Invasion of Phaeda

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John Smith
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Invasion of Phaeda

Post by John Smith » 2014-11-06 05:50

The alarm pulled Captain Marak from his dream. Phaeda was a quite system. Admittedly close to the Republic border, but little was of strategic importance in the area. Captain Marak was aware the political climate on the primary planet in the system was becoming heated, but he rarely bothered himself with the day to day details. His ship, the Regulator and her sister ship Grendal patrolled the System at a casual pace, acting as more a deterrent for the criminal activity than a safeguard against Republic invasion. There would be little the two Star Destroyers could do on their own against a Republic Fleet, but again, there was little risk of invasion.

Marak propped himself up on one elbow and reached over to the flashing communicator. "What is it?" He asked, hinting by his tone that it had better be important.

"Sir, we've just picked up three unidentified ships dropping into the system at the L5 and L3 Lagrangian points."

Smugglers probably, but Marak wanted to be sure. "Confirm with the Grendal, I want to know their size and make. Any sign it might be a Republic scout fleet?"

There was a moment of silence, and Marak sat up in his bed. "Grendal has identified a fourth ship, and something else. We're too far out to do a precise scan, Sir."

Something about the communication officer's voice seemed off. Marak could hear a nervous anxiety in it. "Contact Captain Telia, tell her to prepare for a micro jump." Marak rose and began dressing himself. "Broadcast a message to the ships, tell them they've entered Imperial Space and order the to identify themselves and their intended business in the system. I'll be on the bridge shortly, Marak out."

Captain Marak finished pulling on his uniform, and gave himself a quick check in the mirror before striding from his stateroom. It took less than a minute before he crossed the distance to the bridge, and as he entered he was greeted by the salutes of the officers presently at station.

"At ease." Marak said before turning to his communications crew. "Officer Talvin, what did our guests have to say for themselves?"

"Sir, they haven't responded. I've also conferred with the garrison on Phaeda. They're a bit closer and have gotten a good look at the ships."

Marak waited, "And? Any idea who they are?"

"They aren't sure, sir. The hulls appear to match several different models. It sounds like their a bit cobbled together."

"Probably pirates then. Scavengers welding together whatever wrecks they can find."

"Maybe. But the garrison is reporting that two of the four ships are as large as an MC80."

Marak paused. That would be unusual for pirates or smugglers. "What are they doing?"

Before Talvin could respond, an officer at the communications station interrupted them, "Sirs, I've got a message from the Grendal, they're picking up a data packet being broadcast from the unidentified ships. We're picking it up as well."

"Is it audio? Is it a message?" Marak asked, growing more suspicious as time went on.

"No, Sir. We're not sure what it is, but it was definitely broadcast for us."

"How do you know?"

"The data packets are unique. Grendal is receiving a different one than we are, and it seems both are using a serial key unique to our hyperdrives to identify us."

Bizarre. A serial number is not hard to find if you know where to look, but it was bizarre to identify a ship by its hyperdrive.

"Alright. Talvin, contact Captain Telia, tell her to make a microjump to the L3 Lagrangian point. We'll take the two ships at the L5 point."

Alarms sounded. Crewmen were pulled from their bunks and roused to their battle stations. The ship was set to high alert, and the hyperdrive course was plotted in. Marak gave the command. The Regulator and the Grendal vanished were pulled into hyperspace. Marak watched as the swirl of blue and white turned and played across the bow of his ship. The trip itself would take only a short moment, as they were staying in system. When they dropped out of hyperspace, the interloping ships would be several thousand kilometers ahead of them, and they should be able to get a better bearing on who, or what, they were dealing with.

Space rematerialized, and immedately Marak knew something was wrong. The space ahead of them was empty of everything save stars. An alarm went off. "Captain, the target vessels, they're behind us!"

"What do you mean? How could they get behind us?" Marak wheeled around. "Bring them up on screen, bring us around."

"Sir, we can't!"

"Why not?"

"Sir, it looks like we overshot them. We didn't come out of hyperspace where we were supposed to. We came out of hyperspace almost right on top of them, we if we turn, we'll collide with their ships."

Marak turned to the viewscreen and saw that instead of dropping out of hyperspace several thousand kilometers in front of the new ships, they had dropped out only a few hundred kilometers behind them. Actually, ahead of them. The ships had already turned and were on a pursuit course behind them.

"General alarm!" Marak shouted.

"Captain, the Grendal is in the same position as us. They overshot their reentry point and now the two ships are on an pursuit course!"

This was impossible. Ships dont simply miss their hyperspace routes. One glitch might be coincidence, even if it was impossible. But both ships had malfunctioned in the same way, and it seemed as though their interlopers had been expecting it. Marak wasn't taking any more chances.

"Scramble fighters! Prepare to engage hostile ships." He was going to shoot first and ask questions later.

"We’re getting a~” Officer Talvin was cut off as the bridge was suddenly filled with the sound of a synthesized voice. It spoke in short, broken tones that suggested finality, and brokered no discussion.

“Your presence is no longer required. Leave.”

The bridge was silent.

“What…what was that?” Talvin asked.

Marak flustered. “It doesn’t matter, full power to weapons systems. Talvin, open a channel with them.” Marak waited until his communications officer signaled they were broadcasting. “You are intruding on Imperial Space. You will leave at once or we will open fire on you. You have thirty seconds to comply.” Marak turned, “Tactical, fire two shots over their bow. Let them know we mean business.”

They had limited firing capability this close to an enemy ship, let alone one almost directly behind them. But they weren’t defenseless, not even at this angle. And despite the larger of the ship being almost 1,1000 meters in length, it looked to be only armed lightly based on their close scans. The Star Destroyers would out gun them easily.

The turbolasers lanced out across the short distance between the ships. Passing within a few meters of what was probably the bridge section on the larger ship. Both hostile ships were ugly to look at, consisting of a disorganized form that seemed to borrow concepts from many scrapped together hulls. It was bulbous in places, with smooth curves and bulging contours, while sharp edges and angled lines pushed their way through and across its main keel. The smaller ship was no better, though it was fatter by far. It reminded Marak of an old style carrier ship. Slow and large, filled with death.

A glance at the activity log told Marak his own fighters were scrambling, they would be launching any moment. They did not have many, but a few intercepters in space would stack the odds further in their favor. Then, something happened Marak was not expecting. The bridge lights flickered weakly. It was a sudden change that gave everyone a moments pause. The lights struggled to stay on, as though fighting for life, before they finally dimmed and then winked out.

The bridge was plunged into darkness, and suddenly Marak realized it wasn’t just the lights. All the monitors and communications stations were offline. “Status report! Now!” He shouted. But without their consoles, no one could tell him more than that the power was out.

After a few moments of anxious waiting, Talvin finally called out, “Internal communications are still up. We’re reporting power failures all over the ship! The hanger bays aren’t opening and…and the shields are down!”

“What! That’s impossible!” It was impossible. Too many redundancies were built into these warships, too much security, and too many fail safes. Almost as if to reaffirm his beliefs, the lights came back on with sudden intensity. Whatever electronic warfare the intruders had attempted had failed. Shields were up, and weapons were back online.

“That’s it. No more messing around. Tactical, plot a firing solution and disable those ships. I want a boarding team prepped and ready. Navigation, move us away and bring us about face!”

“Sir! Something’s wrong with the nav interface.”

Marak crossed the bridge. “What do you mean? What’s wrong with it.”

The ship began accelerating away, and turned to face open space.

“I have no control, Sir. I can’t steer the ship!”

Marak looked up in horror, just in time to watch as the Star Destroyer was pulled back into hyperspace. It would be almost two days before they reverted back to real space, only to find themselves alongside the Grendal, deep within Republic territory.

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Jubar Bavvet
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Re: Invasion of Phaeda

Post by Jubar Bavvet » 2014-11-09 21:45

CHINESTI, capital city of Phaeda

It was quiet. The only sound in the chamber was the occasional hiss from an air-freshener that went off in 30-minute intervals. The room smelled of floor cleaners and hairspray. The former coming from the recent visit by the cleaning droid an hour before, the latter from the Adjunct Professor sitting across from Jubar. Jubar's eyes were closed, he was running through a small-orbit breathing exercise to quell his nerves. There was a lot on his plate these days, and it had been placed there by administrators not doing their jobs. Phaeda would not rule itself, and yet it seemed everyone expected it would somehow find a way to do so.

Despite the recent strides he and Rebel Alliance political party had made to Phaeda's development and infrastructure, there were still leagues more to travel. Among their troubles was the gulf of understanding between Phaedans and the rest of the galaxy, especially concerning the situation in Cademimu Sector. Under NR rule, and even under Imperial rule before that, the entire sector had been left to fend for itself. At least, for the most part. Garrisons had been arranged, but nothing large enough to match the problems Phaeda and other systems in the sector were having with crime. A series of backwater worlds, these systems had been left with a political system that was weak at best and corrupt at its worst. Corruption, in fact, had long been the rule. The politicians that had governed this place had mostly rolled with the crime, rather than fought it, and those few that had stood up to the gangs, smugglers, pirates, and organized syndicates, had either been intimidated into falling in life, forced into retirement, or worse.

When the NIF retook this section of the galaxy, they probably hadn't known exactly what they were getting into. Now they knew. Or, at least, they were slowly finding out. The creeping suspicion was that nothing could be done, regardless of the efforts made by Jubar, Goro Notombis, Hanna Sweyrn, and others. In recent months, Jubar had been forced to make a few concessions, while coming dangerously close to having to outright conceded to the so-called "unions" developed by the Bando Gora crime syndicate. However, he hadn't stooped so low as to conduct himself in any truly illegal way.

So far.

There was a line every politician eventually faces, and he or she must choose to remain on one side, or cross into the other. Most eventually cross over, a toe at a time, never really realizing at what point they were fully committed, and now a criminal. It happened as suddenly and seamlessly, it seemed, as the transition from water to vapor. One moment you were this, and now you are that. When did the exact moment of change come? Who can say?

Now, after two short breaths and a gathering of his thoughts, he opened his eyes and gazed across at Grom Detonnel. The Adjunct Professor was framed in the window facing the Collo Fauale mountain range, which was a hundred kilometers in the distance, and lit by a rising sun that had turned the tops of the mountains into a single fiery ribbon. Detonnel was a Human, but he'd recently received cybernetic augmentations for a serious eye problem. It had been painful, Jubar heard. In this, the two men shared a common condition. Jubar, too, had had his legs and parts of his arms replaced by a unique amalgam of cybernetics and synthetics. Combined with his medication and meditation, it formed the only known treatment (not cure) for his aggressive Naranger's disease.

"Well?" the professor said, staring at him. "Do we have an agreement?"

Jubar un-steepled his fingers, and sighed as he stood to walk to the window. "If I understand you correctly, you will keep this census and its findings strictly between us. Meaning, you will come to me before revealing them to the media or the Senate."

"Of course. Naturally." His smile intimated there was more coming. "As long as the University can count on you to strike down the bill that will decrease our funding next quarter."

Jubar inclined his head. "I cannot promise it'll be struck down. I can only promise to rally the RA to support my position. I will make my position publicly known and the rest...well, the rest will be up to public opinion, and how our political opponents ride it out."

Detonnel chewed on something, then nodded his prim approval. "Acceptable. As long as you accept that I'm an adjunct, and therefore have no permanent tenure. Therefore, I may not hold as much sway as you'd like."

"You may not be permanent, but you're popular. Especially with young liberals. That's the wave we're hoping to catch a ride on. Though they cannot do much now, two years from now our projections show that they'll be a force to be reckoned with."

"Taking the long view," Detonnel said approvingly. "Smart. A much wiser decision than your predecessor made. He--"

An alarm!

"What's that?" the professor asked.

Jubar rushed back over to his desk, glanced at his personal datapad. "General alarm. The building's being evacuated."

"What?" said the professor, rising quickly, nervously. "Why? Terrorist attack?" Recently, the Bando Gora had made violent threats against Jubar's administration.

Jubar looked at the screen. "Code eleven. That's no local threat, that's a planetary situation. Patrols...patrols are showing an 'incident.'"

"What kind of incident?"

"No specifics yet," Jubar said. Outwardly, he frowned. Inwardly, however, there was a smile.

Right on time, he thought. Trust a machine to be punctual.
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John Smith
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Re: Invasion of Phaeda

Post by John Smith » 2014-11-09 23:04

Mobius watched as the Imperial Star Destoryers departed the system. A bloodless battle thanks to the access codes they had been given, allowing the machines to upload their virus, opening electronic locks and bypassing security counter measures on both the Regulator and the [Grendal[/i]. Even still, they had met with significant resistance in the military hardened software, but Annex had been built specifically to counter military systems. With a mind of several dozen quantum computers, once Annex was interfaced with a computer system, nothing could stand against it for long. It performed its task with ruthless efficiency.

The four vessels from Patch-4 split up. Two heading to the main planet, Phaeda, carrying the first of the second generation droids, John Smith, and the tools he would need there. Mobius’ ship, the 1,000 meter long amalgam of frigates and larger sections of battleships, turned and made its way to the edge of the Phaeda system, while the Carrier that had accompanied it sought out the systems asteroid catcher, a Gas Giant designated PH5.

Mobius ran a systems check of his ship. Each of his elongated tendril-like arms plugged into separate access ports on what served as the ship’s retrofitted bridge. It was unlike any organic bridge, there were no seats, no stations, and no monitors. The bridge, if it could be called that, was only large enough to accommodate Mobius, and while plugged in, the machine acted as the nerve center for the ship as a whole. The extra space needed for organics was all utilized in other ways by the droids. Storage, efficient and compact components, increased capacity to batteries or ship systems, or simply thicker armor and more reinforced bulkheads.

All the ships produced by the droids of Source were this way. The first generation droids, those created by organic life, were often limited to their material bodies. But one of the defining features of the Second Generation was that they lacked this limitation. Their bodies were place holders, tools, gloves. They were digital creatures. They were not perfect though, and in many ways they still needed their bodies to act on the world. If Mobius were to be destroyed, for example, then he would be gone. There would be a backup copy of his brain in Source, or one of their other growing cities on Patch-4, but his memories and experiences from this point on would be gone. At least until he had time to update them after returning.

But this digital form gave the droids increased capacity to interface with other systems. Interacting through components instead of on them manually. They designed all their ships in this way. Their Starfighters had no pilots, for example. The ships themselves were the droid. This innovation, while not a unique discovery in the galaxy, gave the droids flexibility in their designs. It gave them more room to work with different ideas that were not bound be requirements of body and organic life.

The ship, and its complement of maintenance droids returned an all clear on the systems check, and Mobius instructed the navcomputer to plot a course for the edge of the system. His target, was the aging Bith station, Phaedacomm. A communications platform that had, in one form or another, existed since the Old Republic Era. After only a moment, the ship made the jump to hyperspace, and within seconds reverted back to realspace.

Phaedacomm served as the communications bridge between Phaeda and the rest of the galaxy. The station itself had fallen into disrepair and subsequently refurbished numerous times over the many years it had existed, and so it was a striking mix of the old and the new. Its great solar panels stretching out below the central disk that perched above them like a top balanced on an edge. Fortunately, the Imperial Fleet had decommissioned the mine field that had once surrounded the station. The aging, and increasingly unstable mines had no doubt become dangerous to simply keep around. This, along with Phaeda itself, were what the Star Destroyers protected, and in order to secure the system, the droids needed to take the station. Mobius sent the signal to the rest of the ship, and it began to change.

Two large sections of the ship, each the size of a small frigate, fell away from beneath the battleship, and accelerated towards opposing sides of the station. Phaedacomm was not defenseless however, and opened fire on the two blade like frigates as they approached. Mobius altered their course, and the frigates dropped below the solar panels. As they did, an additional portion of the main ship fell away, taking a large section of the outer bulkhead with it. The panel itself accelerated towards the upper half of the station, carrying behind it a small pod. The station, unable to easily fire on the frigates, turned its attention to the oncoming section of reinforced bulkhead, which altered course just enough to carry it right passed the communications array above the station.

Large sections of the panel were blown apart by the sustained weapons fire. Other pieces simply melted away and drifted off into space. But it persisted on, and as it passed by the station, the pod it carried ejected several dozen small droids, that quickly raced to the station. Mobius, watching through their cameras, guided them between the blaster fire that filled the space around the station. Half of the small droids made it to the stations outer surface, and once there they quickly made their way to the stations communications relay, and began hacking in. Annex prepared to do its job once again.

---------------

Communications Specialist Rann was having a bad day. First, he’d been called into an extra shift because someone had managed to break their arm in the network room the other day. Then he’d managed to get into an argument with his boss, a Bith who he was starting to suspect was racist. To top it all off, the station was being attacked by some unknown group that had refused to respond to any communications attempt. That and the imperial fleet stationed in the system had just up and left for no apparent reason.

CS Rann jogged through the corridors of Phaedacomm, trying to weave his way between servicemen and the few imperial troopers that had been stationed here. He had just been returning to the crew quarters when the alarm sounded and all hands had been called back to station. That wasn’t what bothered him though. What bothered him was that he could actually feel the turbolasers firing through the hull. The heavy cannons vibrating with each shot, as heat and energy passed through circuits and heat sinks, you could feel them from several levels away.

Everything on Phaedacomm was old. Or if not, it was hooked up to something old. Being a remote system, of little tactical importance meant that nobody felt the need to spend significant sums on updating or upgrading a station that already performed its role adequately enough. Even if it was falling apart while it did so.

Rann slowed as he rounded a corner and found a collection of people gathered around one of the viewports on the station. Everyone appeared to be anxiously watching something, probably pieces of the station shaking off.

He recognized one of the men standing by. “Hey, Tyler,” he said, “What’s going on?”

Tyler pointed outside, “Something’s coming at the station. Look.”

Rann followed the direction of Tyler’s finger, and saw what appeared to be a huge wall moving rapidly towards the station. Turbolaser fire ignited its surface with their distinctive green energy. Everyone gasped as a large section of the wall fell away, glowing orange and white from the absorbed energy of the station’s guns. For a moment it looked like the guns were having the desired effect. The wall turned slightly, apparently veering away from its collision course, but as it did, it dropped something behind it in its wake.

“By the Gods, what is that?” A women asked, as a small cylindrical pod tumbled away from the wall as it passed by. Then, the capsule burst open, and a dozen or so machines raced towards the station. Someone shouted, but Rann could barely see what was happening. The machines were tiny and fast, almost impossible to see against the black backdrop of space, if not for the light of turbolasers lancing out into the area around the station.

When it became apparent that the stations defenses weren’t going to stop the oncoming machines, onlookers started shouting, and backing away from the window. There was a dull thud against the bulkhead, and Rann realized one of the droids must have landed on the bulkhead above them. The clang of its feet echoed in the corridor briefly before he lost track of it.

“Hostiles of reached the outer bulkhead! I repeat, hostiles are on the station!” Someone shouted, and Rann turned to see a pack of storm troopers break away from the crowd around the viewport. It occurred to Rann at that moment that they were being invaded, in all likely hood, they would be boarded, and he wasn’t at all sure what to do about it.

Rann had been stationed here because he wasn’t especially good at his job, though he liked to think he did it adequately enough. He didn’t have any complaints though. He was far from the frontlines and much more likely to find his way back home, minus the body bag. But now, Phaedacomm was under attack.

He turned to start making his way back to his post, jogging through the halls until he reached the loading junction on the starboard side of the station. Then the lights went out.

Rann stood in total darkness as the other servicemen and women around him muttered stopped moving, partly out of surprise and partly because it was too dark to see. Rann could make out someone talking in hushed voices. Their comm was down. Absentmindedly, Rann tried his comm, and found he could get nothing but static. Internal communications in the station were down.

After a few moments, the emergency lighting came on, shortly thereafter A full squad of storm troopers came banging up through the corridor, shouting at everyone.

“Back away from the airlock!”

“Get back to your stations!”

“Move! Make a hole!”

Some of the crew ran, presumably because they realized there were things they should probably be doing, or perhaps they just wanted to get away. Rann and some other non-combat personnel stayed. For his own part, it occurred to Rann that he was still trying to wrap his mind around the events of the day. Why would anyone try to invade Phaedacomm? Rann slowly became aware the he could no longer feel the vibration from the turbolasers outside. They had lost power as well.

The corridor shook violently, throwing everyone but the storm troopers to the ground. The commandos held their footing, and took cover behind makeshift barricades they had carried into the corridor. Suddenly Rann realized they were preparing to repel boarders, and he felt like he had made a mistake in staying here. But before he could turn and run, something started hissing.

A thin trail of smoke rose from the airlock door, the sharp his of burning compristeel filled the corridor, and the troopers leveled their weapons at the airlock. The hissing lasted only moments, but was replaced with the sound of screeching metal, as the doors were pulled inward from the walls as though by some incredible force. Rann did not see what happened to them, as the machines swarmed into the station.

The troopers open fire into the opening, igniting the air around the airlock in a deadly red glow. But it hardly seemed to matter. Black shapes flowed into the station from the airlock, oblong and almost squid-like, long tentacle reaching out and snatching at the nearby men and women. Rann didn’t have time to see what happened to the troopers. He didn’t have time to run. A black flowing, segmented arm, whipped itself through the corridor and touched him. And everything turned to black.

-------------------

The two blade like frigates quickly rose to the stations two airlocks on the port and starboard side of the main body. Mobius directed them remotely as they attached themselves to the side of the station, and began cutting their way in. The droids that had made their way to the communications array had successfully tapped into the stations systems, and acted as a relay as the Annex droid hacked into the Phaedacomm’s mainframe and claimed its systems.

The airlocks were pulled apart and the assault droids were met with anticipated resistance. And though exactly 9 fell in the opening volley, the stations defenses simply could not hold against a hundred droids sweeping into its corridors. Especially not these droids. Their long segmented arms allowed them to move with great rapidity, and they flooded into the station, quickly subduing the armed resistance that tried to stop them.

John Smith had been clear though. There were to be no casualties from the assault. Too many times had Droids or other A.I.s sought violent means to gain sovereignty. And even if this assault was the first move in a larger game, they could not taint a victory with needless death.

The assault droids were more than capable of wiping out the organic life in the station, but instead they used powerful electrical capacitors in their arms to stun and incapacitate the inhabitants of the station. They were swift and methodical. Annex, now remotely controlling Phaedacomm’s mainframe, relayed blueprints and layouts to the assault force in real time, allowing them to scour every corridor and maintenance crawlspace. Once the armed troopers were dealt with, the rest of the crew was easy to round up, but it would still take several hours to make thorough sweeps of the station, and there was always the possibility that they would miss some of the organics who may not be on the manifest. But it didn’t matter. Those that they collected were taken back to the frigates. They would be transported to Phaeda, unharmed, as soon as the planet was secure.

Before that, however, Mobius had one last task. He directed Annex, and the droid began uploading a copy of itself into the Station’s mainframe. Meanwhile, the spider-like work droids retrieved communications equipment from the frigates, and began installing it on the stations exterior antenna array.

Within only a few minutes they had built a new antenna on top of the station, and began broadcasting a new signal throughout the system to any navcomputer and hyperdrive active in the space around Phaeda. Just like the exclusion zone that now existed in the Patch system, all active ships, save those the droids deemed acceptable, were suddenly diverted away from Phaeda, and jumped into hyperspace away from the system.

Phaeda, a busy, though remote, planet in the Outer Rim, was suddenly alone with the droids.

Mobius left one frigate at the station, while the second, now carrying the previous crew of Phaedacomm, reattached itself to the main battleship. He left a compliment of assault droids with the station, and a larger force of maintenance droids who would begin augmenting the station as the copy of Annex that now resided in the stations mainframe required.

Mobius then turned, and jumped his ship back into the inner system. The sector was theirs, it would soon be time to take the planet.

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Re: Invasion of Phaeda

Post by John Smith » 2014-11-10 05:21

Mobius’ ship entered realspace in orbit around Phaeda. Several thousand kilometers away, the other amalgam ship and the carrier waited. These were the first three warships the droids of Source had constructed. The flagships, an amalgam of discarded vessels and used components of other, greater, starships were not much to look at, and they certainly would not stand up to a direct confrontation with the flagships of either the New Republic or the New Imperial Federation. But they were very dangerous in their own way, and the droids had built them for the express purpose of expanding their influence to other systems.

The droids did not name their ships for themselves, they merely had designations. But names seemed to be the galactic convention, and part of sovereignty was the right to choose how you presented yourself to others. So they choose names. The first flagship, 1,185 meters long, was named Architect. It seemed an appropriate reflection of how the droids of Source wanted to be seen. The second flagship, the one Mobius presently controlled, was named Intrepid, as building was an important symbol to the droids.

The Carriers had no names. They were not starships in the strictest sense. They were not quite what they seemed.

For the past hour, while Mobius secured Phadacomm, the Architect had been scanning the surface of Phaeda, pinpointing the droids’ targets. The three troop garrisons scattered about the planet, and the Capital City. They had other targets of course. Communications stations, star ports, city centers, all scattered around the globe. But the big targets were those four. If they could take them, then they could consolidate their efforts and sweep across the cities. If John Smith’s plan worked, then they would not even need to fight beyond the Imperial Troops and scattered resistance. But they had all agreed that Smith’s plan was unlikely to be one hundred percent effective.

Mobius reached out through the Intrepid, and contacted John Smith, who was aboard Architect. John was not orchestrating the ship, as Mobius did. He was an ambassador, created to interface the droids with organic cultures. In many ways he led them, but he was not built for war.

“John,” Mobius called across the gulf of space, “Phaedacomm is ours. It’s time to begin.”

There was an agreement. “My message is ready. Secure the broadcasting station, and I will fulfill my role.”

Mobius connected with the carrier that was sitting idly in orbit around Phaeda, and instructed it to begin the invastion. The ship shifted, and fell apart. The reason the carrier had no name, was because it was not, strictly speaking, one starship. It was, in fact, eight vessels, each several hundred meters long, which encircled a core ship that functioned as the intersteller engine for the combined ships.

Each of the eight transport ships drifted away from the core, and began accelerating towards the planet along different trajectories. Some raced towards objectives on the far side of the planet, others would engage the Capital city below, and its garrisons.

The first transport ship down dropped into Chinesti, Phaeda’s capital city. Its approach was not unnoticed, and police forces were quick to respond, but they had little hope of dealing with a single ship of it’s size. Still, they chased it, fired warnings at it, attempting to slow its descent. The ship’s target was neither the capital building, nor an imperial garrison, however. Instead it descended on the far side of the capital city, its repulsors carrying it above the city sky line until it reached the OmniTower, the site of Phaeda’s largest and most accessed media and news broadcast station.

--------------

Alarms blasted all around the Chinesti Imperial Base. The planet was under attack by an unknown force that had somehow gotten passed the Naval patrol. No one was certain how or why the Star Destoryers were no longer in sensor range, but this was a Federation planet, and the troopers were not about to let anyone kick in their front door.

Phaeda was home to crooked politics and rampant gang violence. Its capital city, no better than any other place on the planet, perhaps even worse, was a convulsing epicenter of crime and illicit activities. Recently things had been getting better. The new Senator was making real progress, or so the media wanted everyone to believe. But it didn’t matter. The Troopers of Phaeda were used to it all, and they didn’t screw around.

Tomlin Yun’a enlisted on his eighteenth birthday. He grew up on Chinesti’s streets, and he struggled for every inch he gained. They said the Federation might not be any better for Phaeda than the New Republic, but most of the kids in the Garrison had been born here, and none of them were ready to let some stranger tear up their house.

“Tomlin! Get your shit together, and get to the Armory! Commander Dalex is sending us into the city to deal with the cruiser coming down!”

“Sorry Sarg!” Tomlin yelled back, strapping on his body armor. He grabbed his helm and hoofed it from the barracks towards the armory. Already troop transports and AT-STs were mobilizing for ground action through the city. What they lacked was proper air support, but the AT-ST’s had been retrofitted with anti-air cannons that would at least give fliers something to regret.

Tomlin jogged up to the Armory where the rest of Delta squad was gearing up. He knew something was up right away.

“What’s with the Ion blasters? Do these guys have a heavy mech presence?” Tomlin asked, noticing that none of his squad mates were gearing up with traditional weaponry.

“Looks like someone’s not up to speed.” Tali’sh said. Tomlin could hear her sarcastic smile through her helmet.

His lieutenant tossed a ion blaster. “The Commander sent word down. Everyone’s going equipped with Ion weapons.”

Tali’sh leaned in, “Word is, the last transmission from Phaedacomm was that they were being over run with some kind of strange droids.”

“Fantastic, so, what? It’s an army of droids?” Tomlin asked as he checked is power packs.

The lieutenant interrupted before anyone could respond, “Heads up ladies, our ride is here, double time to the gate! Let’s go!”

The squad ducked out of the armory, and Tomlin slung his blaster as he followed. They hoofed it back across the yard towards the barracks, where an APC was pulling up with an escort of four AT-STs. That was their ride.

Delta squad started piling in, but a low, deep vibration caused Tomlin to slow as he approached. A quick look around and it was easy to see that everyone could feel it. Even the air in his lungs seemed to pulse.

“HOLY SHIT!” Someone shouted, and Tomlin turned to eyes skyward, as a knife like ship almost dropped through the clouds on top of the base. It was easily four hundred meters long, and half again as wide at its widest point. It seemed to be falling right on top of them, and Tomlin realized the vibration was the result of massive repulsors slowing its descent. He stood speechless as a mountain came down on them.

Someone grabbed his arm and yelled at him to find cover. He stumbled backwards as the rest of Delta Squad pilled out of the armored transport.

Tali’sh laughed, “Looks like the fuckers saved us the trouble of finding them!”

His lieutenant was shouting into his communicator, “Hostiles inbound! Hostile ship above the base! Move your asses you damned apes! Get to the armory!”

Tomlin ran with the others, but he couldn’t help turning to look back up at the sky. The ship was slowing to a stop, several hundred meters above the base. Armored response teams were already moving into position, and orders were going out to seek cover and prepare for engagement. No one was sure what that engagement would look like though.

Tomlin followed the rest of Delta Squad into the reinforced bunker that comprised the armory.

“Sithspit, did you see the size of that damn thing?”

“Aye, where in the nine hells did it come from? Someone in intel has their thumbs up their goddamn asses this time.”

“Quite!” The lieutenant barked. “Fucks sake. Alright. Looks like we’re the only ones who booked it to the armory, but I’ll be damned if we let these assholes have it. Jatter, take Mari. Find some E-WEBs and get them up here. Tomlin, you and Tali’sh recon, stay out of sight but I want constant updates on enemy movement! Is’acs, Borin, you’re with me. We’re going to find some big guns.”

The squad split up, and Tomlin followed Tali’sh back out onto the parade grounds. The Armory was around the south side of the barracks, but they didn’t have to go far to see what was happening. The ship above the base looked like it was falling apart. Large square chunks were dropping out from the underside of the ship and falling to the ground.

Tomlin moved up ahead and pocked his head around the Armory to get a look at the area they had run from when the ship dropped in on them. All 8 of the AT-ST’s on the base had moved out on the open lawn and were firing upwards at the incoming objects.

The anti-air cannons seemed to have some effect, knocking the ten meter wide chunks of debris around as they fell, but one by one they crashed to the ground.

“Tali’sh, what the hell is happening up there.”

“No idea.” She pulled out her viewfinders.

More of the large, rectangular sections of the ship fell onto the parade grounds, and some even fell on top of the large, reinforced command center. Each landed with a crash that Tomlin could feel in his spine.

“How big would you say those are?”

“Nine meters long, five meters wide, 4 meters tall.” Tali’sh said idly. “You think they’re proud of them?”

“Proud of what? Dropping compristeel on us?”

Tali’sh ignored the comment, speaking mostly to herself, “I’d be proud if I was shitting bricks that big.”

Tomlin gave her a worried look. His communicator came on before he could say anything. “Tali’sh, Tomlin, report!” The LT barked.

Tomlin replied, “Sir, the ship is dropping some sort of large, armored sections of the ship onto the parade grounds. The AT-ST’s are picking them out of the sky, but it’s anyone’s guess what’s happening.”

“Wait!” Tali’sh hissed, “Something’s happening. Something’s happening to the chunks.”

Tomlin watched almost with horror, as one of the large compristeel chunks unfolded into a nightmarish, crablike figure. All at once, the armored crabs began moving rapidly across the parade ground, huge mechanical mandibles held out front. They advanced on the AT-ST’s, outnumbering them almost two to one. Tomlin watched as one of the giant grabs almost effortlessly clipped the legs out from under a walker.

“Recon, report! We’re almost done setting up in here. What’s the status topside?”

“Sir, I…” Tomlin and Tali’sh both stopped as motion drew their attention skyward. Small black shapes began pouring from the underbelly of the ship, which was now lowering itself slowly towards the base. A swarm of over a hundred black, squid like droids descended on the base and tore into the command center.”

Tali’sh was the first to speak up. “Sir, I think we need to rethink our defense plan.”

--------------

The assault droids made quick work of civilian defenses around the media station. Outside, the Yurapods that had dropped into the streets set up a perimeter around the outside of the building, using their large, reinforced armored bodies to form barricades around the building’s exterior.

The assault droids had taken the building rapidly, though they had mostly frightened the organics inside, they moved purposefully through the building without stunning or injuring anyone. The droids simply ignored the building’s internal security, comprised mostly of organics wielding weapons meant to stun or incapacitate other organics.

They pulled themselves through the corridors, up the lift shafts and into offices. Fluidly navigating their way rapidly around surprised and the terrified organics who worked there.

Finally, they reached the control center for the broadcast station and began the interface.

----

Quite suddenly, the face of John Smith appeared on every television and media site available to Phaeda. His multitude of glowing eyes stared out at the citizens of the crime ridden world. His voice was soft and calm.

“We come in peace,” he said. The image changed, to reveal a planet choked with toxic gas and filled the decaying refuse of generations of military expansionism. “This, is Patch-4.”

“It is your neighbor, and until now, it has been a blight upon the galaxy.” The image changed again, revealing a city amidst the wasteland of Patch-4. It’s walls bright and colorful. Beyond the walls, droids worked tirelessly. And with them, were organics. The few who called Patch-4 their home. The scavengers, outlaws, and smugglers who had either been stranded, or for whatever reason chose to stay, on the planet’s surface. Now these people lived among the droids of Source, and behind the walls of the city, chaos appear as order.

A new face appeared on screen, a Twi’lek girl, no more than fourteen years old. Her voice was bright and happy. “It was hard before we came here. Most days I didn’t eat. I avoided people. Everyone’s hands reaching for me all the time. But now I don’t have to worry. I have a home, and I eat every day!”

The scene changed, more organics appeared, each with similar tales. Criminals by necessity turned to productive work. Abused and homeless families given shelter. Those who hurt others were dealt swift justice.

John Smith reappeared on the screens around the world. “Phaeda has suffered for generations under the oppression forces of crime and corruption. We shall do for Phaeda what we have done for Patch-4. This world shall prosper, and so too shall those who join us.”

“Those who resist…shall be dealt with swiftly.” The transmission ended.

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