2BBY (Before Battle Yavin)/0AT (After Transition)/2170CE - Fringe Terminus Space
Tathan had always been a good Batarian, and a better slaver. Now he was a rich Batarian and a man with little need for the risk of slave raids anymore. He just needed to be patient. His frigate, and the later following freighters, were carrying millions of credits worth of loot, slave and otherwise, to his secret hideaway in the edge of terminus from the raid on the human colony of Mindoir a few weeks prior. The plan now was simple: wait for the heat to finish dying down, process the slaves and other loot in secret, and return to civilized Batarian space to sell his wares, then retire.
Sure, raiding was fun, but it was risky as hell, and there were other ways to have the same fun, without leaving for the uncivilized space beyond the edge of the Hegemony. But to reach that he had to be just a little more patient. He glanced at the countdown clock to reversion from FTL, only a couple more hours to the rendezvous point, only a couple days till the rest of his ships made it, and only a couple weeks after that till he could cash in on his assets and live a life of luxury.
Or at least, that was how it was supposed to be. An alarm sounded throughout the bridge, a gravity alarm. That meant that there was something in front of them and the safety was shutting down the Mass Effect drive, forcing them back to sublight speeds to avoid dying via annihilating a planet. Except, when the ship completed its violent reversion to sublight, he didn't see a planet looming dangerously close. In fact, they were exactly where they were supposed to be: hours out from their rendezvous over the unnamed garden world.
What wasn't supposed to be where it was, was a half a dozen wedge shaped dreadnaughts, and a couple dozen frigates, only a few hundred kilometers away. Worse still, none of the ships looked like anything he had ever seen before. Tathan's crew was paralysed by the sight, and that wouldn't do. "What the hell are you fools staring at!? Get us out of here! Now!" Tathan's anger was legendary among the crew, and that tangible fear jolted them into action, for all the good it did them. Seconds later, blue energy projectiles slammed into the ship before the crewman manning the barrier console could even act to raise the barriers, not that they would have done the ship any good against an honest to the Pillars energy weapon.
The engineering crew desperately swung into action in the engine bay to shut down the Mass Effect core before it overloaded it's now disabled containment system, as the entire ship shut down into silence and emergency red lighting around them. The crew was once again stunned into inaction, until Tathan shouted at them. "Get to your stations and prepare to repel boarders! If they want my cargo, it's gonna cost them!"
Major Ayer watched as his men geared up, grabbing their standard E-11s, and synced up their equipment. Thrawn's orders had been clear: minimum casualties, maximum prisoners. The Grand Admiral wanted the ship, and its crew, intact.
"Once you have your blaster, set your weapons for stun and form up in the hangar for briefing, the ship will be in position for breach in 20 minutes!" Ayer's orders were as clear as his well trained voice, crystal clear. He knew the situation, they were stranded. Ayer also knew Thrawn - he was loyal and brilliant. If the Chiss said they were stuck for the foreseeable future, then that was the truth of the situation. Focus on the moment, focus on the op. Ayer had a job to do.
On the bridge, Thrawn watched cooly as the tiny vessel was dragged slowly into the hanger, it was only a matter of time now until they knew what he needed about the galaxy. Once he had that data, he'd begin wayfinding operations, find hyperspace routes that would let him gain an upper hand on the rest of the galaxy. Then he'd formulate a plan to ensure the survival of his people, of his new empire. By the time he was drawn from his thoughts, a junior weapons officer reported that the vessel was in position for boarding.
"Major Ayer, Status?" Thrawn questioned.
"All set down here, are we a go?" the major knew the answer, but protocol obliged him to ask anyway.
"You are a go, remember: set weapons to stun."
The second part of the statement was unnecessary, but the major repeated the reminder to his troops anyways. At his order, the breaching explosives began burning through the exterior airlock door, then the interior airlock door, neither of which served as much of an impediment.
Once through the door, the Stormtroopers got their first sight of the alien vessel, and were unsurprised it looked much like the plethora of other vessels they had boarded throughout their careers. The lead squad was almost disappointed, especially when they realized the hallway was entirely empty.
"Same bantha turd, different smell, am I right?"
"Yeah, but this one smells particularly funky, doesn't it? I think their recycler is shot."
"Nah, whoever fixed their recycler should be shot!"
"Can it! Keep your focus up, we have a job to do!" Major Ayer was not amused, "Alpha and Bravo, take the bridge! Capital and Delta, take Engineering!"
A set of nearly synchronized "Aye Sir"s echoed through the airlock, and the four squads took off down the hallway, waiting for the rest of the troopers before they proceeded around the corner. The same act was repeated for the dozen other squads of Stormtroopers who were dispatched to lockdown important parts of the ship or to support their comrades. He may have believed that this was an unnecessary expense of Stormtroopers, half as many could have done the job, but he believed that there was no kill like overkill, and made use of the excess of resources anyways.
The first resistance was met shortly after the squads turned out of the hallway from the airlock. Alpha and Bravo squads had been pinned and had to wait for Galaxy squad to flank through a maintenance hallway. The slugthrowers these aliens used were yet to break through the plasteel armor of the stormtroopers, but it was only a matter of time before someone got shot somewhere the plasteel didn't cover, or before a bad hit damaged the armor and caused it to fail.
Just like with all the aliens they were used to, the stun shots were effective in dropping these strange new aliens. After a short push once the flank had been completed, the three squads pushed onwards meeting scattered, and at times almost desperate, resistance. It was Tibanna squad that had it the worst however, when they finally subdued all the crew guarding the cargo hold and broke in to find what the crew had been so desperately defending: a hold full of terrified slaves. But not just any slaves, these men were well aware of the empire's use of wookiee slaves after all, human slaves. That was enough to disgust them and cause them to call for the attention of the Major. Barely five minutes later, and long before the fighting across the ship had ceased, the slaves were being evacuated to the Chimera and quarters were being prepared upon one of the Construction modules. Thrawn's problem with lacking civilians to support his military empire had very possibly just been hand delivered to him, and he was going to roll out the red carpet to try and ensure that it remained solved.
Forty minutes and four injured stormtroopers later, the fifty strong crew of slavers was locked in the brig of Chimera, and the ship's computers were being scrubbed for any sort of useful data, of which there was plenty. The few now ex-slaves with any modicum of technical skill and the courage to actually speak to their imposing looking rescuers had gladly aided in the process. The wealth of knowledge this provided to the Grand Admiral made him practically giddy, to the extent that the incredibly reserved Chiss ever became giddy, at the prospect of turning this galaxy on its head and bringing Imperial Law and Order to the apparently lawless Terminus System they'd found themselves in.
The wealth of tactical knowledge was also incredibly useful, as he was only deluding himself if he thought that it would be a peaceful takeover. The most important information was that the races of this galaxy used mass drivers rather than the galactic standard energy weapons that the Empire used, and at a significantly lower power level. That meant, so long as his crews remembered to raise their particle shield instead of their ray shield, then his fleet would easily already be on the scale of a true galactic power.
So now you know where this specifically falls in the ME timeline. Next chapter the imperials will start making contact with the galaxy and the ripple effects within the wider galaxy will begin.
As always, I appreciate any thoughts people have, I am once again trying to improve my ability to put words to page via this story. Please be kind, but don't hesitate to be honest. Thanks for reading.