Rebel Squadrons

Hammerfall: Operation Dented Shield Fiction (April-May 2015 ITOD)

By FA Cyrel Vandroth
Unit: The Rebel Squadrons
Narrative, Apr 03, 2015
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Galactic Date 50:04:09
-=New Moria City, Tarsonis=-

“And so, without further ado, and with great pride, allow me the honor of presenting to you the Fleet Commander of Task Force Republic Shield, Commodore - excuse me - Rear Admiral Lamin Zykara!”. With a wry smile and a melodious voice befitting a career politician, President Voss Aluin of Tarsonis relinquished the podium to polite applause as Zykara took the podium. From her vendor cart near the back of the crowd, Joss Andeen could just barely make out the form of the Fleet Commander. Still, it was the closest she’d ever gotten to someone so highly ranked among the ubiquitous RS personnel that provided protection to Tarsonis, the Greeop and Aurora Sectors at large, as well as the Cadrel Expanse.

It was rare for the civilian and military governments of Tarsonis to cross paths in such a public manner, but Zykara was accepting the recent promotion to Rear Admiral conferred on him by RS High Command, and in light of recent, escalating piratical activity in the Expanse, it seemed reassuring to Joss to see the Fleet Commander out and visible in the community. Joss couldn’t make out the FC’s opening remarks, and then there was a run of customers at her small stand. By the time she returned her attention to the speech, she only managed to catch the end, some closing remarks about the state of the fleet being strong and humble thanks for his promotion.

That reassured feeling didn’t last long for Joss - several hours later, she woke to the echoes of emergency response sirens in the early morning hours. Blinking sleepily, she reached for the remote that turned on her holoscreen and started flipping through news channels. “...whereabouts unknown.” …”series of explosions…” “ critical condition.” Her jaw dropped as reports continued to come in, flashing through various channels with the urgency demanded of a round-the-clock news cycle. “Pirates? Terrorists? Imperial sympathizers…?” questioned one pundit. “Extremists!” bellowed another.

Contemporaneously, several light-years away from the bedroom of Joss Andeen, or perhaps only a few kilometers, in an undisclosed location, Admiral Joshua Hawkins, Director of Fleet Intelligence seethed at the rows of holo-monitors that made up the walls of his office. “Colonel Jeffords, that reception site was supposed to be a SECURE location!”, Hawkins’ voice rose to a near manic pitch as he berated the tiny holofigure in front of him. “My orders specified it be triple checked - why ELSE would we have had the FC and XO in the SAME place, at the same damn time!?” The miniscule figure of Colonel Jeffords, half of his face bandaged, presumably onsite at New Moria stammered ineffectually back at his commanding officer. “RHETORICAL QUESTION, COLONEL!”, the Director roared back, before abruptly terminating the conversation with a vicious swipe of his hand. The augmented reality overlays in Admiral Hawkins’ videodrome allowed him to simultaneously access, manipulate and sort a plethora of incoming information across the full spectrum of operatives, sources, and informants at his disposal, as well as summaries of electronic monitors of fleet assets and civilian wiretaps.

With a flick of a wrist, Hawkins began flipping through a census of deep cover assets - intelligence operatives whose personal lives, service records and almost their very existence, had been wiped clean and buried so deeply that only Josh and a very limited number of his inner circle had access to them. He paged through codenames until he found the file he wanted. “Doc.” Admiral Hawkins pursed his lips and thought to himself for a second. “Doc.” He repeated the name again, as if trying it on for size. “Sacred Sith scrotums. That could actually work…” He sat, tranquil and still for a moment, and then screens in his office began rapidly lighting up, displaying various files that spooled out information on the asset codenamed “Doc”.

Approximately seven and a half hours later, Admiral Joshua Hawkins stood in front of an emergency session of Rebel Squadrons’ High Command. For some of the newer members of High Command, this was the first time they’d ever seen the Director in person, or even his face. Amongst the rank and file of Task Force Republic Shield, Admiral Hawkins was almost a rumor, a boogeyman that non-commissioned officers spun tales of to frighten subordinates. Even veteran flag officers were wary in his presence, unsure of which savory details of their personal lives Director Hawkins may be privy to.

“The facts, gentlebeings, are these…”, Director Hawkins spoke, calmly, but clearly, the words dripping with an icy tone. “The secure reception site booked for the celebration of Admiral Zykara’s promotion was breached, booby trapped, and ultimately, razed nearly to the ground by widescale explosions in what we are confident was an assassination attempt on the life of the sitting Fleet Commander. Admiral Zykara’s condition is...tenuous, at best. He’s been placed into a medically induced coma. Admiral Lommax was medevaced from Tarsonis General to Mon Mothma Memorial Medcenter on Coruscant less than three hours ago. His condition is critical, but the prognosis is good for his survival - with the proper care and plenty of recovery time. Neither the sitting FC or the XO is capable of resuming their duties at any time in the near or foreseeable future. The entirety of the Fleet Commander’s Honor Guard is presumed KIA and we don’t have an estimation of civilian casualties as we’re still, quite literally, sorting through body parts and rubble.”

Various gasps and mutterings escaped from the members of the governing body of Task Force Republic Shield as Director Hawkins continued to speak. “Pursuant to the line of succession proceedings, and absent a Fleet’s second officer, I’m enacting an immediate special election and have taken the liberty of screening nominees already. Based on reports from both the Operations and Logistics Officers as well as my own Fleet readiness metrics, I can only propose one candidate whose background and experience are suited to this position.” Behind him, the double doors leading into the conference room whooshed open and a tall, seemingly middle aged man wearing an Admiral’s uniform strode in, somewhat tentatively.

“Admiral Cyrel Vandroth served with distinction in campaigns in the Greeop Sector during his time with commando units in both the regular infantry and special operations with the Allegiance Battle Group. Several years ago, at my behest, he ‘defected’ to Remnant forces and spent time as a mole, in the deepest of my deep cover operations. The information he was able to secure, while still classified, provided vital insights that helped shorten conflicts and advance our cause. With the approximate due respect, he is my selected nominee for the office of Fleet Commander.” Director Hawkins looked to meet the eyes of each voting member of High Command before concluding his report. “Of course, this is a pseudo-democracy and you’d certainly be well within your rights to search for your own nominees, and I would never presume to influence one way or another how a voting member of this body should act - however, I would strongly urge each and every one of you to do some deep, personal soul searching as you consider Admiral Vandroth as a nominee. Think about your families, your friends, and the timeliness in which this decision needs to be made. Think about your futures, and the futures of those you love, and all the very, very hard work I’ve done in the last handful of hours hand selecting a candidate for you to confirm. And then vote.”

Approximately 27 minutes later, a communique to flag officers on command ships all over RS space came ticking across secure channels: RSHC CONFIRMS ADM VANDROTH CYREL FLEET COMMANDER...UNANIMOUS VOTE...STANDBY FOR COMMAND CODE REFRESH FROM RS INTEL OPERATIONS...ALL FLEET ELEMENTS SUBMIT FULL READINESS REPORTS AND REMAIN ON ALERT...

Galactic Date 50:04:09
-=Deep in the Aurora Nebula=-

Flight Instructor Keller banked his T-65B X-wing to port, coming around toward the next navigation bouy on their patrol. A grizzled veteran of the Battle of Blerthmore and a dozen other conflicts, he had transferred to the Academy to bring up the Task Force’s next generation of starfighter pilots and had been attached to the Patriot Battle Group, stationed in the Aurora sector. The sector was perfect for grooming new pilots, with a myriad of natural and artificial hazards that were just dangerous enough to test the mettle of pilots that were almost ready to graduate from the academy. This particular area of space was chock full of debris from a pitched battle during the Aurora Campaign, and had been converted into a small proving ground for trainees.

An XQ6 station and one of the Task Force’s long range communication beacons stood watch over the area as he guided the trainees through the ‘dry run’ of the debris field. The entire area was saturated with radiation from various hulks that hadn’t been cleared out, their damaged reactors left to float in space for eternity, so sensors were virtually useless. Forcing pilots to rely on their sight in the event of jamming or damage was one of the lessons to be learned here today, that, and avoiding debris at high speeds. He glanced to his side, watching as one of his Cadets deftly avoided a spinning TIE solar panel, and queued up his COMM.

“Echo Three, relax. You’re a bit tight on your stick,” Keller said, noting the way the trainee’s Z-95 jerked about.

“Yes sir, just a bit nervous out here.” Keller struggled to put a name to the voice -- there were only a few memorable pilots in the training squad. He lamented the old days, where the pilots were people like Lucas Benoit-Stark or Patrick Blastfire would dance around in their starfighters. Now, they were churning pilots out of the academy who had seemingly just learned to tie their shoes. It was maddening.

“One, uh, this is Six. I’m getting some weird readings.” His COMM crackled as the pilot spoke, a bit of interference coming through.

“It’s just the radiation, Six.” Keller answered without hesitation.

“Are you sure sir? It doesn’t look like anything I’ve been seeing since we got here.”

Keller sighed, and toggled his COMM to respond again, when his eye caught his own sensor console -- he saw it too. A large reading, powerful enough to break through the interference, and closing quickly. As soon as he noticed it, a bright flash of light announced a ship emerging from hyperspace. Their sensors had just barely caught it before it made reversion, and when the light faded, they found themselves looking into the face of a Victory-class Star Destroyer. Contrary to the normal designs for these ships, it seemed to be bristling with antennae and sensor domes. Keller had only a moment to contemplate what this meant before his training caught up to him.

“Squad! Get ou--” Static erupted in his headset. It was loud enough that he wrenched his entire helmet off his head to stop the noise, and his sensor console immediately went black. As close as the Destroyer had jumped, he could already see TIE fighters launching from its hangar. Cursing, he threw the throttle assembly forward, banking around to retreat toward the station.

“Jackie!” He yelled, referring to his astromech. “Plot a course to get us the hell out of here, and try to relay that to the trainees!”

A series of beeps and whistles told him that the droid had already been working on it. Jackie had a tremendous sense of self preservation, almost a bit too much, Keller thought. Another series of flashes made his eyes widen as a trio of Kuat-class Escort Carriers surrounded by support ships and convoy craft tore from hyperspace nearly on top of the XQ6 station and the communication relay. Almost immediately, stormtrooper transports raced from the Escort Carriers, moving to disable and capture both the station that had been his temporary home these past few days, and the array itself.

“The hell is going on?!” He jerked his flight yolk to avoid a barrage of laser cannon fire directed at him from the first flight of TIEs to leave the Victory’s hangar. He dove under the shattered hulk of a long dormant Carrack-class cruiser, and returned fire at the second flight of TIEs already seeking to kill his squad mates. He gritted his teeth when one of his blasts struck the support strut between the TIE’s body and solar panel, blowing it clear off and sending the TIE careening off course. It didn’t destroy the TIE, but at least it wouldn’t be fighting.

Seconds ticked away like minutes as he found himself harassed by the TIE Fighters, which seemed to be picking away at his squadron -- a few of them were screaming away from the battlefield at full engine power, but most had been caught completely off guard by the Imperial attack, and were fighting for their lives. Keller pulled back on his flight yolk to come around and help them, but abruptly found that no matter what he did, the X-wing wouldn’t move. A series of laser blasts peppered his shields, knocking them to a dangerous dark amber color on his HUD. Checking quickly, Keller found his X-wing locked into a course -- his S-foils had closed, and the hyperdrive was activating.

“Jackie! What the hell are you doing?!” He yelled, as the nebula elongated for a few moments, and the ship lept into hyperspace. Before he had a chance to berate the droid, the small display that translated his companion’s noises into basic was filled with information.

“Oh.” He trailed off. “So I got away.” Keller sighed, rubbing his head. “Thanks, Jackie. I guess I won’t melt you down for hijacking my ship.”

Three Hours Later
-=Primary Conference Room of the Prometheus II=-

“From what we can gather, what we’re seeing is a massive Imperial invasion across the Aurora Sector. Reports are sporadic, as our outer defenses have fallen quickly, it’s only through random escapees such as Flight Instructor Keller that we even know as much as we do. Aurora is being hit by a fleet that eclipses what we saw at the Battle of Blerthmore, and I’ve ordered all forward outposts to be abandoned so that we can concentrate our efforts where we have planetary defenses or heavy platforms established. All forces are on combat alert, and we’re beginning the process of preemptively setting up refugee camps for what will most likely be an exodus as this fleet advances. They’re coming at us hard.” Admiral Tyrell Borran rubbed his eyes before blinking a few times, looking at the various holograms arrayed around the table. Admiral Hawkin’s hologram spoke first.

“Makes sense. Assassinate, or at least try to assassinate the leadership, immediately follow it up to try to take advantage of the chaos. They’re hitting Cadrel too, Colonel Veld reports that they’re using primarily strike craft to probe Cadrel’s significant defenses. I’m deploying assets to assist in figuring out exactly what we’re up against.”

“We just got nailed.” Sienn Sconn spoke next, the person of responsibility for the Allegiance Battle Group’s naval assets. “Huge battle, most of the fleet was destroyed, but we did a lot more damage than expected. The Goldstar has been destroyed, as has our Victory destroyer and most of the support ships and fighters. We’ll need --”

He was abruptly cut off by a figure speaking in a distorted voice, his own holographic image shrouded, it was just the silhouette of a man.

“Logistics has freed up one hundred million credits to be transferred immediately for the reconstruction of the Allegiance Battle Group fleet. It’s the best we can do.” Admiral Borran had no idea why the LO constantly decided to be secretive of his identity, but he had no time to worry about that now.

Sconn thought about this for a moment, before nodding. “That’ll have to do for now.”

“Gotta stop tha bleed’n before we worry about reattach’n tha arm.” The voice, belonging to the newest RS Fleet Commander, Cyrel Vandroth, filled the room.

“Withdrawlin’ is tha right move, Admiral. Borran.” Cyrel added the ‘Borran’ as an afterthought. His most recent assignment had drilled simply calling someone the ‘Admiral’ into his head far too much for his liking. That would be a hard habit to break. “Pay attention to tha civilian centers. We don’ want ta forget them. Admiral Falcion and part of the Greeop fleet, including tha Redemption, are ta deploy to tha Aurora border in case they’re needed. I want the whole fleet ready ta respond ta anythin’, no more dwaddlin’.”

He waited for a moment, looking around the room, before taking a breath. “An’ get Zealot over to Cadrel. I wan’ them to supplement yer assets. Find out what we’re dealin’ wit. Finally, I wan’ a plan ta keep our fighter yards producing reinforcements and replacements. Let’s get a head start on a program ta keep our fighter levels up.”

“It will be done.” The Logistics Officer nodded.

“Yeh have yer orders. Get working, yer dismissed.” The holograms cut out, one by one. Eventually Spokes was left alone in his office. He let out a breath, toggling his intercom.

“Admiral Borran to the bridge… Full combat alert.”


FA Michael Raven
FA Sienn "The Rot" Sconn


FA Joshua Hawkins - Fri Apr 03 2015, 5:40pm
I could get used to Director Hawkins. :D
BGN Hermus Dogan - Sat Apr 04 2015, 12:25am
Sounds like just your style, too.