Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Seed or Star Wars. They belong to their respective copyright owners. This story is not created with commercial aim. I make no money from it.
Part 9: The Confederacy ascendant
Trest Ilroth's residence
The Triumvirate which for all intents and purposes ran the Confederacy of Independent systems got together for one of their frequent gatherings where they discussed the state of the galaxy and how to go forward. Usually all they really did at their meetings was to straighten some details and ensure they presented a united front to the rest of the Council. Most of the really important discussions and decisions, at leas as far as the war was concerned were usually made at one of the beyond secure conference rooms at the primary military complex on the planet.
Trest and his two guests did precisely that early in the morning before retiring to the Neimoidians residence for further discussion before meeting the rest of the Council in the late afternoon. San Hill and Kleo Vombra got their chosen poison following Ilroth's example and sat on comfortable armchairs next to a low table in the corner of the study. They were soon joined by their host after he made sure that the room was sealed and the built in jammers running.
Ilroth crashed on the soft couch, sipped his tea and looked at his colleagues.
"Who wants to start?" Trest asked.
"Our latest military successes are going to be troublesome." Hill grunted. The tall being took a swing from his Corellian Brandy and sighed. "One look at the maps and people would begin asking why haven't won yet."
Trest winced. He was the one to ask that precise question to their military leaders, which earned him a nasty tirade. At a first glance, the Confederacy currently controlled most of the galaxy. Since yesterday the Corellian system was under the firm control of admiral Trest, though his forces had been able to capture only one of the Five Brothers. There were battles raging all over three more, though Corellia itself was merely blockaded for the time being.
Kamino had not only fallen but utterly destroyed by Veil's forces. It still wasn't clear why or what exactly happened there. All living people in the CIS fleet were in need of medical attention thanks to various mental issues. They were all raving about hearing Kamino scream as it died. The recording from automated systems and droid reports weren't enlightening.
No matter the details, the burning of Kamino was a huge boon for the Confederate propaganda… or would have been if most people outside the CIS were willing to believe it on face value.
By any reasonable standards, the offensives all across the galaxy were an unparalleled success. The Triumvirate put their trust in their new military commanders and they delivered. However, that success had the potential to turn into a two-edged sword.
"I can guarantee that our fellow Council members would push for a swift end of the war – either military or diplomatic." Trest agreed.
"That's just Mai. She won't get enough support for a peace to be a problem." Vombra dismissed that particular concern. "Those pushing to carry on with the attacks right now would be the problem. Both in the Council and Senate."
The Confederate Senate was largely neutered. However it was chock full with people supporting the war. Making them not scream for a continued offensive at this time was going to be troublesome.
"I know where they're coming from." Ilroth snorted. "You two were all ready to order Tresk to jump at either Kamino or deeper in the Core too."
Vombra grumbled. The cyborg was very grumpy since it became clear he hadn't run certain numbers which made the Confederacy's situation crystal clear.
Yes, the offensive achieved a stunning success. The Jedi's unsuccessful coup – and wasn't that thought amusing – further crippled the Republic. Whatever caused GAR and Corellian units to shoot at each other was just the icing on the cake.
By any reckoning, this was the ideal moment to push deeper in the Core and end the war.
There was just one tiny problem – the Confederacy simply couldn't.
"Once Tresk pointed it out, I ran the numbers. I've been doing it on the way here too. They don't lie." Vombra let out an electronic whine. "We've used too much fuel and ammunition. Fleet losses are higher than estimated and we've got more than a Sector Fleet worth of Republic ships unaccounted for in sectors we supposedly control."
"Not higher than we could afford." Hill pointed out.
"True that." Trest agreed.
"We can throw another seven, perhaps eight thousand ships at Kuat. However, doing so would strip our garrisons in the Core and leave Fondor vulnerable. We lack logistic capacity to shift a significant number of ships from other theaters. It would be a mistake anyway. Veil's on the lose with a large fleet, Eriadu's still a major thorn in our side, and we're engaged all over the east side of the galaxy."
"Eight thousand more ships might be enough to reduce Kuat's industry." Hill mused.
"The GAR strategic reserve in the Core remains intact. Even if we take out Kuat, they might still be in position to reduce Fondor in which case we're back at square one." Ilroth countered.
It got back to those three systems – Kuat, Corellia and Fondor. They were the three largest industrial hubs in the galaxy. The places where capital ships could be built with ease. With Corellia neutralized, Fondor and Kuat were the targets both sides had to protect and neutralize in order to win the war. Each of those systems alone accounted for at least fifty percent of the capital ship production for their respective factions.
If both were lost, the Republic would have a slight edge in cruiser production while the CIS would remain ahead in its capacity to build escorts. It was tempting to throw everything at Kuat. If everything went right such a gamble could be a war winner. If it failed, a counter strike at Fondor would spell disaster.
"What will we 'recommend'?" Ilroth asked.
"We need to build up our logistics. Fortify our gains in the Core, build more FOBs and supply depots. Secure the control we've got over most of the galaxy before the enemy comes knocking." Vombra said.
"The Republic needs to kick us out of the Core. We can bleed the, wait for our next major construction cycle to finish and end the war when our new fleets are ready." Hill added. "Meanwhile we can see how much political trouble we can stir in the Republic."
"We're in an agreement then." Ilroth smiled and raised his cup in a toast. "To victory!"
"Victory!" The rest of the Triumvirate chorused.
The galaxy was within reach and soon would be in their grasp.
Part 10: The twilight of the Jedi
Republic transport Swift
Master Yaddle watched like a bird of prey over the younglings she managed to get away from Coruscant. Officially, she and a few Jedi Knights who were with her were teachers on a school trip with their charges. They had all the documents claiming so in order with a few loyal SIB agents back at the capital ready to confirm it if anyone bothered to do in depth check.
The ancient Jedi was glad she succeeded in saving as many of the younglings as she did. In the same time her heart tore at the thought of those who were left behind. All she knew for sure was that about half of the Jedi who were at the Temple when the coup went down managed to get away from the building itself. How many reached the transports waiting to spirit them away of found alternative means of leaving Coruscant, she didn't know.
Yaddle smiled at the younglings. They were the future. Not of the Order, because as far as she was concerned, it was death. The Sith, the Jedi themselves – they were all to blame. They got complacent. Blind. Arrogant.
It was hard to admit it to herself… It was easy to blame the Sith – Sidious, Veil and Dooku. It was easy to resent the Senate for not listening. To hate the galaxy for letting the Jedi fail.
Yaddle couldn't afford to continue with such self-delusions. The younglings counted on her to keep them safe. To train them as proper Jedi. To do that, she had to be brutally honest to herself. The Sith evolved while the Jedi stagnated.
The Jedi had to change too, otherwise the blood of the younglins in her care would be on her hands.
Mon Calamari Star Cruiser Liberty
Kit Fisto frowned at a small pile of knocked out Clones. Beside him, one Gial Ackbar, the ships captain and the Mon Calamari prince were looking between the Jedi and the Republic soldiers with confusion.
"What's Order 66?" Lee-Char finally asked and sheathed his sonic blaster.
"I'll be asking them when they're awake." Fisto grumbled.
"They'll be awakening in the brig." Ackbar sounded far from amused. "I want a marine detail to the bridge. What about the other Clones? There's two companies worth of them on board."
"I'll go have a friendly chat with them too." Fisto smiled grimly.
"Not alone." The Prince shook his head.
"Certainly not. I'll be sending as many marines as we can spare, Master Jedi." Ackbar agreed.
"That might be for the best." Fisto nodded and looked back at the Clones. He knew every single one of them. They had been fighting beside him for months now.
They were his friends.
What in the name of the Force was happening? Wasn't it bad enough that hundreds of Jedi died in the last few hours?!
"What do you mean treason?!" Fisto exclaimed.
The rest of the Clones on board were disarmed, most stunned thanks to liberal use of concussion grenades and sonic blasters. Those who still had their wits with them were being asked some pointed questions and weren't particularly shy in answering.
Order 66. It was meant to neutralize all Jedi in case of treason. By refusing to surrender without a damn good explanation, Fisto apparently marked himself for death in the eyes of the Clones.
The Jedi was at loss at the sheer insanity of the idea. The Jedi betraying the Republic? Just what in the name of the Dark Waters possessed the Clones to believe in such madness? What about those who gave the order in the first place?!
Fisto needed information. However, firs the Liberty had to reach friendly space and that was going to be problematic. They were still dodging Separatist patrols, then there was Hutt space to content with…
"I don't think we'll be getting out that way, master." Serra Keto glowered at the secluded hangar where their way out of Coruscant waited.
Her master put a placating hand on her shoulder.
"Calm down, Serra. We'll figure something out." Cin Driilag's voice sounded as if he had no care in the world.
"Calm down?! There's a small army waiting for us don there!"
"Down there. Not up here. So we're going to calmly turn around, smile and get away. Then we'll figure out a place to lay low and plan what to do." Cin shrugged.
"What about..." Serra trailed off and looked around.
"We'll need to get the cargo to our clients ASAP or there might be penalties. So we'll need to find a fast freighter or something."
Serra grimaced, but nodded. They were obviously going to play the role of merchants or smugglers with cargo that needed to reach their clients – somewhere that was far away from Coruscant.
Keto looked at the dark street and all the gloomy looking beings minding their own business. If she hadn't met her master on her way out of the Temple with a pack full with holocrons, Serra wasn't sure what she would have done. Neither her Padawan training, nor her missions with her master or even the war truly prepared her to survive on her own without help from either the Jedi Order or the Republic.
It was unpleasant to admit it, but she would have been lost if Cin didn't find her.
SIB Safe house
Two crippled men were hiding in off the books apartment on the other side of Coruscant from the Senate. The suburb was a very ordinary and serene place – not a location one would expect to find a disgraced Jedi and a Sith Lord.
If they weren't on the run from practically everyone, Dooku would have been highly amused. Mace Windu of all people was stuck here with him and the way the man felt in the Force meant only one thing – the former Jedi Master was falling to the Dark Side.
That might prove quite useful. Or dangerous. Windu had always been quite insufferable as a Jedi. The Count only hoped that a close connection with the Dark Side would make the man easier to be around. That or drive him around the bend which would be problematic. Without hands, Dooku was at a significant disadvantage. Not to mention that being stuck in the small apartment waiting for their contact to procure a few prosthetic and way off Coruscant was proving highly unpleasant.
On the bright side, Sidious was very dead. Dooku felt his master perish through the Force, Windu confirmed it. Even better, Order 66 was in effect and the Jedi were on the run, thus the Count not only had his vengeance but also a reasonable chance to get away.
After months of captivity, things were finally beginning to look up.
Ki-Adi-Mundi contemplated his situation. He didn't like it at all. Three days ago, his soldiers suddenly attempted to arrest him in the middle of a firefight. As if that wasn't enough, apparently one of the Clones had different idea and simply opened fire. Only the shields built in Mundi's armor saved his life. In the ensuring battle, he had to cut down half a platoon before managing to break contact and vanishing in the war-torn city.
That's how the Jedi Master found himself in the basement under an abandoned food store while the Republic and CIS forces were busy fighting for control of the planet.
He had to dodge both sides for long enough to get to safety – whatever that meant nowadays and then contact the Order so this mistake could be straightened out. After all he certainly never betrayed the Republic. However, first Adi-Mundi needed to find a way off world. He wondered which would be easier – trying to snag a Separatist transport or a Republic one?
Part 11: The last Lord of the Sith
Corellian cruiser Freedom
The chaotic light of hyperspace was the only thing that could be seen from the former bridge of the Freedom. As a part of her refit, she had outfitted with a proper CIC before we left to deal with Crimson just a few short months ago.
Its strange how long ago that feels. The galaxy is a different place nowadays. The Republic is reeling from repeated blows. The Corellian system had fallen. The Jedi went on the deep end in their hatred of anything Sith, the kriffing hypocrites. Palpatine was dead. My former master was either finally dead or the next best thing because I couldn't sense Zash either. The Jedi were being hunted down like the rabid dogs they are.
Kamino was a dead cursed world just like Malachor V.
I would love to say that I planned it all. That I caused all that chaos.
Yet, Kamino's the only thing I could take credit for. All the rest's nothing more than unintended consequences. At least I got the war I needed. With the Jedi and so called Sith of this era broken, I was finally free to act as I saw fit.
The events of the last few weeks were a great boon for me. Or would have been if it wasn't for a few not so tiny problems. Sooner or later I would need to explain why Kamino was destroyed by a fleet under my command. I already had a few versions of events hashed out with Joanna and Wilhuff. It remained to be seen which one would serve me best.
Then there was the clock I was on. My time was running out fast. We wold soon arrive on Belsavis and the future would be shaped by what we would find there. If the Mother Machine was still operational I could restore my body. Otherwise, I would be forced to possess Shaak Ti who was still kept under sedation in the brig. In that case, I would have to discard most of my current goals and play a long game of conquest and subversion against both the Republic and Confederacy.
Yet, I still could get lucky in which case my primary problem would be explaining the destruction of Kamino. With the whole fleet being mine body and soul, I had good odds of blaming it all on the CIS and their pet Jedi disrupting my Battle Meditation to disastrous effect. There were a few other contingencies we planned too.
Those were all practical considerations. Planning for the future. Plotting. It kept me from thinking about Bo. I couldn't sense her. Barring a miracle my wife was dead. Murdered. Again.
It was tempting to throw away my goals. Lately I found it hard to particularly care about them. What I wanted was to see the galaxy burn. To make it suffer just as I did. To hunt the Jedi and see every last one of them die screaming.
I could sense Joanna's delicious distress, which brought my mind back to the present. We were the only occupants of the observation lounge, sitting on a table next to the windows.
My admiral continued to both loathe and be almost bestowed with me. Breaking her along with everyone else in the fleet did what I needed it – they were all mine, yet retained most of their personality and all their skills. However… after shattering someones mind and then putting it back together… there were consequences which went both ways in this case.
Joanna Holt was blind to the Force. Yet, there was a weak connection formed between us. I didn't need to be in her presence to sense her emotions. What I did to her… It made the little piece of the man I was before becoming a Sith loathe me for it. Made me pity her.
Yet, in the same situation I would have done it again without second thoughts.
"I don't need your pity!" Joanna glared at me.
Ah, yes. The other downside of my stunt – if she was nearby and I wasn't shielding myself, Joanna could feel my emotions too.
"Being pitied infuriates you." I looked at her eyes, who stared back defiantly. Anger, need, fear – she felt it all at once and I was the heart of those emotions.
I stood up and went to Joanna, then cupped her cheek in my hand. She leaned in the touch and sighed in content. Shook in revulsion. Moaned in pleasure.
"You broke me." Joanna whimpered. "I need you." She whined. "I hate you!" The admiral growled. "Make the pain go away..."
"I wish I knew how." I sighed. Experiencing the roller-coaster of her emotions wasn't fun even if I could use them to fuel my powers.
Need. Hatred. Adoration.
"I feel your pain..." Joanna sighed.
"And I yours."
Losing Bo just as I fell in love with her… What was I supposed to do now? Why did I fight for a nation which was never mine, for people who aren't my own? Even the Mandalorians – the closest people to temperament and culture to what I would call mine, weren't really my own.
Why did I care about the Vong turning this galaxy into hell? So that I might be able to return to a woman I once loved? Natarle was in a different reality. She would loathe the man I chose to become all those years ago on Korriban.
Joanna startled me when she pulled me into a hug.
"I could hear you, you know." She muttered. "You aren't alone. If you believe you have nothing left, you're wrong. Know this – we will be with you until our last breath; every single man and woman in this fleet. We are your people, Delkatar."
I could hear the truth ringing in her words. Joanna hated herself for admitting it aloud, yet that truth set her free.
"Yes, you are." A small smile tugged my lips.
"Not long ago you asked me why I fought." Joanna looked me in the eyes. "For my people. For my family and home. And now for you, general. You have a home. A place to belong. Its with us. We will fight for you, no matter the odds. No matter the enemy. Will you fight for us?" Joanna looked up at me with hope shinning in her eyes.
AN: Finally Rogue Knight is complete. I hope you enjoyed the ride!
The sequel's up - Rogue Knight II: The Return of the Sith