AN: Sorry about the wait on this. This chapter was held up by writer's block on my story Changes on the Hellmouth and life. This chapter was a fun one to write and once I got started on it, it went really fast. ENJOY!
Teshik stared in horror and awe of the Death Star. It was a magnificent engineering achievement but it was also in enemy hands. The eerie, mechanical sounding voice being broadcast from it sent cold chills of fear down his spine. In spite of this his orders were clear and forceful.
"General Vicks, begin landing operations immediately. They seem to be jamming all communication channels outside of the ship so you'll be out of comm when you leave the ship," Teshik told his friend.
"Aye sir, good hunting," Vicks' voice sounded out of Teshik's comm.
"You too, Anton," Teshik said and closed the connection. "Begin covering fire for the landing force, Captain." Teshik said to the Whelm's master before the Emperor.
Teshik then turned his attention to the Leftenant at the ships communication station.
"Any luck getting through their jamming?" Teshik asked.
"No sir, it's on all channels and the power output...it's nearly off the charts sir," the young officer said.
"Not surprising, given how much power the Death Star has available," Teshik said.
"I've just finished checking all of the standard frequencies, sir. They've got them all jammed."
"Keep trying," Teshik said, patting the young man on the shoulder. He headed over to gunnery control when the power went out.
"Commander?" Teshik asked the officer at the Internal Security station.
"I don't know sir, internal com went down at the same time as the lights," the Commander said.
Teshik asked headed for the window and gasped, the entire fleet that had been covering the landing operation were not firing anymore.
"Commander, gather as many storm troopers as you can, and head to engineering. Orders are to repel boarders," Teshik said.
"Sir? No boarding craft have been detected," the Commander said.
"I gave you an order Commander, I expect you to carry it out," Teshik snapped.
"Aye, SIR!" the commander said, coming to attention then scrambling to obey.
"Captain, see to it personal arms are issued and I apologize for overstepping," Teshik said to the captain of his ship.
"Apology accepted, Admiral," the Captain said, then turned to his XO. "Personal arms are to be issued, Mr. Kriston."
"Aye sir!" the ships XO replied.
No sooner than he did reply a sick green light flashed on the bridge, Teshik turned only to be face with a being out of a nightmare, and it was wearing the face of a stormtrooper.
* * *
Mon Mothma stared at the Death Star hanging low in the sky from her apartment balcony. The winds had shifted from their normal pattern, reacting to the tidal forces the Death Star was producing on the planet. The battle station hung in the southeast sky, having just risen, in the hour that she had been watching it, it had gone from where she could hide it with her thumb, to now where her whole hand was just barely able to hide it.
The wind had gotten stronger in that period of time as well as the battle station's gravity pulled on Coruscant's atmosphere. She hadn't been able to transmit out, the outgoing transmission were completely unavailable.
"Any information as to why the Emperor has that thing here? It just doesn't make sense? How are they going to cover THIS up?" she asked.
"I have no idea, ma'am. It is out of character, though," Syelis said.
"I'll say it is, and I thought I had dismissed everyone," she said.
"Everyone has gone to their families, ma'am just as you ordered."
"Then why are you still here?" she asked.
"Because, my family is here," Syelis said quietly.
"What are you saying, Syelis?" she asked, confused.
"You are my family, ma'am. I've been in love with you for a very long time," he said.
"You....Syelis....why didn't you say anything?" she said, tears welling up in her eyes.
"I thought it would be inappropriate, and that you'd dismiss me. I wouldn't have been able to take that. I'm your aide, I'm not your equal. I'm not worthy to love you."
"Why would you think something like that?" she asked.
"You're a Senator! I started out doing droid work. I was overjoyed when you picked me to be your aide, at first for the job, then later as I grew to know you...for other reasons. Forgive me my impure thoughts, ma'am," he said, blushing.
"Impure...Syelis...come here," she said, feeling more than slightly flustered at his sudden declarations of love and desire.
He came over to her and she took his hands into hers, and looked into his violet eyes and said, "My only regret with what you've told me is that you...or I, for that matter, didn't say it sooner." She kissed his forehead, then his lips.
"Ma'am...I've long dreamed of this..."
"Call me Cle'este, Syelis...I love you," she said.
"Cle'este...it is an honor..."
"Why did you tell me now?" she said.
"Because...I don't think we are going to survive to see another sunrise," he said.
* * *
Vicks watched as the Death Star swelled in the shuttle's cockpit window. So far this operation was going as well as expected, given the Death Star's early arrival. He turned to the men in the back, a full platoon and longed for communications. He should be giving last minute encouragement to the troopers, not that the clones were supposed to need such things.
Still, Vicks had found that it helped, they may be clones, but they were still men. He was about to speak when the coxswain shouted, "General, the fleets covering fire has stopped!"
"What?!" he exclaimed in shock, then said, "There's something wrong."
His fears were confirmed when one of the shuttles turned from its approach to the Death Star.
"Begin jamming, the Op Force is taking control of our ships somehow," Vicks ordered.
"Aye, sir, setting com channels to jamming," the petty officer said. Vicks patted the coxswain on the shoulder then turned back to the men only to see six...cyborgs materialize out of a sick green glow, they immediate attacked the nearest of the stormtroopers and...disintegrated them. The remaining stormtroopers opened fire on the boarders then, only to have their shots absorbed by a semi transparent, hexagonal energy barrier.
The cyborgs themselves moved methodically attacking troopers another six troopers were disintegrated.
"You bastards!" Vicks shouted as his fired his side arm at the intruders, which was as ineffective as the larger weapons the rest of the platoon was using. For the first time since word of the Death Star's take over had arrived, his confidence slipped and he realized that Oz was right to be worried. This was no normal enemy.
"Coxswain, we have been compromised, set scuttling charges!" Vick ordered and the cybernetic zombies kept coming. One stormtrooper pulled a non-issue combat knife and plunged it into the neck of one of the boarders, and it went down in a spasm. For his success the intruder behind the freshly killed one disintegrated him.
Vicks wondered at the advance technology they showed and was curious why they resorted to melee attacks to kill, the the coxswain interrupted his thoughts.
"Scuttling charges set...correction they just shut down...controls just died, all instruments are black," the coxswain reported.
"Damnit!" Vicks shouted, then another stormtrooper was disinter grated, this one was close enough for Vick to see the method of attack, tubes extending from the ventral side of the boarder's wrist...then it hit him...the disintegration...they looked identical to the light the boarders came out of...they weren't being killed, they were being....transported...which meant...
The color drained from Vicks face as he realized what they were doing...he lifted his side arm to his head, and closed his eyes but before he could pull the trigger he felt a prick on his neck.
Palpatine was getting angry, first these half-droid abominations steal his pride and joy, then they have the AUDACITY to come to HIS capital world and demand HIS surrender? Just who did these people think they were? Did they not know who they were dealing with?
His thoughts were interrupted by a voice.
"Your Highness, they've started landing troops," the General said, Palpatine didn't know or care about his name.
"How, General...you had orders to shoot down any landing craft!" Only a twinge of curiosity as to how the incompetent worm would answer this question kept Palpatine from ending his life right there.
"They don't seem to be using landing craft my liege...and they are killing civilians, disintegrating them!"
"Commander...take this mewling babe out of my sight," Palpatine said to the head of his Royal guard. Then a storm trooper came into Palpatine's thrown room.
"Your Highness, the enemy has breached the palace, we have to get you out of here!"
"Why aren't your men stopping them?"
"Our weapons are completely ineffective, sire. You MUST come. If the Empire is to survive, you must!"
"Yes...no point in throwing my life away in a useless gesture," Palpatine said, his old shrewdness showing. In the years since his victory over the Jedi he had found that holding on to power was far more taxing than acquiring it. So many that he depended on in his rise to this position were now the ones he had to watch most carefully. Alas this was the way of things, the way of the Sith.
However, this invader was something new, it couldn't be manipulated, or at least not that he could find yet. It was difficult to negotiate when all the other side said was, "Prepare for assimilation," whatever THAT meant. The First Emperor of The Known Galaxy rose from his throne and went down to meet the stormtroopers that would take him to safety.
Before they could leave, though, the room echoed with a soft hum-hiss and filled with a sick green light, and dozens of enemy troops surrounded Palpatine and his escort. The Royal Guard engaged the enemy with their Force Pikes, and quickly felled half the enemies forces, only to have twice the number they'd killed appear before them. These proved far tougher as their Force Pikes bounced off an energy shield and one of the cyborgs knocked them aside with the heavy attachment that was its right arm.
The stormtroopers all fell to a knee encircling their Emperor and began firing and Palpatine felt the first cold shiver of fear as the stormtroopers blaster fire was absorbed by the energy shields the enemy were somehow generating. Palpatine focused and turned his fear into hatred and sick, dark lightning erupted from his finger tips and ripped into every being in the room that was not him. The Stormtroopers and Royal guard fell fast, the enemy cyborgs took a few seconds longer then collapsed in a heap.
"Try to kill me, do they. They will PAY for this!" Palpatine said as he headed for the exit of his throne room. Before he reached it though it opened and hundreds of the cybernetic beings filed in. Palpatine marshaled his rage and blasted out with his Force lightning. It took longer to take out the leading elements, but they went down, twitching. The next line simply stepped over their fallen comrades, and Palpatine fell back from the door, blasting out with more lightning, this time it was totally ineffective and on they came, relentless, their faces pale white, the red targeting beams landed on him.
Palpatine ignited his lightsaber and launched himself at the Borg, in his first slash he took off ten of their heads, the drones were packed so closely together. He swung again, taking out five more, finding the blade slowed by their shielding. They pressed near him and then he felt it a slight prick on his neck. Through the Force he could feel the invaders enter his body, he tried to use it to neutralize them, but they were replicating far faster than he could shut them off. He then felt a tingling sensation and he was no longer in his throne room, he was in an alcove and was paralyzed. Then he started hearing it in his head...the same voice that announced its presence over Imperial Center. The voice of the Collective and for the first time in his life, Palpatine, Emperor of the Known Galaxy screamed...and found no sound left his throat.
* * *
Teshik listened with a heavy heart to his men fighting a losing battle for their ship. He had given up trying to direct the Naval side of things a couple of hours ago, with no communications and the other ships in the fleet obviously undergoing similar boarding operations, what was the point? Imperial Naval resistance was now limited to repelling boarders that seemed to only increase in numbers. It was becoming depressingly clear that holding the ship was rapidly becoming unviable.
"Admiral Teshik?" Captain Jouran said, interrupting Teshik's thoughts.
"Yes, Captain," Teshik replied.
"I hate to have to say this, but I fear the situation is now untenable and we will lose the ship."
"I see...regulations are clear on this matter. We cannot allow the invaders to have our ships. Prepare the self destruct, Captain, while we still can," Teshik ordered. He sighed as the Captain left to carry out what would probably be Teshik's last orders.
The Grand Admiral went back to listening to the ongoing, decidedly one sided battle. Reports of enemy losses were distressingly few and far between, while his own losses were rapidly approaching numbers that the human mind simply couldn't visualize. He longed to be able to say goodbye to his wife, but that was impossible with the communications being jammed.
"The self-destruct is now set, sir. In five minutes Imperial Center will have a new sun for a few minutes," Captain Jouran said.
"Thank you Captain, that will be...Captain, do we still have helm control?" Teshik said, becoming animated for the first time in hours.
"I believe so, sir," Captain Jouran replied.
"Good...now if we just had a way of reaching the rest of the Fleet. The Death Star might be the most heavily armored battle station in the Galaxy, but I doubt even it can withstand the destructive power of a hyperdrive gone critical," Teshik said.
Captain Jouran's eyes went wide and he said, "Yes, Admiral it just might work!"
"Shame we can't communicate with the rest of the Fleet, but if they see us get underway they may just follow," Teshik said, then added, "Captain, make that destruct count down thirty minutes, and make our course for the Death Star, flank speed!"
"Aye, sir!" Captain Jouran said.
"They may take us down but we'll take a whole bunch of those bastards to hell with us!"
The Whelm accelerated from the fleet when he heard someone ask, "What is Invictius doing?"
"What do you mean, spacer?" Teshik asked the enlisted man,, then he saw and asked, what are they doing?"
A grizzled old Senior Chief came up to the Admiral, "Begging the Admirals pardon, but I should've thought of this when we lost communications, the Invictius is transmitting on what we referred to as Bandwith Zero during the Clone Wars, its a light code sir. It's slow, can't send much more than text, but it's perfectly secure, and virtually unjammable."
"Can you tell me what they are saying?"
"They are requesting orders, Admiral," the chief said.
"Very well, send to the Fleet, set self-destruct and set course for the Death Star, flank speed," Teshik ordered.
"Aye, sir! Sending to Fleet, set self-destruct and set course for the Death Star, flank speed!" the Chief repeated, and went to the weapons console, tapped a few keys. "Message sent, sir."
"I thought you said it was slow, Chief?"
"Not inputting, sir, light speed limit, it'll take almost a minute to reach the further ships, and unless they remember to compensate and predict our course they won't be able to respond, but it's better than nothing," the Chief replied.
The Death Star swelled in the bridge windows several minutes passed, then Teshik heard a soft hum-hiss and saw several of the invaders appear before him at different points on the bridge.
"Destroy all bridge controls!" Captain Jouran ordered and officers and enlisted men took their side arms to their stations, if some seemed a bit too pleased at blasting their work stations to slag...well so what.
Teshik fired at an intruder only to see his shot disappear into an energy shield unlike any he'd ever seen before. The being approached him and Teshik backed away, he saw several of the bridge personnel be disintegrated buy the enemies' odd melee attack...why would beings that had such technology use such an inefficient method of fighting? Then it hit him....they weren't killing, they were capturing. He couldn't order his men to commit suicide, but he hoped the officers at least would follow his lead, he put his side arm to his head and just before he could pull the trigger he felt a slight prick at the back of his neck....
* * *
Syelis and Cle'este Mon Mothma lay on the wide couch in the office warm in the afterglow of lovemaking. She smiled as she held her new lover. They hadn't said anything to each other for hours, then he broke the silence.
"I wonder why they haven't blown up the planet yet."
"Fine topic for pillow talk," she responded with humor in her voice.
"Considering it is the only reason we're having pillow talk, as you so quaintly put it, I think it highly appropriate....EEEKKKKK!" he said and then screeched out laughter as Mon Mothma took very unfair advantage of the closely guarded secret that she'd stumbled on in their first hour as lovers.
She grinned at him as he melted into helpless high pitch squeaks of laughter as she ruthlessly tickled his soft belly. She wondered that he was ticklish at all with his fur covering the apparently very sensitive skin. After a few minutes, she relented and let him catch his breath.
"It is so unfair...I never knew you were such a sadi....EEEIKKKKK!!" he said only to be interrupted by her tender ministrations of what she was rapidly becoming to think of as the Spot, this time she only tortured him for a few seconds.
"Skilled lover?" he said instead of what he had planned on.
"That's much kinder than what you were getting ready to say," she said her voice coy.
"Even if its..." a bright flash interrupted him, followed by several others. "What is that?"
The Chanda Fan rose from the mostly comfortable embrace of Mon Mothma and went to the balcony where he could see the Death Star.
"Have they fired?" she asked, suddenly business in spite of her present lack of clothes.
"I don't think so," he replied.
"We aren't dead," he said simply. "Wait a minute...look down there! What are those things?"
Mon Mothma, with an uncharacteristic lack of modesty stepped out on the balcony with him and looked where he pointed and she saw some droid like beings seemingly starting to build something. Then the comm on her desk started going off, which was unexpected with the communication blackout imposed by whatever was going on. She went to it and saw several messages from friends and colleagues. She read each one and paled.
"What is it, Cle'este?" Syelis asked.
"We've been invaded, by an unknown force, they are rounding up and executing civilians and the Death Star is capturing any ship that tries to leave," she responded.
"How did they come through all of the sudden?"
"Those explosions...look at the Death Star..." she said looking at the menacing moon-sized battle station for the first time since rising from the couch.
"Battle damage...lots of it if we can see it here." He said.
"Those flashes? What kind of weapon does the Imperial Navy have that could do that and why wasn't it used before now?"
"I don't think it was a weapon. I think the Navy rammed the Death Star."
"And those flashes were..." she trailed off, not able to come to grips with such an honorable sacrifice from enemies.
"Their hyperdrives going critical. They must've done enough damage that whoever is in charge of the Death Star wasn't able to maintain the jamming."
As he finished another call came in, this from Senator Garm Bel Iblis, she took it, visually, forgetting her current lack of attire.
"Yes Garm?" she said.
"Mon Mothma...ahem...you should know, that the Death Star's tractor beam is off line and if you can at all get off the planet," he said.
"We'll leave right away, we'll meet on Alderaan. Bail needs to know about what is happening here," she said.
"I look forward to seeing you there," the former Senator said and closed the comm.
"I never realized you were such the...exhibitionist," Syelis said, with a chuckle.
"What do you...." she started then realized..."Oh you! Why didn't you SAY anything?" Mon Mothma blushed deeply.
"I thought I'd make it worse because he would have heard me," he said, getting dressed himself.
"I am NEVER going to live that down," she said.
"As you say, m'lady. But we need to get you off planet if at all possible now."
"Yes, you're right," she said, hurriedly dressing herself.
* * *
Damage extensive...Sensors...offline...Transporters...offline...tractor beams...offline...weapons...offline...hyperdrive...offline...sublight drives...offline...warp engines...not yet functional...Regenerate...Regenerate...Regenerate...drones on planet 001 generate maturation chamber... continue assimilation of planet 001...Regenerate...Regenerate...Regeneration time estimated ten rotations of planet 001...Regenerate...Regenerate...Regenerate
Priority task change...Regenerate of Sphere 001...Priority 1...assimilation of planet 001...priority 2...construction of Cube 001...priority 3...Maturation of Queen...Priority 4...prerequisite not met for task...cube 001 must be completed.
* * *
Syelis ran through the corridors of the Senate Apartments as fast as his shorter legs would carry him. They were headed down to the landing bay where Mon Mothma's ship was. They only got down four levels before the started seeing the cybernetic beings that had invaded the Capital. They seemed to be rounding up people, stunning them with some kind of blaster that was on the large appendage and then doing something to their necks.
Syelis felt sick at the look of horror on the victims faces as they lurched after their captors, they seemed to be under some compulsion.
"Its awful," Mon Mothma a while.
"Yes it is, I wonder what they are doing with them?"
"I have no idea, but if the look on their faces is any indication, it can't be pleasant."
They moved swiftly, but stealthily through the corridors. There seemed to be an ever increasing number of the invading cyborgs moving through the hallways. Finally they came to the ship bay, only to find it FILLED with the invaders. They seemed to be putting up some kind of equipment. They all seemed busy with some kind of task.
"Not a very chatty bunch, are they?" Syelis asked.
"No they aren't. Telepathy?" Mon Mothma speculated.
"I doubt it, not with all of that hardware. It probably links them together somehow."
"How are we going to get to the ship?"
"That, my dear, is a very good question indeed."
Then one of the turbolift doors opened revealing a young human child, she was crying and seemed to be looking for something, or someone. To Mon Mothma's horror the little girl started going up to one of the cybernetic beings. Without thinking she darted from her hiding place and scooped up the little girl who screamed.
Mon Mothma ran for the turbolift imagining the whole room of invaders chasing her, then she heard Syelis's voice call out.
She stopped and turned around...the invader's were ignoring them. Totally ignoring them. Before she knew it she started laughing.
"Can you help me find my Mommy, crazy lady?" the little girl asked.
The question sent the dignified Senator into more peals of laughter as Syelis reached them.
"I think she's broken," the little girl said, her own sadness temporarily forgotten.
Syelis chuckled a little and said, "You don't know the half of it youngling."
Mon Mothma caught her breath during the exchange and said to Syelis, "Traitor." She then turned to the little girl and asked, "What happened to your mother, sweetie?"
"The metal men took her...she just went with them. I thought they might know where she is," the little girl said.
Syelis looked at Mon Mothma sadly and said, "Hers is not going to be an unique story, we should take her with us."
"What about my Mommy?"
"We'll do everything we can to help your Mommy, sweetie but first we need to get help."
"Mommy's in trouble?" the little girl started crying again.
"Sshhhh....sshhhhh...its going to be alright little one..." Mon Mothma cradled the child until she settled down.
"You're going for help?" she said between sniffles.
"Yes, we are, we have friends that will be able to help," Mon Mothma said.
"Ok...I want to help Mommy if she's in trouble."
"That's a good girl, now come on."
"We better hurry, we don't know how long that things tractor beams will be down," Syelis said.
They started moving toward the bay that held the Star of Chandra, Mon Mothma's personal transport. The bay the ship was stored in was about half way through. Once they reached it they were dismayed to see two of the cybernetic being near the gangway. They seemed to be scanning it, but Mon Mothma couldn't be sure.
"This day sure has had its ups and downs." Mon Mothma said.
"Yes it has, but I don't think that kind of talk is appropriate around young ears, m'lady," Syelis whispered into Mon Mothma's ear.
"You are very ill behaved, you realize," she responded trying to be stern and failing as she remembered just WHAT he was referring to.
"It's a personal failing," he said, not sounding the least bit apologetic.
The two beings then went around to the rear of the ship.
"Now's our chance!" Syelis said. They ran with Syelis holding the child's hand...there hadn't been time to get her name. They got almost to the ramp when Mon Mothma tripped, Syelis started to slow and Mon Mothma said, "Get her on board, I'm fine!"
Syelis obeyed and rushed up the ramp with the little girl, sat her in a seat, and said, "Stay."
He then ran back to the ramp and saw Mon Mothma starting up the ramp, then to his horror he saw one of the black beings come around behind her. Before he could shout warning, the thing put his fist to her neck and she went down onto the ramp. Syelis acted quickly and started raising the ramp before the invaders could step on it.
Then he reached for Mon Mothma and pulled her the rest of the way in, just as she started trying to move back to the ramp, there was the same look of horror on her face as he'd seen on the faces of the other victims, he quickly locked the door to the ramp and went to the first aid kit and grab a sedative. He stuck it in to her and she went limp. He dragged her to the nearest cabin and flopped her onto the bed, in what appeared to be an uncomfortable position.
"Forgive me my love, but I need to get us out of here before I can see to your comfort, it won't be long." He kissed her forehead and then headed up to the cockpit.
"Where are we going?" the little girl asked.
"Alderaan," he replied.
"I've heard Alderaan is pretty," she said.
"It is. Do you know how to strap in?"
"I think so..." she said, and she figured it out. "Is the lady going to be alright?"
"I hope so, child, I hope so," he said as the ship left the atmosphere.