Steel Accord

Private When Stars Collide 1x1 (private w/nx9100)

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What is good is unchanging and eternal. Two sagas so similar yet so different. One a legend of opposing seemingly insurmountable evil. The other a prediction of a bright and hopeful future. Equally benevolent, would they still be allies? Could opposing manifestations of good be enemies as bitter as they are against the collective strength of evil? Or will they overcome their differences to see their fundamental similarities?

We open this question by presenting you with a memory, a recording, a log if you will.

Edited by Lucid_Nightlight
Added link to OOC.
  • Brohoof 1

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"Captain's Log, Stardate 51911.3.  Having finished resupply at Starbase 375 we have been ordered by Admiral Ross to carry out a covert mission to find and destroy a Dominion listening post located near the Romulan border.  At least, that's the official story.  What my crew doesn't know is that we are really being sent to investigate strange energy signals coming from a nebula near Romulan space.  Starfleet Science believes it to be a natural phenomena, but Tactical Command is afraid of any possible Dominion superweapon.  Hence, here we are.  Detached from our normal task force and alone.  This is a mission more suited for a science ship, such as a Nova- or Intrepid-class vessel.  But with the war on I guess we're the only available asset.  At least the Righteous is strong enough to fight off any Jem'Hadar we might bump into.  I only wish we were able to get some replacement fighters for the four lost last month...

Edited by nx9100

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On approach to the nebula, the astronomical phenomenon would begin to stir and react strangely. If they ventured too close, then bolts of plasma would begin to lash out into space like the grasping tentacles of a kraken from the ancient sea. What will they do? Has Star Fleet prepared them for this? Could it be that something lies on the other side?

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With a swoosh, the doors from the Ready Room slid open, and he stepped out onto the bridge.  "Captain on the bridge!" called out the operations officer.  The captain nodded at a woman that stood up from the center chair.  

"Report, Number One," he said, moving over to take her place in the chair.

"All systems normal, captain," she said.  "We've dropped out of warp and are approaching the nebula at impulse.  Science reports increased energy readings, but they can't pinpoint the source."

"Are they artificial or natural?" the captain asked, as the viewscreen flashed with light from the nebula just beyond their position.  Another officer turned from his station on the right wall of the bridge.  

"Unknown at this time, sir," he said, energy readouts on the screens behind him.  "Although I've never seen discharge patterns like this in nebula before.  It could be some sort of normal phenomenon, but then again..."

"Guess," the captain said.

The science officer scratched his chin.  "Well.....maybe a blast from a protomatter or subspace weapon....or possibly a natural subspace collapse..."  He turned back to the readouts.  "Hmmm....its always been believed that this nebula was the remains of a collapsed star.  If the core was still in the center....and if if imploded on itself..."  His fingers danced over the controls.  "...Captain, I'm only speculating, but we could be looking at a the formation of a subspace fissure."

"Like a wormhole?" asked the First Officer.

"That's one possibility," the science officer replied.  "We'd have to go into the nebula and get more precise readings."  

All eyes turned to the captain, as he watched the nebula on the viewscreen, weighing the safety of his crew against the need to know if this was any sort of Dominion plot.  After a few moments, he made a decision.  "Raise shields, all hands Yellow Alert.  Science, the minute you get the data you need, we're leaving.  Helm," he pointed at the screen, "take us in, one quarter impulse...."

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As they got in closer, the crew would start to get odd signals. Amid the usual readings for such astronomical phenomena they would also receive these strange readings. They appeared not like something sourced within the anomaly because they weren't consistent like the waves of the ocean nor seemingly random like bolts of lightning. No, even if what was being received was a garbled mess, it was clear it was transmissions. The only place that such could be coming from though, was the other side. Which would mean this was indeed a wormhole. As they listened, the messages would come through stronger. Which would only mean that the wormhole is beginning to stabilize . . . and grow bigger.

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"Captain's Log, supplemental.  Acting on orders from Admiral Ross, I am taking my ship  into the nebula.  As we move deeper, strange signals are being detected coming from an unknown source further within.  It's possible these are coded messaged from a secret Dominion force, or even an unknown Romulan listening post.  But one other theory my science officer suggested leaves me to hope it's just the Dominion, cause that would be far easier to deal with right now..."

"Have you found the source of those transmissions yet?" asked the captain, while watching the swirling mass of the nebula clouds on the viewscreen.  He was tense, as if waiting for a enemy ship to appear at any moment.  "And what about my shields?"

"It's the energy discharges, captain," replied the engineer.  "They're interfering with our shield generators.  I can get you 30, maybe 40 percent strength, but anything more attracts the energy waves and could cause an overload."

The science officer stepped over.  "We still haven't been able to decode or understand any of the transmissions, but I'm certain they're coming from the center of the nebula.  The signals are showing degradation from an extreme gravity well, which would support the subspace fissure theory."

"Or," the First Officer said, "the wormhole theory, and we're hearing signals from somewhere else in the galaxy."

The captain shuddered.  "After the Bajoran wormhole brought the Dominion, I'd hate to think what this could lead to."  They all waited for his decision.  "Alright, let's keep going.  We need to know if this is a threat to the Federation or not."

The crew returned to their stations, as the ship continued slowly through the clouds...

Edited by nx9100

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Suddenly the nebula shifted. It grew more violent. The gravitational pull on the ship jumped by staggering degrees in a short time. No longer was the wormhole theoretical, it yawned open before their sensors, possibly their senses, like the great maw of Charybdis. What's more, in defiance of the known laws of nature. Coils of plasma latched on to the Righteous and drug it into the spacial abyss of the wormhole. The crew would only hae enough time to understand what was happening before they were pulled into the other side o the wormhole and jutted to another galaxy entirely.

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The Red Alert alarm blared, red lights flashing, as the crew were tossed around the bridge, sparks flying from various consoles.

"Helm not responding!"  "Shields collapsing Captain!"  "Warp power offline!" the bridge crew called out from their stations, those still at stations, anyway.

"We're caught in a massive gravity well!" the science office called out.  "Sensors are overloaded, but for a moment they registered the final collapse of the subspace fissure."   He watched his displays.  "Sir!  Our own warp core is attracting the plasma fields!  We're being pulled into a quantum singularity!" 

They all looked to the viewscreen, where the nebula clouds were swirling around a fast approaching black vortex.  Before the captain could order 'brace for impact', it filled the viewscreen....

....and with a flash of blinding light, the ship suddenly stopped shuddering.  Crew scattered around the ship slowly regained their senses and returned to stations.  The captain watched a few remaining swirls of nebula cloud wisp on the screen....revealing the stars beyond.

"Report!" the captain ordered, jumping out of his chair to his first officer's side.  She had been tossed against the help console, blood trickling down her forehead.  "And get me a casualty update!"  

"Systems coming back online, captain," reported the ops officer.  "Impulse and RCS responding, warp drive is still down."

"Shields and tactical systems offline.  Looks like an ODN line burnout!"

"Life support stable!  Engineering reports warp core stable, but damage on the nacelles!"

"Captain!" the ops officer called again.  "Navigation system is..... well, either it's malfunctioning, or...."

"Or what?" the captain asked, holding a bandage against the first officer's forehead.

"Or...we're not in the Beta Quadrant anymore," Ops replied.  "Not even in the same galaxy."

The bridge went quiet, only the sounds of the ship and control panels could be heard.  "So then," asked the captain, "where are we?"

  • Yay 1

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away . . .
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It is a time of consolidation. The Galactic Empire makes efforts to solidify its power in the Inner Rim of the Galaxy, often with overwhelming force. In the wake of the Antar Atrocity committed by Moff Tarkin, meant to punish and humble the moon's population, unrest has sprung up on Antar 4. Multiple rebel cells, criminal cartels, and mercenary bands now run rampant in the marshlands, preying on the settlers that fled to escape Tarkin's cold culling. Amid the predation of vicious gangs and the Empire's indifference to their plight, the people have acquired a mysterious ally, the Antarian Rangers. This band of fighters emerge seemingly from nowhere to protect and rescue those in need before vanishing again into the wilderness. Rarely seen is their leader, a hooded figure that some attribute strange and wondrous power to. The Commission for the Preservation of the New Order, or COMPNOR, has disavowed these rumors and encourage citizens to report these Rangers if seen. Little does either side know though, that a far bigger threat to the Empire is about to emerge also seemingly from nowhere . . .

"Governor, I'm telling you. Secure holding of this moon requires greater resources. I need Stormtroopers, walkers, anything!" The man yelled at the sharply dressed Imperial officer floating above him in the holoprojector, the only source of light in the dark room.

"Minister Layton, I gave you command of that moon because I was under the impression that you could handle it after Tarkin's . . . relocation. Was I wrong to trust you?" In contrast to the governor, Minister Layton wore a brown uniform with gray rims on the collar and sleeves. Meant to mimic the garb of the local Gotal people while retaining Imperial uniform standard. Layton tried to backpedal from his previous statement.

"No governor. You weren't. It's just that keeping the peace on Antar 4 has required making certain compromises with the locals. Compromises that wouldn't have been needed if I could bring more to bear against the criminal element. Even a single ISB agent would be of great-" he was cut off by the governor raising his hand and speaking.

"As far as the Empire is concerned, Antar 4 is a settled matter with sufficient means to hold it. Unless there is a direct attack on Citadel-8B itself, there is no reason to send more men or material." Layton slammed a fist down on the holoprojector. The hologram shook with a distortion for a moment from the impact.


"There are helpless people out in the Marshlands that refuse to come here to the Citadel! I can't protect them beyond these walls with what I have!" Minister Layton went from cowed to emboldened, a change in attitude ignored by his superior.

"That is their choice to abandon the safety of the Empire. You have your answer Minister. Your request is denied." The hologram shimmered out and as the lights came on, a hooded figure was standing behind the Minister.

"Having second thoughts on our agreement Minister Layton?" The figure spoke and Layton spun with panic.

"How? How did you get in here?!" The figure pulled down his hood, revealing a Mirialan man with silvery hair and worn skin.

"I asked you first." He gave a playful smile. His species didn't crack much in the skin area with age but the ravages of time nevertheless leave their mark in the dulled hue of a Mirialan's color. Layton took a moment to compose himself, adjusting his coat.

"This can't continue forever. I've given you special dispensation but the Empire must be able to protect its own."

"A priority clearly held at every level of command," the hooded figure nodded to the deactivated projector. Layton had no response. The visitor paced as he spoke. "We all have our weaknesses Minister. There's no shame in it, but we shouldn't embrace them."

"Are you suggesting loyalty to my Empire is a weakness?" Layton pointed to himself. The man had his hands folded behind his back as he spoke.

"Loyalty of any kind is a virtue, when exercised honestly. Not one you posses unfortunately. No, your weakness is fear. Fear that our collaboration will be discovered. Fear of what will happen to you if it is." Now Layton's finger pointed accusingly at his visitor.

"I didn't ask for your help so I could be lectured." The man turned his head to the Minister.

"You didn't ask for my help at all. I offered it." He started to walk toward Layton. "Did I ever tell you why?" Layton backed up against the projector and shook his head. "It's because I sensed something in you. Guilt, regret, shame. In some ways, you're very selfish Layton. Everything is your fault, your doing. When the Empire committed the Antar Atrocity, and you were systems away at a seperate command, you saw it as your doing and not Tarkin's. On the other hand, when you were given this command, suddenly it was your duty, your responsibility, your obligation to make up for what happened." The man stood aside and leaned against the projector just as Layton was. "You understood that these people have suffered enough. So to see them tormented beyond your walls when you throw open the gates and none will enter your refuge out of fear. It tears you up inside. That's why I reached out to you. It's why I appreciate what you do for the Rangers and myself." Layton shot an incredulous look and stood up.

"What I do?" He pointed to the desk behind the projector and stormed over to it. "I've been sitting at this desk doing nothing, helping no one, saving no one." The man stood up and turned to Layton.

"The governor refused your request. Your lack of ability is on him, not you. He'll never recognize your efforts, even some of my men don't, but I do and so does something bigger than any of us." Layton placed his hands on his desk and slumped his head. He turned and looked at his visitor.

"Does it really matter? Does what I do count?"

"You're one man telling an Empire that it's not doing enough. That definitely counts for something." Layton stood up and took a deep breath.

"You might just make a believer out of me one day, Senotho."

"A proud day more for you than me. In the meantime-" Senotho went wide eyed and lost his balance. He leaned on the projector for balance.

"Hey! Are you okay?" To his own surprise, Layton rushed over to steady the Mirialan.

"I'm . . . I'm fine. Just, tired I suppose. Thank you." He composed himself and walked a few paces to get his footing back. "In the meantime. Do what you can inside the Citadel. Protect those still here that the Empire won't. Leave the safety of the Marsh dwellers to me and the Rangers."

"Okay. Wait! You never answered me how you got in here." Senotho smiled.

"The same way I'm leaving it." Pulling his hood over his eyes, the lights suddenly blacked out. A moment later they came back on and the visitor was gone.

> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > wipe > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > 

In a large cave complex, nicknamed by its inhabitants as the Catacombs or just the Combs, many men and women of different species carried out their business. Many usual military drills such as blaster rifle practice, obstacle courses, team tactical formations. Others though were unique to the Antarian Rangers. Daily mediation, lightsaber defense drills, and Jedi history (spotty or demagogic it could be at times.) Not all had proper uniforms due to lack of them to go around but the ones that did wore brown coats with white furred trim, and blue buckled boots, combat slacks, and covers (hats) on their heads. One notable exception to this was a bald man wearing proper armor, gray from age and spotted by blaster burns. His lower half partially mechanized with bracers along his legs.

"Get that crate to logistics. Gotta be somethin' in there we can use. Even if it's just to throw it at the Empire."

"By that logic, I'm the greatest weapon we have." Senotho said, announcing his presence to the old clone. Grid promptly turned on his heel and saluted.

"General." Senotho returned the salute.

"At ease old friend. There's something I need to speak to you about. Privately." Grid nodded and followed the General. They walked away from the mass of the Rangers and along a slim pathway hanging over the rocks below.

"I'm confident my intel was correct."

"The Minister tried to reach out to the Governor to expand the Empire's presence here on Antar 4. The governor turned him down and I was able to refocus his efforts on the home front."

"It still don't sit right. Fraternizing with the enemy."

"The Empire is merely a machine. Ruthless but passionless. You know more than most who are true enemy is, Grid." The two men came to a stop and looked at each other, Senotho's hands folded in his sleeves in front of him.

"What happened?"

"I felt something. It was a great tremor in the Force. Unlike anything I've ever felt before. Something's here. Something's coming."

"What is it?"

"I don't know. It's new. Not just to us but to itself. It doesn't feel like the Dark side though, quite the opposite. It's like . . . something clean and bright. Unmarred by hardship."

"You're afraid though."

"Yes. I am. Because with a disturbance in the Force this massive, and something so pure being its result. There is no way I was the only one who felt it." A moment of understanding passed between to the two veterans.

"Your orders General?"

"Put our scouts on alert. Put our deployed Rangers on guard and ready our main force here for deployment. I'll be meditating when you need me." He turned and walked further along the path. "Whatever is coming, the Sith won't be far behind."
 
  • Brohoof 1

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"Captain's Log, Stardate 51912.5.  According to my science officer, our ship got pulled through a quantum rift in subspace.  More than just a wormhole, for it appears that we are not even in our own galaxy, perhaps not our own reality.  Minor damage to the ship is being repaired, and other than a few scrapes and bruises, no casualties thank god.  At the moment, we are holding position, as it appears there are nearby inhabited systems, and I don't want to risk any confrontation without a better understanding of where, and when, we might be."

The doors slid shut as the senior staff all took their seats around the briefing room table.  The captain cleared his throat.  "So, here's our situation: minor damage to our power systems, warp drive offline, limited shields, no weapons, and..." he paused for a moment "...absolutely no idea where we are."  He looked around the table.  "Does that sum it all up?"

"Warp drive will be back within the hour, sir," said the chief engineer.  "My team's patching up the port nacelle now.  And I've already got partial power to the phasers and shields."

"That's good," the captain replied, before turning to the science officer.  "Now, as to where..."

The officer shrugged.  "Nothing in our database matches ANY of the stars we can detect.  As far as I can tell, not only are we no longer in our galaxy, but quite possibly on the other side of the universe."

A gasp went around the table.  "So... how do we get back?" asked the medical officer.  "Can't we just turn around and go back through the hole?"

"It's not that easy," the science officer replied.  "Apparently, the fissure isn't that big on this side.  We burst through, but it's since collapsed to a point where we can't detect it.  Only the slight gravity waves reveal that it's still there."

"So for know, we're stuck," the captain concluded.  "Fine.  I need options, people.  What's our next move?"

"We could stay here and study the singularity," the first officer said, getting a few nods.  "Maybe find a way to open it back up and get home."

"We've detected various signal sources from the nearby systems," the tactical officer reminded them, "which means someone will be coming soon to investigate what happened.  We should find a more defensible location to finish repairs."  He looked at the captain.  "Sir, I recommend that we send out the fighters as scouts, have them survey the area and report back contacts."

"Agreed," the captain said, getting to his feet.  "Launch the fighters.  send them out in pairs, but not too far from the ship.  I want to recall them quickly if I need to."  He looked to the ops officer.  "Set a course, half impulse, for the nearest system.  And keep monitoring those signals, see if you can ID anyone around here."  They all got to their feet and followed the captain out...

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

Ten minutes later, the remaining six fighters in the ship's squadron took off, flying out of the bay on the aft end of the saucer.  In pairs, the split off to scout out the area....

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"I don't care what he said about the Empire, sergeant, he's a fruit vendor not a rebel. Cut him loose or I'll have you thrown in that cell with him!" Minister Layton shouted over the comm before bringing his fist down to end the transmission. He rubbed the bridge of his nose while reaching under his desk with with his free hand and pulled out a small bottle of likstro. He cracked open the bottle and took a swig right before a RA-7 protocol droid sauntered in through the door of his office. He swallowed too hard too fast out of reflex and had a coughing fit.

"Minister Layton. There's an unknown ship on the scanners," he reported in complete monotone seemingly unaware of Layton's reaction and drinking. 

"Thank you, ZK-6," he chocked out as he tried to clear his throat. Layton clicked a few buttons to bring up his holo-projector and see what and who this ship was. He was about to take a more easy sip when the display at last came up and he nearly dropped his bottle the same way he dropped his jaw. These were unlike any vessel he had seen before, and they matched none of the Imperial schematics on present and past vessels he learned from the Imperial Academy. Putting the bottle down and rising, he approached the display, trying to wrap his head around what he was seeing. They were small, probably only fighters but they're make was completely strange to him. An alert pinged on his holoprojector. Pirates! Hutt or maybe Black Sun affiliates. There were four of them. Three smaller ships and one hauler cobbled together from past captures. Quickly typing on his projector, he sent an alert to the unknown craft.

"Attention! This is Imperial Minister Layton of Antar 4. We're tracking pirate ships bearing down on you!"

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"Alpha 3?  Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

"Affirm, 4.  Looks like we got the local's attention.  Better report back to the captain."

The two Starfleet fighters were scouting the closest system to their ship, monitoring local communication channels and traffic, when they spotted four contacts apparently heading towards them.  The held course, not wanting to appear hostile.  The pilot, call sign Alpha 4, watched his readout of the newcomers.  "Huh...if my scanner is working, they don't appear too advanced."  He shook his head.  "Looks like we found a primitive race."

"I'm getting a strong signal from the planet," the other pilot reported.  "Translator's working on it....wait, here we go."

Alpha 3 activated his comm system.  "Attention! This is Imperial Minister Layton of Antar 4. We're tracking pirate ships bearing down on you!"

His head jerked up.  "Pirates?" he said, watching the approaching ships.  "Righteous, this is Alpha 3.  Tap into our comms, we've been contacted by local authorities, possible hostile craft inbound.  Orders?"

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

The captain jumped out of his chair after Alpha 3's report came in.  "Details, people!"  he ordered.  "I want to know what's going on!  And tell Alpha Flight NOT to open fire unless attacked first!"  The ops officer nodded and relayed the order.

"Sir!" said the science officer, "I've got those ships on sensors.  They're..." He squinted at his screens.  "Sir, they're fusion powered!  Simple ion propulsion!"

That got everyone's heads turned towards the science station.  "You wanna run that by me again?" said the captain.

"Ion propulsion, fusion power," the officer repeated.  "Weapons systems...laser weapons."

"Those won't even scratch our navigational shields," the first officer muttered, having returned to duty after getting her head patched in sickbay.

"Normally yes, but these appear to be several terrawatts in power.  They're not normal lasers, but mixed with some sort of plasma gas."  He turned to the captain.  "Theoretically, a large blast or sustained fire could overwhelm our shields."

The captain thought for a moment.  "Signal Alpha Flight to return to the ship and take up defensive positions around us.  Helm, increase speed towards that system, full impulse."  He sat back down in his chair.  And give me a hailing channel to that planet.  Try to match their frequency."

 

Quote

"To Imperial Minister Layton, this is Captain Eric Jellico, commanding the U.S.S. Righteous Indignation of the United Federation of Planets.  We do not wish to fire upon your forces, but you have labeled the four ships approaching our fighters as hostile.  We will defend ourselves, but I would rather avoid a confrontation.  Please respond."

 

Edited by nx9100

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Minister Layton straightened himself up, despite the fact that this was a audio message and not a visual hologram. Although he didn’t recognize the names and call signs used, now was not the time.

“They’re not mine! They’re space scum the regional Moff doesn’t care enough to crack down on. I have weapons to blast them from my orbit but they’ll take time you may not have!”

As Layton scrambled to get his lax defenses online to protect the newcomers, the pirates were already dead set.

<Hey boss! Check out these shinies. Ever see anything like them?> Said one of the Gran pilots in Hutteese.

<Probably some bore core travelers looking for excitement out here. Let’s give them what they came for.> Replied the Hutt aligned Quarren commander.

The main ship fired proton torpedoes, attempting to knock out the Star Fleet fighters engines and end the fight there.

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The torpedoes struck on Alpha 4's shields, detonating and sending the fighter into a spin.  It took the pilot a minute to regain control.  

"Alpha 4!  Alpha 4!  Come in!" 

"I'm still here, 3," he replied, checking over the damage.  "Shields held, but that packed a punch!  Better not let those hit us again."

"I'm coming around!  Targeting one of the smaller ships!"

"Understood!  I'll go for his wingman!"  The two fighters maneuvered around to take aim at two of the smaller pirate ships, and opened up with their pulse phasers...

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

"Time to weapons range?" asked Captain Jellico.

"Seventeen minutes," replied the helmsman.

"Tactical status?" the captain asked.

"Shields on full," said the tactical officer.  "Weapons ready, sir."

"The other four fighters of Alpha Flight are returning," reported ops.  "They'll be with us in five."

Jellico leaned back in his chair, lighting tapping his fingers on the armrest.  He wanted to help his pilots, but was limited to impulse speed....

Suddenly, he leaned forward.  "All hands, brace for sudden momentum!  Helm, give me a warp burst, I want to get there, NOW!"

The helm and ops officers turned back to face him.  "Such a precise warp jump," said ops.  "Only a few seconds..."

"Go over your tactical history," the captain told him, "specifically, the Picard Maneuver.  Helm, whenever you're ready.  Tactical!  I target the biggest threat ship and prepare a phaser barrage!"

The entire bridge crew went to work.  A few moments later..."Helm ready sir!"

"Execute!"

The warp nacelles of the Righteous Indignation flashed, and the ship jumped forward......

.....only to appear moments later just behind the two fighters as they maneuvered for a second pass on the pirates.

  • teacup 1

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<What the Hell?!>

<Think we bit off more than we can chew!> The pirates did a hard turn to try and get back to the stolen carrier they were housed in.

Meanwhile the captain, a Nikto wearing a patched up admirals full dress with clearly fake medals, tried to high tail it to hyper speed before his crew even returned, giving the Righteous Indignation a broadside of blaster cannons and proton torpedoes, actually hitting one of his own retreating ships. Not that he cared.

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"Report!" called captain Jellico.

"Shields holding!  No ship damage!"

"Alpha flight is reforming, ready to attack."
"Sir!" called the ops officer, "That attack...they fired on their own ship!"

They watched the scene unfold on the viewscreen, trying to grasp what was happening.  "I'm getting energy buildup on the larger target," said the science officer.  "Possibly their drive system."

"Looks like they're retreating, sir," said the tactical officer.  "Shall I open fire?"
"Negative," Jellico replied.  "Signal the fighters to hold station around the ship.  If they're leaving, let them go."  He watched the strange ships on the viewscreen.  "Open a channel to the planet again..."

Quote

"This is Captain Jellico.  It appears the 'pirates' have been driven off.  Do you require any assistance?"

 

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"No Captain, I don't!" Minister Layton turned to the gunner on his right. "Open fire!" The gunner in his sloped helmet nodded and activated the primed weapon. Outside Citadel 8B, a massive turbolaser mounted on a dais took aim into the sky and a piercing green lance beamed from its mouth and tore the pirate vessel in half. Layton smiled to himself. That'll show those pirates. No Hutt or Black Sun scum would hurt anyone on his watch! He straightened his coat, complimented his crew and returned to his office, starting up the holoprojector to speak to these newcomers. He was particularly interested in this new ship. It's design was truly marvelous. Beyond anything he'd seen.

"Captain Jellico? The threat has been neutralized thanks to our combined efforts. I cordially invite you to Citadel 8-B to sample all I can grant in my humble station here on Antar 4."

Meanwhile on the outskirts of the Citadel were a ragtag group who beheld the action that had just been visited into orbit. Specifically, a sullustan man with a blue cap and blue coat with a furred collar armed with a blaster carbine, a scarred up gungan warrior carrying a metal pike but with a carbine holstered as well, a magenta hued toydarian with a slew of gadgets slung around her, and a pantoran woman with a blaster rifle almost as big as she was. All of them wore some combination o the Sullustan's attire, like a loose uniform. 

"We have to call this in." Said the Sullustan.

"Master Senotho has to know." The pantoran girl agreed.

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In the Catacombs, the training had ceased. All of the Antarian Rangers were on rotating shifts. Either at the ready to be deployed, or resting and waiting for their rotation time. Meanwhile, in a series of small chambers, Master Immanuel Senotho paced. He had his own quarters to serve his needs. 

Right now he stood in what he referred to informally as his Reliquary. Artifacts lined the walls, lightsabers and kyber crystals but many more from traditions outside of the Jedi. An eye pendent symbolizing the Greater Mark of Illumination for the Chalactan Adepts, a blessed bracket used as a Jagganath point counter for the Trandoshan Scorekeeper, and a statue of Doellin, the deity of a pacifist and teetotaler sect. Some of these were liberated from Imperial confiscation but others were gifts. Despite his dogged attempts to remain as anonymous as possible, it did seem that some had come to know of someone affiliated with the Antarian Rangers as a preserver of sacred and holy items. Specifically in this case though, Immanuel held his hand to his chin while using his other hand to support his elbow as he stared at a tapestry of stars. Woven by the long extinct prophets of Voss-Ka.

A droid entered. Tall, humanoid, three eyes, one bigger than the other two, no visible mouth, with an ornate design and earthy tone color.

"You wished to see me Master Senotho?" He asked.

"Yes, Torah." Immanuel turned to greet the droid. "I was wondering if you could help me with something. I need information. Anything."

"I do not have the Jedi Archives in my memory bank, Master," Torah said pointing to his head.

"No, but you did spend quite some time there during your years of service to the order and you retain every conversation you've had or overheard."

"In perfect detail, Master." He nodded.

"Good. Then maybe you can help." He took a moment to collect himself. "I received a vision. It was clear but I can't decipher its meaning. I'm going to describe it to you. Tell me if any of it sounds familiar from what you've learned." Torah nodded. "There's this archer, he's wearing a robe of some kind, very ornate. He nocks an arrow and lets it fly across the stars. Then that same archer lets loose another arrow, now he's wearing intimidating armor. Somehow the two arrows meet each other head on, and now one of them has a . . . jewel or gem of some kind in its head. Then the arrows cross and there's a blinding flash." Immanuel stops. "The vision ends." Torah puts his own hand to where his chin would be and supports his arm with his other hand as Immanuel was doing earlier.

"I'm afraid I can't recall any talks of similar symbols, Master." Immanuel sighed.

"Oh well. Long shot anyway." The Jedi turned to go back to his pacing when Torah raised his hand.

"If I may, Master." Immanuel turned back to the droid. "Perhaps you should review the holocrons?"

"I've been over them Torah, I've learned all I can from them."

"Perhaps. But the only mistake in retreading ancient wisdom . . . is to not." Immanuel thought for a moment and conceded.

"Good point Torah."

"Citation: Jedi Master Gnost Durall." Immanuel chuckled. Torah had to have timed that.

"Very well. Let's see what we have," Immanuel said. Torah's chassis opened up to reveal a spinning tray with many empty holders, only three of which were occupied by glowing, gilded cubes.

"Absolute Power: created by Jedi Master AND Supreme Chancellor of the Republic Biel Ductavis. Lightsaber combat with Tarre Vizsla, first Mandalorian Jedi. Or perhaps our greatest find, the Noetikon of Light." Torah explained with each holocron he pointed to.

"Let's go with the Noetikon. Perhaps it will help me decipher this vision."

"Of course." Torah nodded and a locking mechanism on his tray released. That's when another ranger burst in, Torah's tray snapping close to secure the holocrons.

"Master Senotho!" Came a human messenger. "I'm so sorry to disturb you. There's an urgent message. The Citadel has just blasted to smithereens in orbit!"

"Layton, what have you done now? Sorry Torah, the past will have to wait, the moment needs my urgent attention." He exited his reliquary to investigate what was happening.

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A large flash filled the viewscreen.  "What in blazes?!" shouted the first officer.  They watched, as the largest of the pirate vessels was blown apart.  "Sir, that was..."

"Confirmed!" said the science officer.  "The blast came from the planet.  Ground-based weaponry.  Hundreds of terrawatts of power."  He turned to the captain.  "Sir, our shields might hold against one shot....maybe two.  But without them...."

Jellico nodded.  "Primitive technology, but still powerfull.  Let's not let our guard down."  

"Receiving a message from the surface!" reported the ops officer.  "There appears to be a visual signal.  Holographic, sir."

"Interesting," Jellico said, scratching his chin.  "Can you tie into the new holo-communicator?"

"One moment..." the ops officer adjusted his controls.  "Ok, go ahead sir."  Jellico stood up and stepped just to one side of his chair, where a small ring of white lights was installed into the floor.  This was a new holo-communications system that was being tested by various ships in the fleet.  If this new galaxy used similar tech to communicate, than getting one of the devices appeared to be a stroke of luck.

And they could use all the luck they can get.

The lights glowed, and the image of a man appeared on the bridge.  "Captain Jellico? The threat has been neutralized thanks to our combined efforts. I cordially invite you to Citadel 8-B to sample all I can grant in my humble station here on Antar 4."

"Minister Layton, I presume," he greeted him, "I am Captain Eric Jellico.  We would be happy to accept your invitation.  If you would send landing coordinates, I and a small party will shuttle down to greet you."  He took a deep breath.  Diplomacy wasn't his strong suit, hence why he captained an Akira-class combat cruiser, instead of a more peaceful ship, like an Intrepid- or Nova-class science vessel.  "I do have a few questions, as I'm sure you do as well, but those can wait until we can speak in person."

 

(ooc: assume a holo-image of Jellico was transmitted to Layton's office device.)

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((You assume correctly.))

”Of course Captain! Transmitting coordinates now. Feel free to bring whatever crew mates you think you’ll need. I look forward to seeing you face to face.” He close the hologram and shook his fist with a grin on his face. If he can ally this Captain with the Empire, he wouldn’t need Moffs, Rangers, or under the table dealings with Jedi. At last Antar 4 would be safe and secure. “ZK? Prepare my fine clothes, arrange a full course meal, and prepare to greet our guests. We have to make a good impression on them.”

”Of course Minister Layton.” The droid bowed and shuffled off to make the necessary preparations.

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On the busy streets of Citadel 8-B various species, mostly Gotal, traded and worked. With regular Stormtrooper patrols. Under Layton though, they tended to be more hands off than usual Imperial standards. Which is why the Antarian Rangers felt comfortable meeting at a bar in the city, even if disguised. Master Senotho sat with the group from earlier to discuss what was going on.

“This is it. The disturbance in the Force.” He looked around. “I know at least some of you felt it too.” The Sullustan and Gungan both nodded while the pantoran seemed disappointed she didn’t.

“What does it mean Master?”

“I don’t know Phi. Whatever is hanging over our heads right now. It’s unusual, it wouldn’t attract this much attention if it wasn’t. From Layton, or whoever he fired upon.”

“Minstrel Layton get us all dead boomin’ like that.” The gungan said in his graveling tone.

“That’s what I’m afraid of Creel. He’s . . . frustrated. Feeling impotent.”

“Is he wrong?” Snarked the toydarian. Senotho shot her a look and continued.

“What he did. It was a display, a show of force. He’s trying to impress.”

“Us?” The Sullstan asked.

“Maybe Jeeg. I don’t think we’re his target audience though.” He looked up.

“Whoever this is. I must meet them myself. We’re all in great danger.”

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”Of course Captain! Transmitting coordinates now. Feel free to bring whatever crew mates you think you’ll need. I look forward to seeing you face to face.”

The image of Minister Layton fizzled and vanished from the bridge, and Jellico stood quietly for a moment.  His crew, while going about their duties, simply waited for his next orders.

"Captain?" asked the first officer.

Jellico looked up.  "Alright.  Prep a shuttle, and have two security officers meet me onboard."  He turned to the science officer.  "Mr. Faron, you're with me.  Number One, you have the bridge.  Keep the ship in synchronous orbit above the meeting site, and stay sharp on the sensors.  Contact me if any other possible threat ships appear."

"Yes sir," she said, taking a seat in the center chair.  "Sir, may I ask..."

"Why the shuttle?" he finished for her.  "From what we've seen, it appears that the technology here is a few notches below our own.  Even with their over-powered laser weapons.  If that's the case, I don't want to reveal too much of our advantage."  He grinned.  "Poker, commander.  Always hold your cards close, never reveal your hand before it's time."  She nodded in understanding.  Poker was a popular game among Star Fleet officers, so the reference made perfect sense to her.  "We'll hold the fort, sir.  I'll put the fighters on a patrol rotation, and be ready to pull you out if this goes south."

"Perfect.  Your bridge, commander."  With that, he and the science officer stepped into the turbolift and headed towards the flight deck...

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

Ten minutes later, the Type-9 shuttlecraft flew out from the shuttlebay door on the front of the ship's saucer section.  It banked down towards the planet in an atmosphere-braking flight path, shields protecting it from re-entry heat.  A few minutes later, and they were safely below the clouds and heading for the landing coordinates.  A short flight above the city and soon they came to a landing pad.  Moments later, the shuttle touched down.  The aft door lowered down, and Captain Jellico, Science officer Faron, and two security officers stepped out.  Jellico and Faron had both tricorders and phaser pistols in belt pouches, the guards just the phasers.  They stepped away from the shuttle....

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The crew were greeted by an armed precession of stormtroopers, all lined up along the platform presenting their arms in salute of the new arrivals. The protocol droid waddled out toward them with Minister Layton in tow, dressed to the nines in Imperial full dress.

"Greetings. I am ZK-7, protocol droid in service to the Galactic Empire. Allow me to introduce my master and the head of Government for Antar 4. Minister Pendrew Layton." The leader stepped forward to greet his hopeful allies. He did mentally note their attire. Despite their obvious military bearing and competence, they didn't appear dressed for combat. Still he extended a hand to them.

"It is an honor to meet you at last."

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Jellico too Layton's hand and shook it.  "A pleasure, Minister Layton.  I am Captain Eric Jellico, representing the United Federation of Planets."  They released hands, and he indicated each officer in turn.  "My science officer, Lieutenant Commander Faron.  Security officers Mr. Hooks and Mr. Weeks."

The latter two men both nodded, while the Lieutenant stepped forward.  The blue collar of his uniform, which was mostly black with grey shoulders, indicated he was from the science division.  But Layton wouldn't know that.  The captain's collar was red, and the two security men gold.  "You have a fascinating culture here, Minister," Faron said.  He wanted to ask about their technology, but Jellico had warned him in the shuttle about not bringing it up unnecessarily.  The captain didn't want to give away too many secrets yet, and a tech comparison might just do that.  "I look forward to learning more about your people."

"Yes," cut in Jellico.  "I have to admit, we were a bit surprised to find humans out here."  He glanced upwards.  "Then again, perhaps we should start with where here is."

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“Yes it is a bit on the fringe, but the reach of the Galactic Empire is far and wide. Please, follow me, we can talk more inside. I’ve prepared a meal for you all.” As the party approached the entrance, two stormtroopers stopped them.

“Please supply all weapons. You will receive them once you leave.”

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The two security officers reached for their phasers, but stopped when Captain Jellico raised a hand.  "Of course," he said, and with a nod at the two, he removed his own phaser and handed it to the trooper.  The other three hesitated for a moment, then followed suit.  Jellico smiled at Layton.  "We wouldn't want to insult our new friends, would we?  I am curious on one thing," he said as they followed Layton, "You mentioned this 'Galactic Empire' before.  I assume they are the primary political power in this galaxy?"

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Layton lead the party into the interior of his fortress. They walked and talked. "Captain," he chuckled. "for such an obviously intelligent man, you're speaking nonsense." He walked to the doorway to their feast. "This galaxy. As if there were others." The door slid open and at the end of the table stood Senotho. Layton paled and stumbled back.

"My friend you act as if you’ve seen a ghost." 

"H-How?" He quickly composed himself in front of his hopeful patrons. "Of course. Please, take your seats."

"Yes, we would be honored, if you would join us."

"We?" from the hallway behind the group came the Antarian Rangers. To their credit they weren't armed and appeared quite civil in their Rangers uniforms. Phi, the pantoran especially possessing an ambassador's poise. And walking up directly behind Senotho was the older clone trooper from the caves, his armor now polished and presentable as military decorum, he held himself proud like a soldier.

Just before all parties present began to sit down, Immanuel approached Layton and the Captain. "Uhhh Captain Jellico, this is . . ." he hesitated.

"Jedi Master Immanuel Senotho." He bowed at the hip before extending his hand. "An honor to meet you."

 

Edited by Steel Accord

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