Location: Victory-class Star Destroyer Negotiator
Thought of the day: "Negotiation is an art, so never negotiate when you can intimidate instead." - Rear-Admiral Ziphan, CO Imperial Navy 21st Detachment.
Assembled around the spacious meeting table, the various faces aboard the Negotiator did their best to avoid eye contact with the Rear-Admiral standing at the head of the table, a task made somewhat easier as the aged man had his back turned to the officers assembled, instead staring out at the cold void and the stars beyond the viewport. Just off to the left was the still smoldering wreck of Imperial Supply Station Zeta Six, its many storage tanks ruptured, almost a full third of the resupplying station gone, blown off and cast away during the Rebel raid less than two standard days ago. "They're going to want answers," Ziphan murmured aloud, as though to no one in particular, his voice strained. Wheeling around in one quick motion, his fist slammed down on the table, startling only a couple of the officers there as he raised his voice measurably. "They're going to ask how we managed to let a handful of Rebel fighters decimate the only real supply point we have in this forsaken part of the galaxy and I want to know how we failed to stop them!"
The Outer Rim was about as far reaching and lawless as one could get in the Galaxy, far away from the galactic core and its capital, Coruscant. Really, once one was past the Expansion Region, there was little order and stability, most of the planets more interested in their own goals than contributing to the Empire in any meaningful way. One of the Emperor's chief goals was to try and bring order and unity to the entire galaxy and that meant sending his ships and legions of Stormtroopers to the corners of the galaxy to bring about that order, usually at the end of a blaster. In order to maintain supply lines, numerous supply stations were established at strategic locations, usually in orbit above worlds that came to embrace Imperial rule, but few did so many other such stations were built in other vital areas, usually choke points between safe hyperlanes to some of the more out of the way worlds.
And that same lawlessness that the Empire worked so hard to remove also meant that the Rebellion to restore the Republic had no shortage of places to hide and many of them knew this part of space better than many of the Imperial officers leading the charge. Hit and run tactics were frequently employed and it was quickly becoming evident that the Rebellion was well versed in running this kind of war, poking at the defenses, bating Imperial ships out, letting them chase the few and poorly equipped Rebel ships down, only to slip away while another group hammered now under-defended stations, such as Zeta Six. Rear-Admiral Ziphan clenched his hands into tight fists, hanging his head down in an effort to regain his composure. "I need something, anything," he began, dropping his voice again, "I have to give Admiral Benx a full report when he arrives tomorrow and, Force help us, it needs to be good."
Ziphan was met with silence and the nervous shifting of weight as the various Captains glanced at one another. His impatience grew but before he could burst out in outrage again, one of the Captains spoke up at last. "We did everything we could Sir, but, as you're no doubt aware, Victory-class Star Destroyers are ill-equipped to deal with starfighter attacks." It was a true statement, though one that offered little consolation. "Plus, as soon as the Rebel fighters get within range of the station, firing on them would cause as much damage to the station as it might do to them, assuming we hit such small targets with turbolasers."
No one else spoke, all waiting for the response with baited breath, a fact that didn't escape Ziphan's notice. "And what of our TIEs, Captain Felix? Did they do nothing?" he countered, brown eyes narrowing.
"They tried," Felix answered, not really having any better response to go with. "I lost both squadrons in the attack however." He felt the pressure from the Rear-Admiral start to build and realized his error in speaking too late, and quickly sought another to serve as scapebantha. "Captain Monrowe's fighters didn't even move to engage," Felix pointed to the other Captain who could do little more than bluster for a moment, outraged at the accusation. The table quickly descended into bickering and finger pointing, each of the Captains present more than willing to point out the flaws in their counterparts, none willing to accept the blame.
Realizing this meeting was going nowhere fast, Ziphan removed his cap and ran a hand through his black hair before replacing it and drawing in a deep breath. "Gentlemen," he began, hoping to regain order between his own Captains before his own conference call descended into total anarchy much like the rest of the Outer Rim. "Gentlemen!" His voice boomed and everyone froze in place, silence swiftly falling over the group. "It's evident that we're all at fault here so let me rephrase my purpose for calling this meeting." Taking a seat, he crossed his hands together and placed them onto the table, "We need to decide on what exactly happened and precisely what lapse occurred to allow this devastation, bearing in mind that should our stories fail to corroborate, we will all be facing the firing squad for incompetence."
Location: Victory-class Star Destroyer Conqueror
"Reverting to real-space!"
The voice of the navigator was right on cue as the starlines beyond the viewport shrunk back into pin points of light, the Conqueror dropping out of hyperspace alongside a small group of ships, mostly made up of freighters carrying supplies along with a pair of newly commissioned Raider-class corvettes. The bridge became a buzz of activity once again as the crew worked on providing a full situation briefing to the Captain.
"Station Zeta Six dead ahead," the chief sensor operator announced.
"Or what's left of it at any rate," Captain McFini began, biting his lower lip as though he had somehow been responsible for its decimation. In the back of his mind, he knew that whoever was responsible for its defense would be getting more than an earful from the Admiral in charge of this operational sector. He didn't know much about Admiral Benx but was sure the Admiral wouldn't take too kindly to this sort of failure. Worse yet, the supply ships following the Conqueror would have nowhere to unload their cargo now, unless there was any part of the station intact enough to house the fuel, munitions, water and food he had with him.
"Star Destroyer Might bearing three-zero-zero," came the next announcement, "Along with the rest of the Admiral's fleet. Defense ships are also ahead, surrounding the station."
McFini briefly wondered about the possibility of the Rebels coming back to finish what they started and almost immediately dismissed the thought. The damage had been done to the station and with the Imperial Navy all concentrated here, the Rebels weren't likely to come back to finish the job. The damage had been done, the tentative foothold in the area would remain so for the foreseeable future, enough to disrupt ongoing operations. ”Open a channel to the Might, inform the Admiral of our arrival along with two new ships that should prove useful in the efforts to protect the station.” No sooner had McFini said those words than did the sensor operator announce the arrival of another Imperial ship to the system, or, more accurately, ships. Numerous tugs had arrived along with a sizable chunk of what could only have once belonged to the station that had been attacked. The crew on the bridge of the Conqueror gazed at the massive chunk of grey steel, mixed expressions on the crew and from the crew pit to the left, the murmurings of the accursed Rebels and their disregard for the lives of those who worked aboard the station.
Location: Imperial-class Star Destroyer Might
”The Raider-class Corvette is designed to bridge the gap between masses of TIE squadrons which sometimes prove too fragile against the more durable Starfighters of the Rebellion and the imposing weight of the Star Destroyer which is ill-equipped to effectively target anything smaller than a corvette.” At the center of the table, a translucent blue image of a ship hovered for all assembled to gaze upon. It was a sleek vessel, angular in shape not unlike a Star Destroyer, only this ship was a mere 150 meters in length. At its rear was one massive engine nozzle flanked on either side by two smaller nozzles. On either side and on the bottom of the hull appeared dagger shaped wings, not unlike the solar panels found on TIE Interceptors however these ones were much larger and didn’t have laser cannons equipped on the tips. Instead, six dual laser cannons were mounted on the forward sections of the angled hull, ready to blast apart any Rebel craft that got within range.
In all, it was a significant diversion from usual Imperial doctrine however one that was fast becoming a necessity. After the destruction of the first Death Star, Navy ship designers were scrambling to come up with a vessel that could challenge Rebel Starfighter superiority. Sienar Fleet Systems were rolling out the TIE Interceptor, citing that the solution was, simply put, a faster, more deadly fighter that could be deployed in the same numbers as the TIE Fighter. Unfortunately, the lack of shielding still made it a challenge and pilots were struggling to take full advantage of its speed and vastly improved agility.
Admiral Benx looked thoughtful at the Captain’s presentation, the expression on his face hinting that he had at last found an answer to the problems that were plaguing his efforts in the Outer Rim. “And you brought two of them?” he asked, glancing out the viewport at the small detachment of ships that had arrived with the Conqueror, two of them being the new Raider corvettes.
McFini nodded once, looking a tad apologetic. ”Alas, that was all that could be spared. Grand Admiral Tigellinus has kept a half dozen with the Avatar as he continues hunting down pirates elsewhere in the Outer Rim.” He had mistakenly thought Benx was disappointed with only receiving two such corvettes but he then saw the Admiral shake his head and then shoot a quick glance over at the Rear-Admiral who did his best to avoid the gaze and diplomatically intervened before any words could be exchanged for good or ill. ”The Razor and the Tempest are at your command Admiral. As is the Conqueror.”
Benx nodded and gestured for the Captain to take a seat in one of the available chairs as he himself stood up, not once looking away from Ziphan. “It would seem these new ships came at an opportune time.” He paused, casting a quick, deliberate glance out the viewport at the resupply station upon which small flashes of lights from various welding tools could be seen as damage control crews worked on trying to restore the station to some semblance of operability. “Or perhaps a tad late. Still, we cannot allow this set back to delay our operations. Too much is at stake and we’re gradually edging ourselves closer to the Rebel hideouts in the Outer Rim Territories.
“For this reason, Rear-Admiral, I am going to entrust you with the Tempest as well as the Conqueror. Additional supplies are due to arrive in the system in a standard week with additional replacement parts to continue fixing the station in another one after that.” He paused, mostly to see Ziphan’s reaction which consisted of little more than the man lifting his head to finally meet the Admiral’s gaze. If it was a second chance he sought, he received it though Benx would be quick to remind the man that there wouldn’t be a third. “Do whatever you need to in order to ensure we do not lose this foothold. Arkanis is seeing increased levels of skirmish fighting over the past month and the populace is on edge. Is that clear Admiral?”
Ziphan nodded curtly. “Crystal clear, Sir.”
“Good. I have another engagement I must attend to so you’re all dismissed.” The Admiral glanced over at McFini and gestured to the Rear-Admiral. “Captain, you will report directly to Rear-Admiral Ziphan until the next bunch of freighters arrive at which point you will escort them back to Arkanis and await reassignment.”
”Yessir,” the Captain saluted before getting to his feet. He noticed Ziphan swiftly get to his feet and make haste for the door as though wanting to get away before Benx could reconsider his previous willingness for second chances. McFini followed, hoping to catch the man and get a duty assignment in person rather than have to communicate over holos where the transmission could be intercepted. As he exited the briefing room along the other officers, he passed by someone waiting outside and didn’t pay the person much mind except for the quick flash of blue hair he caught out of the corner of his eye. He glanced back but by the time his eyes were able to register, the door to the meeting room was already mostly shut, the person inside. He could also hear the Admiral’s voice from the other side just before the door shut completely.