Death Star Bridge
Tarkin remained glued to the local space display, or more accurately, to the solitary blip that had settled on the isolated moon. Though the delay in the execution of the Rebellious princess was irritating the opportunity to uncover another rebel cell was too great. The homing droid had yet to be detected and had indicated the smuggler had landed on the forested 4th moon of Yavin. Furthermore the treacherous Obi Wan Kenobi had been slain by Darth Vader. Even reminiscing on his rescue by the Master Jedi back in the Clone Wars brought a sour taste to his mouth and he idly wondered if even back then if it had been treachery instead of ineptitude during the incident. Pulling himself back to the present he smiled at the current state of affairs. The bulk of the rebels were cornered at Yavin by the strongest war machine of all time. In total it had panned out into quite a successful week.
"Sir we've got a communication from General Tagge. He says it's urgent." The comms officer stated breaking Tarkin from his thoughts.
Tarkins mood dipped slightly. Tagge may have been overly cautious but he was still military and knew communication protocols. There was no way he would need to urgently report on a mere scouting run without very good reason.
"Redirect him to my personal quarters. Vader, with me" Tarkin replied as they turned for his office. Taking a seat with Vader to his left Tarkin keyed the holoemitter. The first thing that struck Tarkin was Tagge's state of uniform. His normally immaculate uniform was heavily creased, his hat askew, and his hair a mess. Right away Tarkin knew he was not going to enjoy this news.
"Sir. There is a massive enemy armada in orbit around Dantooine as we speak. We req-"
"And why are you here telling me this as opposed reporting their destruction? You had a significant force at your disposal when we last communicated." Tarkin said lowly.
"And the enemy armada was ten times bigger then the entire republic fleet back during the bloody war." Tagge retorted bitterly.
"Impossible. There's no way the Rebels would have even a fraction of that many ship. Your concealment of your cowardice won't avail you with-"
"Goddamnit Tarkin we don't have time for this!" Tagge snapped, interrupting the Grand Moff. "I've never seen anything like these ships, or species for that matter. Hell they probably crawled out of some shitty hole in the Unknown Regions. They were an armada of thousands of ships. The smallest ones were the size of heavy cruisers and a few hundred were bigger then Assertors." Tarkin stayed silent for a moment.
Then Vader spoke up. "Where is the Inquisitor you were assigned. Perhaps he could explain more clearly"
Tagge shook his head. "Look It all started about 24 hours before we were due to arrive in system. We were pulled out of hyperspace due to a severe gravity field enveloping the system. We postulated a bit before the inquisitor came to the bridge. He said some mystical force stuff about the enemy being strong in the force or something before he retired to his quarters. We were only stuck for about 5 minutes before the gravity field abated and we could resume. I ordered the fleet to arrive at a greater distance because I didn't know what was waiting for us. In retrospect that saved what few ships returned"
At that Tarkin's expression became dark but he let Tagge continue. Tagge keyed something into a console and the footage abruptly changed. It showed Dantooine in the distance and a number of strange, massive vessels in orbit with a sizeable number split off and charging the fleet. "Immediately after obtaining a visual a detachment of the enemy force broke off and made to intercept the fleet. At the same time the Inquisitor...went crazy. He suddenly started screaming about scratching, or chirping, or something in his mind. I had security...escort him to his quarters."
The footage changed again to show the inquisitor huddled on the floor of his quarters babbling and clutching his head. He looked even more dishevelled then Tagge and Tarkin didn't even bother inquiring about the stains.
"The intercepting enemy made no attempt at communication whatsoever. At a range of around 4000 km they launched a massive broadside of what appears to be plasma" Tagge resumed. By this point I had already ordered a retreat to raise a more appropriate force to counter this threat-"
"Spare me your deflection of blame and continue the report" Tarkin snapped.
"...The first broadside wiped out all of the light cruisers, crippled the heavies to varying degrees, and brought the shields of the carriers, Interdictor, and Destroyers somewhere between 40-70 percent." Immediately behind this was a wave of what appear to be boarding pods, though some of the projectiles have an unknown function. Shortly after this the surviving vessels managed to jump to hyperspace. However the enemy boarders were... formidable. We were unable to take any specimens alive.
The footage cut to the Capitulation's hanger where it showed several stormtrooper squads engaging what to Tarkin resembled armoured insectoids ranging in size from a few feet to one creature the size of a tank.
"Upon arrival we attempted to contact the surviving vessels. The emerging fleet consisted of only the cruiser Murmillo. The carriers, and the 3 Star Destroyers. All in a state of heavy damage. Furthermore the Lawbringer reports they have lost significant portions of the ship to boarders and we have received no word whatsoever from Arbites and it sits dead in space. I fear the boarding parties have killed the entire crew of the vessel.
At this Tagge brought up more footage showing the fleet in orbit around Dantooine. "Before we jumped out we managed to get 49 probe droids deployed to observe the enemy fleet. We had 30 programmed for live feeds and 19 programmed to transmit data after a few days in case they were tracked. We lost 23 of the live feed droids over the duration of the hyperspace jump and several of the delayed droids also transmitted prematurely leading me to believe they were compromised."
Tarkin was silent for a moment before turning to Vader. "You've been up close and personal with the rebel scum. What do you think"
"Even if Tagge is overstating these unknown's capabilities they would be a danger to our hold on the outer planets through sheer numbers. The rebels must be destroyed but even with the Death Star plans they are a mere irritant as long as we are vigilant as opposed to what constitutes at minimum a pressing threat to our control over already unstable worlds in the outer rim." The Sith Lord answered.
Tarkin nodded grimy. "Very well. Send me all data you've obtained on the enemy forces Tagge. I've got some assets to acquire.
Though he had seen it before Luke Skywalker was still unnerved by the sheer size of the Station before him. But he was still excited. Here he would finally take his first real shot at the empire, he would avenge Aunt Beru, Uncle Owen and Old Ben Kenobi.
"Unlock combat spoilers" Red leader's order crackled through the radio. With a flick of a switch the wings of the X-wing split into the characteristic cross of their combat profile. Falling in with gold and red teams Luke gritted his teeth. There would be no more running.
"That's odd, where are the TIEs?" Red 3 asked. Luke noticed too. it seemed odd that they weren't being swarmed by the ubiquitous fighters.
Suddenly the massive station disappeared before the bewildered rebel fleet's eyes.
""Hey where'd they go?" Luke asked into the comms.
"No idea but lets not throw this chance away. Looks like they jumped to hyperspace. We've got to evacuate the Yavin base now before they come back."
Dejectedly Luke pulled in with the rest of the fleet as they retreated to the evacuating base.
4 Weeks Later - Hoth system
"Well somethings crawled into the Empires ass that's for sure" The informant reported through the holonet.
"What do you mean?" Mon Mothma questioned.
"They've been recalling naval assets from all across the empire and gathering them at the shipyards of Ord Trasi. They must have thousands of capital ships there in addition to the Death Star. Progress has primarily been slowed since they've been deploying heavy garrisons all over the empire where the naval assets have been taken from. The other odd thing is that there's almost nothing on what they're doing there. Seems very odd that they'd need almost a quarter of their entire navy in addition to the Star for anything. Also it seems like they've all but given up many of the worlds lacking significant imperial assents that cannot be relocated. Things like shipyards, mining colonies etc... They've even abandoned some agricultural worlds."
"That doesn't make any sense. They're already unpopular enough in the outer rim. What could they need all those ships for."
"Something tells me they intend to make whatever it is quick and rush the glorious overseers" Mothma whinced "back to squatting on the uppity planets but they've tried to minimize the disruption while the fleets away." The informant concluded. Mothma curiosity was piqued. It seemd the empire wanted to maintain their control while the fleet was away. The heavy garrisons and lax guard on backwaters meant they were hoping for a brief action but could not be certain of it. Or maybe it was more bait to lure out the rebels.
Mothma cut the communication before contacting the guards outside her office. "Make sure he's disarmed and bring him in."
After a brief delay the door opened and the rebel guards approached behind their charge. He was a tall and handsome young man with reddish blond hair and blue eyes that stood out heavily from his dark imperial pilot uniform.
Mothma gestured to an empty chair and he obliged, with the 2 guards coming up to flank each side.
"Whats your name and rank."
He stiffened before obliging. "Thane Kyrell. Former Lieutenant and pilot of the 8201st TIE squadron, based on the Death Star."
"Relax Thane." Mothma chided gently. "I apologise for the lack of manners we have shown you earlier but we can't be too careful. Now you have been described as being desperate to reach a Rebel leader claiming to have important information on The Death Star and the unusual imperial ship movements as of late.
Thane nodded. "I understand. It all started shortly after the... incident at Alderaan. My squadron was ordered to join a subjugation fleet to scout out the rebel base at Dantooine." In her mind Mothma let out a sigh of relief. At least the Empire still had trouble tracking them. "
"I was already planning my escape at that point but there wasn't much I could do." Thane continued "Anyway as we approached the system something dragged the fleet out of hyperspace minutes before arrival. We were stranded a few years from Dantooine via sublight though we could return the way we came in hyperspace apparently. At first we thought it was a captured interdictor but it let us go after only 5 minutes. Anyway we arrived at the system and found a massive armada in orbit around Dantooine. I didn't see any of the ships but given we were ordered immediately to prep for hyperspace jump it must have been a massive fleet. Before we could make the jump out however we were hit by a heavy enemy salvo. From what I understand it was a mix of ordinance and boarding craft. Then they emerged."
Mothma rose an eyebrow. "They?"
Thane stiffened. I don't know what they were. Never seen anything like them in my life. Looked like a cross between a lizard and an insect. I saw 2 types. A little one that was released in massive numbers and a small number of 9 foot tall creatures that seemed to be the handlers or soldiers. Managed to escape that bunch but as I got to a corridor one of the smaller ones came through a vent and landed on my back. Made a mess of my right side before a Stormtrooper shot him off me and dragged me to medical."
Mothma listened silently as the former TIE pilot recalled the days of heightened alert and security before finally returning to Imperial space.
"So I was moved from the Lawbringer to the Death Stars medical facilities for about a week before I was able to move around again but I was unable to pilot. The I was ordered to the surface of Ord Trasi to finish my recovery since the Star would be undertaking a combat mission and they wanted only active service personnel on board. Once on the planet I managed to sneak into a cargo hold of an empty freighter with some snacks and water that took me to Horuz. Managed to blunder into a rebel cell right after I left the freighter and here I am. Thane concluded.
"Do you think these mystery attackers would be receptive to our cause?" Mothma asked.
Thane shook his head. "No idea. the ones I saw didn't even attempt to communicate and the majority of the boarders were more like a swarm of dumb beasts then sentient life. They're damn brutal though. Some were saying that they had bought into rebel propaganda and that's why they didn't communicate but i'm not so sure."
"Well I can assure you we haven't made such an alliance with any such species before. Though it might be worthwhile to try and at least negotiate with them." Mothma stated
Thane flinched at this but nodded. "I've healed enough to resume piloting and I would like to formally request permission to join the Rebel Alliance. I saw what they did to Alderaan and what they are enforcing throughout the galaxy. I cannot stand by after devoting my misguided life to those monsters."
"Agreed." Mothma promptly stated. "That is IF you can impress Antilles. He'll meet you in Hanger 4 tomorrow. You can return to your quarters and I'll disable the lock on your door. Further security clearance will be decided on later."
Thane nodded and stood to leave the room. The guards were about to follow before Mothma waved them down. "Don't worry about that one. His heart has always been in the right place. I can tell. And now it looks like his head is as well. Now then. Lets get a ship to Dantooine. We need to contact this mystery fleet."
Tarkin glanced at the holoslate that displayed the massive armada at his disposal. Not even the most cowardly Jawa would be afraid of anything with a fleet like this. Though the Data on the unknowns was still frustratingly scant sheer firepower would solve most of the problems. He had acquired 30 Mandator IIs, both of the massive Assertors and almost 6000 Imperial Star destroyers, who were to provide cordon and escort to the big dreadnoughts and the Death Star.
But manoeuvring such an massive fleet within formation was ungainly to say the least. Even the pre-jump calculations took hours in order to maintain formation upon arrival. The crew were just finishing the final checks now.
"Sir were go for hyperspace jump" The officer reported to Tarkin
"Engage" Tarkin replied.
In an instant the massive fleet disappeared into hyperspace. It would be a brief journey of only a few hours before combat, every second of which spent double checking systems and stationing damage control teams for rapid response. As the arrival counter ticked down Tarkin took his place at the helm of the Death Star.
The blue of hyperspace was abruptly replaced with the blackness of space framing a mostly brown and green planet...
Tarkin blinked. Dantooine was all but unrecognisable. Much of the vast verdant forests and lush golden plains had been cleared down to rounded grey bedrock, the polar ice deposits had greatly receded, and the oceans were now a sickly snot green hue. In orbit around the world were the myriad of chitinous aberrations, they appeared to be breaking from orbit and speeding towards the enemy fleet. Now he understood Tagge's fear. The enemy truly did have a massive fleet of vessels far larger then a standard star destroyer.
"I see what the inquisitor meant by the force being strong with them" Vader growled from behind Tarkin.
"Well you better not be joining him in diapers Vader. I'm beginning to agree with Motti more and more by the day regarding how I should deal with you lot." Tarkin snapped.
"...No" Vader stated, though with a hard edge to his voice. "They are strong, but they will fall nonetheless."
"Hmph" The Grand Moff turned back to the display. "This is Tarkin to the fleet. You may fire when ready"
Even thought he enemy was at extreme range numerous turbolaser blasts surged towards the enemy fleet. The approaching forms displayed deceptive agility in addition to speed as they twisted around the bulk of the incoming fire. Suddenly a large salvo of massive green projectiles formed in front of the approaching fleet and streaked into the outer picket ships. The outermost layer simply ceased to exist under the concentrated fire with scattered hits on inner layers. The unknowns had scored first blood.
"Damn it! Target the lead elements capital vessels and fire!" Tarking ordered the gunner.
"Which ones the lead capital?" The bewildered gunner asked.
"The largest ones. Take the bastardised Acclimators out. Keep the power buildup low enough for increased rate of fire."
"Aye sir". The familiar hum of the charging weapons filled the station as the green lasers converged.
The shot streaked into the dense enemy formation leaving a massive core of vaporised ships in its wake with near misses resulting in a white hot glow and spiralling hulks.
Abruptly the enemy fleet changed orientation with such speed and precision the Tarkin was left speechless. What was originally a tight spearhead charging the fleet abruptly broke up into a loose formation that seemed more intent on flanking the fleet with scarcely any time for the countless warnings and course corrections that would plague a similar Imperial maneuver. The Turbolaser fire had become overwhelming and seemed to outshine the sun with the shadow of thousands of TIEs creating the illusion of dark stars. Curiously the enemy fleet did not launch any fighters aside from strange tight knit formations that closely shadowed the main vessels. But to Tarkins surprise the heavy turbolaser fire only had a limited impact with far fewer vessel disabled then would have been preferred.
Another enemy salvo wiped out hundred of Destroyers and many vessels were now reporting boarding vessels. Some reports also declared the enemy had Ion weapons mixed in with the boarding pods.
"Increase fire. Get the TIEs on the lead elements" Tarkin roared.
As the TIES screamed toward the lead vessels the space around them suddenly became filled with a hail of point defence fire. The first wave of the lightly armoured were completely wiped out by the most horrifyingly well managed point defence the Pilots had ever seen. Further waves simply broke off but not without suffering appalling casualties.
"Sir those things have too much Point defence for the TIES to even get close enough to shoot at them. We're redirecting them to projectile intercept." A report chimed.
Before Tarkin could respond the Death star fired again. Once more several ships had been destroyed but it was far fewer then the initial fire with the dispersed fleet.
Suddenly an alarm came from Death Stars Turbolaser gunners. "Sir theres a formation of enemy vessels at our 6 o'clock. Lots of big bastards in they're. They're right on top of us!"
"Damn it, get the Acclimator, Wrath, and their escort on it! And why didn't the sensors pick them up?" Tagge roared.
"Too late. They're focused on us!'
Suddenly a slight impact rattled on the bridge.
"about 50 of the bastards just rammed the Star. they had some sort of heavy electrical discharge in the hulls that brought down the local shield emitter." The Wrath's Captain reported. Suddenly the internal security console buzzed to life. The countless reports of boarders and static overwhelmed the crewman.
Tarkin turned to Vader. "Destroy the boarders."
"As you wish." Vader turned and departed the bridge.
Turning back to the battle the enemy fleet had changed formation and tactics yet again. They had partially enveloped the fleet and now they were all rushing headlong towards nearby ships. To Tarkin's shock they only fired weapons peacemeal with massive bone prows opening like maws ans they approached the fleet elements.
And in an instant reports flooded the comms, battle plan, and plain old order and discipline degenerated to unequalled chaos.