet foliage, and ashen concrete jungles. Spindly elevators reached up from particle accelerators toward blooms of solar panels in distant geosynchronous orbit, hungry for enough power to feed the nation’s antimatter habit. It was the nation’s refinery, spinning fuel from gold nuclei and light. Kymineianus called it home.

The whole thing was an illusion, of course. Their real bodies were packed away in acceleration tanks, filled with oxygenated compression fluids, shaven heads bristling with interface plugs. But he preferred not to think about it. Every time he did so, he could almost swear he felt the tickle of fluid at the back of his windpipe, or in his nose and ears. It wasn’t entirely pleasant.

At least the job seemed easy enough. Take the Invocation out a few light seconds, yell at a trespasser for not having proper documentation, and either get them to pay for documents, or blow them out of the proverbial water. The latter option rarely came up, but it did so with just enough frequency that it warranted the standby border patrol ships being ready for full acceleration and combat jumps.

“Jumping now,” announced the navigation officer. It wasn’t a terribly flashy process from the inside. The sky above suddenly changed in perspective, the whole planet above being transformed into a mottled red dot in the distance. And that was it. From the outside, it was entirely different. The antimatter reaction which fueled their blink drives generated enough waste heat to be a serious problem, and as this was a combat jump, they came prepared to deal with this. Massive ice blocks plugged into the heat pipes vaporized almost instantly, incandescent purple flames blossoming from the sides of the ship. Smaller combat radiators lit up across the ship, illuminating an otherwise unremarkable grey cylinder with glowing geometric patterns. And a mere hundred kilometers away sat their quarry, identifiable only as a trio of red markers on tactical displays and in the digital sky above.

Kymineianus was about to hail them, when a message came in first. He put it on.

“Attention local vessel, this is Padawan Skye Arkada of the Jedi Order… we have no hostile intentions against you and request permission to approach.” It was just a girl, scarcely older than his own daughter. But the way she spoke was almost haughty. It seemed like he was expected to know anything about where the group hailed from. He shook his head and got on with his job.

“Unidentified vessels, this is the FWOS Invocation, and unless this is an emergency, you’d best be quick ‘bout explaining why you feel you can go gallivanting about Olimpiadan territory without the proper permits for trade or travel.” He spoke slowly, deliberately. “Got rules around these parts, y’know? Now explain yerself, or pay up.” The casual approach wasn’t ever quite what he intended to do, but the Crimson drawl lent itself to that mode of speech entirely too well. While waiting for a return hail, he eyed the starships through the lens of an onboard telescope. Well, fighters may have been a better term. Whoever they were, they seemed to subscribe to that odious philosophy of spatial warfare. He reasoned they weren’t any real threat, but still kept a few dozen point defense beams target locked on them just in case. No need to bring the railguns to bear just yet, but reactionless drives always set him on edge.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:56 pm
by The Republic of New Coruscant
Jedi Padawan Skye Arkada
ARC-170 Starfighter, Unknown Star System
Day 1,114 of the Clone Wars

“I take it they missed that little firefight of ours,” Markus said dryly. “Either way, no way is that an official vessel with a hail like that.”

“I’d tend to agree,” Skye replied. “They sounded more like a Hutt trying to shake us down.”

“What do you want to do,” Markus asked. “Can you sense anything?”

“No, whatever is going on back home has clouded the Force,” Skye sighed. “Alright, let’s see what we’re dealing with before we respond; full sensor scan.”

“Roger that, Commander.”

Skye frowned to herself at the use of her military rank. Given everything that had happened to her, and what she feared had happened to countless other Jedi back in the Home Galaxy, she couldn’t help but suspect that neither she nor any other Jedi actually had a rank in the Grand Army of the Republic anymore. After all, it had been GAR troopers that had been trying to kill her less than a half hour ago, and some of the naval personnel had been shouting about ‘orders’ of some kind to justify their attempts to kill her. Then again, she supposed that those who had chosen to throw their lot in with her had to hold onto something to keep them sane during all of this, and if that was her status as their superior officer then she wasn’t about to take that away from them. After all, she owed her lives to them as she would not have been able to make it clear of the Novastar without their help, particularly in the dogfight they had just survived due in no small part to their team work. As far as she was concerned, right now her first responsibility was to these men and women who had thrown in their lot with her.

“It reads like nothing I’ve seen before,” Markus reported with an audible frown. “Putting it up on your screen, what do you make of this?”

Skye glanced down at the visual display to her left and examined the sensor returns of the local vessel. It didn’t look like anything she had seen before either, but she did recognize a few features from her studies in the Jedi Archives.

“Occasionally, Republic vessels encountered ships from undiscovered star systems that did not have access to the kind of technology we take granted, and had to come up with more primitive ways to deal with the various challenges thrown up by space travel,” Skye explained, pointing out several features. “Presumably that is why they used some unknown form of faster than light travel, rather than a hyperdrive, and why their ship looks like a weird cylinder, Force only knows how it’s supposed to fight or what sort of weapons they’ll have, but presumably pretty primitive as well.”

“So we’re likely faster, quicker accelerating and more agile, even if we weren’t fighters against what is, presumably, a ship of some kind,” Markus replied. “Do you think we take them?”

“It’s difficult to know; depends if they’ve managed to develop deflector shields, and whether they’ve got heavy armour or not,” Skye shrugged. “We’ve not exactly got a full combat load… no concussion missiles or proton torpedoes, so I’m hoping we won’t have to.”

Skye fell silent for a few moments as she considered her next move. Instinctively she was conflicted; as a Jedi she ought to be the first advocate for a peaceful response, and yet after three years of fighting a bloody war her first thought was the defence of herself and those under her command. It was, perhaps, fortunate, that if push came to shove they would likely be able to avoid weapons fire from this new enemy, if indeed they turned out to be an enemy, long enough to simply jump to hyperspeed and move on; there was no immediate need to fire on this ship when a fight could be avoided. And yet, if New Coruscant was still a place that she could call home, much less one that she would have any authority to still represent, the outcome of this encounter would shape future relations with the nearest inhabited star system. There was, of course, the very real possibility that the Star Destroyer Novastar would follow them to this system, as they would have been able to detect the vector on which the three ARC-170s had managed to escape, and she rather doubted that they would tolerate such insolence from a local patrol ship if they were still intent on chasing down a Jedi, and despite their rudeness she had no wish to visit death or destruction on these people.

“Send to flight, on a secure channel; keep your hands on the throttle, we may need to get out of here in a hurry,” Skye said as she made up her mind. “Shields to double-front, take everything from weapons, we’re not shooting at anyone today.”

“Roger that,” Markus replied as Skye thumbed the switch for the general broadcast.

Invocation, this is Padawan Arkada, as it clearly escaped your attention that my squadron mates and I are mere minutes out of a fight of our lives, the outcome of which you can see in the debris around us, you are very mistaken if you think I’m going to allow you to shake us down under the guise of some form of authority,” Skye said firmly, not believing them to represent anyone. “However, I will be proceeding in-system and requesting a meeting with an actual representative of the local government, to advise of them of an impending threat to this system by a hostile power, however any attack upon us will be met by a full retaliatory response by our Government.”

This was a lie, of course, and the potential threat to the system she also feared was from the same Government she was trying to leverage as a means of protection, but these people had no way to know any of this. A Jedi did not like to lie, if they could avoid it, but knew as well as everyone that sometimes it was necessary. As it stood, she had no reason to believe that this ship was actually a legitimate vessel, and she would leverage whatever threats she needed to keep her people safe from a threat that had came across very much like a pirate trying to play at being an official vessel.

Deductive Reasoning; Sailors' Musings

PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:06 pm
by Olimpiada

Crimson, Atenai
Nautikos XV Atenai, FWOS Invocation

”They’re scanning us. Not really sure why. We can dice them up pretty easily at this close range.” Kymineianus frowned at this. Active sensors were usually a direct prelude to one’s assault, as they revealed the user’s location as surely as the target’s. Oh well. Game theory says tit for tat.

“Welp. Respond in kind, full spread on radar, lidar, and-”

Invocation, this is Padawan Arkada,” blared the incoming hail. The girl still seemed to be at it. “as it clearly escaped your attention that my squadron mates and I are mere minutes out of a fight of our lives, the outcome of which you can see in the debris around us, you are very mistaken if you think I’m going to allow you to shake us down under the guise of some form of authority. However, I will be proceeding in-system and requesting a meeting with an actual representative of the local government, to advise of them of an impending threat to this system by a hostile power, however any attack upon us will be met by a full retaliatory response by our Government.” She seemed to mean business, even if she didn’t know how that worked in the area.

“Sensors, they were in a fight?”

“Seems so. Hadn’t really caught it after they jumped in, must have been a quick affair. I just assumed the debris was local stuff. Good shooting on her part.”

“Right, have a gander at what they were up against.” A few zoomed in telescope shots appeared around him in lifelike resolution. Scraps of armor, a lonely wing without a fighter attached to it. They bore the same insignia as Arkada’s squadron. Upon further reconstruction from the available data, perhaps the same design. A theory began to form in his brain. He thought it was solid enough to go off of.

“Well ma’am, thank you very kindly for explaining yourself, wasn’t quite aware this was an emergency. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Captain Nikephoros Kymineianus, of the Foederati Olimpiada Astra Vexillatio, or the Olimpiadan Federal Astral Corps if your translator fancies Greek better. I’d also be your local government representative, else it would have been awfully strange of them to dispatch me out here. No need to be worrying about the government and such, I can tell that all y’all made quick work of the folks from yours, so it shouldn’t be much worry for us.” He let that one hang in the air for a moment. “How’s about we set down and meet somewhere in person rather than all this bickering out past the Lagrange points? I can get us a meeting room on one of the orbital rings. Ought to prove to your satisfaction that I’m no ruffian, and it’d give me a chance to breathe some real air for a change.”

He didn’t expect her to spring for that offer, but it was a start. Most anyone else he’d have reduced to scrap at this point, but the civil war narrative he was beginning to uncover here was interesting. Someone or something was hunting these three fighters from the Jedi Order, and he was curious to see what the hubbub was all about. Contrary to his earlier presentation, his job wasn’t so much to keep people out as much as it was to process their entry correctly. Bottom line, she could get a refugee permit and wait in line dirtside with the other unemployed masses for free meals of reconstituted krill and algae thrice daily. Top line, the corpses decide there’s money to one side of Arkada’s fight and he collects a bonus for the trouble of finding out. Might actually get to buy Eudocia something nicer than usual for Saturnalia this year.

“So. Bridge crew. Any thoughts on the princess?”

“Seems new to the whole real world bit,” came one gruff reply. Weapons. “Can’t fake those shooting skills though.”

“What, you don’t think that’s computer operated?” Older female. Comms officer.

“Nah. Computer would have done it faster at that range. Whole affair looks way closer than knife fighting range, they were practically breathing down each other’s necks. Any toasters were on those fighters, there wouldn’t be any survivors at all.”

“Begs the question though,” said Kyminieanus. “Why not have computers? They’ve got reactionless drives, they’re clearly no technological slouches. But they’ve got relatively primitive plasma weaponry, and leave targeting up to the human eye rather than something with real reflexes.”

“Galaxy’s weird, Cap’n.” Weapons again. “Always has been. Always will be. I try not to think about it too much.”

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:48 am
by The Republic of New Coruscant
Jedi Padawan Skye Arkada
ARC-170 Starfighter, Unknown Star System
Day 1,114 of the Clone Wars

“So, do we believe them this time?”

“Well, that second message sounded a lot more officious than their first one, now whether that is them trying to recover the situation, or an actual military officer correcting an overly casual initial hail, remains to be seen,” Skye replied thoughtfully as she looked down at the sensor display, trying to feel some sort of instinct through the clouded Force. “They also seem to have identified that the wreckage of those V-Wings belonged to the same Government we do, so it seems likely my bluff has been called, besides we’ll have a better shot in person, I think.”

Not that Skye was intending to try and fight her way out of anything once she met these people in person, but she knew from a practical perspective that even without knowing the exact capabilities of the ship she was facing that she, given her Jedi abilities, would have a far better chance of defeating even a large security team than all three ARC-170s successfully escaping into hyperspeed and she wasn’t about to sacrifice her comrades. Moreover, the largest strength of the ARC-170 was in it’s ability to target key enemy systems on an enemy vessel and hit them with a surprising amount of firepower for a starfighter, however their on-board targeting computers were having difficulty identifying critical systems on the local vessel, given its unfamiliarity. The targeting computers, which augmented the pilot’s own senses by calculating on the fly the necessary range, lead and countless other variables to ensure that when the trigger was pulled it had the best possible change of hitting the target, were very effective but required a common technological basis to select its targets. As such, until someone got a close-up sensor scan of the target, and military intelligence were able to run a full analysis, most targeting computers would struggle.

Of course this wasn’t a problem for the likes of a Star Destroyer, as it’s main heavy turbolasers didn’t exactly need pinpoint accuracy to be effective, but for a strike fighter it was a significant detriment which only heightened Skye’s instinct to avoid a fight in space. Or indeed a fight at all, as she was quickly coming to the conclusion that it was best to follow the guiding principles of the Jedi when the Force was so otherwise clouded.

“We’ll go aboard their station, I think,” Skye said after a time. “We’ve got a better chance of talking our way out of this, and if we can secure ourselves somewhere to stay, we can get a good night’s sleep before we make a run for New Coruscant.”

“Roger that, Commander,” Markus replied.

Skye thumbed the comm system again.

“Captain Kymineianus, I accept your gracious invitation to meet with you personally, as I suspect that will be more productive,” Skye replied politely. “Please transmit us navigation details to the station you have in mind and we’ll make our way over immediately.”

After receiving the requested data Skye led her ad hoc squadron towards the station in question. A flurry of questions bounced back and forth between the pilots on a secured frequency as they crossed the distance; by now it would be immediately obvious to the locals both the speed and acceleration even heavy strike fighters were capable of; well over one hundred megalights per hour and an acceleration of over 2,500 gravities without breaking a sweat, only made possible of course by the presence of Inertial compensators and other related equipment. However, this was only demonstrated in part before and after the small hyperspeed jump the three fighters made to close the distance rapidly, as fast as they would have crossed the distance Skye had no desire to delay this meeting any more than was strictly necessary. Soon enough they were approaching the station and closely following the instructions of the local space traffic controllers, and settling down in the docking bay they were directed to and climbing from their fighters and stepping down onto the first deck since they had left the Novastar.

The eight pilots and flight officers themselves were dressed in Republic Navy flight suits, which provided both life support and protection against the vacuum of space (in the event of needing to eject from a craft) as well as protecting against high-G maneuverers to complement the internal compensator. Each of them were armed with a blaster pistol in a leg-drop holster, as many pilots had been required to defend themselves from droids after being shot down during the Clone Wars. Skye, by contrast, was wearing the Jedi Order’s version, having be recently returned herself from a patrol when the attack had started, but instead of a blaster the only weapon she carried was her lightsaber; which to an outsider appeared as merely a cylinder on her equipment belt.

Each of the pilots and flight officers would be easily identifiable as military personnel from the way they carried themselves and the way they were scanning the immediate area around them for any sign of a threat. Skye, despite looking young and outwardly serene, would, to an observant onlooker, would have a similar tenseness, as if she was expecting an attack at any moment, as well as a seriousness in her expression and just the hint of weariness in her eyes that betrayed both the trauma she had experienced today and the stress of fighting a galactic war with serious responsibilities that few would expect a young woman of her age to be able to handle. Indeed, it was only her Jedi training and the comforting presence of the Force that had allowed her, and countless young Jedi like her to do so. The group kept close together as they waited for their hosts to approach.

Rebirth; A Stroll Through the Ring

PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:13 pm
by Olimpiada

Crimson, Atenai
Ithaca-4 Ring, Low Orbit

While the interlopers flew to the ring in gross defiance of what Kyminieanus knew about physics, the Invocation simply used its blink drive again. Perspectives shifted. Now the squadron was approaching rather than receding, and the planet was much closer. There was no flashy plasma glow this time, as they had already used up their ice supply. This time, fully extended radiators desperately incandesced their waste into the void, rapidly shifting from white down to yellow, and finally a dull orange glow.

To the bow of the ship was Ithaca-4, its graphene sides stretching out to encircle the planet. Distant tethers glowing with city lights reached down toward the ground below, holding the ring up by force of their tension, and providing an efficient means of transit to and from the ring in the process. The ship docked with its bow airlock, ensuring that gravity remained in proper orientation relative to the space inside. This completed, the simulation fell away, and Kyminieanus opened his real eyes, before closing them again to hack his lungs out.

Acceleration fluid was good for keeping his organs from turning to mush, but it was dreadfully awful to come out of. He fell out of his acceleration couch naked, on all fours, spewing pink slime from his lungs and nose into a drain in the floor. Undignified, unenjoyable, but hardly unusual. The bridge crew was scattered around the room experiencing roughly the same problems. He rose first, the most experienced of them, and wandered off to a shower. Ultrasonics blasted his body clean while he toweled off. A hovering drone had already followed his subcutaneous ID and delivered his uniform under the stall door, pressed free of wrinkles and wrapped in a clear plastic bag while he had been under. He put it on, and made sure he looked presentable in the mirror. Blue eyes stared out from a brown face, the nose between them underlined by a walrus moustache. Chrome ports dotted the top of his bald head before being covered up by the peaked cap of a captain. The plug into his brainstem wasn’t quite covered by the grey collar of his uniform shirt, but that wasn’t expected of anyone, officer or otherwise.

He took the elevator up to the airlock, stretching while he did so. He had been under for a few days now, and the resulting cramps would be agonizing if he didn’t work his muscles out now before the painkillers wore off. A short climb up a ladder later, he was in one of the ring’s many hangars, not too far from his office. This being a military hangar, his presence was normal, but the crews which weren’t too busy to do so paused to salute him. He returned the gesture in kind, quickening his pace toward the elevator before they wore out his elbow.

The ring was ultimately a civilian station, and that meant it had certain creature comforts. Rather than the stark plastic and metal interiors of the Invocation, the elevator here had diamond windows and panels of faux-wood (real wood would be far too expensive, even dirtside). He could see the people he worked for as he went up, going about their day to day lives. A ramen shop on the second floor, crowded by a number of vacuum welders just off their shift, sealant grease still staining their necks. On the fifth, a hologram of Aetia Iwakura hawked a designer drug inspired by her new album to a crowd of uncaring proles waiting for a maintenance tech to finish repairing an algae vendor. Finally, on the twelfth, the doors opened.

The highest floor in this section of the ring, it almost felt like it was outside. An urban canyon rose up toward the sky where the mottled surface of the planet hung above. A few terran trees dotted the walkways, greenery kept alive in defiance of the local star’s blue color. Holograms of celebrities and corporate execs accosted him as he walked through crowds of people heading to and from work at shift’s change, or the usual rabble of impoverished masses kept on basic support to prevent outright rebellion. Periodically, his uniform earned him a look of combined envy of his employment and contempt for his status. He had grown used to ignoring those too.

His office was a part of the navy complex about a kilometer from the hangar. It wasn’t anything too special, but at least it was his. A memory foam chair wrapped in bacterial leather sat behind a slightly fancy desk, a slab of polished and etched pallasite from a local asteroid perched atop a body of graphene reinforced plastic. A potted fern sat in a corner, kept barely alive by weekly visits from botanical drones. No security was present, but a trigger phrase would dispense a potent opioid gas he was patched against from the ventilation system if needed. Between that and the service revolver he kept in a desk drawer, he figured that would be plenty. Hoped that the human tendency toward civility would do its trick instead.

As expected, his visitors arrived a bit later than he did. “Please, be seated.” He realized there were only two chairs for three guests too late, but chose to ignore it. Nothing to be done now. “I do believe we got off on the wrong foot, and that’s a crying shame. Mind taking it from the top with all that business about you fighting for your lives against fighters lookin’ an awful lot like yours? Gonna guess that’s got something to do with the invasion story you were tryin’ to spin me out there.”

PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:54 am
by The Republic of New Coruscant
Jedi Padawan Skye Arkada
Ithaca-4 Ring, Atenai Star System
Day 1,114 of the Clone Wars

“Everything I told you was true, Captain, from a certain point of view,” Skye replied with a smile, but then she sighed heavily and the smile faded from her featured just as quickly as it had appeared. “Sadly, it seems that our point of view has gotten even more complicated.”

Skye was silent for a moment as she considered the best way to explain the situation. It was obvious, both from their technology and how they came across, that these people were very different from anything the Republic had encountered in some time… and that was saying something. Moreover, from what little they had seen on their escorted trip through the station they were able to get a few hints at the kind of society they were dealing with, which Skye had added to her initial judgements made during that first contact. After being allowed to bring two others with her she had chosen the two senior naval officers, one of which was Markus, both as back-up and much needed moral support. Although it would not be obvious to anyone who had not spent a lot of time with her, but Skye was weary, both from her own physical exertions and the mental strain the disturbances in the force that were still reaching her was having upon her.

“Our Republic has been engaged in a total war for much of the last three standard years, against violent Separatists, which has resulted, as I am sure you can imagine, in a great deal of upheaval, not to mention bloodshed, both military and civilian, as the Separatists and their Droid Army are bothered about collateral damage,” Skye commented, with obvious bitterness. “However, something else appears to have happened; my people, the Jedi, occupy a privileged position within the Republic, one that comes with a great deal of responsibility, including military command, however earlier today the military forces assigned to my Star Destroyer, turned on me, causing me to flee… from what I can determine, a similar thing has happened elsewhere in the Republic.”

Skye sighed.

“These officers, and my other pilots down in your hanger bay, were able to facilitate my evacuation from the Novastar, however as you have already seen we have already been followed here; suggesting it very likely that additional forces will be sent here in an attempt to kill or capture me and those who have backed me… I fear that their murderous intent would make you a target even if we left immediately,” Skye shook her head. “I wanted to explain my situation to you personally, so that you have time to prepare and so that you can completely and totally disavow my presence here, if these traitors come here looking for me… doing so might save you from attack, but I would strongly advise you against feigning ignorance as you would have obviously done, had I not explained our situation to you, when destroyed starfighter wreckage litters your outer system… despite our first communication I have no desire for you and your people to suffer because I choose this system to flee to in the first instance.”

Skye glanced back at her two officers, the junior one standing at parade request between the two chairs.

“I will answer any questions that you may have, and leave you with a promise that, if our Republic is still ours to call home, we will return to open true diplomatic relations, but then I ask that you allow me to depart this system, for your own safety if nothing else,” Syke added with another weary sigh. “I have no desire to get innocents embroiled in whatever is happening in our Republic, so the sooner we can leave the better, but I thought I owed you an explanation.”

The Astropolitics of a Fortress State; Recruitment Scheme

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:43 pm
by Olimpiada

Crimson, Atenai
Ithaca-4 Ring, Low Orbit

The girl’s speech was a lot to take in. Warfare in a distant galaxy, betrayal, genocide, and a buggy translator (no way in hell would anyone give command of a star destroying weapon to a child soldier, regardless of talent). She seemed intent on running, which was funny for someone who had put so much effort into stopping to speak with local authorities. Conflict seemed inevitable. Fortunately, Olimpiadan worlds were built for this.

There was a very simple reason that nearly a trillion people were crammed into merely three star systems, on only eight worlds: Local space was too crowded. In this section of the Gamma quadrant, life was not merely common, but abundant: each species abutted each other one. Territory was scarce; whenever a new world was found, it was common for colonial squabbles over it to escalate into full scale glassings, scorched earth middle fingers to anyone who dared try and gain a leg up over other powers. What worlds did manage to stay established rapidly evolved into fortresses.

Even now, the rings around Crimson bristled with laser and railgun mounts. Submarines filled with nuclear missiles and beam weapons stalked the seas below the thermocline, ready to ascend at a moment’s notice. Hollowed asteroids crammed full of bomb pumped lasers and nuclear penetrators whipped around the planet in stealthy eccentric orbits, waiting for tightbeam signals to destroy anything lacking appropriate IFF transponders. And all that was without even considering fleets presently docked along rings and attached to fortresses out at the Lagrange points.

It was never wise to underestimate a foe though, especially not an unknown one like this.

“Well then. That’s an awful lot.” He nodded his head for a moment while furrowing his brow. “Seems to me that your lot’s brought war to the doorstep of me and mine. I don’t blame you for it, figure you didn’t know quite where you were going on your run. But the problem does remain. I’ve got an unknown hostile force of unknown size that’s likely to attack from places unknown. Outlook’s entirely too blurry for me to be comfortable with.

“So I’ve got a proposal for you. I can get you and your companions temporary housing somewhere in this gravity well, much better than the lines of folks on Basic are getting. Edible food, too. In return though, I’d like you to take positions as guest officers and advise us about enemy strategies. If they’re traitors to your people, it stands to reason they’re still using the same tactics as they have been for the last three years. Makes it easier for the Astra Vexillatio to repel the assault, and heading them off here would probably help your government with regaining some of its legitimacy. Sound acceptable?”

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:11 am
by The Republic of New Coruscant
Jedi Padawan Skye Arkada
Ithaca-4 Ring, Atenai Star System
Day 1,114 of the Clone Wars

Skye was silent for a few moments as she considered the offer, and her options. It would certainly be preferable to be able to remain somewhere, catch their breath and take stock of the situation, than to have to keep running from system to system. Moreover, it would be infinitely easier to get more information regarding the situation back home if they were able to stage such reconnaissance missions from here, rather than having to worry about a rendezvous in an entirely different system which might have to be changed at the last minute if less welcoming locals were encountered. It would even be easier for any friendly forces from New Coruscant to find them, either by process of elimination or through a Jedi attempting to track down her Force echo, if they weren’t running pretty much constantly. Of course, the reverse was true as well; it would be far easier for the Clones to track them down here than if they kept running, for pretty much the exact same reasons, and that was something to consider. Remaining here would be to almost invite attack; as far as Skye could tell it was inevitable, as the Novastar knew full well where they had gone and where their fighters had been destroyed; it was only a matter of time before the Star Destroyer appeared in the system.

Although not quite as deadly as it’s name suggested, a single Venator-Class Star Destroyer, back in the home galaxy, was sufficient to lead assaults upon Rim Worlds, and were the backbone of the combat fleet. Without knowing more about the technological and tactical capabilities of these people, Skye had no way of knowing what it would take for them to be able to engage a Star Destroyer and emerge victorious, much less multiple such vessels. Indeed, the only hope that she could see that would prevent an all-out assault on this system was that the situation in New Coruscant was unlikely to be tremendously stable; whatever was happening back home would have an impact, as was already clear, on this side of the hyperspace wormhole but it was unlikely to be as well-developed as whatever was happening back in the home galaxy. Syke’s working theory at the moment was that the Separatists had somehow compromised the Clones of the Grand Army of the Republic, and official military communications, in which case New Coruscant, which had a relatively small Clone continent and a largely independent System Guard, would probably be faring far better than some world’s back home where the Clones were ubiquitous.

“I would still need to be able to have access to my starfighters; sooner or later I’m going to need to send a reconnaissance mission into Republic territory to get a firmer idea on the situation inside our own borders; if we are fortunate the reach of this treason will be limited and if we can fend of minor attacks here, that will be sufficient,” Skye replied eventually. “If we do have to fend off a major assault, my officers and I will obviously assist you, but you should know that by accepting our assistance and allowing us to stay here, you are likely inviting the attack and if my people, the Jedi, are the true target of this treason, and I am here, you will not be able to negotiate out of it.”

Preparations; Audience with the Admiralty

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:49 pm
by Olimpiada

Crimson, Atenai
Ithaca-4 Ring, Low Orbit

”I do believe you’ve made that rather clear. But seeing as we’re in a situation already going catawumpus, might as well make the best of it. You’ll have your starfighters, the appropriate papers for all y’all and them both should be filed by the time you’re back to the hangar. The station concierge isn’t a particularly sophisticated AI by any stretch of the imagination, but it’ll be able to show you anywhere you might want to go from a public terminal, along with basic queries. Now if you’ll excuse me, I do have to deal with paperwork and requisitions regarding this whole incident.”

Once they had left, he allowed himself a moment to catch his breath. He may have severely and irreparably fucked up by not just reducing them to their component atoms. But as an officer of the Olimpiadan Federal Military, he did have a duty to aid humans where possible. His work was sacred, to the extent that it kept xenoi out and made efforts to civilize barbaroi. Now, he had to do what he could to actually follow through with the promises he had made.

Independent initiative was encouraged to some extent for starship captains; thousands of lightyears of distance made it important for starsailors to be able to work on their own. As such, he did have a bit of a personal budget to work with which would pay for housing, food, ship repairs, and the encrypted tracking beacons he was assigning a work crew to conceal in the vessels when they might next have an opportunity to work on them. But that didn’t excuse the other offers he’d made. Which meant some wheeling and dealing was required to make them work.

“Absolutely not. Are you high, you country bumpkin fuck? Actually, don’t even answer that. The hell makes you think we’re gonna let a child command a godsdamned thing around here?” The meeting was going well, all things considered. Kymineianus hadn’t been discharged on the spot. Across the desk, a lacquered slab of rough cut oak wood, a very incredulous pair of black eyes stared through his head over the lit tip of an old fashioned cigar. Fleet Admiral Ambrosius Diogenus, regrettably in the flesh.

“Child’s a strong word, and it’s more of an honorary concept. Makes it so we can fit her into the command structure in an advisory capacity without giving her any actual power.” The situation was rapidly evolving out of what little control Kymineianus had had.

“Frankly, I’m not even sure why I should go that far. What makes you so sure she’s not full of it? Could be getting played, I know full well you haven’t got social implants.” He decided not to mention how strongly his husband had been against them. Didn’t want to think about how there was nothing stopping him now.

“I trusted my gut to begin with-” He held up a finger and nodded once as Diogenus opened his mouth for another lashing. “-and then checked the security feed afterwards. Pulse, sweat, and cortisol levels within expected norms for a newly arrived barbaros.” Associated readouts and video appeared in nearby holographic windows with a flick of the mind. “Body language remains fairly close to what patterns station footage showed on their way in, too. Could be an augment for that, but none showed up at the intake x-ray scanners. I’ve no reason to believe she’s lying, sir.”

“Still not going to give her the benefit of the doubt.” The admiral scratched the stubble on one of his cheeks. “Could still be a sleeper agent or somesuch. Galaxy’s both big and ugly, more than anyone could know.”

“Seems an awful lot of effort to get one person room and board, sir.”

“This may be a little before your time, but I assume you’re familiar with the Tezekis Incident?” Kymineianus nodded. The Tezekians had been a race of avian xenoi a few thousand light years away, but still in the Gamma Quadrant. Most Olimpiadans sneered at the alliance the president had signed with them for mutual defense against unknown AI threats, thought the concept of defending anything non-human foolish. A few years later, they were attacked, first by internal infiltration, and then outright conquest. The machines had sought to integrate and “uplift” them. The Olimpiadans were horrified. Collectively, the nation had wondered Oh shit, are we next? and marched to war to repel the menace. Billions died, and the Tezekians had fallen into a diaspora across the galaxy as a result.

“Right. I lead the warfleet there, as you know. Every time we turned around, it seemed like another one of the Tezekian military brass had been corrupted. Every time that happened, we lost thousands, sometimes millions, by walking directly into massive ambushes. We still haven’t recovered all of the dead lost to those, many have likely been uploaded to their demonic collective. So you’ll have to fucking forgive me, captain, if I seem a little terse about the prospect of letting some pipsqueak barbaros dictate even a scrap of our tactics, when I’ve received firsthand lessons about the quality of foreign militaries.”

“Fine then. I’ll rescind the components of my request pertaining to actual integration. Hell, I’ll shoot those three myself if I have to. If you want, sir, I’ll even do so if their reconnaissance mission turns up nothing of value. But I can’t in good conscience ignore a possible threat to the foederati. I swore the same oaths as you, sacrificed to the same gods as you, and I intend to keep those promises to the best of my ability.”

Diogenus considered this from a moment. Took a puff from his cigar, and set it down in the overflowing ashtray on his desk. Smiled ruefully. Rapped his knuckles against his desk once. “Alright. You’ve got your guest officer. But do know full well. If Ms. Arkada screws me, or more importantly, screws my nation, I’m finding a way to have the both of you put in the deepest holes I can scare up. We’re talking deep orbit lanthanide mining here. I’ll end you if you’re wrong. And you’d best not forget that.”

PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:00 am
by The Republic of New Coruscant
Jedi Padawan Skye Arkada
Ithaca-4 Ring, Atenai Star System
Daye 1,114 of the Clone Wars

“What do you make of them, Markus?”

Skye glanced over at the Flight Officer as she waited for his response. Both the pilots that had accompanied her had remained silent throughout the exchange, but at her instructions the had been watching and listening very carefully. She had her own thoughts and opinions, some of which had been facilitated by her connection to the Force, but she was interested to see what kind of read these two, non-force sensitives, had been able to have. As much as the Force might provide her with some insight, it also meant that more natural judgements and impressions were not as prominent in a Jedi as, generally, they weren’t needed, but in a situation like this Skye wasn’t about to ignore any opinion on these people. She knew that her decisions here would have at least some bearing on the future relationship between these people and the Republic, one way or another, and as such she was eager to ensure that as positive a relationship was possible, but there was something about them that she couldn’t shake.

“I don’t like them,” Markus replied after a time. “I didn’t like them earlier, and I don’t like them now.”

“I figured as much,” Skye smiled wryly. “But why?”

“A couple of things; everything that we saw on the way to that guy’s office, and then on the walk back to the hanger here, suggests a high level of corporate influence; and we both know how badly that went for us, given that half the Seps are from the MegaCorps,” Markus replied with a shrug. “The other is just the… arrogance; we didn’t ask for support or shelter here, and we were happy to move on, and yet they assumed that they could defeat those chasing us without any knowledge about our ships, our technology or even the likely numbers of an attack force…”

“Pride cometh before a fall?” Skye suggested. “Or a culture that looks down on outsiders?”

“Either is not great for us,” Markus shook his head. “I don’t think we should stay here longer than we have to.”

“I agree,” Skye nodded. “That’s why I’m sending you and your wingman out for that reconnaissance run.”

Markus nodded, suddenly all business.

“Orders, Commander?”

“I want you to head straight for New Coruscant; there’s no point in messing around in the outlying colonies and mining outposts, as the news may not have even reached them yet,” Skye instructed after a moment’s thought. “Sit in the outer system for a few hours, listen in to the holo-net to try and get an idea of what is going on… if you can, try and contact the Jedi Enclave, but stay away from military high command until we know more.”

“Understood, Commander,” Markus nodded again. “Avoid contact?”

“Absolutely, you’ll get more intelligence if you don’t get tagged as hostile,” Syke said firmly. “Get in, stay quiet and listen, then get out safely.”

“Right away, Commander!” Markus smiled. “We’ll get underway immediately.”