Apologies for the delay-here's chapter five.
Note: My research indicates that there are various canonical captains for the Devastator (though I'm not sure if they're all still valid in the new canon), but I wasn't sure which one would be in command at this time, so I made one up.
My rule of thumb for Star Wars fics is to stay true to both the fact and spirit of film and TV canon, while using or discarding the EU as it suits my story.
Thanks again to Eternal_Freedom on Star Destroyer . net for help proof-reading and revising the rough draft for this chapter (though I've made some additional tweaks myself).
Conference Room, SSD Executor, Death Squadron, Unidentified Binary Star System.
Firmus sat stiffly in his tall black chair, trying not to fidget as he mentally went over the contents of the data pad in his pocket. He looked up, his posture stiffening as the doors slid open and Admiral Ozzel strode in, followed a moment later by Commanders Aves and Dornaj, who were holding a quiet but animated conversation. They broke off as they realized that the captain's eyes were on them, however, and took their seats on the opposite side of the table. Ozzel paced around the table and sat next to Firmus.
They carefully avoided looking at one another. An atmosphere of palpable tension had pervaded the Executor in the days since they had been transported to this news system, and both of the command ship's senior officers had been treading carefully. Firmus shivered as he remembered the moment after that flash of light, a moment's silence as everyone realized that they were still alive, and then the com. officer's report that the station had transported them nearly a hundred light years in an instant. He had stood their, the only sound the deep rasping of Lord Vader's respirator behind him, before the Dark Lord had turned and swept wordlessly from the Executor's bridge.
Since that day, Lord Vader had not been seen on the bridge, and as far as Firmus knew, had not left his own quarters. Admiral Ozzel had likewise been unusually circumspect, doing his best to avoid drawing any attention to himself. Firmus had been expecting some rebuke or censure for his preemptory order to fire on the Station, but none had been forthcoming, perhaps because both men suspected that Lord Vader would have approved the order. And so, it had fallen primarily on him to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Empire's most powerful warship, without the oversight of his two immediate superiors.
Presuming we ever return to the Empire, Firmus thought, and quickly suppressed it. It wasn't wise to even think such things in Lord Vader's presence. In truth, he preferred to operate without constant oversight, though it would not do to think such thoughts too loudly, either. He knew his duty and did it, quietly and well, and it had carried him far in the Emperor's service.
Most of the seats around the conference table had been filled now. Firmus looked up as the door slid open once again and the sound of mechanical breathing filled the room, sitting up straighter in his seat as the black-cloaked form of Lord Vader swept into the room. He tried not to fidget as Lord Vader strode to his place at the table, crossing behind him. Vader, as was his custom, did not sit, but remained standing on Admiral Ozzel's side opposite Firmus. There was a moment of silence. The Admiral broke it.
"Captain Piet, what is the status of the fleet?"
Firmus cleared his throat nervously and began his report.
"The department heads report that all ships and major systems are operating within acceptable parameters. Commander Aves informs me that we suffered significant damage to fragile subsystems on the outer hulls of our ships, particularly the sensor and communication arrays, during transport to this system; as well as structural strain similar to that sustained during a low-velocity collision. However, he assures me that the structural damage posses no significant short-term risk and most of the damage to subsystems is reparable using available spares and maintenance crews." He didn't particularly like foisting responsibility off onto a subordinate, but he wasn't an engineer. He had little choice but to simply cite the Commander's report.
"And our supplies?"
"We have sufficient consumables for several more months of standard operations, and we can nearly double that if need be by rationing food supplies and cutting power to non-essential systems. However, sustained combat operations will drain our resources rapidly if we cannot establish a reliable source of fuel and munitions."
"And have you attempted to locate such a source?", the admiral almost sneered.
"This system is lacking in most raw materials", Firmus replied, containing his irritation at his superior. "I have dispatched probe droids to neighboring systems, and have detected a possible source of Tibanna gas in the system designated B2-106 in the Astrogation report. Commander Aves has informed me that some of our shuttles can be modified to collect the gas, and is currently running simulations on the feasibility of setting up processing facilities in one of the hanger bays."
"Is that really necessary", the Admiral countered. "Surely we will be able to return to Imperial space long before such concerns become pressing."
Firmus gave no visible sign of the anger and tension he was feeling, but it was difficult. The Admiral had set him up to undermine him, albeit in a rather clumsy manner. And Lord Vader was watching.
"Do not allow your complacency to blind you, Admiral", Lord Vader's voice intoned, the words carrying just a hint of a threat. The Dark Lord turned towards Firmus. "Have you determined how we were brought to this galaxy?"
Firmus forced himself not to blink, or look away.
"No, My Lord. We have confirmed that we were transported by an unknown spatial distortion which largely conforms to the expected parameters of the theoretical phenomenon known as a "wormhole". Given our recorded velocity, it is likely that we have been transported across most of the known universe. However, there are some readings that we have as yet been unable to decipher. Most concerning, the readings do not match those of the energy wave that the station used to transport us to this system."
"These phenomena are unrelated?"
Firmus turned to his Chief Engineer.
"Impossible to confirm without further study of the Station, My Lord", Aves said unhappily. "However, that is the most likely conclusion, based on available data."
"Then it is imperative that we gain control of this station", Lord Vader intoned.
Commander Aves glanced at Firmus, who replied for the commander.
"I understand that Commander Dornaj has completed his analysis of our last engagement."
The weapons officer took his cue and continued.
"Yes sir." He pulled out a datapad and inserted it into a socket beneath the table, and a few moments later, a large blue holo-display appeared in the center of the table. It displayed the Station, the position of their fleet during the assault, and the pulsing energy wave which had struck them. Data and annotations scrolled along either side of the display.
"As you can see", the commander gestured at the data, "the Station's power output is only a fraction of that of the Executor. Based on our analysis, however, the energy weapon it employed operated on a different frequency from our shields, allowing it to bypass them. It then appears to have acted as a sort of hyperspatial tractor beam, propelling our fleet through space at faster-than-light velocities."
"Can't we angle or modify our shields to repel this weapon?", the Admiral asked.
Dornaj glanced at Aves.
"No sir", the engineer replied. "Such modifications might be theoretically possible, but would require access to a space dock facility."
"So what do you propose?"
Commander Dornaj resumed his presentation, after another glance at Aves The engineer frowned, but said nothing. No doubt this was the subject of their previous disagreement, Firmus thought.
"Given the ineffectiveness of our ion cannons, I would recommend a bombardment by our turbolaser batteries. Due to the lack of effective shielding, the Station should be swiftly disabled."
"Do you concur, Commander?", the Admiral asked.
"Commander Dornaj's plan is certainly likely to disable the Station", the engineer replied cautiously. "However, I estimate that it has a 46% chance of causing catastrophic or fatal damage to the Station, leaving us unable to take it intact."
"You propose an alternative?"
"Yes sir. Scans of the station during the engagement indicate that the ion cannons did cause a minor disruption to the Station's systems. Our simulations show that a heavier bombardment will most likely disable it with minimal damage."
Firmus frowned. They had already tried to take the Station intact once, and failed. Trying again with more firepower seemed to be inviting failure, and there was no guarantee that the Station would restrain itself to a non-lethal counter-attack this time. It had not escaped him, and he knew that it had not escaped any of the senior officers, that the Station could have easily transported them into a star or a black hole. However, there was only one person in this room who's decision mattered.
"Will one destroyer be sufficient?"
"Two would increase our chances of disabling the Station before it could return fire, My Lord."
"We will require complete surprise", Lord Vader declared. He turned to Firmus. The captain noticed Ozzel swallowing his irritation at the slight, and winced inwardly. "Have the Devastator and the Avenger prepare for battle. Slave the Avenger's helm to the Devastator's controls. We will commence our assault in two hours."
Two Hours Later.
Lord Vader strode through the doors of the Devastator's bridge, feeling the spike in tension and anticipation as the crew of his former flagship stood at attention. He let their fear wash over him as he paced to the center of the bridge and turned to Captain Wissel.
"All systems are ready, My Lord. The Avenger is standing by."
"Bring us out of Hyperspace 100 kilometers off the Station."
The captain hesitated.
"My Lord... a precision hyperspace jump within a star system..."
Vader felt a surge of anger, but he controlled it, shaping it, honing it as he called upon the Dark Side of the Force. The maneuver was difficult, for a navi-computer. But not for him.
"Leave that to me."
He strode to the helm station.
"You are relieved, Lieutenant."
"Yes My Lord." The young officer at the helm started, then quickly rose and stepped back. Vader examined the controls for a moment, then reached out with the Force. He could feel the shapes of the Star Destroyers floating in space, the currents of the Force connecting normal space and Hyperspace, the controls and the engines, the Devastator's computers and the Avenger's, the fleet and the distant bulk of the alien station. He reached out to the controls with his mind, his will, paying scant attention to the long-range scans, or the computer's calculations. He did not need them. They were merely a distraction.
"Prepare for battle stations."
"Battle stations!", the captain snapped, and an alarm began to blare.
Feeling the power of the Dark Side flowing through him, Lord Vader activated the helm controls. He felt space twist around them, felt them shoot across 90 light years in an instant and emerge back into normal space as he perceived that the Station, and the alien presence within it, were suddenly much closer.
Less than two seconds after the Star Destroyers exited hyperspace, the Devastator's ion cannons began to fire, followed an instant later by the Avenger's. A storm of blue-white energy bolts crossed the distance to the Station, washing over its unshielded hull. Arcs of uncontrolled energy crackled and sparked across its surface.
"Scans report the Station has lost main power!", an officer reported, but Lord Vader already knew. He could feel the surprise and alarm emanating from the entity within, and it gave him a sense of cold satisfaction.
Now you will learn that a Lord of the Sith is not your play thing.
The onslaught ceased.
Lord Vader turned to regard Captain Wissel, cold anger and satisfaction rising in him as he readied himself for what was to come.
"Prepare a boarding party.