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(44:3:13) FC Narrative 4: Meetings & Partings
-=Bridge of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, 44:3:05, 11:30 ship time=-
Several days after High Command had approved the creation of the Subterrel Strike Force, Fleet Commander Dave Trebonious-Astoris found himself conferring with his Logistics Officer, Brigadier General David Vaughan, on the status of repairs. The Strike Force could not depart for the Subterrel Sector until as many ships as possible were repaired and outfitted for a long campaign.
"Aside from the Redemption," Vaughan was saying, "repairs to the Resurrection II should probably have priority. That ship took a lot of damage in the attempt to break through the interdiction zone. It's like the Imperials wanted to gun for the Star Destroyers most, because the Ad Astra took comparatively little damage."
Dave nodded. "That seems reasonable to me. The Redemption, Ad Astra, and Resurrection II will after all be the core of the Subterrel Strike Force."
Vaughan made a notation on his datapad, "I think I have a little something special for you and the Greeop Defence Force, too." Dave arched an eyebrow. "As you know, the Strike cruisers Kayak and Blood Fang were destroyed in the battle," Vaughan continued. "They were literally blown apart - a fundamental flaw in the Strike cruiser design is the tendency to break apart at the place where the modules join together. Anyway, I think that enough of each cruiser survived to combine the remnants into a new Strike cruiser."
Dave smiled. "I like the sound of that."
Vaughan tilted his head in a slight nod, "That's low priority and probably won't get started until the Subterrel Strike Force departs, but I thought I'd mention it. By the way, where's Commodore Raven?"
Dave checked the time before responding. "I think Raven should be putting the finishing touches on the Hymn of Battle now."
Vaughan's face contorted a bit. "That's an Imperial gunship, is it not? Disabled and abandoned during the battle, floating around derelict now."
Dave nodded. "Yes, that is correct."
Vaughan went on "I haven't had the chance to say so yet, but I think we should just get rid of it. It's too damaged to be of much use and it's in the way."
Dave cracked a smile. Just then, his comlink beeped. "This is Raven. I'm done on the Hymn of Battle."
Dave gestured Vaughan over to the bridge viewport, "Shall we?"
As they stepped up and peered out, Dave replied on his comlink, "Proceed when ready, Raven." Out the viewport, a drifting sliver of gray metal in space exploded in a dazzlingly bright flash. In an instant, the gunship was engulfed in white-hot flames and completely incinerated. As the explosion died down, almost nothing remained - clearly a byproduct of the potent explosives used. Dave keyed his comlink again, "Well done, Raven."
Raven responded, "I take pride in my work." A huge grin was evident from the tone of his voice.
Vaughan blinked stupidly for a moment, and then a smile spread across his face. "That works."
-=Main Hangar, Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, 44:3:07, 16:15 ship time=-
Fleet Commander Dave Trebonious-Astoris stood on the deck of main hangar of the Redemption, with Admiral Rahj Tharen standing at his side. As the Minister of External Affairs, it was in Rahj's job description to assist with greeting dignitaries. While they waited for the shuttle to land, they talked. "So your small task group will be named the Greeop Defense Force, then?" Rahj was asking.
Dave gave a nod. "Yes. We have quite a job in front of us in convincing the people of these sectors that we will continue to defend their interests with only four capital ships."
"Well," Rahj continued, "I am happy to help however I can."
Dave smiled genuinely, allowing his military mask to drop just a bit as he often did when in familiar company. "I hope you will be helping a great deal. We will have to talk about it later, but for now suffice it to say that I hope it will be just like old times," he stated enigmatically.
Rahj managed to contain a smirk as he wondered internally which old times Dave was referring to. The two had served together in a variety of capacities over their years of service and each had held the office of Fleet Commander at one point in the past. He didn't have time to wonder for long. Dave's comlink beeped and the voice of Lieutenant Gosling announced that the shuttle was arriving. Looking up, Rahj could see that it was so. A Lambda-class shuttle was entering the hangar and being directed toward them. As it settled on the deck and its entryway dropped, the pair of admirals walked up to it to greet its occupant.
A Mon Calamari of medium build and gray skin tone stepped down the entryway, stopped in front of Dave, and offered a crisp salute. Dave returned the salute, announcing "Greetings, Colonel Marli, I am Dave Tre---"
The Mon Cal cut him off. "You are Trebonious-Astoris, Fleet Commander of the Republic Shield, yes. And this man here must be Admiral Tharen, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic Shield. As you say, I am Marli, aide de camp to Admiral Ackbar," he intoned in a gravelly voice.
Rahj shot Dave a look, but the latter simply nodded. "Welcome to the Greeop system, Colonel. I am sorry your visit could not have come under better circumstances."
Marli grunted. "The circumstances are all that is relevant in this situation, Admiral. I am here to assess the damage your fleet incurred and recommend appropriate measures of support to Admiral Ackbar."
Rahj gestured toward the exit to the hangar. "If the Colonel would like to see his temporary quarters for now..."
Marli emitted a strange gurgling sound, "Unnecessary. I wish to begin assessment immediately."
Rahj's face betrayed no emotion, but he again looked to Dave. The latter took up the conversation, "Certainly, Colonel. We will go to the Main War Room and I will introduce you to our Logistics Officer, Brigadier General David Vaughan, who will give you a full briefing. Later, I will take you on a tour of our facilities."
Marli nodded, "That is appropriate."
-=Main War Room, Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, 44:3:07, 16:48 ship time=-
"At this point in the battle, the Imperial forces withdrew, for reasons not entirely clear. We estimate that they had sustained around twenty-five percent casualties, so perhaps that was their limit on losses," Vaughan concluded as the main holographic display in the middle of the War Room came to an end of its recording of the Battle of Blerthmore.
Colonel Marli had watched the recording with rapt attention, studiously making notes on his datapad in accordance with Vaughan's narrative of the events. Marli swiveled an eye toward Dave. "And you, Admiral, you were injured in this attack?"
Internally, Dave stiffened at the question, but he maintained a cool indifference externally. "That is correct Colonel Marli, I was unconscious for some part of the attack. The Fleet Domed Command Complex on Blerthmore was severely damaged and is largely uninhabitable."
Marli turned toward Vaughan, addressing the next question to him, "How damaged?"
Vaughan replied, "Heavy structural damage, loss of main power, communications destroyed and vehicle garages completely collapsed. Estimated repair cost is three hundred million New Republic credits."
Marli made a note, then continued, "The damage is as much as your initial report stated if not more. I will require several weeks of direct examination to ascertain exact damage and compare it with your store of supplies and replacement parts. I will also require direct access to your files and unencumbered entrance to any facility and ship."
Dave nodded. "It will be done."
Rahj followed up. "Colonel Marli, you said several weeks. How long do you estimate you will be here?"
The Mon Calamari's face twitched as he thought. "At least fourteen standard days and perhaps as many as twenty-one, Admiral."
Rahj nodded, "We will change your room assignment to the Peril, then. The Redemption will only be in system for another week."
Marli gurgled, "Why?"
"We are sending the Redemption and sixteen other ships to the Subterrel Sector on a search and destroy mission," Dave answered.
Marli appeared thoughtful. "You are splitting your fleet. Chancy."
Dave nodded, "Yes, chancy. This is why we desperately need the New Republic to send us additional parts and supplies."
"Yes, that is becoming clear to me," Marli responded. "I will see these alleged quarters of mine now and will begin direct inspection of vessels and facilities tomorrow at 0600."
-=Planetary Governor's Mansion, New Morea City, Tarsonis, 44:3:09, 09:45 local time=-
"Admiral Astoris, it's a pleasure to see you again," Governor Voss Aluin smiled graciously at Dave. Aluin, an elegant woman in her mid-forties, was a refugee from Alderaan, president of the human, Mon Calamari and Quarren colonies on the planet Tarsonis, and therefore also the planetary governor. Her stately manner and fluid movements encapsulated the best qualities of the diplomatic corps of old Alderaan. She turned to her left slightly and offered her hand to Rahj, who was standing to Dave's side. "And Admiral Tharen, it has been some time since we last spoke," she reproved him with a gentle smile.
Rahj bowed stiffly over her proferred hand, "Too long, Madam President."
The three settled on couches in Aluin's waiting room. Dave shot Rahj a glance, indicating that he should open the discussion. It would be somewhat sensitive. "Madam President," Rahj began, "the Admiral and I are here to enlist your aid, to be quite frank."
Dave grimaced inwardly, thinking to himself, So much for sensitive.
Aluin arched an eyebrow in concern, "Is this in regard to the attack on Blerthmore last month? I was under the impression that the New Republic would be assisting your Republic Shield in getting back on its feet."
Dave nodded. They were under that impression too. But it had been two days since Colonel Marli had arrived to begin his inspections, and so far he had sent no report back to Admiral Ackbar agreeing with their request for aid. He hoped it was just a matter of time.
Dave took over the discussion. "Yes, Madam President, we expect aid from the New Republic. But it may be some time until it arrives here." He paused for effect, and then continued. "In the meantime, our forces are going to be somewhat understrength. I want you to know that I am sending the greater part of our fleet to the Subterrel Sector to seek out those who attacked us at Blerthmore."
Aluin's eyes narrowed. "How much of your fleet, Admiral?"
Dave looked her straight in the eye, unflinchingly. "All but four ships, which will remain here in Greeop under my command and will be christened the Greeop Defense Force."
Aluin nodded. "You are here to tell me that our defenses are about to get thin, then."
"Essentially. Madam President, the Rebel Squadrons is dedicated to the defense of the Greeop system and especially of the planet Tarsonis. We will never allow Tarsonis to be harassed or to become unsafe, but we may need to call on you for help from time to time. The future of the New Republic in this part of the Outer Rim may depend upon it," Dave concluded gravely.
Aluin pursed her lips together thoughtfully. The silence in the air was palpable. Aside from Dave, Rahj sat straight up, as if at attention. Finally, she focused her eyes on the two officers. "Tarsonis will of course stand by your Republic Shield, Admiral. We are a symbiotic organism, Tarsonis and the RS. One cannot survive without the other. You have our support. You may also consider the Tarsonis Defense Force at your command, as long as you do not move it outside of the Greeop system."
Dave smiled broadly. This was what he was hoping for. The TDF was not massive, but an Alderaanian War Cruiser along with a pair of B-Wing squadrons would make a useful addition to the defenses he could rely upon. Dave stood and bowed fluidly. "Thank you, Madam President. I and my fleet are in your debt, and hope to discharge it by the protection of the people of Tarsonis."
Aluin smiled at him. "Your form is excellent, Admiral. But I refuse to release you yet. You and Admiral Tharen must have tea with me before you depart..."
-=Main Conference Room, Victory II-class Star Destroyer Peril, 44:3:12, 14:30 ship time=-
Dave looked around the conference room, mentally taking attendance. He was seated at the head of the long conference table in the main conference room of his ship, the Peril. Arrayed around the table before him were his friends, comrades, and subordinates. Admiral Rahj Tharen sat at his right, followed by Vice Admiral Tyrell "Spokes" Borran and Fleet Admiral Rensal "Bigfoot" Darklighter. On his left were Brigadier General David Vaughan, Admiral Castor Efrata-Landis, and Lieutenant Rebekah Gosling. It was a full house.
Dave smiled. Setting aside his datapad, he leaned back in his chair. "Welcome, friends. You are all here because in the weeks and months to follow, I am going to be relying on you heavily. Most of you know what I am talking about because I have already discussed this with you, so a brief outline will suffice here. Tomorrow, the bulk of the RS fleet will depart from Greeop to seek out the Subterrel Sector and take vengeance on our foes who attacked us here at Blerthmore. Commodore Raven will command the strike force from the Star Destroyer Redemption. This will leave the Greeop Sector rather undefended. Tomorrow I will announce the creation of the Greeop Defense Force, of which I will be in command." Dave nodded to his right. "Admiral Tharen here will be my deputy. We will initially have under our control only four ships: the Peril, End of Days, Apostate, and Marauder. With these four ships, I will try to keep the peace not only in the Greeop system, but in all of the Cadrel Expanse, Binaural Sector, and whatever other outlying sectors rely on our assistance."
Dave paused. Around the table, heads were nodding. For most of them, this was not new information. Gosling's eyes looked a little wide, but Dave tried not to look her in the eye for more than a second at a time anyway. She probably wasn't used to sitting in a room filled with so many admirals. "I will be needing you all for one task or another, since High Command and most of the Executive Staff are going to Subterrel," Dave continued. "Admiral Efrata-Landis, for example, has agreed to reactivate the legendary Grey Squadron yet again, which will give us some much needed starfighter support."
Castor grinned knowingly at this, offering "My Master of the Tunnels once suggested that preparing for something almost required that something to happen in the future, so I'm sure we will see plenty of action."
Dave smiled back at Castor. "Whatever you say... sir." He continued quickly so that Castor could not protest. "General Vaughan will be in charge of keeping us supplied with parts and munitions, which will no doubt become difficult as we are sending most of our excess munitions with the Subterrel Strike Force." Vaughan nodded cautiously.
"Admirals Darklighter and Borran will be regional commanders. I will assign them to various planets, defense stations, or ships as need arises. They will need to be flexible and prepare to assume command wherever necessary."
Spokes and Bigfoot glanced at each other, then simultaneously tossed salutes at Dave.
Gosling, who seemed to have recovered by now, piped up. "Admiral, what can I do for you?"
Dave eyed her for a moment before responding. "Lieutenant Gosling is here to represent my support staff from the Command Dome. By tonight, all the essential personnel from the Command Dome who had a temporary living situation on the Redemption will be transferred here to the Peril, so that I do not lose them when the Subterrel Strike Force departs tomorrow. We will integrate them into the Peril's shift schedule as much as possible, but only Lieutenant Gosling will be taking over in the main day shift on the bridge as my communications' officer." Gosling was beaming by this point. "The Peril will be the center of operations for the GDF and indeed for all RS forces in the home sectors while the Command Dome is out of commission," Dave concluded.
"When can we expect to move back to the Command Dome?" Spokes asked.
Dave nodded to Vaughan, who had an answer prepared. "The Dome will be extremely expensive to repair. We simply can't afford it right now. It is unlikely we will be able to afford to repair it until the New Republic reinforces us. We're still waiting on Colonel Marli to finish his examination and make his report to Admiral Ackbar right now."
Dave cleared his throat. "In other words, the Command Dome will remain abandoned for the foreseeable future. Any other questions?" There were none, which made sense. The officers assembled were older and had extensive experience in the Rebel Squadrons. They had seen it all, knew the drill, and were ready to see it all again if necessary. Dave nodded. "Thank you for coming. I have assigned you all permanent quarters on the Peril for now. I look forward to working with you all in the weeks and months to come. You are dismissed."
As his friends filed out behind him, Dave remained for a moment, contemplating the empty conference room. He was nervous but also thrilled at the prospect of what lay before him. In some sense, he knew this would be the biggest command of his life. The RS and the territories it controlled would either prosper in the absence of the Subterrel Strike Force, or suffer, but either way it would not be dull. Control of the destiny of the sector was in his hands now, he was certain.
-=Bridge of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, 44:3:13, 07:08 ship time=-
Dave stood on the bridge of the Redemption with his Executive Officer, Commodore Michael Raven. The two were standing casually in front of the main viewport going over some last minute issues before the departure of the Subterrel Strike Force. The bridge crew had given them a wide berth, sensing that interruptions would not be welcome. Fleet Admiral Kaz Falcion was busy intimidating crewers in one of the crew pits. Raven was talking. "Repair teams managed to get the Starflare's hyperdrive working late last night, so it won't have to be left behind. The SSF is now completely ready to depart. I believe the ships are getting in formation now."
Dave nodded, contemplating the ships visible outside the viewport. He remained silent.
"Something else?" Raven prompted him.
Dave did not immediately respond. How do you brief somebody for a mission like this? What do I say? Dave shook his head to clear it. Still staring out the window, he began talking, slowly, but with increasing speed as he continued. "I cannot tell you what to expect when you get out there, Raven. I want you to stay in contact with me so that I can have occasional input on the situation. But most importantly, you are the commander of this strike force." Dave looked around them, then lowered his voice. "Tactical decisions are yours to make. Do not let anyone else make them for you. I am relying on you personally to be a commanding presence in this strike group."
Raven nodded knowingly. He had a pretty good idea what Dave was talking about.
"I think we're going to play fairly conservatively until I know what we're up against," Raven offered. That was somewhat misleading, as he would really prefer to act aggressively, but he didn't want to give Dave a heart attack. "But I of course reserve the right to blow up whatever I want." Raven figured adding that would cover him.
Dave smiled slightly. "Yes, I knew that would be part of the bargain. Very good." Dave straightened up, saluted, and then offered Raven his hand. As the two shook, he added "Fight hard, Commodore Raven. Recover the honor of our fleet."
Raven nodded gravely, beginning to respond equally as seriously. "Good luck, and go with confidence... Oh yeah, don't lose; I don't feel like mopping up another of your messes."
Dave snorted good-naturedly. "I have been cleaning up messes of people like you since before you were conceived."
"Yeah, remind me that you're old, way to build my trust in your judgment," Raven retorted.
Dave smiled crookedly at his Executive Officer, nodded, then turned and exited the bridge, quickly. It was time.
-=Bridge of the Victory II-class Star Destroyer Peril, 44:3:13, 07:30 ship time=-
The bridge of the Peril was very quiet. The officers on duty knew something important was about to happen. Dave stood tensely on the command walkway, flanked by Admiral Rahj Tharen and Commander Cyril Octavius. After parting with Raven, he had rushed over to the Peril. The mighty warship now hung suspended in space beside the Dreadnaught End of Days, and the two ships were presiding over a convoy of vessels passing by in front of them, perpendicular to their course. The Subterrel Strike Force was leaving the Greeop system.
Gosling called out from her station, "Admiral, I have Commodore Raven for you calling from the Redemption!"
Dave nodded. "Put him on the viewscreen."
Half of the main viewport materialized instantly into an image of Raven, standing at a bridge station of the Redemption. He looked serious but excited. "Admiral, all ships have reached their hyperspace entry positions and have courses plotted in. We leave on your mark... sir."
Dave straightened himself up to his full height. "Go with our good will, Commodore. You are hereby officially released to your mission." He saluted smartly.
A feral grin spread across Raven's face and he cut the transmission. Instantly, the seventeen ships of the strike force streaked off into hyperspace, one after another. After a few seconds, they were all gone.
The silence on the Peril's bridge was broken by Rahj. "May the Force be with them," he breathed, sounding resigned.
"May the Force be with us," Octavius amended. "We might need it before we are done here."
[Note: We are trying hard to provide fictional background for all these stories. There are several links on the wiki you should check out if you have not yet. FC Narrative provides background on this series of narratives. Battle of Blerthmore provides a brief summary of the devastating Battle of Blerthmore that started all this. Lastly, the framework of an Order of Battle of all our ships is on the wiki now at Order of Battle. So far only the Greeop Defense Force subcategory is filled out in full now. If you want to know more about the background to the RS-wide storyline, check out these pages and the links on them to other important wiki pages.]