Chapter 15 is (finally) up!
6th May 2002 – 20BBY
Kamino had always been a boring post. But even the most stupid of lifeform saw the need to properly guard it, especially since the revelation of the Sith Empire and their strength. While more and more Military Militia was trained, the core of the Republic Army was still made up by Clones.
That, however, didn't stop Kamino from being a boring post. Especially for a Jedi Master. But if there is one thing Shaak Ti possessed it was patience. Half a million battle ready Clones were stationed on or around Kamino, with another six million being produced. The Chancellor's decision to speed up the Cloning process, making them mature and die naturally faster, was one the Jedi Council had not been supporting or thought had been right, yet it was necessary to protect the rest of the galaxy and the Jedi therefore didn't fight against the Chancellor's decision. The need of many outweighs the need of the few.
That didn't make it any easier.
The planet was surrounded by nearly thirty Venator-Class Ships, and fifty Acclamator Ships. That together with the nearly two-thousand small fighter ships gave Kamino what many in the Senate called an "impregnatable defense".
Shaak Ti remembered however the defeated look on Knight Skywalker's face when he returned from Mandalore, and how Padawan Tano had never been the same. She knew that if the Empire wanted Kamino, they would take it.
Kamino's best defense, in difference to what the senators thought, was its remote location, and the fact that the Sith Empire still didn't have access to a Hyper-Space Lane that they could use to reach the planet. The Chancellor had a treaty with the Hutt Cartels, as vile as it was, it was yet another necessary thing.
Her meditation had as of yet showed no dangers, and she was confident in the Force. Life on Kamino was calm, she sensed, and she could feel that the other Jedi stationed her sensed nothing. It had been over a year since General Grievous tried attacking Kamino, and it had been calm since then.
She took a calm deep breath and extended her senses. While she wasn't on the level of Grandmaster Yoda, she was still one of the more aware Jedi, and that is what made her frown. Pain, fear, chaos reigned in the galaxy. But why hadn't the Jedi Council contacted her about this? Surely this amount would ensure a Council meeting?
Something was wrong. She stood up suddenly, disturbing two other Jedi's mediation at her sudden movement, and quickly walked out of the room. With sure steps she walked through the pristine white corridors and looked out. There was the standard storm, but no sign of hostile activity.
"Master Ti, I've been sent to get you," a Kaminoan female said as the Jedi Master walked around a corner.
"Any news from Coruscant?" the Togruta master asked as she kept walking.
"That's the thing, we have no communications what so ever. We aren't being jammed, and the frequency reaches Nar Shadda, we believe, but it stops there," the Kaminoan revealed.
Shaak Ti frowned. The Hutts made big money on their control over the Holo-Net, so big that they didn't tolerate any side trying to take control over it or blackmail them into giving up secrets. For them to cut communications…
"Get the Fleet on standby mode, I have a bad feeling… the Force is worried," Shaak Ti ordered and murmured the last words to herself. She kept on walking as she emerged herself with the Force again, trying to feel all the suffering she felt, and pinpoint it. It came from the Galactic North from here.
The chaos was growing stronger. And more importantly, the fear. The Togruta Master entered the Kamino Military Headquarters and quickly started to order the Clones around.
"High Alert," Shaak Ti ordered. "Something is wrong in the Galaxy."
"I… I sense it too," a Twi'lek Jedi Knight slowly whispered that had been in the room before Shaak arrived. "But what?"
"If what you say is true General," a Clone Officer began," does it matter what is wrong? Kamino might be endangered. Our orders are clear, any feeling that the planet is about to be attacked the clones are to be in standby."
Shaak Ti didn't answer, instead focusing her mind on the surrounding space. There was something… something strong… but it was so fast… hard to say where it originated from…
"They'll soon be here," Shaak Ti said out loud as she realized who it was. "Get everybody ready, the Empire will be here any second!"
There was complete stillness in the room before the Clones exploded into action, with the alarm sounds echoing around the city. "Get all ships into Kamino's atmosphere now!" the Clone commander roared. Shaak Ti glanced at the Kaminioans, and for the first time she could see a true emotion on their normally stoic faces.
The same emotion most people associated with the Empire. Fear.
"Form a defensive blockade, do not, I repeat, do not allow them to land their troops. Our fighters are more advanced than theirs, we can win in a pure space battle," the commander kept on ordering.
"Sir, first contact! Harrowers and Frigates!" an officer said. Shaak Ti and the commander rushed to his side and looked at the monitor.
"Fifty frigates and twenty-five Harrowers," the Clone said in confusion. The commander looked at her in confusion.
Shaak Ti felt the same confusion. That was a small number of ships compared to the usual fleet sizes. Where were the rest?
"This doesn't make any sense," the Clone commander kept on mumbling. "The standard Escort Fleet for an Imperial Capital ship is supposed to be four times this size!"
Shaak nodded. "Are there any gaps in their formation?"
"That's the thing," the officer said. "The gap is too big for the known Super-Star Destroyer."
The Commander threw Shaak Ti a worried glance. "A new ship perhaps?"
"Let's hope not. Every time the Empire reveals something new we lose badly," Shaak Ti said. "Get a security group to the Cloning Facilities, do not let them fall." One of the Captains saluted before he ran out.
"Any activity?" the commander barked out.
"None, they are staying out of firing range, no fighters deployed," a clone replied from the other side of the room.
"They are waiting for something," Shaak said. "How large is the hol-" she started to say before she felt it. A Sith had arrived, and this one she knew.
"General, you want to see this," the officer weakly said. Shaak frowned and looked at the monitor before nearly gasping.
"Why make a Super-Star Destroyer that is smaller than the other model?" a clone said.
"How big?" the Commander asked.
"17.500 meters counting probably dozens of levels… they are lining the ship up," the officer said. On the holo they watched the behemoth of a ship lining itself up, looking straight at the Republic fleet, before the ships front flashed in a bright light.
Shaak frowned before she was brought to her knees as she felt thousands of lives being snuffed out in an instant. "What happened?" she gasped out.
"One of the Venators were hit, General. One shot…" the clone said afraid.
"Deploy all fighters, tell the ships to keep moving!" the Commander barked. "I'm getting to my ship, need to support my men," he said before rushing out.
"Get me a real life holo on what's happening out there," Shaak Ti ordered, staring as the main holo-projector started to show the armadas going at it. The Republic fighters shot forward, looking like small ants, and they soon met the Imperial TIE's.
But it wasn't enough as the behemoth turned its small cannons towards the larger groups of Republic fighters. Soon the holo was filled with small flashing lights, signaling destroyed fighters, and the Republic Capital ships were pushed back. Then a single straight line was shot out of the behemoth, hitting one of the Venators head on, slashing right through it and hitting an Acclamator behind it, destroying both. It was with a growing pit in her stomach she saw the Imperial Navy slaughter the Republic ships, the behemoth of a ship destroying the Republic's Venators and Acclamator one after the other in a freighting speed.
"General, one of the captains are asking for ramming permission!" a clone shouted.
"Granted," Shaak Ti said without hesitation. "May the Force be with them."
The entire room watched in silence as one of the last Venator's accelerated to maximum speed, narrowly avoiding the super laser, and soon slammed the Imperial Ship. But as it did so they saw no structural damage appear as the Republic ship exploded.
"Any damage at all?" Shaak Ti asked.
"None General. The shields held."
"We need to warn the Republic about the Emperors new ship," Shaak Ti said. She turned to one of the Jedi Knights, the best pilot. "Take my ship and get through the blockade. Tell the council what happened."
"Master, it should be you that runs. You are more important," the Knight argued.
"I can feel Darth Hedone's presence, and she can sense me. If I try to leave they'll catch me. I'll distract them, now go!" Shaak ordered. The human Knight grimaced before bowing and leaving.
"Raise the city shields, we cannot let Tipoca City fall," the Jedi Master said.
"But if we raise the shield our fleet will have no place to go!" one of the officers said.
Shaak Ti looked at the holo-projector. "They are already dead," she said quietly. "What matters now is to hold the city until the Republic Fleet can send reinforcements."
The Clones all had grim faces. They knew that their changes were slim. "We'll never let our home fall," one of them said.
Shaak turned to her fellow Jedi. "Defend the hanger, prepare to fall back into chokepoints, this could be a long fight."
"AA-Guns are online and firing at will," one of the Clones said. "And there the last Acclamator is now destroyed. Our fleet is gone."
"The Shield?" Shaak Ti asked.
"One Hundred percent charged and online. We're safe."
Then why was the Force screaming out in danger. Too late, did Shaak Ti understand. The entire room shook as a huge explosion was heard. She saw several of the computers exploded, and parts of the room was on fire. "The shield!" she barked out as she cast a fleeting look on the dead Clones, killed in the explosion.
"Destroyed," was all the Clone said. "Getting rapports from the rest of Kamino, the Empire is bombarding them heavily. Some are already sinking into the sea."
So why weren't they too being bombarded anymore? "Any shuttles heading towards us Private?"
"Counting nearly a hundred Lambda's General. They'll be here within ten minutes, tops."
The Jedi Master took calming breath. "Grab your rifle. They are after the Clone DNA and data. Probably looking for a way to develop a biological weapon."
The clones got grim faces. "We have to destroy it. It's for the best," a lieutenant said. Shaak turned to the man and the Twi'lek Jedi. "Do it. I'll hold Hedone back."
"Hedone's coming here? I thought she would remain on her ship" the Twi'lek stated before closing his eyes. "I do not sense her."
Shaak Ti closed her eyes and reached out with the Force. "She's trying to cloak herself. I can just sense her. Or rather, the void it creates amongst her Redguards."
"May the Force be with you," the Jedi said and bowed deeply in respect. "Master."
"And may it be with you as well, Knight Candoru," Shaak said and saw him rush away. Time was of the essence.
"The rest of you, with me," she said and walked over to the only Kaminioan there. "Your people needs to leave. For your species."
"Too many has been lost, and we depend on Cloning to survive," the Kaminoan said with despair. "This is the end for us. But we'll not go down hiding, but fighting."
"Here," one of the clones said and handed him a blaster. "You'll need it."
"Indeed," the Kaminoan said before the group made its way out of the room. They ran down the halls, heading to the hangars, trying to force the Empire into a chokepoint from where the smaller Republic troops could hold them back.
The sounds of blaster fire was deafening as they approached the closest hangar, and soon they could hear the screams of dying men. Shaak Ti activated her blue lightsaber and rushed onward, intent on joining the fray.
The Clones had set up a basic barricade, using standard issue weapons and thermal grenades to keep the Imperial's back, but even from a distance Shaak Ti could see that the Republic was losing ground. To make matters worse she could spot a few turrets being set up, and the Jedi knew that those guns would eat the Clones up in minutes.
"Push forward," she yelled as she force jumped over the barricade, landing in front of it deflecting blaster fire with her lightsaber as she kept sprinting.
"Come on men! We cannot let the General have all the fun!" one of the Clones yelled. The rest cheered and abandoned the cover as they pushed with all their might. The Imperial forces cracked under the pressure of the Republic, Shaak Ti realized as she kept going deeper and deeper into the enemy ranks, her lightsaber never stopping to slice the Imperial Soldiers up.
The Togruta smiled in victory as she dodged a missile, just avoiding it before she launched herself into the air, and landed right in front of the turrets. With two quick strokes she destroyed them both, and she could hear the Clones roar in triumph at their small victory.
"Set up a new perimeter-" she started to say.
"Watch out!" one of Clones yelled and tackled her to the ground. Shaak Ti watched in horror as a purple lightsaber went right over their heads, spinning in a circle as it slashed its way through the Clone ranks. A single Jedi activated her lightsaber, preparing to deflect the purple blade before it went out.
"NO!" Shaak yelled out. The Jedi female had dropped her guard, and as the hilt of the enemy saber passed her the blade activated again. From where Shaak stood she could hear the blade singe the Jedi's flesh, as the human female cried out in agony. The purple blade had however now started its return, and as it came back it beheaded the Jedi.
The Jedi Master saw the blade continuing its return, picking off a few more clones before the Shaak herself had to dodge it again. The blade zoomed past her right back into its owner's hands. Shaak watched the lines of Redguard, Vibro-Spears and Energy Shields, all behind the second most feared Sith in the world.
"Former Knight Secura," Shaak said as she stood up, her lightsaber humming.
"Master Ti," Darth Hedone said. The blue Twi'lek gave a slight smirk. "It's been a while."
"It has," Shaak agreed. "But I imagine that you have hardly missed me."
The Emperor's Consort laughed. "You've always had the ability to hit the nail, so to speak."
"A new saying?" the Jedi Master said.
"An old one, that isn't as well known in the rest of the Galaxy."
"Ah, you got it from Tellus I guess then," Shaak speculated out loud and felt a tinge of pride as she saw Secura frown.
"A spy told you about the Emperor's home world?"
"His last report. You got him two hours later."
"I hardly oversee all that happens in the Empire. Imperial Intelligence exist for a reason. I've had more important things to do."
"Like that new ship?"
Shaak could see the pride radiate from the Sith. "The Goblins have worked on it for years, improving the basic Eclipse-Class blueprint. I'll admit, the Goblins did surprise us with its construction, a gift to me and Hadrian for gifting them with a new home."
Shaak nodded with a neutral face. The Goblins were becoming rather famous for their warrior culture and craftsmanship. A few Republic and Separatists companies had approached the race in hopes of hiring them, only to be rebuked quickly and harshly. Their loyalties laid with the Empire.
"But sadly, while this little chat was nice, I've got orders," Secura said. "Advance," she said with a grim face. The Redguard lifted their shields and started to march forward, spears pointed forward as they advanced in a shield wall.
"Fire at will," the highest ranking clone barked out. The Clones blaster fire filled the air, but against the Guard it was worthless. Their shields absorbed all the fire, and Shaak saw several grenades suddenly being thrown from the guard.
"Take cover!" she yelled and force jumped backwards. The Grenades exploded violently, tearing the Clones up. The Guard then broke formation, their soldiers rushing forward. They impacted with the clone head on, slashing the last remnants of the Republic troops up. Only the Jedi stood a chance. Shaak herself was dueling four of them, with her few remaining Jedi doing nearly the same.
While lethal the Redguard were no Sith, and couldn't truly stand up against the Jedi. Shaak Force Pushed her opponents backwards, at the same time as she threw her lightsaber. The saber made quick work of the momentarily unbalanced warriors, and Shaak breathed out in relief. It disappeared quickly as the Force screamed out in danger.
Not hesitating the Jedi master threw herself to the ground, missing Secura's lightsaber once again by an inch. The Jedi Master then summoned as much power as she could, before Force Pushing the Sith backwards.
Hedone went flying before the Sith grabbed her second saber from her hip and buried it in the ground. The hiss of the saber slowly stopping Hedone from flying vibrated in the now totally focused Togruta's ears. Shaak watched carefully as Hedone stood up, both lightsabers activated.
Shaak summoned another push, sending it directly towards Hedone. In an awe-inspiring move of acrobatics Hedone jumped into the air, twisting her body to just avoid the wave of the Force, before landing on her feet and rushing towards the Jedi master.
Shaak stood her ground, using the Force to send wave after wave towards the Sith, and could feel the first signs of panic starting to settle in when Hedone dodged them all. Realizing that it was no good tactic, Shaak launched herself forward using the Force.
The Sith was prepared. Shaak's lightsaber impacted on one of Hedone's, but had it not been for the Force warning her Shaak would have been beheaded by the second. With a ferocious use of Ataru Hedone forced Shaak on the defensive. The Jedi Master could barely keep up with the Emperor's Consort, and soon she was impaled by one of the swords.
The Jedi Master fell to the ground in agony, letting her saber fall from her hands. She summoned the Force and used the last of her strength to desperately Force Push Hedone back, and finally succeeded. The Sith went flying backwards, but with the grace of an predator she landed on both her feet. Hedone's eyes flashed in anger before sending a single wave of lightning towards the mortally wounded Jedi. Shaak screamed as she was hit, tried to keep fighting and look at her opponent. The last thing she saw was a flash of purple.
Anakin hated waiting. It was, at the end of the day, the most antagonizing thing in the world. The knowledge that something could happen any second, but not knowing when. The Republic had a long time ago started to use Dantooine as their rally point against the Empire, and while the former sparsely populated planet was still not exactly heavily populated, the presence of the massive armada has changed that.
In orbit was the third largest gathering of Republic ships, with only the fleets stationed at Coruscant and Kuat being bigger. The security of the Republic's Capital and the Republic's Shipyard were the two most important things. Dantooine came on third place, being the current stronghold to hold the Empire back.
If Dantooine fell Ord Mantell would be the fall back point, and after that… if it ever came to that, the Republic might not survive.
Four entire legions were stationed here. The 501th might be the most famous, but the others were hardly rookies. Luminara Ulundil, Plo Koon and Adi Gallia where all here, and if they had an apprentice they too had been stationed here.
That, together with a roughly fifty more Jedi and the strong fleet made Dantooine one of the safest places in the galaxy. If everything was working as intended.
"Still no communication?" Anakin asked as he entered the command structure.
"None," Master Luminara said. "Short range is working, and the signal looks to reach Nar Shadda, but after that nothing."
"Has the Hutt betrayed us?" Anakin said out loud, a frown on his face.
"They would not," Master Ploo said. "The neutrality of the Holo Net has always been vital for the Hutts, even with a threat as dangerous as the Empire, the Hutt's would rather die than betray us."
"What if they didn't have a choice?" Anakin could hear his padawan say. "The Empire could have infiltrated Nar Shadda, and then cut communications."
"I cannot see them doing it," Anakin said. "Its too dangerous, if they fail the Hutt's will turn on them."
"Your Padawan might be right, Master Skywalker," Luminara said carefully. "But I do agree, it would be a desperate move on their part."
"Or a planned one," Master Gallia said. "Former Knight Peverell is known to love precise and calculated attacks."
"Is the fleet and the army on high alert?" Anakin asked. "Because no matter who is behind this, we are cut off from the rest of the Republic."
"The army and fleet is ready sir," Captain Rex said. "All men knows that hell could break out at a moments notice."
"What about our ships that we cannot contact?" Master Gallia asked. "They are too far away."
"If they are smart they will already be heading back here," Master Ploo said. "Without communications they are useless, and cannot call for aid."
"We could send transport ships out, try to warn them of the threat," Anakin proposed.
Ploo nodded. "Do it. We will need all the ships we can get our hands on if the Empire attacks."
"But what if they attack, what then?" Ashoka asked out loud. "What if they arrive with to great numbers for us to handle?"
"Your Padawan has a point, Skywalker, even if she's a bit vocal about it," Luminara said casting a disapproving look at Ashoka for having been so vocal. "Our fleet here is too valuable for us to lose in a battle we cannot win."
"Agreed, if they start to outnumber us three to one we should consider a tactical retreat," Anakin said. "But do the Empire have enough ships for that?"
"The latest intel suggests that Republic, together with the Separatists, does have enough to just be even with the Empire," Gallia said.
"Last time I checked we aren't exactly allied with the Sepies," Anakin said.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," Luminara said with a wince. "I've heard rumors…"
Anakin watched in interests. Last time he spoke to Padmé she had eluded to the fact that her plea for peace had started to gain support. "I've heard them too, but as we do not know for sure, we cannot count on that."
"Even if the rumors are true, that doesn't help us now," Ploo said. "They will not get here in time, especially since we cannot communicate with them."
"Sir, the transports are away," Rex said. "Just got word."
Anakin frowned. Something was tingling in the Force. "I sense something…"
"Skywalker?" Luminara said. "You sure?"
Anakin closed his eyes. There wasn't a presence in the Force. No… there wasn't any Sith, but yet the Force was shouting out in danger.
"Rex, your troops ready?"
"As said, they are ready."
"Good, I'm not sure, but the Force is warning me. Something is coming," Anakin said. "Ashoka, I want you in your fighter. You'll be of more use in the air."
Ashoka frowned. "If a Sith is coming I want to be here."
Ever since Hadrian had cut of her arm his Padawan had changed. She had become more serious, brash, and even more dangerous was her strong disliking of the Empire. "I sense no ship, Snips. Only… danger."
He could see the uneasiness on his fellow Jedi's faces. "I sense it too," Bariss Ofee suddenly said. "Its… not a Sith."
Ploo stood there, frowning and actually looking worried. "I'm going with Padawan Tano into my ship. Master Ulundil, you got the ground?"
"I do, may the Force-"
"Generals! Ship just existed lightspeed, its one of ours," a Clone officer shouted.
"Is it calling us?" Anakin asked. "Ahsoka, go now!"
"Yes sir," the Clone said as Anakin gave his Padawan an order.
"Put it here."
The holo beeped once before the face of an Republic Admiral was shown. "What happened?" Anakin said, hearing explosions in the background.
"The Empire, they are raiding our lines and ships out of communications range, Generals. Its Zabini, Jedi, I recognize those tactics anywhere. They hit us hard, most didn't stand a chance. I ordered a jump the second we got hit."
"How far behind are they?" Luminara asked.
"Not far, you got maybe a few minutes. General, if it is Zabini you should know he commands the Eternity."
Anakin felt a cold shiver go down his spine. "That's the Emperors Ship, Admiral. It isn't possible."
"I was at Mandalore, General Skywalker. I recognize that ship, and it the Eternity. There's no doubt."
Anakin turned to Luminara. "Where's Peverell?"
"I honestly do not want to know," the Jedi master said. "But it can't be good. At least not for us."
"Your ship still operational Admiral?" Gallia asked. Anakin wanted to slap himself. How could he forget to ask that?
"No, we took heavy damage, and the bridge is currently on fire, most of my personal has evacuated the ship, but I needed to contact you as quickly as possible," the Admiral said. "I am leaving now, going to the last shut-"
The holo disappeared. "They are here," Anakin said.
For a few seconds nobody moved. Then the command center exploded into activity. "Rex, how many!"
"Several fleets, I can confirm that the Eternity is among them General. Several Frigates and Harrowers have penetrated our lines and are sending down troops to the ground."
"But no Peverell," Luminara said. Her eyes were closed, clearly using the Force to search for Sith signatures. "We need to get the rest of our ships out of here. There are still plenty grounded.
"Not to mention the Clones. More than half of them are still planet side," Barriss said.
"Rex, Gallia, come on!" Anakin roared. "We need to hold the Empire back! Luminara, you coordinate the defense!"
Anakin didn't wait to hear the respone, he rushed out and activated his lightsaber. The Venators still stationed on the ground where all powering their engines, but then the shrill sound of the TIE's could be heard. Soon the night was filled with green bolts hitting the ground, ripping apart the Republic forces.
"Get the AA guns firing!" Anakin roared.
"Come on lads, let's bag a few imps!" Rex roared as they saw the Lambda's land. The clones roared as they charged forward, and soon all that could be heard was blaster fire.
Anakin launched himself into the air, spinning and narrowly missing blaster fire before landing amongst the Imperial ranks. His blue lightsaber cut through them like a hot knife through butter, and soon he could see the Clone's blaster fire impacting on the Imperial soldiers around him, and Anakin grinned.
War he knew how to handle.
Soon the sounds of AT-TE's filled the air as the Republic fought back, but the Empire brought up reinforcements as several frigates landed close to the fight, and unleashed their own walkers, the feared AT-AT.
Anakin cursed. The AT-AT had gained a fearsome reputation, having single handedly destroyed ten AT-TE's for a single Imperial Walker. They had more than once turned the flow of battle, but had one weakness that the Jedi had learnt to exploit. Anakin surged forward, being as fast as he could be, cutting through enemy lines, before reaching the walkers.
Leaping up into the air, Anakin started to cut through their legs, one after the other, until the first walker fell. Knowing that stopping now could doom every single Republic personal stationed on the planet, Anakin kept pushing himself, using the same tactic over and over again.
Anakin kept on pushing, when he came across a peculiar sight. A steel armored short warrior, wielding a vibro axe. A goblin. Anakin didn't hesitate as he sprinted the distance, and brought his blade down, only for the goblin to dance away and faster than the light counterattack.
Anakin rolled away, cursing as his left hand shot forward, griping the goblin using the force. He then closed his fist, breaking the creatures neck. The goblins, the Republic had learned, were excellent warriors, and in close combat were dangerous to even a Jedi. Anakin had a scar on his chest that proved that.
"Rex! Get Gallia here! Goblin Knights!" the Jedi roared as he blocked incoming blaster fire, seeing an entire battle group of shinning Goblin warriors charging forward. "And start throwing grenades!"
The Clone Captain didn't waste any time as he did just what Anakin had shouted. As one the clones grabbed their grenades and threw them into the air. Anakin, using the Force, held the grenades in the air right until the goblins were beneath them. Then Anakin activated them and let them fall right onto the goblins.
It was an ugly sight as the once glorious looking charge was blasted to pieces, their screams filling the air as they died in the explosion. Anakin nodded towards the newly arrived Gallia before they jumped into the air and landed amongst the remnants of the goblins, quickly cutting them up.
"Release- the- dr," a goblin chocked up through a communications bracelet. Anakin, not wanting anything more to arrive, cut the goblins head off before he could finish the sentence. The Jedi allowed him some time to relax. The AT-TE were deployed, and as the Empire had only light machinery as support the Republic was quickly squashing the attack. The AA guns were fully firing into the sky, and one after the other the Venators left the ground, heading up to space. In the dark it all looked fireworks.
"The fight here is calming down," Gallia said, breathing heavily. Her clothes were lightly singed, and Anakin could feel the adrenaline leaving his system.
"We need to leave before our fleet gets overwhelmed," Anakin said before raising his wrist. "Master Luminara, fleet status?" he asked through the communication bracelet.
"Grim, but holding. Our fleet is trying to make a hole, but progress is slow. Your Padawan is doing great, even if she is taking a few to… risky chances," Luminara reported. Anakin frowned. He needed to rein Ashoka in. "The Eternity is getting awfully close to the planets atmosphere, I don't understand! A ship that size would have trouble leaving again, especially under bombardment. What is Zabini up to?"
"Rex, get the men ready, we leave. Let's not let that cursed Imperial ship redo what they did on Mandalore. One bombardment was enough. "
"Yes sir," Rex said. "Come on lads, let's get out of here!"
"The Eternity is firing! Skywalker get out of there!"
Anakin looked up into the sky, confused. There were no big green lights heading towards them. It was black. "I see nothing, Master Luminara."
"Skywalker, get out of ther-"
A thunderous roar interrupted her. Anakin turned around, staring into the night. Something was wrong. "Rex, did you hear that, or was it just me?"
"Sadly, I did hear it too, Sir," Rex said and raised his guns.
Silence followed as the Jedi and Clones waited, still as statues, for more signs of life. Then the entire night was suddenly filled with roars. Primitive, animalistic roars that made the ground shake. Anakin could feel his blood turn to ice.
"Run," Anakin ordered with a whisper as he turned around. None needed to be told twice, as Anakin didn't want to imagine what creature Zabini might have taken from Korriban or Dromund Kaas and released on the battlefield.
As they ran the roars grew louder, and numerous. Then, the screech of dying clones was heard. Anakin looked to the source, and what he saw made him terrified. The men were burning, the fire melting their armor, making it melt into their skins.
"I need a target," Rex roared, having seen the same thing. "Get me some light!"
One of the clones simply activated a grenade and threw it up into the air, and as it exploded Anakin could see a dark silhouette with wings.
"Don't tell me that Peverell have fire breathing creatures that can fly," Anakin cursed.
"You also saw the wings," Gallia asked.
Anakin nodded. He then looked at Gallia and shook his head, having seen the look on Gallia's face before. "No. We have no idea if these creatures are immune to the Force, and if they are we cannot pacify them. We are leaving!" Anakin argued before roaring out the last part.
Not a moment after that more blasts of fire started to fill the air, burning clones to crisps. Anakin ran, and could feel his men's horror through the Force. He raised his wrist, remembering Luminara. "Master get out of here! Whatever Peverell has unleashed we are not waiting to find out!" he shouted.
"Agreed, I'm moving with my men towards the last ship, hurry!" her voice shouted from the comm. Anakin felt a small trickle of fear disappear, at least one Jedi was safe.
There was no warning as something hard impacted in the middle of their group, crushing two clones to bloody messes and separating the rest. Anakin felt himself being pushed away from the pure force of the impact, landing on his two feet in a crouched position, lightsaber in hand. The Force sent him a small warning, and Anakin threw himself to the left, narrowly avoiding the flames that consumed more of his men.
Anakin activated his lightsaber, refusing to go down without a fight. This time, his warning was a bellowing roar behind him. Anakin once again dodged, but this time tried to strike the creature. He could feel his lightsaber hitting the creature, but there was no roar of pain. True fear struck the Jedi. Was it possible that the creature was immune to lightsaber?
"REX!" Anakin roared. "Throw a grenade on my command!"
The Clone captain had been trying to aid one of his men, but on his generals command the Clone nodded and grabbed a grenade from his waist. "I'm ready," was all he said.
Anakin closed his eyes, trying to fully sense everything in his surroundings. The Creature's were not immune, he could sense that now, but much more… one with the Force. The creature's seemed to be highly sensitive to it. "Three o'clock, ten seconds," Anakin said. He could hear Rex turning in the right direction.
"NOW!" the Jedi ordered and opened his eyes. Rex threw it perfectly, having it impact on the creature's wing in the exact second as it exploded. The blast made Anakin stumble, but it was nothing compared to the heart wrenching roar that the creature let out as it crashed into the ground a few meters from the clones.
"Is it dead?" Fives asked.
Anakin shook his head. "No, its an injured animal."
The clones groaned. "Great, a wounded animal that breathes fire, this cant go bad," one of them said. It did lighten the mood a bit, but Anakin could see the creature moving. It gave him some time to analyze it. Reptilian, with hard scales and a large mouth. It scales, though still hard to determine in the night, looked black. A huge tail, formed like a mace at the tip, was swinging side to side. But it's eyes, those red eyes were screaming for blood.
"Open fire!" Rex ordered, and as one the Clones raised their weapons and blasted the creature, only for it to have little to no effect. The scales seemed to nearly absorb the blaster fire.
"Hold its attention, let me get close," Anakin roared as he ran left, getting out from the creatures sight. It suddenly arched his neck back, and soon fire was spitted out from its jaws, burning the closest clones to ash in second, while the others retreated back. Even a nice distance away, Anakin could feel the heat. He took a deep breath before launching himself through the air, using the Force to land on the beasts head and burying the lightsaber in the head.
With a thud the creature fell to the ground, dead.
"Sir, you alright?" Rex asked.
"I am now, your men?"
"The ones hit by the fire are already dead," the captain said, making Anakin curse. As he looked around he could see the pillars of fire scorching the ground and clones alike, and the tall, dry grass certainly did not aid the Republic.
"Did we even hurt it?" Hardcase asked.
Rex approached it and crouched down. "We did, small blaster wounds. It's highly resistant, not immune."
"Well… that's some good news," Anakin said. "An AT-TE main cannon blast should kill them."
"I'll tell the men that, but we still need to get out of here, sir."
"Where's Gallia?" Anakin suddenly, terrified, said. From his elevated position on the creature's head he scanned the vicinity, finally spotting her. What he saw made him want to scream. Gallia was slowly approaching the creature, her hands in the air, as the creature was on the ground. It didn't take a genius to understand that she was doing exactly what Anakin thought was a very bad idea. Pacifying the creatures using the Force.
"Shouldn't we help?" Rex asked.
"To dangerous," Anakin said as he jumped down from his kills head. "any sound or movement might make it hostile again."
The clones and the Jedi waited for the Jedi Master to either succeed or come to her senses, but the creature seemed friendly.
"Keep moving to the ship," Anakin ordered. "I'll stay and wait for Gallia, move!"
Rex looked reluctant, but still followed orders. "Come on, you heard the General," he said.
Anakin watched as the Clones moved away, spread out and always looking upwards, waiting for another of the Empire's creatures attack. "How many are dead" Anakin wondered, and gulped as he realized that he didn't want to know. Being burnt alive had to be one of the worst ways to go.
The Jedi returned his attention to Gallia, watching as she approached the creature. Only now did Anakin see why it was so docile, it was busy eating. Anakin nearly threw up his dinner at the very thought.
"Master," Anakin whispered, "don't."
Gallia seemed to have heard him, as she turned her head around, before her face got a more determined look, and she kept walking closer. Faster than lightning it was over, as the creature reared is neck and bit half of Gallia in a single bite, bringing her body up into the air while it shook its head around. Anakin turned around, not wanting to see more, but he could hear her body being torn apart.
"They will pay for this," Anakin vowed as he looked around the camp as he ran for his life. Fire lighted up the night, and the horrible screams were now everywhere, and Anakin felt sick. Burning alive had to be the worst way to die.
"Rex!" Anakin shouted as he approached the dry dock. "Get up fortifactions, we need to save as many as possible!"
The clone captain nodded. "Get the walkers moving, form a chokepoint lads!"
The Republic walkers movements shook the ground as they took up a defensive position and opened fire, desperately trying to hit the creatures. Anakin jumped up on a few crates, trying to get a better vantage point, searching for Luminara. Losing one Jedi Master would have been bad enough.
"Are there more ships on the ground?" he asked Rex, that had came to stand beside him.
"No General. This is the last one."
A sense of doom and horror filled Anakin. "There are more troops out there then this ship can carry."
He could feel Rex shiver. "We know."
Once again, Anakin cursed the Empire for forcing their hand. They would have to leave thousands of men behind. "The LAAT's get intercepted by the creatures?"
"First thing they tried," Rex reported, "was to use the ships to rescue men. The creatures teared them apart."
"What about star-fighters?"
"They might be fast enough to avoid them, but if a single one of those creatures get in a good hit it would be over."
"Not to mention that fighters cannot pick up men," Anakin thought.
The two friends stood there surveying the battlefield, looking for Luminara, when finally, she appeared. Her escort looked badly depleted, and Bariss was limping, but they were here. "Tell the captain to take off," Anakin said, feeling vomit rising in his throat. He was leaving these men to a horrible fate, "and get the walkers back inside."
"Yes sir," Rex said and jumped down the crates, sprinting towards the ship at the same time as he talked over the comms. Anakin watched his friend get away safely before he rushed to Luminara's side.
"You ok, Master?"
"I've been better, one of the creatures nearly smashed into the ground with its tail, but the Force warned me in the last second," Luminara said. "My Padawan did not fare so well."
"Get her to recovery wing," Anakin ordered two clones. They saluted and soon escorted Bariss away. "We should get going to, before we all die."
"WATCH OUT!" a clone shrieked. One of the AT-TE's suddenly exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions, killing dozens of clones, before Anakin saw the creature's making a return. In a single line they flied over a second walker, breathing fire upon it. The Walker's main cannon got in a clean shot before its operator was burned alive, but the shot did kill one of the creatures. But Anakin could see the walkers armament was melting. Then, as if the creatures had waited for it, another creature swooped down and smashed its tail into the AT-TE's cockpit. The front was smashed inwards, sending the walker falling downwards, before it to exploded, having its battery's damaged in the cockpits destruction.
"They are coordinating attacks," Anakin whispered. "They are intelligent."
"And force resistant," Luminara said. "We need to leave before they damage our ship to much."
Anakin nodded and stood up, stretching out his hand to Luminara, who grabbed it and was soon up on her feet. The two Jedi ran, seeing their defenses crumble, and were soon up on the ships. "Close the ship, get into space now!" Luminara shouted.
Anakin could hear the screams of the Clones as the hangar door was closed, blocking their only way of the planet. Never before had he felt this… destroyed. Dirty, tainted. Evil. "Tell the remaining fighters to dock in the first best ship." Anakin ordered as he walked towards the bridge. He could feel the powerful engines roaring alive, and soon they were leaving the dry dock.
"Where's my Padawan?" Anakin asked Luminara.
"Preparing to land in this ship with Master Ploo."
Anakin could feel death reeking from the planet. "When will this end?" he said as he watched the Venator open its hatch, letting the last fighters emergency land before the ship went into light speed, leaving the burning planet.
"If I knew that, I would tell you," Luminara whispered.
Queen Neeyutnee stared at the holo-vid. "Is it disabled?"
"It is my queen," Captain Panaka said. "Our Ion Cannon hit it straight on."
"Any word from the crew?"
"None, our fleet is heading towards the ship to finish it off."
Neeyutnee would be amongst the first to admit that her capabilities as a military commander were limited, and that she wasn't that brave. A fact that stung as her own Senator kept gaining power and glory. But even to her something was off. "What was an Imperial ship doing this far into Republic Space?"
"As all communications are done, it is possible that the Empire is pushing hard and ave breached the outer defenses."
"And this ship?" she asked her advisors.
"Malfunction in the hyper-drive?" a politician supplied.
"Sounds unlikely," Panaka said. He too was frowning.
"Captain Yller, you've reached the ship?" Neeyutnee asked her captain.
"We have, no signs of any life."
"No signs at all?"
"None, its almost lik-"
The holo suddenly changed, showing a brilliant white light that temporarily blinded all that looked into it. When her sight returned, Neeyutnee saw no remains of the Imperial Ship, or her own defensive fleet.
"Captain Panaka, raise the alarm. Get our remaining fighters up now," she commanded, fear gripping her. How was this happening? Naboo was supposed to be safe!
"Yes my queen," Panaka said and turned around, rushing towards the door. As he did, it opened and a single shot from a blaster rifle was heard. The captain had stopped completely, before he fell backwards to the ground. In walked more than a dozen Imperial soldiers, armored in the blackest armor possible, silent as the grave. Neeyutnee's guards all drew their weapons, but the Imperial Troops raised their guns and with amazing accuracy shot her guards faster than they could blink.
Neeyutnee stood up from her throne. "If you are going to kill us, get on with it," she said in defiance.
"Kill you? No, not when you are worth more alive than dead," a single smooth voice said. In contrast to the black troops, the newly arrived officer was dressed in white, and in his red alien eyes Neeyutnee saw a dangerous level of intelligence. "I hope all fighters and personal cruisers have been destroyed," the officer said to one of the troops.
"They should be done by now. The Death Squad never fails," the trooper, clearly a commander, reported.
"I hope so, we wouldn't want a second invasion of Naboo to fail."
The trooper growled. "We are not bureaucrats or droids, captain."
Neeyutnee stood there, her face betraying her confusion. "Who are you, and what have you done to our ships?"
"All in due time, your Highness," the alien said in a surprisingly respectful tone. "And I took the liberty to have my soldiers infiltrate all possible hangars on Naboo and to destroy every single none-imperial space vessel. We don't need a second Amidala."
Neeyutnee growled. "Then why keep me alive?"
"Politics, your Highness. In the case of an emergency, and a dead regent, who would lead Naboo?"
"One of my advisors."
The alien looked at her in a bored way. "Let's be real and honest with each other. It would be Amidala the people would rally behind, your Highness. But as long as you are alive, the highest voice is yours. And you are far less of a threat."
Neeyutnee felt so powerless. "Even with me alive, my senator will rally the Republic to liberate Naboo. This is the Chancellors homeplanet, he will not let it fall."
"No, your dear lord will not let something so valuable as Naboo to fall without a fight, on that we agree," the alien said.
"Even then, you have no ships to make sure reinforcements cannot reach us!" one of her advisors yelled.
"You never wondered how I and my troops came here? I had two ships, one I filled with explosives and set the core to detonate on my command, the other waiting within a short distance. As we speak, it is probably already here."
"How did you land unnoticed."
"The Empire have spies and agents everywhere, we have smuggled personal onto the planet for two weeks."
The door to the throne room opened again, and to Neeyutnee it wasn't Naboo reinforcments. It was another imperial officer, this one human. "We have started the Orbital bombardment of the Gungan cities, Captain."
"Good, have communications with the Emperor or his Consort been established?"
"The Emperor is still out of contact, but Lady Hedone is ready."
The Imperial Captain's eyes narrowed. "And she has been waiting? Why?"
The human officer blushed. "I thought you wanted to personally speak to her."
"Put her up on the Queens holo immediately," the alien said quietly, his voice very dangerous.
The officer rushed forward to the holo panel and started to type something in. Soon the holo activated, showing the image of a Twi'lek. "I see Naboo has been conquered."
The alien officer bowed. "It has, my lady."
"None, only a single ship used as bait."
"And the queen has no way to escape?"
"I made sure of it."
"Good, you'll receive reinforcements at the earliest opportunity, the Republic will be coming for Naboo."
"Thank you," the alien said and stood up. "If that is all, with respect, I got much to do."
"There is one thing," the Twi'lek said. "You have proven yourself, even if this was the first mission out in the open, Captain Thrawn. Or should I say, Admiral Thrawn."
The alien, Thrawn, looked indifferent. "I live to serve the Empire."
"Because we promised to aid you, Admiral. Serve us well, and you shall have all you need. But I shall not hold you here any longer. See you soon," the Emperors Consort said.
"Admiral, what's your orders?"
The admirals blue skin, contrasted with the red eyes, made Neeyutnee shiver as his eyes turned on her. "We need to make a statement, and prepare for a siege."
So, I'm alive. The Chapter is out, and out of the blue, but with University and life (plus said life being a royal bitch) I'm just happy to finally having some time to write again.
Also, for all those that have PM me, I thank you for taking your time, and I'm sorry to not have responded to all. That said, I'm never doing a ETA again. Ever. Asking me is still ok, and I will try to respond to everybody. But I will not give you and direct or indirect dates.
The only thing that you guys can count on is that I will post something if I go on HIATUS or abandon the story. On that you have my word.
But with the Dragons, Thrawn and more coming, (and the fact that Rogue One inspired me to write more) I got a few more scenes I really, really want to write.
Until next time!