Fire in the Skies – by Jenno the Soldier
From the dead of space burst forth another Sith fleet, their target was the conquest of Mon Calamari. This fleet was bigger than the last; reinforced by the ships at Korriban it was quite obvious that the Sith Empire was deadly serious about capturing and controlling the few Outer Rim shipyards. If the tactic of a feigned retreated worked then whoever thought it up would more than likely be able to expect their power within the Empire to be furthered.
The co-ordination and precision necessary for the fleet’s jump were highly sensitive factors to consider. But a successful close-range jump to the planet would grant the Sith Empire a very big advantage and could very well mean the difference between victory and defeat.
It was quite apparent to the Sith that they had hidden themselves and their intentions well, the Republic seemed completely unprepared for the attack. OF course, their fleet commanders were not wholly idiotic, there was still a defence force assembled but a number of ships had moved away from the original battle line in order to repair, resupply and to transport their injured and dead. This gave the Empire another advantage, however brief it might be. The exchange of fire between the scattering of ships began almost immediately after the Sith fleet slipped out of hyperspace at a dangerous proximity to the Republic defensive line. The Sith stuck with their predetermined plans whilst the Republic scrambled to recall all of its ships back to the line.
For the moment they had the advantage, although it wouldn’t be long until the Republic were organised and had the support from the main anti-ship artillery planet-side. But then, the Sith were prepared to counter that.
And so the true battle for Mon Calamari had begun…
Sith Empire: Vengence-Class Battleship, The Advocate
“Why aren’t the guns on our starboard firing, ensign?” Commander Jael Finn questioned as he compared the flashes from the left side of the view port to the seemingly lifeless guns on the right side of his newly assigned ship, The Advocate. The promotion had come rather quickly in Finn’s career, although he wasn’t sure if it was because he had been seen as talented or simply because there were so few people to command a ship. As he leaned upon some of the safety railings on his bridge, Finn placed his face a few centimetres away from the view screen and the abyss which threatened to swallow him and his crew whole. A few moments had passed and still no word upon the weapons system. A glance to his right, guns were dead, they were completely exposed on their starboard side. “Ensign!” he called again, following up the yell with a demand, “report!” He stared harshly at his nervous and sweaty-handed weapons officer. The new kid, obviously he’d never been part of a battle before. Great start, here they were in the middle of a battlefield and their only means of defending themselves currently looked like he was going to faint.
With nervous and twitching hands the weapons officer, Tul Graego, quickly scampered over a selection of different options on the console before him. He poured through menu after menu trying to find the source to their problems. “T-t-there’s a… a bug i-in the system, s-sir” he replied meekly, his own worried glance meeting with the commander’s cold glare for a few moments before he was forced to look away.
With a few brief quick steps Commander Finn was standing at Graego’s side, looking at the console he was rapidly moving through. “Well get rid of it Graego, we’re not much of a battleship if we can only fight half a battle. Just steady your hand, ignore the battle and remember your training.” Placing a hand upon his subordinate’s shoulder Finn squeezed a little bit, attempting to calm the man down. Finn was known by those who served under him for his ability to be kind and harsh in equal measure, sometimes it was hard to predict if he would bellow at you or take a kinder approach, usually whichever way he did it got the job done.
Taking a few deep breaths, Graego returned to scanning through his console, searching for the system area through a number of different means until he could locate it, isolate the bug and rectify the problem. Within a few moments all the weapons were online and firing away at the nearest Republic ships.
“Cheswick, move us back into formation,” Finn called out to another of his crew after giving Graego a small reassuring nod a short brown-hair woman seemed to move sharply in response to the order. “Gryyk, report on the situation” he said to pale green skinned twi’lek who wafted with precision and intent through two consoles, he was trying to gather information from the scanners and the reports from many other of the ships.
Gryyk had served with Finn a number of times and so he was able to respond quite smoothly, unlike his crewmate who manned the weapons system console. “Sir, it seems as though the left central forces are caught in a deadlock with the Republic forces. As for here on the right flank, our forces are having trouble breaking through, there are a number of potential gaps we might be able to go for soon but right now the Republic have enough ships to hold off any advances we might make.” After giving his report Gryyk returned to his consoles, fiddling slightly with a number of dials and buttons.
Having returned to his leaning post on the bridge, Commander Finn observed the approaching battlefield more intensely. Gryyk was right, as per usual, he could see a number of potential gaps, but even with their limited ships the Republic had filled the holes just enough to make an attempted advance suicidal. Whoever was commanding the opposing flank obviously knew what they were doing, this battle, even with their advantages, was not going to be an easy one. “Cheswick, move us into the thick of it, we’ll see if we can’t find a way to take them down. Graego, make sure all our weapons are operational; I think we’re going to need everything we’ve got. Prepare to co-ordinate fire on my command. I want damage reports from all of you, and if anyone’s calling for assistance, you let me know. I want to lose as few ships to this kriffing sith spawn as we possibly can.” The Advocate glided into the battle with the rest of the ships, guns blasting away at optimum capacity, they had taken their place amongst the tens of ships, amongst the thousands of soldiers who would each play a part in this battle. They would all have an opportunity to show their worth, but not everyone would take it up.
Galactic Republic: Solarii-Class Battleship, The Zephyr
With a crack-hiss the doors to the bridge opened and Captain Genna Shenari paced briskly onto the cool durasteel floor. “Captain on deck!” came the call from lieutenant Baker as he and the rest of those on board the command deck of The Zephyr. With a terse glare the cold-eyed, tight-lipped captain of this Republic battleship made her presence known to them all as many of the younger crewmates looked back with a mixture of apprehension and admiration.
“At ease” she said with a calm, clear and commanding voice. At those two words the bridge once again descended into a picture of chaos, men and women of various races scurried all over the place as the ship sat on the battle line, firing at the ship opposing them. Flashes of varying intensities would fill the view screens. With no visible expression of anxiety, or any real expression at all, Captain Shenari walked to her chair which was central to the bridge, a clear view to those working at her sides, behind her and down in front. After pressing a number of buttons on the controls provided on her chair, the Captain looked around and called out swiftly, “Lieutenant Baker, report!”
Handing over the datapad he’d been scrolling through, the tall and broad-shouldered Lieutenant Baker rushed to the Captain’s side before addressing his superior in the proper manner. “Sith forces returned ma’am, looks to be the same fleet as before but with some reinforcements throughout the line. Rear-Admiral Fral has been designated control of the left flank and for the moment he has ordered us to fire upon the enemy until a weakness can be spotted in their formation. Those ships that were being repaired are currently moving to join the battle group though it’s taking The Indomitable a while to get back to the line, they only just finished transporting their injured.” Baker finished sharply; he wasted no time relaying the necessary information.
Captain Shenari pondered for a moment, without the fighter support from The Indomitable they were exposed to smaller bomber and fighter squadrons and until the planet’s weapons were online and firing the fleet would likely be forced into a deadlock with the opposing forces, and then their lack of fighter support on the left flank would give their opponent’s a weakness to strike at. Peeling herself from her chair, Shenari walked to the view port and looked across the enemies’ forces, those cold piercing eyes slicing through the black of space, unfazed by the exchange of fire between the two sides. Her eyes settled on a number of ships before the very edges of her lips curled for a moment.
After ordering a report on the shields from an ensign, the Captain moved over to a glowing map of the battlefield, friendly blue dots lined up against the dark red, it seemed like they were outnumbered now. Gliding her finger across a number of units, she came to rest on one of the smaller red dots. “Krashik, see if you can’t get me a visual on this ship,” she said sternly, selecting the craft on the map. “And this one,” she followed again, selecting another craft. After doing so she moved over to Krashik and his station, where a number of screens were visible, on two of them were the close-up view of the ships she’d asked for. They confirmed what she had seen.
“Lieutenant Baker, get on the comm, I want you to contact Commander Trask of The Derelictor and Commander Cryysk of The Nexu, co-ordinate fire with them. Two targets, first, enemy Hornet-Class frigate, co-ordinates 3401, 1253, 762. Second target, Hawk-Class destroyer, co-ordinates 3385, 1196, 757. Only shift to the second target once we can confirm the first has been eliminated.” Sheanri gave her order and the co-ordinates with confidence. It seemed as though the Sith had used what time they could to repair the ships from the previous battle, but even she could see the signs of battle on them. Whilst taking such aggressive action was a bold move given their situation, she knew that if they didn’t act first then they would fall completely into the Sith’s hands, they had to ‘cause as much damage as they could until planet defence system was active and until The Indomitable could get to them with support.
After a few moments had passed the Lieutenant spoke up, “Captain, both the The Derelictor and [/i]The Nexu[/i] are locked on and standing by for your order to fire, we also have a number of other ships looking to link up with us.” A number of others had overheard the comm chatter and saw the opportunity to strike, but the Captain’s disapproval came quickly.
“Tell them to concentrate on keeping away any fighter and bomber squadrons and if they can, tell them to make their squadrons pressure the enemy fighters, if we can push them back that should give The Indomitable enough time to get to us.” Waiting a few moments to allow Baker enough time to relay those orders she once again spoke out, her cold ice blue eyes matched only in ferocity by her biting voice. “Give the order to fire on my command. Lock onto the first target, prepare to fire… fire!” She called out and at that word those on the bridge began to perform their tasks with a doubled haste. Large and lethal torrents of fire rained down upon the Sith fleet and the unsuspecting ships who had gained the attention of Genna Shenari, Captain of the Solarii-Class battleship, The Zephyr.
Sith Empire: Screamer Strike Fighter Squadron, Onyx Squadron
“Listen up Onyx!” Commander Kaeel called out to the eleven gathered heads; they quietened down and snapped to attention as he paced in front of them, helmet secure held against his body. “We sat the last round out because the Rear-Admiral didn’t want to put us into play too soon and burn us out. But looks like things are getting tough out there, most of the other squadrons have been deployed and it looks like we’re finally getting our turn. Orders as they stand are to assist the offence with the rest of the fighters from the right flank. Looks like the enemy’s not got all the fighter support we anticipated, it’s a weakness, and we’ve got to help exploit it. To your ships, we lift off in two.” Giving a salute, Kaeel and his squadron rushed to their ships, clambered aboard and began the lift-off sequence whilst they fastened their helmets in place. His fighter’s engines roared to life as his ship took off.
Commander Jraal S. Kaeel believed in leading by example and as such he always flew at the head of his squadron. As his ship took off, another eleven near identical fighters followed him. And finally Onyx squadron left the hanger of the Centurion-Class cruiser and entered the battlefield. As he observed the optical readout displayed to his left and as he looked out into the thick of space with his own eyes, he could see that the right flank was fairing well, there weren’t many of the enemy’s fighter groups around the Sith side of the line, but the Republic’s lines were swarming with Sith and Republic fighters. It didn’t seem like the majority of the bomber squadrons had been dispatched yet however.
After eleven pings to one side alerted Kaeel to his squadron reporting in all systems clear, it was time for them to really start getting into some action. “Alright squad, set markers for The Judgement, I want O-7 to O-12 to head below whilst the rest of you form a line on me, I want a wide berth, we’re gonna sweep this baby clean of those vultures.” He turned his attention to his controls as his squadron obediently followed his orders. As they descended upon The Judgement, an Infernal-Class heavy cruiser, Kaeel could see how the two Aurek squadrons festered over the ship. There were no Sith fighters about, leading Kaeel to believe that they’d either been destroyed or that they’d abandoned the defence in order to join the assault. In truth he hoped for the first, or it meant that the Sith was plagued by idiots who didn’t understand the importance of defence. True the fighters were small, but they could still cause some damage which was better to be avoided.
It took little trouble for Onyx Squadron to clear out the Aurek fighters, simple fighter squadrons were no use to his highly-trained team, they shattered under the unrelenting ability of the strike fighter pilots, leaving the space around The Judgement a whole lot clearer.
“How you doing back there newbie?” Kaeel said into his comm as the squadron formed up on him once again. His hands were comfortable with the ship’s controls, everything seemed to come to him naturally now, communications, tactical readouts, squad status reports, he was able to cut down on any wasted time and get straight on with the mission, to focus on leading the team and completing their objective, which was where he now directed the squadron towards. A cluster of fighters battled furiously, weaving between ships in order to use all the cover they could.
“I-I’m doing fine Commander,” came the reply from the female zabrak Kaleia Thol, pilot of fighter designation O-12 and the squadron’s newest recruit. She was good, she had to be in order to make it to Kaeel’s team, but she hadn’t seen any real battle before. Tests and simulations were all good for practicing, learning the basics and keeping in decent form but being in an actual battle was a completely different feeling, and one the simulators couldn’t prepare you for. One wrong move, wrong small slip-up and that was it, fireworks and explosions, game over. She was new to Onyx, and Kaeel would try his hardest to make sure she saw it through this battle and the many more that were likely to come.
With the crackle of the communicator, another voice came blustering through, “are you kidding me Thol? Commander, you should have seen her, she shot down those Aurek’s faster than I could blink, like a true Black Bird.” It was Fal Dorrak, the quick-witted nautolan with his warm-hearted nickname for the squadron. He was almost as fast with his tongue as he was with his ship. He had talent, that was obvious, although his accuracy could do with some improvement.
Another crackle stuttered though. “Yea, but Fal you don’t blink” came Irana’s cold comment from O-3, she was one of the best in the squadron, just never seemed to be too happy. She liked to beat down on Fal a lot, it was true he could get annoying but sometimes Kaeel found him amusing. However he did seem to favour Irana as the source of his persistent tongue battery.
“I was being ironical Ice Queen, using one of those ‘sayings’ you humans like so much.” He paused for a moment, no doubt smiling as he responded. “Here’s a good comparison then, O-12 back there took down those Aurek’s faster than Irana could.” Kaeel could just about see Irana’s frustrated expression, she never liked to have her skill questioned or undermined, especially not by Fal.
In order to maintain a focus on the battle, Kaeel stepped in to stop things from escalating. “Alright cut the chatter, we’re approaching the Republic battle group. I want a loose formation, we’re going to tear these fighters apart, rip them to shreds, I want quick sharp sweeps, if you see anyone with a fighter on their tail, you say so, and if you can you get rid of their problem. Now those guys back there were just a little warm up, keep your focus and make sure that nothing-” Kaeel was in the middle of speaking when Irana cut in.
“Commander, Sir, report from The Advocate, it says that The has been destroyed by a co-ordinated strike.” Irana’s voice was brisk and devoid of any lingering emotion she may have held moments earlier from her little bout with Fal.
Kaeel frowned; a co-ordinated strike meant bad news, more than likely the Republic was exploiting a weakness. As he looked over the battlefield the pilot spotted something out of the corner of his eye, enemy fighters moving directly for the Sith line, many of those engaged in dog fights had even pulled out, it seemed like the Republic was launching an offensive. “Alright Onyx, looks like Republic forces are moving to the offensive, moving intercept at sector 7G, follow my lead and give them hell.” After a flurry of confirmations from the squadron, Kaeel moved the ship around in an arc and moved full-sped towards the advancing Republic forces, when they were in range he, and the rest of Onyx Squadron, opened fire on the Aurek’s, their battle had just begun.
Galactic Republic: Solarii-Class Battleship, The Zephyr
Lieutenant Thole Baker arched his hands over the controls, accepting the incoming transmission reports. His ears fell deaf to the incessant scuttling of the men and women on board The Zephyr, over the years he’d gained the ability to focus in any situation. The anxiety which seeped from the pours of every new crew member on the bridge went unnoticed by him, even the lethal bursts of laser fire that flashed across the view port were seemingly unimportant as the report shuffled through. Although there had been a sense of accomplishment amongst the crew, the transmission from both The Derelictor and The Nexu confirmed their suspicions.
“Captain,” Baker called, snapping out of his trance, “target one has been confirmed destroyed.” As the Captain looked at him he met her fierce ice-cold gaze which caused so many of his colleagues to divert their glance. He had worked with Captain Shenari for several years now, in fact for almost all of his military career. She was a hard woman, and praise was hard to come by, but the Lieutenant had respected her ever since he had been assigned to her crew. She had been a Commander back then, and similarly to now she was stationed on the Outer Rim, their numerous endeavours against bands of space pirates had led to her promotion only a couple of years ago. And he, a hard-working and devoted officer stood by her side throughout all of it. He was twenty eight now, well on his way to one day being in command of his own ship, his own crew. And he would seek to learn from Captain Shenari’s ways.
It was because of the time they had spent working together that he was able to hold her stare and not cower under it like he had at first. He was well over six foot, more than a head taller than the Captain, and far broader, but even then he had turned to putty under the power of her piercing eyes. “All hands switch priority targets to target designation two, lock on and prepare to fire on my command. Relay priority switch to the Commander Trask and Cryysk, Lieutenant.” Her voice was stern, little joy in it from the destruction of their first target; she would not relent until the battle was theirs, that was her way.
He had begun even before she had ordered him to, his mind and body were accustomed to her patterns. Whilst there was still an unpredictable side to her, he was mostly able to predict her responses and orders. With the Hornet-Class frigate taken care of there was just the Haw-Class destroyer to contend with, the craft wasn’t much different from the one they’d just destroyed, but it would quickly become clear to them that the shields were tougher on priority target two. After relaying the order, it took only a few moments for confirmation to return to the Lieutenant who immediately informed the Captain. “Fire!” she ordered once again and the Solarii-Class battleship began its assault, quickly assisted by the two other craft currently submitting to Shenari’s command.
With the barrage of battery canons underway, Baker pulled forth a few more reports from the selection popping up all over the place. “Captain, there are reports that fighter squadrons are attempting to push the Sith back to their own lines but they’ve met heavy resistance, it’s uncertain if they’ll be able to last if The Indomitabledoesn’t get into position soon.” Their fighters weren’t going to be able to last much longer, if the carrier couldn’t get to a position where it could begin deploying the craft on board then the Sith would have an advantage. The Captain remained silent at his report, she could have no real influence on that aspect of the battle, they truly were dependent on the arrival of The Indomitable.
A red flashing light alerted the Lieutenant to an important message, displaying it on the console screen he read it over a few times just to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. “Captain,” he spoke out again, this time with a more serious tone, “the planetary guns are online and Rear-Admiral Fral is assigning one of them to us in order to assist with our strikes.” He readied for the Captain’s words, hands resting steadily above the interface controls.
She found it hard to keep her composure. Observing the assault on the enemy destroyer was taking longer than she’d hoped and when Baker spoke of the planetary guns, a smile tried to peek through. “Alright Lieutenant, co-ordinate fire, lock on to the same target as our own” Shenari said calmly. “This should help us take them down quicker” fluttered through her mind as she stood and observed the men and women before her who obediently got on with their work.
A bright flash and shaking caught everyone on board by surprise, Captain Shenari was nearly thrown to her knees, but had managed to grab onto the railing just in time. She flicked her head towards one of the ensigns, who had just about managed to stop himself from falling at was now rushing through the console before him. “Status report!” Shenari demanded, something had hit them; she wanted to know what, and how hard.
“Enemy artillery ship has locked onto us ma’am,” came the shake voice of the ensign, “that and a number of other enemy ships, shields have taken some minor damage.” He sounded worried, and for a moment so was Shenari. The enemy must have been keen eyed to have spotted that The Zephyr was the one co-ordinating the attacks on the ships, and now they’d gained the attention of a whole assortment of ships. Their ship was finally being put to the test. But with the planetary guns for extra fire power and The Indomitable approaching the Sith forces would be done for. It was just a matter of time, and they would have to hold on until then. She stood up straight, proud and tall like a true officer of the Galactic Republic and handed out the orders to her crew as they stared down the assaulting waves of enemy fire.
Sith Empire: Vengeance-Class Battleship, The Advocate
The crew of The Advocate had been pushing themselves and their ship ever since they had joined the battle. Their Command was kind to all those stationed on the bridge and on the ship but he didn’t save even a lick of mercy for his enemies. Nothing noteworthy happened for a time as the ships slowly ebbed away at the shields of their opponents. However, a bright flash bloomed next to the ship and brought about a moment’s panic. “Gryyk!” Commander Finn called as his eyes steadily cam back into focus.
“Yes Sir!” cam the reply from the twi’lek as he scanned through report after report until he found what he was searching for. An understanding had formed between many of the crew and their Commander now, most had not worked with Finn much but already they were slowly being moulded into a strong and able team. “It’s The Pinnacle sir,” Gryyk paused for a moment as he scanned the report once more, silently wishing that it was a lie, “she’s gone Commander, nothing left of her.” When Finn met eyes with the officer he could see the dismay set within them, they had been right next to The Pinnacle, perhaps Gryyk thought that it was merely chance that they had not been targeted instead.
But no, the amount of concentrated fire led Finn to believe that there was a very specific goal. After all, for three ships, one of which was a large battleship, to focus on such a small vessel seemed peculiar, unless there was some sort of weakness. He gazed across the rotten debris which sauntered through the dead of space until his eyes met the Solarii-Class battleship, one of the three ship which he had seen firing upon The Pinnacle, it was no doubt the largest of the three but that didn’t necessarily mean it was the brains. But as his eyes relaxed and observed the battle line from afar, all three ships fired again and then he saw it clearly, the battleship had fired first, before the other two. Whilst orders could be relayed quickly there was still a delay, meaning that the one directing them was most likely coming from within that battleship. He followed the hell blaze set upon the Sith lines until he saw their target, it was a Hawk-Class destroyer called The Byron. Finn didn’t know why they had been targeted and truthfully he didn’t need to know, all he had to be aware of was where the orders were coming from, then he could counter whatever it was they were going to try and do.
“Gryyk,” the Commander began, turning swiftly to face the man, “I want you to contact Captain Turok of The Oppressor, tell him that the Solarii-Class battleship on this side of the line seems to heading a few concentrated attacks, like the one that took out The Pinnacle. Ask him if he can’t muster up some ships to launch some sort of counter, if we can take down that ship it might leave them a little bit confused. And if not, well, it will at least prevent their precision strikes for a little while.” His fingers rolled over his chin and he only just realised the stubble that had formed there. In the event that they survived this ordeal and weren’t consumed in a blazing ball of flame then he’d need a shave.
With a flickering of lights in the distance, Finn was drawn out of his thoughts and back into the depths of space as he watched a volley fire from the planet’s guns, one of which focused on The Byron. He suspected the ship wouldn’t be far from the end soon, Captain Turok had to take this opportunity, otherwise they’d just be playing right into the Republic’s hands and that he would not have. Then came the green light from Gryyk, the Captain had ordered the attack and they were to be part of it. Following his role as commanding officer diligently Finn confidently ordered his crew to lock onto their target, prepare to fire and, upon the Captain’s orders, fire.
Their counter strike began. He prayed to whatever divinity he could that the reason the planet’s guns were firing was because the strike teams had not yet reached their destination, if it was because they had failed then this could be the beginning of their end. As the canon fire raged on Commander Finn could only watch and wait with gritted teeth for that higher power to deliver them a miracle.