Escalation, Part I

OOC - Sorry for the insane delay, Cubanwriter, I really didn't want to make you wait this long for the tag back.

Ayola Prime Orbit//Maldrood Oversector

The High Admiral finished his call with the Queen and departed the Strategy Center. He returned to the crowded and hectic atmosphere of the bridge, where his staff was working diligently, rushing between stations, calling out orders, and exchanging reports.

Kahn's posse was gathered at the front of the bridge, chatting amongst themselves. The High Admiral joined his posse, greeting them with a nod.

"I must say, despite the sheer volume of personnel to manage, we brought the system under tight control quite quickly" The Admiral said with a wide grin. Kahn turned to General Rahl, who was dressed in his field uniform (an alternative officer's modified for greater maneuverability, paired with a blast vest and helmet), and flaked on both sides by stormtroopers from his personal guard.

"General, I take it you're heading planetside?" Kahn asked.

"Yes High Admiral, my engineering teams have begun fortifying the Starport in the heart of the capital to serve as our planetary headquarters, from which I will personally oversee our security operations"

"Very good, General. Keep me up to date, and remember what we discussed about the eh....locals"

"Of course, sir" With that, the General took his leave. Kahn looked to Captain Reena, "Captain, I will leave you in charge of Ayola orbit, make...."

"Weapons discharge!" someone shouted, "Flash from the Centurion Admiral, one of the Hutt freighters launched a salvo of proton torpedoes! Incoming on our position!"

Kahn marched to the sensor center in the pit surrounding the observation deck, peering down at the screen, he saw the large dagger representing the Allecto, dozens of smaller daggers representing smaller ships, and a series of red dots hurtling towards the Allecto.

The Star Destroyer was far too large to dodge them, and while they could shrug off some hits, a salvo of twenty could do major damage.

Kahn's mind immediately fell to the escape pods in the rear of the bridge, the Admiral and his posse could easily escape the Allecto and be picked up by one of her escorts. Protocol dictated that the High Admiral survive any sort of attack on the ship, even if it meant leaving his crew to their doom.

All things considered, abandoning his flagship in the midst of a terror attack would both demoralize his men, and drum up more fervor for the resistance forces. Kahn would rather stay and fight.

"Dump all non-essential power to the shields, do not draw power from the weapons. Star firing on that fleeing freighter, ion cannons only, I want them alive. Deploy every availible TIE fighter we have, including the prototypes. Have our escort cruisers open fire where availible...." Kahn said, his booming voice carrying over the hectic chattering of bridge staff.

The two Victory class cruisers and the single Tartan Patrol Cruiser escorting the Allecto turned to fire on the torpedoes while the Allecto herself braced for impact, the engines, exterior lights, and various other non-essential systems were cut, and their power dumped into the shields. It would reduce damage but there was no stopping that much firepower...not without an external power source.

The victory cruisers were landing no hits, as they had to aim carefully to avoid hitting the Centurion, which had charged into the line of fire.
The Taran cruiser was more accurate (being designed to hit smaller targets like fighters and missiles), but was too far away from the torpedoes, and its laser shots burned out before reaching their targets.

The Centurion stopped in front of the torpedoes, guns blazing, knocking many of the torpedoes out...but not all, according to sensors, eleven remained. The Admiral was taken aback by this, the Allecto would have been severely damaged by such a salvo....the Centurion, well....

The Tartan Cruiser finally entered rage, just before impact with the Centurion, it fired wildly, managing to shoot down two more torpedoes just before they met the cruiser.

"Impact sir, they've hit the Centurion" the sensors officer called out. The bridge of the Allecto was dead silent, the crew stood watching through the viewports.

The High Admiral took a moment to compose himself, "Get an emergency relief team out there now. Evacuate all survivors to the Allecto, and tractor the Centurion over"

"Captain Reena, oversee the rescue operation in my absence" Kahn said, turning to Major Bhanda, "Major, let's go"

The Major, clad in his Deathtrooper armor, nodded, donned his helmet, and gathered his men.

"High Admiral, you're still leaving?" Captain Reena asked, somewhat baffled by Kahn's decision.

"Yes, Captain, I am. I won't let terrorists stop our operations here, besides, somebody is accountable for what just happened to those men, my men. Seeing that those freighters were allowed into Ayola space under the queen's watch, I am holding her accountable for what just happened to the Centurion"

The Captain understood what this meant, and was less perturbed by Kahn's decision to depart. She even grinned, knowing what lay in store for the Queen. "Of course, sir. I will take over the operation, then"

"Very well, notify me should anything else arise" The High Admiral and his cadre of personal Deathtroopers departed.

Caspia City//Ayola Prime//Maldrood Oversector

It was a stormy evening Caspia City, the capital of Ayola Prime. Even the planet had entered a state of gloom following the Empire's arrival.

The Capital was gridlocked. The sudden surge of Imperial forces in the city had, predictably, clogged skylanes, caused many businesses to close, and saw mass protesting and demonstration. High Admiral Kahn and Moff Alvaree had anticipated this, Ayola had enjoyed less Imperial oversight than most other worlds due to it's previously loyal nature, and the sudden takeover by the Imperial Military and enactment of Martial Law would have naturally caused an uproar (a great deal of other worlds were used to it by now, their inhabitants simply going about their business).

The main avenue, a colossal garden and bazaar leading up to the Royal Palace, had previously been a place of commerce, entertainment, and kinship. Now, it was cluttered with Stormtroopers, repulsor tanks, walkers, and military fortifications. Loudspeakers had been erected on the military posts, blaring Imperial propaganda and announcements of the new changes to civil law. Holographic news tickers and advertisements had been hijacked by the Empire and used to convey propaganda, and wanted posters for resistance fighters.

At the very end of the massive avenue, directly opposite of the Palace, was the primary starport, which had been seized by the Empire and transformed into a colossal base. A nearly endless stream of transports poured into the starport from orbit, dropping additional troops and supplies. From the base came a staggered stream of infantry regiments, walker groups, and armor squads, all heading to their new posts in the mammoth capital city.

From orbit, in contrast to the Sentinel landers and freight shuttles, came a Lambda class shuttle, bearing the markings of Oversector Command.

General Rahl, who had landed some minutes earlier, rushed to the shuttle and met with High Admiral Kahn. The two discussed a change in plans, away from the ears of their troops, and quickly parted ways. The shuttle continued on its way to the palace while the General departed to his personal AT-AT to carry out Kahn's orders....

Ayola Royal Palace//Ayola Prime//Maldrood Oversector

"Ma'm, are you sure you want to let him come here!? There's no telling what he wants from us" the queen's aide said, practically begging the monarch not to admit the High Admiral.

"What choice do we have? He was coming here whether we liked it or not, it was better to admit him peacefully....." the Queen said, casually making her way to her private landing pad. Her personal shuttle was moved to make space for High Admiral Kahn, she had invited him to land there to "avoid going into the common areas". In reality, she did this as a protective measure against any subversive action. The Queen's personal landing pad had extensive monitoring systems in comparison to the cluttered and always busy public hanger, she could easily keep tabs on Kahn's ship and his men, ensuring that if they decided to wander off, she would know when, and where they went.

On the pad, two members of the honor guard, clad in ornate armor, carrying shock-staffs, stood diligently watching over the pad. In the entrance chamber, a dozen honor-guardsmen waited patiently for the Queen, armed with a variety of staffs, vibroblades, and blasters. It was a subtle message to the Admiral that he was in the Queen's territory now, and that they weren't afraid of the Empire. The Queen arrived, her aide in tow, and inspected her men. She nodded silently at the Guard Commander, who nodded back.

A pair of TIE Fighters raced overhead, taking the Queen by surprise. A single TIE Lancet hovered over the pad, keeping a spotlight trained on the two honor guardsmen. The Admiral's shuttle drifted down from the night sky, rain slicking off its wings as it gracefully slowed to a rest on the landing pad. The Lancet drifted off, joining the TIE fighters in orbiting the palace, should the Admiral require them.

The loading ramp dropped, a pair of Deathtroopers exiting.

This came as a shock to the Queen, the last time she and the Admiral had met, he possessed a typical honor guard of run-of-the-mill Stormtroopers.
The Queen was familiar with Deathtroopers, elite commandos trained and deployed by Imperial Intelligence. Fierce, merciless, precise, and efficient, they were among the Empire's most feared enforces, rumor had it that even fellow Stormtroopers feared them. They were often dispatched to protect important officials, which seemed to be the case here, though unbeknownst to the Queen, Kahn possessed an entire regiment of the troopers. Lead by the enigmatic Major Bandha, they served as his personal special operations force, though the High Admiral always kept a squad for his personal protection.

The two troopers that departed first were armed with heavy repeating blasters, and seemed to possess other high-powered weaponry in an auxiliary capacity.

High Admiral Kahn, barely recognizable behind his black poncho, exited with the rest of the squad, who were armed with an assortment of heavy weaponry and explosives. Personally escorting the Admiral was Major Bandha, whose armor was trimmed with a dark red accent to show his rank over the other Troopers. The Major was armed with a Stouker Concussion Rifle, which members of the Guard had recognized almost immediately.

Despite having them outnumbered, the confidence of some of the Guardsmen was all but drained.

The Admiral pulled the hood back on his poncho, and looked around at the gathered ensemble of guardsmen. He smiled, and chuckled lightly, "I see you've pulled out all the stops for me, Queen Cascilla. I must say I'm rather honored"

"We just want to ensure your protection, High Admiral" the queen replied, trying to maintain a formal tone.

"Oh, the effort is much appreciated, believe me, but I always come prepared. No need to worry about my safety" the Admiral patted Major Bandha on the shoulder, "the good Major and his men are more than enough to keep myself and my staff safe"

The Major looked around once more, taking note of the anxious expressions on some of the guard members, "Shall we get started? I assume we have someplace private to conduct our business"

"Of course, follow me" the Queen said, turning to leave.

With a quick hand signal, Major Bandha ordered two of his men to stay behind and guard the shuttle. The other four accompanied the Major and High Admiral. The High Admiral stopped briefly in the entrance atrium to hang his poncho on a rack to dry, and proceeded to follow the queen.

The Queen and her escort, along with the Admiral and his escort, proceeded through the palace.

The Deathtroopers conversed with one another, but their annunciators coded their speech, all the others heard were garbled babbling. The guardsmen taking up the rear of the group tried to follow the conversation based on the gestures and hand signals given by the troopers, but were ultimately lost.

"I see not much has changed since your Mother was on the throne" Kahn remarked, remembering much of the decor from his past visits to the palace to see the old Queen.

Mmm, the Queen replied, ignoring the Admiral's small talk.

"Ah, I remember this" Kahn said, stopping at a glass display containing a battered lightsaber casing. "I recovered this from the ruins of Korriban during a visit in my early days as an officer. It was a gift to your mother for her loyalty, an old Sith lightsaber casing...." the Admiral chuckled, "Pulled it from the catacombs underneath one of the research posts. Probably thousands of years old"

Kahn proceeded onward with the rest of the group.

"Those were some interesting days those were when the Jedi ran rampant through the galaxy, it's a shame, really, you would have thought the Jedi Order possessed more tact. Attempting to overthrow the Republic, disrupting the New Order, and here we always thought they were the guardians of peace...."

The Queen was becoming aggravated with Kahn, she had always held the Jedi close to her heart. They represented a goodness and purity in the galaxy that tended to be absent in most other beings....

"If I recall, your mother was a great help to the Inquisition. Turned out the rogue Jedi, helped us burn the traitors in their holes...."

Then there was that....her mother's loyalty to the New Order was so great she betrayed the Jedi that had protected Ayola from the CIS during the Clone Wars. Initially, she had left them alone, hoping they would leave in time. But as time went on, she grew wary of them, and reported their secret enclave to the Empire. There was no final stand, no meeting of enemies on the battlefield....the Empire simply bombarded the Enclave from orbit, slaughtering the helpless Jedi. It was a black mark on Ayola's history, something the Queen could never forgive her mother for.

The group stopped in a large antechamber, just before the entrance to a lavishly decorated lounge.

"We may speak in here, High Admiral" the Queen said dryly.

Kahn turned to Major Bandha, and exchanged a silent signal with him. The Major signaled his men, who took position near the doors. The Major then went to enter the room, being stopped by the Queen.

"Major, this is between the High Admiral and myself"

"Major Bandha is my intelligence and special operations officer, it would be beneficial if he joined us" Kahn insisted, causing the slowly tiring Queen to relent.

The Major entered the room, followed by the Queen and High Admiral. A pair of servants were inside, finishing their preparations of the room. They bowed meekly at the trio, and hurried out, closing the door behind them.

TBC - ran over the character limit

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