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Daara Zend
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Joined: 17 Jul 2009
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 Post Posted: Mon, June 21st 2010 04:18pm    Post subject: The Battle of Muunilinst
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Date: Late 41:1:11, Standard Time
Combatants: True Empire, Imperial Remnant

This is a pre-determined battle and requires no CMAC intervention.


Confirmation of the message's receipt across The Galaxy had been confirmed by the communications officer. The Usurpers and the Traitors, as well as the populace, now knew fully her return and her intentions. And now, she would make true on her commitments; those promises she had long ago made to the Empire, to The Galaxy, and to herself would now be fulfilled.

Zend stood on the bridge of the Arquebusier as it traveled through hyperspace. The message was still being relayed by the Holonet. She had recorded it thirteen minutes ago at the location of their last jump point to Muunilinst. By the time it was disseminated throughout the entire network, the attacks on the Remnant's economic capital would be begun.

An influx of adrenaline pumped through Daara's body as the mottled sky reverted to streaking lines, and finally, a starscape. Before them lay the verdant world, like a blossom ripe for the taking.

"Jammers up," reported Lieutenant Banggai.

"And interdiction fields coming online, sir," added Captain Thyrane, the Executive Officer of the vessel. "There won't be anything going out."

Zend merely nodded, her mind too focused to allow exhalation through vocalization. The plan had come together well - not without its hitches, of course, but well enough. She had just had to make a difficult decision about the sister attack on Bilbringi by Krauss, and the assault would not be perfectly synchronous with this concurrent operation. But it would work.

The tension was high. The junior and senior officers both were on edge with a mixture of excitement and worry. They had no reason to be concerned, but Daara still found that the nervousness helped to promote accuity as long as it was tempered before the point of carelessness was reached. The officers had been trained well, and she knew they would not fail the Empire.

Despite her preoccupation with the strategy, Daara still had to make sure all of the pieces were in order before the game could begin. She withdrew herself from her mind and reached out for the comm device. It was set to the only frequency not being jammed, which was heavily encrypted. The channel was rotating; the frequency would be changed and the old one blocked at predetermined times throughout the attack. She intended to let The Galaxy be very well aware of the attack on Muunilinst, but she would not expose herself to reinforcements before the world was secured.

"Chief Marshal, sitrep. Confirm readiness for attack," she spoke into it, her voice even and tempered. The naval commanders were all ready, and she was sure the ground forces also were in order. She had faith in her men, but she always double-checked, whether it was entirely necessary or not. Most of all, Daara Zend knew that her daughter would not fail her. Riene would bring glory to the Empire, and in a way Daara envied the Stormtrooper's ability to alter the galaxy with her own two hands instead of by proxy.

But the galaxy would be altered regardless.

Nobody off of Muunilinst is currently aware of this attack.

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Riene Zend
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 Post Posted: Tue, June 22nd 2010 01:54am    Post subject:
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Riene practically buzzed with excitement. Only a paltry eighty-thousand kilometers under her feet, Muunilinst lay for the taking. And it would fall as surely as it would go around its sun. With the Grand Admiral leading the way, the new capital was already lost to the traitors. Any battling was a mere formality.

Her helmet comm crackled. “Chief Marshal, sitrep. Confirm readiness for attack,” her mother's voice sounded over the helmet speaker.

Zend paused and surveyed the troops. Almost all were already loaded into transports, gunships, and armored vehicles that were boarding barges. The remaining dozen or so were quickly piling in. By the time she opened her mouth to speak, Riene was the only trooper in the bay. “Confirmed, Grand Admiral. We are loaded and ready to deploy from orbit.”

She walked to a nearby lander, an old Sentinel that had seen more than a few campaigns in the Civil War and the Unknown Regions. Many of the craft in the bay had seen far more action than ever intended, but they were all up to spec and more than capable of their mission. They were fully armed, fully loaded, and fully committed. Once the armored bay doors opened, there was no turning back until the battle was won.

And Riene was eager to secure her place in Galactic history as the first of the conquerors of Muunilinst to set foot on the planet. But first, a path had to be cleared for her men by the fleet. She felt confident, however, that the wait would be quite short.
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Daara Zend
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 Post Posted: Tue, June 22nd 2010 12:08pm    Post subject:
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"Good," the elder Zend acknowledged with satisfaction. "Launch on my signal - not a moment before nor after. You know what to do."

For a moment, Daara's finger hovered above the comm. She felt like there was more to say to her daughter. She wanted her to return. But, more importantly, she wanted the Empire to be victorious. She could not show concern in front of her forces. Riene already knew everything that Daara could have expressed.

She toggled the switch on the comm. It was time. It was the moment on which the entire galaxy waited. It was the beginning of hope. "Soldiers of the Galactic Empire," Grand Admiral Zend began, all chatter on the bridge of the Arquebusier ceasing. "This is your commander."

The encrypted message went out across the entire region, from the ships surrounding Muunilinst to the sleeping task force waiting just parsecs away from Bilbringi. It was sent alongside the millions of dummy transmissions that were being projected into the galaxy from their jammers. The Rebels would not be able to detect or to analyze the stream until it was too late, if at all.

"We are standing on a sandy precipice. Behind us lie our families and our homes. Before us, below us, there is a plummet into a barren Galaxy of corruption and decadence. We have been tasked as the bridge-builders. We are the ones who must take it upon ourselves to rise above the rest.

"It will not be easy. The valley is deep and broad. The krayts that await us will gnash and growl. Within their caves they have holed up the poor men and women whom they slowly consume. But not all is lost. We will prevail.

"We will let loose the sanctifying fury of the Galactic Empire. We will slay the dragons. We will free the captives - we will cut their bonds and open their eyes. We will build the bridge. We will have victory, and the desert will become an oasis.

"The Empire is held up by you. Together, we will take this plunge. You and I will sweep away the Usurpers and the Traitors, and naught but a united galaxy will remain. Devote your lives to the Empire, assured in the knowledge we will not stop until order has been returned. Fight well and sacrifice what you must; we will triumph.

"Long live the Empire," she finished, her jaw tight. She deactivated the comm. The officers on the bridge of the Arquebusier were swelling with pride, she could tell. They would have applauded or cheered if they had not been in the presence of Zend herself. They were remembering just why this woman had been able to hold the Empire together through treachery in The Galaxy and attrition in The Regions. They didn't doubt.

"Captain Thyrane, take us in to the hive. Engage the capital ship squadrons," she issued her orders, watching the gem of Muunilinst grow ever-closer in the viewport. She viewed the entirety of her fleet, a devastating armada of an array, surrounding them.


Within moments, it had begun. The massive Executor-class vessel had unleashed emerald anger on the Remnant's defense force. Muunilinst had once been one of the most impenetrable worlds in the Empire - its defenses were still formidable, but they had atrophied from twenty years of complacency.

The two Revenge-class command ships of the True Empire hung in the back of the arrangement, their powerful jammers scrambling the transmissions and replacing them with fake facsimiles. A portion of the fleet waited in reserve, protecting the vessels and waiting to reinforce if the need should arise.

The rest of the fleet was loosely divided in half. A pair of Belligerent-class Star Destroyers headed up one branch of the attack. They were engaging the twin Golan III defense platforms that orbited before them. Several of the Empire's Firebreak support frigates provided a shield against the enemy's missiles and fighters. Various other ships were based around the Belligerent duo, including a portion of Scythe cruisers.

The majority of Zend's forces were based around her own Executor-class Arquebusier. Countless Galleon frigates, Imperial-class Star Destroyers and Scythe cruisers formed the backbone of the force. Dragoons were scattered throughout, launching TIE Inteceptors and gunboats. A greater portion of them remained reserved in the protected rear of the force, waiting for a future order. Victory-class vessels were peppered through the fleet, providing support where needed. All vessels had been extensively retrofitted and contained many new surprises for the enemies of the Order.

Already she could see the Remnant acting to defend. Many of their ships had been designed long after her departure. However, espionage gave her a fairly intimate knowledge of them. The Turbulent-class Star Destroyer was particularly formidable, and firepower would concentrated on that class first.

Daara stood and observed the battle before her, giving small corrections and acknowledging reports as needed. She watched the legions of starfighters meet in the middle of the firefight, the Remnant Starhunters twisting and banking around Zend's Interceptors. The Firebreaks blew hundreds of the fighters out of the sky, but the Starhunters were resilient enough to gain the upper hand over the Interceptors, creating a debris field of wings and bodies wherever they went. Unfortunate, but not unsurprising.

"Concentrate beam weapons on the hangars of the vessels, especially that Turbulent," Zend ordered with spite, leaning forward on a support. "We need to stem the fighter launches."

Within moments, the Scythe vessels had gotten into position. Long green lances issued forth from their bows, the lasers eventually finding their targets, adjusted minutely to pinpoint the hangars. The weapons continued to fire, continuous lines of energy being piled into the enemy's ships. Beam weapon technology was undervalued in The Galaxy - but not in the Unknown Regions.

The beams concentrated the heat within the hangars, eventually bursting through the shielding and creating a vacuum within the hangar bays. The strategy would decrease fighter launches - pilots would not be able to reach their fighters without considerable difficulty. Daara did not allow herself to smirk.

The Arquebusier moved around the perimeter of the fight, contributing heavy firepower in the form of harsh turbolaser blasts. The first of the enemy's Dragoons burst and fragged into a billion pieces off starboard. It was the first of many.

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 Post Posted: Tue, June 22nd 2010 12:58pm    Post subject:
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The bolts of civil war crisscrossed the first field of battle. A Imperial Star Destroyer, three Scythe cruisers and ten Firebreaks had been destroyed, the souls aboard giving their lives in the ultimate manifestation of Imperial honor. The Interceptor complement of eight Imperial Star Destroyers had been lost to the broadsides of the Remnant's Dragoons. They had done their duty.

Four of the Rebels' Gauntlets lay in ruins, only a handful of the Dragoons remained, and the Turbulent was limping. Firebreaks had unleashed blaster cannon and beam weapon against the Remnant's Starhunter flights, and fighter presence on both sides was winding down due to destruction. Several Galleons had tried to leave the battle, only to be vaporized by Victory Star Destroyers before they could escape interdiction. She figured they had been attempting to get outside of jamming range and carry a message back to their masters. Not yet.

Daara's icy eyes gazed upon the Turbulent, seeing its once-pristine hull blackened and fractured. It was such a fine, magnificent vessel. It was almost a sin, to see such a fine vessel enslaved to do the whim of its sinister taskmasters. How different The Galaxy could have been, had small-minded men never ruined it.

Nevertheless, the Remnant's faithful fools were giving their last. It brought back memories of her defense on Bastion, so many years ago. She had charged in to fend off a vicious attack in a pivotal battle, her and her men giving it their all. The only difference was that Muunilinst would not be successfully defended.

The writing was on the wall. Several Rebel Dragoons had surrendered to her command and were now being boarded by her forces. The Remnant had fired and destroyed one of their own Galleons to prevent it from defecting. They were motivated both by fear of the inevitable, and realization of the legitimacy of Grand Admiral Zend.

The Arquebusier devoted itself entirely to the assault on the Turbulent. The beams of the Scythe vessels and the other re-fitted ships were boring holes into the superstructure. Then the mighty vessel split in two, explosions erupting from the inside out. The vast Star Destroyer, the taker of many of the True Empire's ships, was obliterated. A cheer erupted on the bridge.

"Be quiet," Daara ordered, though her own feelings were the same. More Remnant vessels almost immediately laid down their arms; Zend had given orders to tolerate surrender, as she herself promised on the Holonet. "We aren't done yet. Captain, Golan status."

"The Belligerents have destroyed one, and are currently decimating the second. The other orbital platforms have been cleared in our target trajectory," came the response from the aging man. His face was sweated, but his voice was clear and pristine. Thyrane was good under pressure.

Daara immediately keyed the comm to the Chief Marshal. "Marshal Zend, you are clear for deployment. The vanguard will precede you," she paused for an indiscernible moment. "Fight well."

"Captain," she said after she had deactivated the comm. "Get us in position to launch the Dragon Teeth. Tell the Dragoons to deploy their infantry pods. Deploy the gunboat escort for the ground transport. Things are about to get interesting."

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Riene Zend
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 Post Posted: Wed, June 23rd 2010 12:15am    Post subject:
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The Sentinel seemed to leap from the hangar bay. Walking to the front of the craft, she peered out of the transparisteel viewport. The vista was breathtaking: deep green landmasses, blue-violet oceans, and wispy white clouds drifted above. Seeming to slice through the almost-ethereal bands of water vapor were clouds of another kind: contrails of falling assault pods, the key to the Grand Admiral's lightning warfare policy. Each contained an assault droid, a tank, or a team of infantry droids that could quickly deploy from the rough landings and lay waste to nearby points of resistance. This, in turn, would clear a landing zone for the organic forces.

The planet swelled in the viewport as the Sentinel, other shuttles and transports, and a slew of ground-assault craft dove toward the capital. The repulsor engines kicked in, grav-braking the descent to avoid a meteoric entry. Clouds briefly obscured the viewport, then vanished. Riene could survey the land below in stunning detail. She mused, for a moment, that this was the first properly civilized world she would set foot on in twenty years. A small part of her was regretful that it would be in full armor, conquering the planet from the traitor Remnant. But a much greater part was elated that her first time on a planet outside of the Unknown Regions would serve a purpose beyond frivolous sight-seeing. Here was where the real Empire would plant its flag until Coruscant itself was made available. It was unfortunate, too, that the existing defenses were too well-built for their own sake: they couldn't be captured and maintained by real Imperials; they had to be annihilated and replaced,a costly and time-consuming measure.

Fortunately, backed by the planet's wealth, no corporation would turn down the credits offered by the Grand Admiral. Some might wring their hands in public, even refuse in press conferences on the evening news, but ultimately, the exchanges would occur and Muunilinst would be made whole again. But before such rebuilding could occur, it fell on Riene to evict the troublesome tenants. And as the ground neared and the fires in Harnaidan grew brighter, the young Stormtrooper commander made her way to the shuttle's deployment hatch. She would be the first out, followed by the troops from the Arquebusier and the barges, transports, shuttles, and landers from the rest of the flotilla. As she did so, she passed by the lieutenant in charge of the shuttle's platoon of soldiers. “Get your men ready.”

He nodded, then began barking orders to the soldiers under his command. Riene stood by the hatch and primed her rifle. She wondered about the opposition. She heard that the so-called Imperial Army had swallowed up the Remnant's pale imitation of her Corps, that the alleged stormtroopers answered to officers of the Remnant army instead of forming a separate chain of command. But, disgusting though that was, that also meant that their stormtroopers would be an elite among the ground troops, and that the false Corps was further divided with standard divisions and ultra-elite legions. That gave Riene the slim hope of a worthy opponent among the traitors.

The shuttle lurched and the whine of the propulsion systems died away. There was a sharp hiss, and the ramp lowered. Zend shouldered her rifle, flicking off the safety as she stepped onto the ramp. She looked around the landing zone.

The vanguard units had already swept through and done a thorough job. Men and women in uniforms, oddly different but still bearing many of the hallmarks of Imperial design, lay sprawled across the field. Blast points, burn marks, and the occasional still-burning fire showed where shots missed; blackened wounds and missing body parts showed where they hadn't. Several infantry droids were lying in smoldering heaps as well, their gleaming exteriors scorched and half-slagged where concentrated fire ripped through their armor plating and tore into their servos and circuits. Even a pair of the larger drones, the size of small walkers, dotted the graveyard. However, it was clear that the traitors suffered far more in the skirmish.

When her eyes fell on a trooper, white armor stained red with blood, a brief pang of pity stabbed through Riene. The unfortunate soldier had been sliced in half by one of the assault drones... and given the distance between the separated components, he or she had crawled some distance before being granted the mercy of death. More astonishing—and unsettling—was the trooper appeared to be crawling toward one of the now-wrecked mini-walkers. Pity disappeared, and Riene felt the unpleasant tendrils of fear starting to creep in. What kind of soldier would continue on after that? Well, what kind of soldier outside of her Corps? Perhaps the Remnant had not become so decadent and soft as hoped, at least not individually.

But there was no time for fear or pity. For now, it did not matter that the flags flying looked so much like her own, or the armor looked so similar. They were traitors, they were the enemy. And they would fall.

And so, Chief Marshal Riene Zend tapped into her command frequency and began issuing the orders. She memorized her strategy for taking the city—as she did with all of her assault plans—and now it was time to enact it.
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 Post Posted: Wed, June 23rd 2010 11:59am    Post subject:
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Over the rotating comm frequency came the reports that the vanguard of the Empire's assault had arrived on Muunilinst. Daara could not perceive the reality of the first shots fired, but she could almost picture the hardy pods opening, letting loose hundreds of droid soldiers, automated walkers, and incisive robotic tanks. They would eviscerate Muunilinst's cities from the inside, laying the groundwork for the full assault moments later by Riene's crack forces.

The fight in the skies of the prestigious world fared equally well. Daara's wing of the assault were pummeling the extant Remnant defense force - they also launched more and more Dragon Teeth towards the surface, supplementing the offensive.

High Port was another story. With its spatial defense of twin Golan III defense platforms dissolved, it was now defenseless to the True Empire. However, Zend didn't want it destroyed. Therein lay the problem.

The orbital city known as High Port remained locked above the metropolis of Harnaidan. It was one of the foremost centers of trade on Muunilinst, dealing with off-worlders and acting as a historical landmark. It was, however, defended within by the highly-trained Iotran guard, members of a warrior race. Daara would destroy it if she must, but that was a last resort.

She couldn't be distracted. The intact holdout taunted her, tempting her to revise her strategy to take the city now. But she must wait. The Stormtroopers would invade and take over the station after the planet had been won. For now, the fleet would surround the station, making sure nothing entered nor left. That would suffice.

The Arquebusier sped toward the Remnant's final Gauntlet. The searing lasers released all the way down the hull, flying through space unmolested and slamming into the Star Destroyer's metal. The shields had already fallen.

"Concentrate there, on the ventral armor," the Grand Admiral ordered to her the gunnery commander, indicating a point on a holographic model. She stood in the pit of the bridge, looking over his shoulder to ensure her commands were followed. After she was satisfied, she moved back onto the elevated deck to observe through the viewports the glorious sight of the Gauntlet erupting into a hot ball of plasma.

The battle had been won; true, there were still many ships left to destroy, and the entire ground operation remained, but in truth it had been won before they had even left Orasclenna. It was just a matter of destroying the pieces left by the fractured defense force. But she would not be overconfident - nothing would be allowed to escape.

What she had not expected, however, was the resilience of the Remnant forces. They were so brainwashed by their leaders, more than she had expected, to the point of devotion. While many came to join her side, many fought to the last, and died faced with the onslaught of Daara's sanctification. She had taken slightly fewer losses than she had planned to take, but it didn't matter. A small error in tactics could be corrected before it became a gaping flaw. It only increased her anger at the Usurpers; they did not afford their minions even the illusion of free will.

"Deploy half of the remaining fighter squadrons. They'll be trying now to launch buoys and couriers. Chase them down. Establish a perimeter of gunboats around the circumference of interdiction," she relayed, and officers scurried to enact the announcement. She had lost many fighters to the Remnant's obviously-superior corps, but that also would be corrected. The Rebels had lost far more to the Firebreak vessels - and it would not be the last time they encountered them.

Daara clasped her hands behind her back, her eyes turning several degrees counterclockwise to view the planet. She thought of her daughter.

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 Post Posted: Wed, June 30th 2010 12:40am    Post subject:
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A spray of bolts from Riene's rifle cut down a pair of enemy soldiers. The two army troopers slumped over their now-silent F-Web. She motioned to the platoon of troopers the heavy repeater had pinned down. The fighting had stretched the traitor's defenses: a somewhat winding route through a few city blocks would put Zend on the doorstep of their main government center. Once inside, she'd either force a capitulation... or kill the leaders of the ground troops, decapitating their defensive effort.

She cradled her E-19 rifle. The elite weapon among Zend's forces, she found that even basic troopers in the traitor army also carried them. The enemy Stormtroopers had a new kind of long rifle, something clearly developed after the Great Exodus. She knew it was called the E-22, but its production was far too strictly monitored. The effort and expense to hijack the carefully-monitored shipments would've carried far too high of a risk, too much chance of the Grand Admiral being discovered before it was time. But, having seen the devastating weapon in action in the hands of the traitors, Riene couldn't help but await when her own soldiers would wield the lethal new battle rifles.

In addition to the improved armament, she was none too keen on the superior body armor used by the Remnant Stormtroopers. While their Army troopers wore the same plasteel vests as the real Imperial Army—which in turn were little different from those used in the earliest days of the Galactic Civil War, save some minor reinforcement—it seemed the traitors had been busy trying to make sure they didn't lose troops to worthless pirates and scum. Commendable, if immensely irritating for the additional blaster bolt it required Riene to expend to drop a soldier. Her personal ammunition supply had been exhausted an hour ago; fortunately, there were quite a few spare power packs on the dead Remnant Army soldiers. She'd even tried out an E-22 for a short time, only whetting her appetite for more of the wonderfully powerful weapons, as well as their much-improved penetration of the upgraded Stormtrooper armor.

But advanced weaponry and improved armor wouldn't save the Remnant. Zend's Stormtroopers trained in conditions that made Carida look like a pleasure world. Their endurance and adaptation to adverse climes was second to none, thanks to the highly-tunable environmental system on the Fusilier. Her troops could cover more ground than the Remnant soldiers, outflanking them, encircling, and eliminating pockets of enemy resistance. Of course, the newly-arrived armored and repulsor units helped, as well. It was odd to watch AT-STs duel in the streets or 2-M hovertanks exchange fire among each other...

However, the best help of all came from the automated units. The ZD-2s clanked down streets, twin red photoreceptors peering from behind an armored sensor window. Their gleaming armor helped reflect some of the heat of blaster fire, their human size and form helped them access dwellings and fortifications designed for humans. Armored five-fingered manipulators almost looked like gloved hands and could easily handle any weapon, but provided more strength and faster reaction time. They weren't mere battle droids like the pathetic and worthless B1 and B2 units of the Clone Wars; they were a new class, unheard of since the days of the Galactic Great War: war droids. The distinction was superficially subtle: battle droids were intended to fight in a single, heavy battle. Short power-life, limited brains and memory... weak construction. War droids were intended to fight and survive the course of campaigns, to learn and compile new tactics. Expensive, tough, smart, and ruthlessly efficient. Zend knew that the Imperial Remnant hadn't dealt with a threat worse than organized pirate clans in almost two decades. The droids had been used in conquering the Unknown Regions; essentially, battle-hardened veterans engaging rear-echelon troops.

The other droids, mostly walkers, wreaked their own devastating brands of havoc. But the infantry droids helped root the foe out of bunkers and pillboxes, flushed out buildings that housed repeater nests and snipers and partisans... and most importantly, saved a lot of organic Stormtroopers' lives. While Riene thought nothing of ordering a battalion to take an objective, knowing a high price in troopers would be paid, she was ultimately a humanitarian at heart: why kill human soldiers, who took eighteen years to reach maturity and months to train, when a droid that was built in five minutes and had a general's strategic overview, a captain's tactical know-how, and the expendability of green private could do the job almost as well? The only human soldiers that needed to die were those of the enemy. No soldier ever won a war by dying for his cause. They won by making the other soldier die in vain for theirs, she reflected on another of her mother's lessons.

"Lieutenant," she said evenly, addressing the platoon leader of the platoon she'd just freed up. "Your men will accompany my squad. We're taking the Capitol building."

"By your will, Chief Marshal," he dutifully replied.

Riene began marching down the streets of downtown Harnaidan. With a tongue switch, she called up a holomap of the area, then turned down the avenue. A few more blocks, a few turns... and she'd be going in the back door of the capital.

She smiled with martial glee... then the lieutenant's helmet exploded in a shower of armor and gore.
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 Post Posted: Fri, July 23rd 2010 02:11pm    Post subject:
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The battle had been over when Zend ordered the cessation of communications jamming. A couple of her best commanders had criticized the wisdom of allowing The Galaxy to know of the attack, especially since they had taken precautions to hide the assault. Daara had replied with a reminder that a counterstrike was unavoidable and imminent; the Remnant would learn of the battle, and if Zend's forces had to defend against a retaliation, it was better to do it on her own terms. By allowing the Remnant to know that Muunilinst had been attacked, Daara knew the response would be swift, and that her forces would be prepared and battle-ready.

After that, there were no more arguments against her strategy.

The defense force had been entirely dismantled: the rebel vessels had either been destroyed, or they had surrendered or defected to the True Empire. Now, Daara's fleet waited at the probable vectors of arrival for the force she knew would soon arrive. It would be a more difficult fight than the initial assault, but they would again have the upper hand. The Usurpers didn't know how overwhelmed they would be.

They had been in formation for about twenty minutes when the first ships emerged from hyperspace. They were a formidable array of vessels, from the eldest ships to the Remnant's top-of-the-line. More of the dreadred Turbulent ships headed the arrangement.

Most of the ships had jumped into the expected positions, and were already being hammered by the full might of the True Empire's weapons. Another group had appeared several kilometers away, behind the line of defense. Daara dispatched a portion of the fleet to meet them.

The space in front of the viewports took on a glow, the lasers and plasma radiating light with such density that the entire fleet appeared to be wading through a multicolored medium. The area was saturated with missiles and fighters and ships and all other sorts of matter. The Firebreaks were having difficulty in throwing up their defense screens without striking friendly targets. But as the Interdictors moved closed to the battlefield, Daara knew she would win; there would be no escape for the Usurpers.

The balance of power was volatile, shifting radically and unpredictably between the two sides. Quarters were almost too close to gauge the current victor at any given time. The Arquebusier shook as it took a legion of blasts to its ventral section, but the returning volley crippled the assailant. A Turbulent lost its shield generators, but a too-close Dragoon split into pieces from the debris cloud. Starhunters and Interceptors danced in the spectral ball before them, twisting and twirling and occasionally erupting into furious flames.

Daara leaned forward on the console, giving orders as necessary, her eyes scanning the field in an effort to be omnipresent. She had not anticipated such a tightly-knit engagement, but in the end it would affect nothing. The Remnant had no hope.

Rather, they had no hope... but her.

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Riene Zend
Moff


Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Arquebusier

 Post Posted: Sun, July 25th 2010 12:53am    Post subject:
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Sniper!

The unnecessary and obvious statement crackled with annoying urgency and stridency over Riene's speakers. Unfortunately, some of her troops had an unfortunate flair for the dramatic; she personally blamed too many war holos. “Cover, now,” she ordered calmly as an icy trickle of sweat ran down her spine. Sprinting for a sheltered alley as another spray of blaster fire tore into the ground near her feet, she called on her comlink, “Aurek One to Droid Control. Enemy sniper in the area. Requesting assistance.”

Units en route to your location, Aurek One.

“Sit tight, stay down,” Riene ordered her troops. “No one moves, and no puts their head up.”

Unfortunately, she hadn't seen the bolt. She had no idea where the sharpshooter was; it was up to the droids to flush out the traitor scum. She supposed she could reconnoiter, using either herself or another trooper to draw fire. It had worked in the past, on other worlds... in what seemed like another lifetime. But it was clear the traitors were just as practiced in the handling of their weapons as Riene's troops. She may have had the advantage in overall training and experience, but the enemy knew the land and was fighting for survival instead of conquest. The potential cost in troops and time lost gaining reinforcement would be a greater setback than the time lost waiting for the war droids.

Ma'am, how long do we wait?” called the recently-deceased lieutenant's sergeant major.

“Until that sniper is dealt with, or at least distracted.” Anticipating the next question—the one that had been running through her own mind moments before—she continued. “We don't have enough men to draw fire and flush him out, not if we intend to take the capitol building by nightfall. If we can force the local Moff or general to order a surrender, the day is ours.”

It wasn't supposed to be this difficult,” another trooper complained. “Why are they still fighting?

Riene failed to suppress a wry smile of admiration and intense loathing. She was grateful her helmet concealed the expression. “Because, soldier, it turns out they still have some Imperial spirit after all.”

After pulling herself into a more comfortable position, Riene surveyed the situation. The lieutenant was the only casualty, fortunately. What remained of his helmet lay in a dark pool that trickled down into the cracks and seams in masonry road. Bits that had once been parts of his scalp, face, skull, and brain littered the street and—Riene idly noticed—her armor. Brushing off some well-done gray matter, she called up her holomap. The sniper would be covering the vital intersection a mere ten meters in front of them. That meant the sniper was in one of two buildings, at the front corners.

That narrows down the direction a bit, she mused, but further thought precluded an immediate assault. She didn't know which of the multistory towers held the sniper, nor from which level he was firing from. That meant at least one soldier dead just to trace the fire, and then attacking an enemy with a long-range weapon and height advantage with assault carbines. Too many dead Stormtroopers, too much of a delay. No-go.

Fortunately, the wait wasn't long. She heard the whine of servos and clomp of durasteel footpads... followed by the sharp report of the Remnant sniper's rifle. There was a loud ring: a resonant vibration sent through the metallic armor of one of the droids, caused by the rapid vaporization of a sizable piece of plate. She risked a glance and saw the stricken ZD-2 stagger, a large hole blown in its frontal armor. But it recovered its balance and began aiming its weapon high. The building on the right!

Riene ducked down behind the half-meter thick ferrocrete lip to the alley to check the charge on her current power pack. She grasped the unit protruding from the belly of her rifle—

—and the shielding lip exploded, with another blast issuing from the back wall of the alley. Zend cursed loudly as a fist-sized chunk of iron-bonded masonry slammed into her arm and rained on her helmet, more from surprise than pain. The report of E-14 blasters from the droids followed quickly. Stepping a bit deeper into the alley, Riene took stock of her situation: her armor was unpenetrated, the only impediment to her arm was a dull ache. She looked at the site of the second blast, across from her. A dark blast-point with a fist-sized crater stared back. That doesn't seem so bad...

Then she moved to the opposite side of the alley, readying herself to charge out. And she saw the nearly sixty-centimeter-wide hole in the lip she'd been standing next to, and that it was a straight-line path to the smaller, less impressive blast point on the back wall. A curse, silently uttered, played upon her lips. Apparently, the sniper knew something about targeting priority: when in doubt, shoot at the organic soldier.

“Unit, ready,” she ordered simply. The sounds of blaster rifles exchanging fire, along with the glass-like tinkling of shattering transparisteel and more ominous metallic ringing sounds reached a fever pitch. “Unit, move out! Go! Go! Go!”

She bolted to her feet, noticing an azure bolt of plasma scream down at the droids through her freshly-made window. Move before it comes for you. “Link up on the far side of intersection!”

The clatter of Impervium plastoid plates and all-terrain soles on the masonry road joined the din of the nearly-vertical firefight. Riene hazarded a glance up, and saw where the drones were focusing their fire. An impossible shot for her to actually hit the sniper, but she shouldered her rifle and emptied the last fifteen rounds in her pack as she ran. If it buys us another second of him keeping his head low...

It seemed to have worked. The lightly-reinforced platoon had reached the middle of the street, just as far from their objective and safety as they were from the cover of their former hiding places, when the sniper began firing down on the thicket of white-armored troops. The first hit struck the street, showering a couple troops nearby with pebble-sized shrapnel. It bounced harmless off of their armor, leaving the road the worst casualty: a smoking, two-foot hole in ground marked the point of impact. The sniper then must have decided to aim “center of mass”... on the formation. The next bolt connected, though the victimized trooper had a moment to see the bolt coming. His attempts to keep his head instead cost him his right shoulder and a good chunk of the right side of his chest.

For a moment, Riene spared him not a thought. Then his choked, gurgling breathing crackled on the frequency... as did a simple, plaintive plea. “Help...

The fresh power pack hummed in Zend's rifle. “Keep moving, men.”

They knew better than to disobey. She turned, knowing full well how exposed it made her. She looked at the horribly-wounded man. His severed arm lay about a meter away, still and bloodied. The trooper writhed and clutched at his helmet with his remaining hand. Riene knew enough about field medicine that he was likely choking on his own blood from a damaged lung and throat. She leveled the rifle and ended his suffering. Perhaps he could've been saved, but his odds were extremely slim if medevac was immediately available. And he certainly would've slowed down the rest of the unit. Now, he died a hero instead of burden, euthanized and granted a quick, relatively clean death instead of the slow, horrific demise of choking on his own lifeblood.

But there was no time to wax maudlin; Riene could almost feel the sniper's crosshairs fall upon her. She ran faster than ever before, juking and jinking like a crazed Ewok at the controls of a high-performance starfighter. A few blasts struck nearby, pelting her with fragmented stones. She pressed for the far side of the road, where her troops safely congregated just around the corner from the sniper's nest. But a chilling dread filled her, a dark intuition told her she was already dead.

Riene looked up. She saw the muzzle of the rifle. She saw the glint of the scope. She imagined she could see the gloved finger tensing on the trigger, the cold expression of the sniper as he was about to fire on another Imperial soldier. She heard a scream, and took a moment to realize...

It wasn't her.

The sniper was falling. Thirty stories up, twenty, ten... and then the abrupt deceleration. A scout trooper, no doubt taking up sniping after it became clear that flitting about on a speeder bike was no longer viable. A long slit showed in the eye piece. Riene could guess by the size and shape what caused it. She turned to the droids, noticing four lay in heaps, their chests and armored, helmet-like cranial modules blown wide open. “The rest of you, follow me. We'll need the support.”

As you command”, the lead unit droned.

“Take point. We're going to the capitol building.”

As you command,” the droid repeated. They were heavy on combat programming, not so much on interesting conversation. They could at least change up their acknowledgments once in a while, though, Riene mused.



Riene pulled the blaster-burned corpse of the last guard away from the Capitol entrance. During the Clone Wars, the tower once mounted a massive artillery piece that hounded the Republic forces. Now, it was studded on top with flak pods and antiaircraft laser cannons, to avoid another hostile entry from above. That was fine with Riene: after the sniper, resistance had been light and scattered Army units. A few prisoners here and there, but once the Capitol was reached, they were sent back with a few droids. After all, she didn't lead her troops the way Imperials were portrayed in Rebel holovids. She honestly hoped no Imperial commanders throughout history were ever that mind-numbingly idiotic... although, the thought of how many Rebel scum went to their deaths for grossly underestimating competent Imperial officers or thinking Stormtroopers really were incapable of shooting straight did bring a small measure of cheer. “All right, men. This is it; this is our objective. We are to find the local Moff, Tranchida, or the commanding general. When we do, we will see to it that he or she orders all Remnant soldiers to stand down.

“Along the way, take prisoners if possible. We'll need leverage, and it may take a few executions to sway their minds.”

Grim orders, to be sure... but effective. After all, they couldn't shoot the Moff or general: no one else could issue the stand-down command, legally.

“You know the plan, so let's be about it.”

The Stormtroopers split into their preassigned teams. One for neutralizing security and gaining control of building systems, one to seal off the exits, and the rest would be taking the various stairwells and turboshafts. Riene was leading one of the capture teams; she knew some generals had an issue with surrendering to privates and sergeants.

Unfortunately, the lobby receptionist was able to quickly deduce that the incoming soldiers were not of Remnant origin, leading Zend to immolate his chest cavity for sounding the alarm. The security team was led by a female army officer; luck was both on her side and Riene's. The door she exited from was within arm's reach of the Chief Marshal, and instinct led Zend to club her with her rifle instead of setting up a shot. The officer went down with a bloodied face; her team suffered more mortal injuries. “Can you come along quietly, or do you need to be stunned?”

“Why don't you kill me, traitor?” she sneered, her voice thick with pain and blood.

“Counter-productive. You're worth more alive... for now,” Zend stated bluntly.

The officer seemed unsure of how to respond. Riene wasn't: she took the binders from her belt and locked the prisoner's wrists behind her back before relieving the other woman of her sidearm. There's one bargaining chip.

Riene's unit held down the lobby while the other teams made their way to their assigned objectives. A few more attacks came, a few more prisoners were taken, and more bodies littered the floor. By the time Cresh Team took control of the building's systems, several were Riene's own troops. Still, she enjoyed a full squad of troops to guard their six prisoners. “Do you have complete control, Sergeant?”

Yes, ma'am. Every door, every lift, even the security assets.

“And what of Moff Tranchida”

Records show she went to Bastion and has not yet returned.

Frak. “And the general?”

Still alive and in the upper part of the building.

“Seal it off except for the lobby lift, lock down every door on the level except for the room he's in and the lift. And ready the gas system.”

By your will, Chief Marshal.

Riene gestured to the prisoners with her rifle, then to the lift. “Let's go meet your commanding officer, shall we?”

The prisoners slowly made their way to the lift, under the rifles of a pair of Stormtroopers in the chamber and the rest without. Riene knew that if they were to make their move, it would be at that moment when her forces could be divided and the two Stormtroopers would be easily overwhelmed in the confined space.

But when the boarding was utterly uneventful, she noted that perhaps the efficiency of the True Empire's soldiers—as well as the thickening stench of burned flesh and death—had abated their rebellious natures. As the lift ascended the great structure, part of her hoped she wouldn't need to terminate them, that they would see the light and accept their rightful place in the True Empire. A darker part of her hoped they wouldn't, and would pay for their treason and murder. After all, even if their original sin had simply been to be born outside of the True Empire's influence, or the lack of ability to join forces for those who were old enough to be alive during the Great Exodus, many had now also stained their hands with the blood of the noble warriors of the Empire.

Of course, that was another of the many thoughts she would keep from her mother. The Grand Admiral was nearly flawless in her reasoning...nearly. But, all humans made mistakes. Riene had made hers before, and her mother sometimes clung to overly romantic notions. But Riene would never challenge her on them, nor take unnecessary action that ran counter to such beliefs. But sometimes she feared nostalgias and notions of bygone eras might, one day, cloud her mother's judgment—even for an instant. Riene refused to allow that to happen to herself. She carried no fond memories of the old Galaxy, no flickers of romance or ancient ties. Her home was the void, the deck of the Fusilier, and the heart of battle. Mercy came to those who earned it, not to those who would butcher her soldiers and then raise their hands in surrender. Forgiveness required atonement, and a mere change in loyalty was far from the needed penance. And once one tasted treason, history showed that it had a habit of becoming a narcotic that preyed on the weak of spirit. The strong died before committing betrayal... but the saving grace of her mother's amnesty was that it wasn't inherently wrong to betray evil. Were the Remnant less wicked in its ways, more like the True Empire, Riene might even have qualms about the plans. But, with their election of a meager Intelligence analyst to the resurrected throne, they proved that they were quickly proceeding in the wrong direction.

The lift reached its destination. The doors opened. “Stay here and guard them,” she told her team sergeant. “Keep three other men with you.”

“As you wish.”

She took the remaining troopers into the corridor. There was pounding on the doors, but she ignored it and walked into the general's command center. A pair of Stormtroopers turned to blast the interloping Imperials, but a hail of fire from Riene and her men put them down. Stun bolts dropped the gathered officers, save the general. “Good afternoon, General. I'd like to discuss the terms of your surrender.”

“Never.”

One of the Stormtroopers raised his rifle; Zend shoved it down with annoyance. “General, you've lost. Your defenses are broken, you're cut off from above. There's nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, and no help coming. All you're doing is forestalling the inevitable, and making it harder on yourself.”

“You mean making it harder on you.”

“Slightly, yes. But, surely you recall what happened in the days when the Empire actually ruled, when the enemy attempted to make a victory costly,” Riene noted casually. The man was old enough to be a general, at least, and old enough to have served under Palpatine as a young officer. “It really would be best if we didn't have to destroy your troops to the last man. That's a lot of wasted lives for a lost battle, a lot of wasted potential for nothing.”

“Feh!” he grunted. “I'll not stand here and be lectured by some common soldier in service to a traitor.”

“Oh, I see,” Zend replied with mock congeniality. “Allow me to explain.” She removed her helmet. “I am Chief Marshal of the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps. Indeed, General, were you serving in the true Empire, you would be my subordinate.”

“The grandiose title hardly makes your words any weightier, little girl,” he sneered. “In fact, it just makes you reek of your warlord mistress.”

The way he came down on mistress made the implication clear to Riene. A flash of anger welled up and she punched him in his sickeningly fake smile. She felt teeth crack and one puncture her body glove, digging into her skin. She was tempted to lecture him on her bloodline, but remembered an important lesson: never give the enemy information they can use against you.

She calmed her familial outrage, then yanked the general to his feet. “Order your men to stand down... or I will pump nerve gas into every room in this tower, save this one. And you will listen, and you will watch, as they all die because of your pride, your arrogance, and your refusal to face judgment.

“And after them, it will be your family. And you can explain to them why they are dying: because their lives are less important than your image.”

She keyed her headset comm. “Bring in the prisoners.”

The wounded general looked bewildered. “What prisoners?”

The survivors of the lobby raids arrived as the words finished leaving his bloodied mouth. “Down on your knees,” Riene ordered them, ignoring the general.

There was some reluctance, nervous casting of glances. Riene nodded in acknowledgment, then produced her vibroknife. “I will not ask again.”

The first captured officer and a few others followed. One man, tall and powerfully built, sneered. “You're going to kill us anyway. I won't give you the satisfaction,” he said coldly as Riene around back of him.

“I'd rather not, actually,” she replied as she knelt down, as if to inspect something curious on the floor. “But, if it comes down to it... your comrades will at least have a shred of dignity.”

Her blade flashed, slicing across the tendons of his heel. The rebellious soldier screamed and drew up his wounded leg instinctively, and Riene's blade slashed though the tendon in the other leg. Falling flat, the bleeding soldier screamed and cursed Riene loudly. She simply looked at the other soldiers that still stood, watching their comrade writhe in agony. When they caught her gaze, both men and the woman dropped to their knees.

Riene opened her mouth to speak, but the screaming soldier continued to frustrate her efforts. She considered shooting him dead or cutting his throat, but decided he provided a very good psychological weapon. Instead, amid his thrashing, she put her foot on his throat. He moved to try to shift the pressure, and provided her with a stable target for a moment. Her toe dug into his trachea, reducing his screams to anguished gargling noises. “Now, then... General, please order your troops to surrender. These men and women have served the Remnant well. But the cause is lost. Would you condemn them to death for pride?”

“It is a soldier's duty to die for the Empire. Apparently, your warlord didn't teach you that.”

“She did. There also comes a point when further bloodshed serves no purpose than to mark a commander's cowardice,” Riene countered, then placed the knife at the throat of a prisoner. “I offer you one last chance, General.”

“Never.”

Zend sighed with frustration and plunged the knife home. She made sure the initial thrust severed the man's spine; only the general needed to feel his death. Then she turned the knife about in a circle... and placed the severed head on the general's planning table, the man's eyes staring into the General's horrified visage.

My gods! You sick, twisted bitch!”

“One of your sharpshooters did something similar to one of my lieutenants not too long ago... only there was much less left of his head. War is suddenly less fun when it stares you in the face, isn't it, General?”

“You're only proving why I shouldn't surrender my men to your 'tender mercies.'”

She looked up the line of prisoners. “Up until now, have any of you been harmed in captivity?”

Muted negative replies came from the prisoners, though none took their eyes off of the headless body. Even the man under Riene's foot had stopped howling in shock. “General?”

The general looked positively ill. But Riene didn't have the patience anymore. She placed her knife at the throat of a female captive. “Two questions, General. The answer is the same: does she live and do your men surrender.”

“I... I...”

“The next word from your mouth needs to be a yes or no.”

“General...” The prisoner said with a decidedly justified note of alarm.

“All right! All right!” He put his hands up, speaking quickly. “Please... I'll give the order.”

“Do so now,” Riene ordered.

The general quickly hit his comlink. “And no tricks, General. My knife isn't just at her throat. It's everyone in the building... and that's just within ten seconds.”

Shaking, the aged officer. “This is General Lemurus. Soldiers of the Remnant... soldiers of the Remnant... you have fought hard this day. But...”

He cast a glance at Riene, as if he were plotting. Her knife never wavered from the prisoner's throat. He made his choice. “But the battle is lost. All troops are to lay down their arms.”

He took his finger off of the comm. “What assurance do I have you won't kill them once they do?”

“None whatsoever,” Riene shot back. “But... the Grand Admiral would much rather reconcile forces with the True Empire than wholesale slaughter. They will be given a chance for life, and only those who refuse will die.”

“And what does that mean?”

Zend narrowed her eyes. “It means they're prisoners of the Empire. It means if they try to pull off some stupid holomovie escape plot, they will die. If they behave themselves, they have a good chance of being set free and will have many chances for parole.”

“Will they be treated well?”

They will be,” Riene said. “Inform them.”

Sadly and with the weight of the Galaxy on his shoulders, the general returned to the comm. “Lay down your weapons and yourselves in. I have assurances that you will be treated... fairly.”

Only then did the knife leave the captive's throat. “Very well. Now, you are all under my custody. General, please stand on the other side of the room. And someone bring the sergeant with him.”

The wounded man was unceremoniously dragged against the wall, while Lemurus stood next to him. “If any do not wish to at least consider serving in the True Empire, please move over by the general. You will be left for another patrol and taken to a prisoner of war camp for processing,” Riene instructed the prisoners.

There was some fretting. “Do not let peer pressure sway you. If you refuse this offer, you will not be permitted any chance of parole. Surely, you can at least consider joining the real Empire.”

The fretting continued, then one of the prisoners who didn't kneel immediately joined them. “I stand by the Remnant,” she said.

Riene turned to her sergeant. “Take them to the nearest collection point. I'll be along shortly.”

The sergeant saluted, then took the rest of the squad out of the room with the prisoners in tow. It was just Riene, Lemurus, and the two rebellious soldiers. She hit the door control. “I'm afraid I had to tell a white lie to your friends.”

She unholstered her E-19Z. “You have rejected the offer of life; you have chosen death, instead.”

“Now, wait! I was never—” Lemurus cried.

“You sealed your fate the moment your indecision caused that,” Riene hissed, referencing the decapitated soldier. “Last words?”

“I—”
“This—”
“YOU—”

The stream of bolts from the autocarbine ripped through the three doomed rebels' bodies. “Unfortunately, you are not entitled to such a courtesy,” Riene said to the now-silent room.

She holstered her sidearm, donned her helmet once more, and walked out of the room.
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Chief Marshal Riene Zend

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Daara Zend
Cray


Joined: 17 Jul 2009
Posts: 24

 Post Posted: Sun, July 25th 2010 12:58am    Post subject:
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The battle had gone on for what seemed like days. The participants could not return to the false perception that space was a silent, deep, black vacuum - how could they feign such a presumption when they had seen it smitten with the soundless lurch of war, the kaleidoscopic euphoria induced by a billion munitions flying in every conceivable direction?

The Remnant had spread out across the harried locale. It had been a pitiful attempt at dominance, a vain test of victory. It had failed. The Arquebusier had - not without considerable resistance - broken out of the constructed prison, breaking the spine of the reinforcements.

She couldn't take all the credit, though. The Usurpers had played their part. When a ship had broken formation, they had quickly vaporized it. She wondered with dreary amusement if, by killing their own enlightened officers, they had intended to protect from Daara some important, state secret or strategy. The thought brought a smile to her lips. Indeed.

Some faithful had survived the tribulation, though. They had brought Dragoons and smaller ships with them, pledging allegiance to the True Empire. The crew of one Victory Star Destroyer had defected and had just barely managed to make its way past the line of refuge without being destroyed. The crew and lower officers, with the support of the Executive Officer, had seized control of the ship. The men who had refused to defect had surrendered. It was the most inspiring vision of hope she had seen all day. They had turned aside their lying captors and realigned with the Order. Whether it was due to fear or duty, in the end, it didn't much matter. Duty was just a type of fear - fear of the Empire. It was a worthy emotion.

The engagement had ended. The first in the series of offensives against The Galaxy was complete. Daara did not feel a sense of victory. No, she felt it somewhere within her, but it was overcome by a far more imposing feeling of materialization: the real fight was now to beginning. Muunilinst was barely the site of a battle; it was the destruction of a roadblock. She knew, at that moment, she would take no joy in the individual victories. The goal of the Empire was one that would never be fulfilled until accomplished in entirety. It was utterly worthless without completion. Each victory constituted nothing on its own; the achievements would have no meaning until the sun rose over the final beachhead, not until the last bastion of the Rebellion lay in ruins, its people free to celebrate and devote their lives in open servitude of the Galactic Empire.

Even Coruscant wouldn't be enough. The Galaxy would do - nothing less.

That wasn't to say Muunilinst wasn't a tactical victory to be celebrated. It, of course, was. It was brilliance packaged in blaster casings and missile shells. But only the basest of fool commanders saw only the din of battle, blind to the broad world that lay behind the cusp of the horizon.

Daara stared at the planet before her, the sphere which occupied the entire viewport with its gigantic surface. Soon, the supply ships would arrive, ready to shore up the defenses that had just hours ago been torn into pieces. Relief would arrive to replace the ships she had lost in the attack. Then it would begin again.

The cities sprawled across the planet below held the ground forces. Riene had said the Remnant armies had surrendered. Muunilinst was open, now. She had but to open the door to go in. Soon, she would venture to the surface to witness the sight for herself. She would speak to the governor, speak to the citizens and to the military. She already had her words in mind. They had surely heard her message before the attack began. This would now be the "debriefing" to that message.

But for now, Daara was just content to study the continents and oceans. Soon, the globe would be a galaxy, the seas would be hyperspace, and the landmasses would be star systems. Soon, so very soon, they, too, would come under the Empire as one.

The Harbinger of Order First Previous Next Latest

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Grand Admiral Daara Zend
Leader of the Galactic Empire, Flag Officer of Arquebusier

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