Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Jakob Durant, Christopher Levy, and J. Kate Stasiak.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:F2:2) in the Ralltiir system: Tenacity.
Ensign Ander, Ensign Ariella, Ensign Ducan, Commander Tristan Krauss, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, and Captain Rhiannon T'Jarell.

Rhiannon T'Jarell stared at the computer screen, momentarily tapping away at the keyboard adjacent to the main console. The terms that came up were familiar and then not; the Hapan had not traveled to any of the worlds that were mentioned and yet she knew *of* them: Corulag, Chandrila, Brentaal, Esseles, Rhinnal and Ralltiir. All of them worlds close to the Ringali Nebula ... a nebula that curled around the Perlemian Trade Route at its intersection with the Hydian Way. Her new mission since being posted to Grand Moff Rodney's entourage.

And the Rebel Alliance was near.

She could smell it. Rhia needed no verification of such things ... not yet ... it was enough that her gut was speaking volumes. A sudden wave of nausea overcame her, and she felt it was time for her to take a break ... at least until Claudius contacted her. Well, His Excellency was taking his sweet time. Good. Rhia would take some time to 'relax' with her crew. Pushing away from her desk, the Hapan stood tall, then tapped a key to secure computer access before walking towards the ready room door and stepping through it the moment it fell away, granting her passage.

"Captain on the bridge!" an alarmed voice resounded.

Rhiannon ignored it and walked down the catwalk to the nearest turbolift. There was no need to alarm her crew just yet ... even though they had no idea what they were walking into. The Hapan felt it was best this way ... seasoned warriors, being tossed into the ocean of improvisation ... it would make them think on their toes, rendering them vastly superior to textbook-reared troops. Pressing a button, she activated the door which immediately granted her access. It would take moments to descend to the hangar-bay deck, from which she would proceed to the training bay.

Walking in, she saw three people already within, her first officer among them. A small, sly grin curled her lips as she approached the small group and the moment they saw her, they paused in their tracks and stood upright, as if awaiting orders. Rhia liked this. The discipline among her crew was second to none. So was their penchant for ... fun.

"Today we will learn to attack a man's most vulnerable areas. Do you know what those are?" she asked, causing everyone to freeze and think for a moment.

What am I doing? I should be on the bridge, waiting for the Grand Moff's transmission...

Ducan, Ander and Ariella exchanged uncertain glances. Poor ensigns. They were about to get a lesson of their lives. Or ... maybe they would surprise her.

"The heart?" suggested Ander.

"The heart is vulnerable if you pierce it with a weapon," agreed Rhiannon, breaking away from her former train of thought. "But I mean places you can attack without a weapon, which can effectively disable a man."

"The eyes," said Ducan.

"Right." Rhia proceeded to demonstrate on Tristan, who had remained silent and near-invisible up to this point. "Grab your opponent's head, like so, and sink your thumbs deep into his eyes until he screams. While he is blind, smash your forehead into his nose, breaking it, then immediately raise your knee and crush his balls, sending him to the ground. The trick is to inflict each injury in rapid succession, before he has a chance to recover. Once he is down, kick him as hard as you can in either of the ribs. The head is better. Then take his weapon and slit his throat or stab his chest, being sure to kill him, not just wound him. Any questions?"

She raised her eyes to find the ensigns staring at her in mute horror.

"What's the matter?"

"It's so ... so violent," stammered Ander.

"That's why it's called fighting."

"But surely one needn't resort to such brutality," protested Ducan. "There are other ways of dealing with an opponent. Blasters-"

"You could simply ask him to go away," Rhiannon drawled aridly. "I have never found that to be particularly effective."

Ander shook his head. "You can't possibly expect Imperial officers to use such crude methods. Sir!" he added with emphasis, remembering his place.

"It is because you are Imperial officers that I am suggesting these methods," Rhiannon asserted. "You must be able to improvise, at a moment's notice ... using tactics that require either strength or dexterity or wits ... even kindness, depending on the circumstances. In this case, you are applying a technique that can easily allow you to gouge eyes, bite flesh, knee balls, and pull hair. These are the things that will distract your opponent, giving you the advantage. Now, you two start fighting each other," she ordered, indicating Ander and Ducan. "Try not to actually kill each other. Ariella, you will fight Tristan."

Ander and Ducan looked at Ariella, their faces taut with apprehension. Ariella was the smallest of them all, barely five feet tall and ninety pounds. It was as if asking a fruit fly to fight a krayt dragon ... it would not do. Rhiannon merely shrugged, expecting as much from those brought up in an inferior culture. "Very well," she said, waving the Korun female away. Rhia would take her place, straightening her shoulders and walking toward Tristan. "Let us begin."

In the training that followed, Rhiannon was dropped on her backside more times than she cared to count. Although Tristan never seriously hurt her, he treated her with the same casual roughness one would use when wrestling with a boy of thirteen years. Fortunately, her small breasts were firmly bound against her chest, so the odd time she found herself pinned against him, Tristan did not seem to notice any undue softness. They were not supposed to actually hurt each other, but Rhia's movements were spontaneous and lacking in control, causing her twice to strike Tristan far harder than she intended. He assured her he was fine, but she adjusted her attacks after that, trying to hit him gently. Ducan and Ander seemed to have the same problem, as they were constantly stopping and apologizing to each other while they rubbed a bruised knee or rib.

"For Emperor's sake, how do you intend to learn to fight if you stop every time you inflict one little bruise?" growled Rhia impatiently.

"I hit him harder than I should have," explained Ander, casting Ducan an apologetic glance. "I'm sorry."

"Tell him you're bloody sorry afterward, but get on with it! And you," she continued, scowling at Tristan, "I've seen children of four summers fight with more conviction. Hit me like your life depends on it."

"I don't want to hurt you ... sir," objected Tristan.

"You won't hurt me," Rhia assured him cheerfully. "Go ahead. Give me your worst."

Tristan hesitated.

"Do it!" commanded the Hapan. "Or I'll fight you till you pass out beneath my feet. And I vow I won't be nearly as easy on you as you have been on me."

Tristan gave her a withering look.

"Imagine I've come to attack your home," Rhia instructed harshly. "I've already butchered two of your children. Now I'm about to cut you in half with a vibroblade. After you're dead, I will ransack your home, brutalize your wife and set everything afire. You have no weapon. What are you going-"

Rage was surging through Tristan long before Rhia finished. Overwhelmed with rage, he flew at his superior officer. He waved his vibrodagger before her, but Rhia already knew how to deal with the weapon. She tore off the silk scarf at her neck and hurled it at Tristan's eyes, twirling away from the weapon's intended arc at the same time. He blinked and shook his head, his weapon lowered, and Rhia rammed her knee into his groin. Tristan gasped in pain and dropped to his knees. Panting, the Hapan turned to look at the others.

"Here endeth the lesson," said Rhiannon, pursing her lips to mask her surprise. She expected Tristan to perform better, to anticipate the hits, to foil her every move-

Tristan groaned. "I think that's enough training for today ... sir," he suggested, his voice strained. "You can run me through my paces again tomorrow - provided we live through tonight."

Rhia felt the corners of her mouth twitch. "If I did not know better, I'd say poor Tristan has discovered I am a more formidable adversary than my size or gender indicates." Before Tristan tried to limp away, she went to her first officer and offered her hand. "I am truly sorry," Rhia apologized. "I did not mean to hurt you."

"That's quite all right, sir," he said, rising to his feet and offering a weak salute. "It was worth it."

Rhiannon frowned. "Why is that, then?"

"That is the closest I've seen you smile in over three years," Tristan replied, looking almost jubilant. "And for that, I'd gladly let you knock me down again."

As Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca descended the shuttle ramp and emerged in the hangar of the Victory I-class Star Destroyer Tenacity, she was unsure if this temporary assignment was a demotion or an opportunity. When she first read Captain T'Jarell's strategy concerning the Rebel forces hidden within the nebula she balked, and had done her utmost to convince the Grand Moff of its folly. However, the Governor had turned the tables on her, and sold her on the plan, but she never thought she would find herself caught up in it. In her hand she held encoded orders that she was to personally deliver to the Captain, as well as her own temporary transfer orders.

After speaking with the deck officer, she was advised that the Captain was in the training bay, and therefore rather than head to the bridge, she proceeded to that location. Unusual, she thought to herself, but merely filed it away in the back of her brain. In the privacy of the lift, she took a moment to make final adjustments to her olive-grey Imperial Navy uniform, which she wore complete with gloves and hat.

As the lift doors opened on the training level, out stepped a remarkable sight in the Imperial war machine: a non-Human. Her blue skin and red eyes stood out among the pale humans that surrounded her, and she could feel their eyes lingering on her uneasily. Had she not reviewed her personnel file in preparation for the assignment she would have never expected that she were the Captain. She watched the surroundings intently, having never seen anything like it aboard the vessels she had served. She cleared her throat, and took several steps forward towards Captain T'Jarell. "Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca of the Warspite reporting with orders, Captain," she said in a cold and decidedly foreign voice that could be unsettling to those who had been predominantly used to those who natively spoke Basic.

Tristan's stare traced the outline of Rhia "Speaking of, you still owe me that fruit and a glass of wine to go with it, ma'am. Perhaps we should see to that rather soon? Like, today. Now, maybe?" just as he'd finished however some female came in spouting about her orders. His angular features contorted into a sour grin of sorts as his eyes laid upon the Lieutenant. His right hand ruffled through his dark blonde hair before turning to the Captain. Cursing underneath his breath at the interruption that stood between them and partially because he had never attempted anything of this sort in their three year history ... perhaps it was just a bit too late. Joining Rhia at her side he leaned close to her neck and whispered succinctly "Delay that for just a few moments, will you, ma'am?" Tristan's attention once again turning to the newly boarded officer waiting for Rhia to address the female.

"Lieutenant Mohorovic? I don't believe I've had the pleasure," Rhiannon turned away from Tristan and focused her dark gaze entirely upon the cobalt-skinned female. "I am Captain T'Jarell. What does His Excellency ... command?"

The Chiss Lieutenant found it a struggle to cope with the youth of the Captain who stood before her, and the fact that she was nearly a decade younger than her caused her to feel insecure about her own position. Would she be a Captain if she were a human, she wondered silently to herself, before extending a gloved hand that contained encrypted data. "Captain, your orders will take us to the Ralltiir system. As I'm sure you're aware the planet has fallen into open revolt and we have increased our ground offensive. We are of the opinion that the Rebellion will attempt to reinforce and resupply their tenuous position making this the ideal system for which to find Rebel craft within range of your ... experiment," she concluded, with a firm nod of her head, struggling somewhat with the last word. "As tactical officer of the command ship, I have temporarily been assigned to your staff in an advisory capacity and liaison to the Grand Moff. I am happy to be of whatever assistance you require," she explained, somewhat uncomfortable with the position, but nevertheless committed to whatever duty was placed in front of her.

"I am unaware of any open revolt, only that the nebula may be home to some rebel insurgents," Rhia replied, her face remaining a mask of cool civility in front of the Chiss minion. "I am fairly sure that the Rebels will do whatever it takes to undermine the Imperial offensive. They have probably already ran through dozens of possible attack plans from our side - and formulated adequate defense strategies. This is of no ... consequence," Rhia added softly. "We will do as we must, of course. And this is no experiment. It is the only viable way to snuff out whatever vermin is hiding within. As your cowardice of the past has dictated, no good has come from it. So we will have to do things the hard way from this point on." Walking away from Tristan without a blink, the Hapan gestured toward the exit door. "Let us proceed to the bridge then, Lieutenant. I am assuming that you have an open link to the Governor as required; therefore, we are ready to proceed without his command as you are here: a clear symbol of his power ... and his will."

Meham'ohorovi'cloca tensed at the word 'cowardice', but voiced no challenge to the Captain's claims. She was a by the book officer and would follow every regulation, regardless of what her personal views on the subject may be. "Of course, Captain," she said obediently, as she moved towards the exit and the waiting turbolift. As she did, she considered the strangeness of this young Captain and wondered if perhaps it took the unorthodox to advance in this navy. Still, she was never one to look for awards or promotions, and she merely remained in the background, silent, awaiting whatever use she might be.

Tristan took no offense to Rhia's absence of a response and instead chose to follow at her side as they proceeded towards the bridge. "If I may, ma'am, I'd suggest that perhaps instead of simply 'mining' them out so to speak we send a squadron of our TIE fighter's as a pseudo-scout and if it comes about to be some overwhelming insurgent force at that point we could easily send forth the mines destroying everything in the sector. Naturally this would include our own forces but I believe it would be an acceptable loss however, I realize fully that the original plan does not sacrifice our own. At the same time if we are wrong and there is simply nothing but a scout party then we mine the sector giving away our presence entirely when we could have simply neutralized the scout without them even giving off a warning signal. Otherwise our only other option that I foresee is to go in with turbolasers and ion cannons blazing, we'll likely sustain losses if heavy resistance is met. The decision is, of course, yours ma'am." hoping he'd made at least some sort of formidable sense to his Captain and crew he breathed a soft sigh in an attempt to relax.

"The decision is the same as it always was," Rhiannon smiled at her first officer, betraying nothing. If there was a hint of fear or uncertainty in her heart, the Hapan certainly did not show it. "The plan is to go forward, as originally intended. Come along, you two," she indicated with a brief gesture of her hand as it swept and pointed toward the door. She would advance to the exit and then head to the nearest turbolift before explaining further. Once arrived therein, Rhia would assume a position at the head of the bridge, viewing the space ahead as if it were her own backyard.

"Now, then," she intoned once more, intent on restating the obvious which she had already shared with the Grand Moff days hence, "it will be an attack combining two very different purposes. First, we will detonate some charges specifically designed to do damage or set off volatile gas. Then, we will disperse some ionizing charges to make it easier to detect what's inside the nebula. These we will hold till later, once we have the enemy cornered. We can not set them off early, or they will reveal where the mines are and alert the enemy to our present location. Any questions?" she glanced between her first officer and the Chiss lieutenant, expecting them to chime in, at any moment now.

As the lift ascended to the bridge, she listened to Captain T'Jarell's outline, but said nothing. There seemed to be some disagreement between the Captain and her executive officer, which she also observed, yet refrained from any comment. "I have reviewed your plan per the Governor's orders, and while I concur with the logic behind it, there is still the chance that the Rebellion may have considerable assets in the system. As long as the force assembled at Ralltiir has numerical superiority, I concede that it should work," she said in a calm, objective manner that was free of any emotion. As she emerged from the lift onto the bridge she immediately remarked how small it was, and it lacked the advanced systems she had become used to.

Tristan nodded towards his commanding officer and pursued her onto the bridge, standing at her side, "Agreed, ma'am. Your original plan was excellent to begin with, I was not attempting to question you." bowing slightly and returning to stand upright, roughly five feet eleven inches tall, "Yes, Lieutenant, you should work rather than sit on that blue rump of yours twiddling your thumbs." smirking to Rhia on his left as he looked over their crew. He wondered if the Chiss thought their ship was rather small for her liking and he only waited for her to say so, so that he could kick her scrawny little ass. He hated the type to come from the Grand Moff's 'estate' they were always so damn arrogant and conceited. Tristan flashed a quick glance to Rhia in an attempt to garner her attention and subtly run his gaze over her attractive and appealing features, not minding if she caught him. It was his attempt at getting her to finally notice him.

Rhia straightened her tall frame and stared at Tristan, her countenance a poker face if a Hapan could offer one. "Commander Krauss, you will treat Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca with the respect she has earned," the Hapan remarked, her voice betraying no emotion. "Deploy the TIEs, extrafitted with the mines Type I," she ordered, expecting the crew to carry out her orders and understand what they meant. Since she had conferred with Rodney about the invasion of the Ringali Nebula, Rhiannon had ordered a squadron of TIE fighters fitted with charges designed to do damage or set off volatile gas. That was Phase One of her plan.

"Aye, sir," responded the ensign manning the weapons console. Within a few seconds, Rhia's orders were carried out, just as the Tenacity began closing in on the volatile borders of the Ringali Nebula. The Hapan Captain would give them a minute or two so they could converge upon their designated targets. Nothing about this particular mission could be pushed or rushed.

According to Rhia's rulebook of strategic planning: everything had its own place and time.

In the meantime, the Hapan Captain ordered the other squadron to stand by. They would wield the ionizing charges that made it it easier to detect whatever was hiding within the nebula. As for the first bunch, she gave orders to detonate their loads the moment they found themselves deep inside Ringali, free of enemy attack. Undoubtedly, the Rebels waited for their own opportunity, the prime time to prevent the Empire from discharging weapons that would give away their strategic positions. For the time being, Rhiannon would bait her time, waiting to see if the enemy wanted to play the proverbial rabbit ... or the fox.

Tristan offered a thoughtful, meaningful glance towards Rhia as his tongue protruded slowly from his mouth to moisten his lips. Quickly he chirped, "Yes, ma'am," before slyly winking at her while his hand simultaneously and swiftly brushed against the small of her back.

Well that was a surprise, Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca thought, as she listened to the Captain condemn the Commander's harsh tone towards her. She found it hard to resist offering the slightest trace of a smile, but as she felt her lips begin to curl upwards into a grin she bit down with her teeth to keep them in position ... it would have been inappropriate. Instead, she turned her attention to a communications relay, where she transmitted the confirmation to the Oversector command that the operation had been successfully initiated.

With the first squadron deployed, Rhiannon waited patiently ... her face a mask of perfect stoicism ... before the squadron commander signaled their readiness. It happened just as the TIEs Do crossed the edge of the nebula, as attempting to do it further deep inside would have proved fruitless."Proceed at will, commander," the Captain ordered, waiting for the charges to light up the gaseous entity. In the meantime, she thought it wise to relay orders to Governor Rodney's forces, located in the vicinity.

"This is Captain T'Jarell. We are about to light up the nebula. All Imperial craft, stand by."

Once the charges were off, Rhiannon immediately directed the sensors officer to take stock of the results of all the charges aimed at exploding the volatile gasses inside the nebula. Truth be told, the task would take a few minutes ... but they would be minutes well spent. In the meantime, Rhia waited for her task force to back out of the Ringali Nebula with all possible haste, sending in the second task force to deploy charges that would help ascertain whatever was inside the nebula.

As far as Tristan's attempt to communicate whatever feelings or thoughts he had toward his superior officer were concerned, Rhia could pay them little notice. She merely smiled at his familiar touch and directed him to help the sensors officer make sense of all the readings coming in. Now was hardly the time and place for personal innuendos, she thought, silently.

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca, a tactical officer by trade was understandably curious, and her attention was focused over the Tenacity's tactical officer, her red eyes transfixed on the sensor readouts. A look over her shoulder was thrown in the direction of Captain T'Jarell, after assessing that everything was working as intended. She was pleased that the Empire might have a victory to report, but at the same time she feared the ambitions of the beautiful, young Hapan Captain. A victory could go along way towards establishing her hold on the Oversector command.

Tristan decided it best not to persist in the midst of battle and instead took to focusing on the tasks at hand. Watchful eyes carefully perused the screens in front of him, including the sensor operator whom had just received the Captain's orders, back and forth he scanned watching for anything that may have been of importance to Rhia. Seeing nothing however he relaxed somewhat and addressed the Lieutenant again, this time in a more professional manner "Anything to report Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca?".

Given that the question was directed at the Chiss and not at her, Rhiannon merely paused for the invasive minion to answer, before she continued on with the next phase of her plan.

The Chiss officer turned her piercing red eyes towards Commander Krauss, sensing that the officer held her with a level of disdain. Clearing her throat before beginning, she took a cautious step forward towards the executive officer. "Nothing, sir," she said, with a bit of disappointment at having to address him with such a title. "I am merely continuing to observe unless I am called upon," she reported with a firm, yet deliberate nod of her head. "I would add that I am quite impressed with the discipline and efficiency of your personnel," she added, perhaps unnecessarily, but it was an accurate observation and she hoped that a well placed compliment might tone down the mood on the bridge.

Rhiannon raised an elegant brow toward the Chiss. "So you're just here to spy and report? How reassuring," she muttered that last phrase under her breath as her gloved hand moved to cup Tristan's ass and push him gently but firmly toward the sensors console. "I'm sorely tempted to have you demoted," she murmured softly so only the Lorrdian could hear. "Get that cobalt bitch off my bridge, whatever it takes!" Clearly, the Hapan was not impressed by having a giant Chiss magnifying glass next to her.

Just then, a signal came in, its pattern signifying an emergency report. The Alpha squadron commander was attempting to communicate, but the signal was weak, and the transmission had to be cleared up before it was put on the main viewer.

Nodding as the Lieutenant gave her report addressing the compliment she chose to offer "I appreciate the sentiment Lieutenant." just as he finished he felt a pressure upon his behind and half stumble walked towards the sensors console. The directions from his Captain were quite clear, though hopefully not within hearing range of the Lieutenant herself, quickly shooting back a glare of lascivious intent and a smirk before making his way to the Chiss' side. Leaning in low yet far enough away as not to invade a personal bubble he asked the Chiss pleasantly "Would you please accompany me back to your ship? We no longer find your services necessary and you may file a full report with His Excellency at your leisure."

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca blinked in rapid succession at the comments made by Commander Krauss, not completely comprehending them. "Commander, I have been ordered by the Grand Moff to remain aboard and observe the progress and results of the battle," she explained, referencing the transfer orders she came aboard with. "As his tactical officer he felt it necessary to have me observe. Do you disagree with his orders?" she asked, as her hand went to produce a datapad from her pocket. She then tilted her head to one side, and studied the officer from behind her red eyes.

Disgruntled albeit concealing such emotion he merely smiled gently and nodded "I understand, then may I ask you to please move down to the engineering pits?"

Rhiannon nearly cracked a smile at that suggestion, wondering exactly what her 'number one' had in mind. Perhaps he imagined, in his mind of minds, elbowing the Chiss intruder in the face and sending her flying down into the engineering pits? Either way, it was a hilarious scenario that Rhiannon found difficult to ignore. "Commander Krauss is not wrong. There is much to be learned from the engineering pits," she assured the blue alien. "Unless, of course, you have specific orders for me from the Governor ... as to how best to direct his fleet once the ionization is complete?" she let her dark, smoldering glance wash over the Chiss up and down, in anticipation of a comment that was unlikely to be either flattering or kind.

In the meantime, the emergency signal was still flashing and resounding across the bridge. Rhia motioned the communications officer to relay the transmission at once. After the interference was cleared up, those present on the bridge could all witness that which the Alpha squadron commander was attempting to impart.

"... -charges... away, sir. -tempting to cle- ... nebu- ..."

Just then, a huge, frantic explosion rocked the ship attempting to send the transmission. Rhia could only guess the starfighter was pulling out too close to one of the gaseous clouds stimulated by the charge mines. "Stand by medbay," the Captain alerted the crew through an appropriate channel before directing Beta squadron to move in. "Ionize the nebula," she commanded the second assault wave. "And give cover to Alpha squadron, they'll be trying to get out as you're going in. Do not engage the enemy if you should see any. Just light them up. Go."

It was the longest two minutes in history according to Rhiannon T'Jarell, before the Beta commander reported that the last of the fighters had gotten away. Two of the Alpha TIEs did not make it. Rhia's gaze drifted to Tristan, washing over his profile as if to seek absolution for this totally acceptable loss in manpower and equipment. But it was only the beginning. The second wave of fighters entered within, expecting resistance and rightfully so. If there was enemy inside, it would be waiting them with all guns blazing. Rhia expected as much, but she also counted on the fact that the Rebels ... if they were in fact, hiding in the nebula ... would not expect the second wave to come in so swiftly. If anything, Beta squadron would have at least three to four seconds during which they could close in on their target and ionize the space required, then attempt to escape without being destroyed. The Hapan's face grew grim as her expectations for the survival rate of this squadron were minimal. If anyone made it out of there alive, she would personally award each and every one of them a rank promotion ... no questions asked.

"My orders are to observe, report, and assist if you see fit," Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca reiterated for the Captain. "You have his utmost confidence and you may direct the naval forces in the Ralltiir system without micromanagement on his part, Captain," she explained, outlining the chain of command as best she could. "It is not my intention to step on anyone's toes here. In fact, he specifically ordered me *not* to step on anyone's toes. If I have, I apologize. I am content to observe from whatever post you see fit, Captain ... including the engineering pit," she said, turning her face slightly to look towards Commander Krauss once again.

Tristan nodded in agreement and returned to the bridge without another word to the Lieutenant, taking up his position at Rhia's side once more. Tristan's eyes wandered over the vivacious curves of his female companion undressing her in thought, appearing lost in space or something to that effect for the few moments he was lost daydreaming. Snapping out of his momentary lapse he turned to face the Captain "I will see to the squadron's ma'am." quickly dismissing himself from the bridge and heading to the hangar bay to take count of the battle's casualties.

"Make it so," Rhiannon nodded, failing to notice the glance with which he had previously inspected her. Once Tristan left, she turned back to the Chiss and offered the alien a warm smile.

"You must excuse my first officer, Lieutenant. Our ways are not Grand Moff Rodney's ways, and we do tend to run this ship in a somewhat unorthodox ... if not extremely effective, fashion ... but I assure you, we will do whatever is necessary to fit in with the rest of the fleet." Having said that, the Hapan turned to observe the viewscreen, hoping to glimpse any new developments within the nebula before damage reports came in. The distance at which they were, however, placed the Victory-class at a slight disadvantage. Rhia could only ascertain major-scale events while anything minor and usually unexpected, would have gone on unnoticed until it was called in or entirely too late. For now, the comms remained silent. The whole nebula however, began to flash, as if a series of fantastic fireworks were taking place inside. "Incredible," she muttered to herself, before taking a small step back. Her attention now fell entirely to the sensors panel, working in tandem with the young lieutenant assigned to man it and attempting to get some readings regarding the results of her plan. Given that the comms remained silent, the Hapan ascertained that most of Beta squadron would not return alive.

Turns out, she was right.

After nearly seven minutes of dull static, one of the TIEs communication signals finally got through. Ten of their squadron suffered total destruction, two managed to leave the nebula unscathed. At this time, one of the two survivors' transmissions was coming through loud and clear ... it featured a semi-detailed report of what the Beta squadron found inside after the ionization charges were safely off: four YT-2400 light freighters and two GR-75 medium transports were definitely hiding within the nebulous obscurity of Ringali. The same report came in a minute or so later, fed directly to the Tenacity's communication and sensor logs. Rhia preferred to keep duplicate copies, in case there was ever any question as to the data she compiled while on a military mission.

Turning to Meham'ohorovi'cloca, the Hapan canted her head and flashed the blue alien a crooked grin. "We have our work cut out for us, lieutenant. I've no idea what else is inside that nebula, but at least we know the compliment of enemy vessels within. Time to call it. This game of hide and seek is over."

Keying in a series of characters, Rhiannon sent out a quick report to Claudius Rodney, attaching the sensors and communications logs before glancing to her gunner. Once a captain of a Venator-class cruiser, Artorius Garak was a seasoned officer who had filled a variety of roles on board her ship and had graciously agreed to assume the position of the chief gunner for this particular mission. "Ready the concussion missiles." She was suddenly reminded of a handful of flies attempting to taunt a krayt dragon. Unwise. A part of her suddenly cringed, realizing the loss of life that was about to take place. Yet her own squadron members had already perished earlier, Rhia reminded herself. This was no time for compassion.

"Advise the 218th Attack Line to stand by. Helm, move us inside the nebula. Set course for the nearest Gallofree transport. Shields up!"

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca was standing on the walkway over the crew pit that contained the tactical officers, and she was silently, but obsessively, watching over their every move. Even from above she could see on the sensor readouts that they were dealing with only a scant amount of transports ... not the concentrated force she had so feared when the Grand Moff first advised her of the Captain's risky plan. "Captain, it would seem that the Rebellion lacks the capital ship presence to adequately escort their transport fleet. I would estimate it should only take moments for your Victory-class ships to obliterate them," she said, with some hint at excitement, in a rare show of emotion. A hint of a smile was allowed to form her lips, as she confidently strode closer towards the Captain. "Those Rebels will never make it to Ralltiir. The Governor will very pleased with this," she confided, perhaps going a step too far in her assertion of events.

Tristan found himself in the medical bay taking count of the wounded and those pilots who had not returned and were presumed killed in action. Most of Beta squadron, unfortunately, were part of the KIA tally. His thoughts were mainly focused on that of his commanding officer, Captain Rhia, every so often scribbling down the totals onto his notepad. Reflecting on the past three years a pang of regret hit him in regards to the fact that he'd never expressed his innermost feelings towards her, until his latest attempts anyway. It was 'protocol' to be professional in their environment and so he figured that was the reason he'd always kept it under wraps, and yet he'd been behaving foolishly and putting it on display for any and all to see if they so chose. He realized then that she may have a rather stern and disapproving attitude awaiting him when they were free of the Grand Moff's slave. In which case he thought that it best to just come forth with it all and see where he ended up - maybe reassigned to another ship and losing his best friend and love interest. As his tally came to an end, with practically no one left to account for, he headed back up for the bridge to report to the Captain. But a few minutes later and he exited the turbolift his boots clacking on the durasteel beneath him. Taking his place beside the Captain he muttered "Practically all of Bravo has been lost ma'am, Alpha remains mostly in tact." hoping that none would hear, it was this part he hated most - accounting for their lost and fallen comrades. "Any further orders, ma'am?"

"Thank you, Commander," Rhiannon replied, acknowledging the man's report without so much as a blink. "Station." Whatever the Hapan might have felt at the sound of the words expressing such terrible loss, she certainly did not give away any feelings, one way or another. At this time, she was more preoccupied with the action about to take place; namely, the attack against the small contingent of Rebel forces hiding within the Ringali Nebula. A Victory-class Star Destroyer would be more than a match for the forces reported there - and Rhia would take no chances with Rodney's attack line unless it was absolutely necessary.

"Distance to nebula," she asked of the helm. "Three kilometers and closing, sir."

Pursing her lips, Rhia clasped gloved hands behind her, resting them upon her lower back. Her gaze dipped to the floor, as she considered the repercussions of her battle plan. In the end, she considered herself lucky, expecting Rebel forces to be far more numerous, if not in quality than in quantity, to be sure. Instead, she encountered half a dozen ships of dubious purpose within a nebulous cloud of interstellar gas and dust. What was their purpose? Why were they so few in number? Why had they chosen this particular point to hide? These were some of the questions which she would likely not see answers to, today. Regardless, the main objective was paramount and would be achieved. It is a pity it had to come at the cost of life; it was the one thing as a military officer that the Hapan internally detested.

"Lieutenant Garak, those concussion missiles ... target engines only."

A sudden change of mind? Perhaps of heart? Why? Leveling her gaze at the veteran officer, Rhiannon stood her ground and waited for him to acknowledge the order.

"Concussion missiles standing by."

Three missiles per target. They would be utterly destroyed no matter what they were aiming for, she knew. "Use a tractor beam to pull in one of the light freighters; I don't care which. We need to find out the purpose for Rebel presence here ... if that is indeed who they are or who they're working for." Rhia's voice fell quieter and nearly cracked in her throat as she mouthed the final words. "Destroy the rest."

"Five hundred meters and closing."

Rhiannon completely ignored the Chiss officer present on her bridge at this time. She had to focus on the task at hand and reconcile the deaths that were about to take place, in her conscience. She did not need a blue-skinned alien to applaud or condemn her actions. Stepping ahead to the viewport, the Hapan captain stared deftly ahead into some unseen point in space and time. The Tenacity began to clear the border of the Ringali Nebula.

Fight, damn it. Stand your ground. Give me something to remember you by...

The fingers clasped upon her lower back tightened, knuckles turning white. Thankfully, the gloves concealed the unsightly evidence and Rhia continued to stand tall, passing herself off as the stalwart Imperial captain.

The moment the Tenacity cleared the threshold of the nebula, it found itself face to face with the result of Rhiannon's primary mission. Debris, from ships destroyed as a result of her earlier ionization 'experiment' filled the gaseous void with random garbage. The Victory-class battlecruiser plowed through the swirl of rubble, deftly dodging ship remains and smaller particles. Rhiannon turned around, glancing at the crew pits for a moment. A score of naval officers - all human - sat at their posts, hovering over their computer screens. The hum of low, curt conversation and the thrum of electronics filled the air ... nothing to indicate the mayhem that was about to ensue.

The Hapan turned back around and inhaled deeply. She seemed to delay the final command for as long as she could help it. "Commander Tristan, intensify all scanning until further notice. Any unusual readings are to be reported to me. Keep eyes on any incoming ships."

Rhia stared at the battle cruiser's viewport, hoping that the Rebels had elected to tuck tail and run. Or just as bad, that they had somehow decided to surrender as soon as Tenacity had come into their view. For whatever strange and unexplained reason, Rhia had never before felt as vulnerable, as she did now.

The moment she hesitated on ordering the destruction of the Republic vessels, particularly utilizing the Victory-class supplied concussion missiles, he knew that something was inherently wrong. She felt guilt, remorse, and likely would make all attempts at salvaging what life she could. He would not interrupt her command to give the obvious recommendation that if she were to take pity on the rebels that only ion cannons would be needed, no, she knew that already but their orders were complete annihilation of the rebel forces.

As she stood there at the bridge stoic and poised to command her crew to victory he could only help but feel sorrow and compassion for what she must be putting herself through. To him, the rebels were their enemy and it was kill or be killed ... as simple as that. To others, her in particular, he knew it was much more and to an extent personal. As she barked out her command he would nod in acceptance "Aye ma'am." watching her closely as she stared over the bridge and out into the space that was now littered with the components of destroyed craft.

A hand reached out to grab hers, his eyes plastered themselves to her face, but only for a moment slipping away with a pang of regret. It was in this moment he wished they had complete and utter privacy so that he could perhaps comfort her with words of compassion and sincerity. His eyes fixated once again on the screens before him watching for any sign of life or movement from the rebel faction and seeing none took a slight break from his overwatch. Chancing another peek at Rhia, if he were to catch her attention he would offer an affable smile and nod of assurance "Nothing yet, ma'am. But I'm sure all is fine." hoping she'd pick up on the last bit of his comment.

Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca was impressed with the skilled precision with which Captain T'Jarell and her crew were executing the offensive. It now seemed as if she were a truly skilled and competent officer, and had not in fact slept her way to the position as she originally surmised. Leaving the Captain's side, she moved to the nearest comm panel to once again notify the regional command of the progress of the lopsided engagement. She was confident that this would be the victory needed to improve Imperial morale, and cut off the remaining Rebel forces on Ralltiir.

No, no ... you can't get away...

Rhiannon smiled, watching as the ship continued to close the gap between itself and the Rebels. The intensity of her gaze seemed to will the enemy vessels to freeze in space. The effort taxed her, and the Hapan knew she could not maintain it for long. It was ... in fact ... as pointless as it was impossible. Even if she were a Sith Lord, she would fail in such a tremendous endeavor.

Watch the scanners, Rhiannon. Keep your eye on the incoming transmissions and the remainder of the fleet-

She did not watch the scanners; instead, Rhia focused on the viewscreen. The Rebel ships began to move slowly but with a purpose, maneuvering into a formation suitable for something the Hapan recognized only too quickly, something that caused her body to tense and then quiver in alarm.

A hyperspace jump.

"They're forming up," she heard a voice say behind her. The waves of its tension crashed against her but Rhia dammed them off, did not allow them to disrupt her focus.

She simply observed and waited...

One of the freighters in the group had broken off and veered off toward them, flying straight past the viewport. It was so quick, it was gone before Rhiannon had a chance to respond and give the order but Garak kept determined vigil over the situation. Were the Rebels taunting them into action? Certainly, they knew it would be their doom to persist? Rhia shook her head and turned to the former captain, nodding once. The tractor beam projector was instantly engaged, catching the light freighter by the 'tail'.

Just then, a burst of salvos, red and yellow, erupted on the viewscreen ahead.

So, you have chosen death.

"Shields holding," came a brief statement from a seemingly unconcerned ensign. Rhia turned toward Garak, his face a sheet of ice.

"Fire at will, Lieutenant."

The concussion missiles, targeting the rear of each GR-75 located some 1.5 kilometers away, were instantly launched, heading for the ships' engines. One. Two. Three rounds. A total of six were fired away, a ridiculous overkill. The three YT-2400s, realizing the peril unleashed in the wake of the anti-capital ship weapons, decided that fleeing ... rather than fighting ... was the best choice of action at this time. Rhia commended their logic in silence and watched with seeming indifference as her winged messengers of death struck home time and time again. The twin laser cannon turrets with which the Gallofree vessels were equipped, were no match for the might of a star destroyer.

Moments later, a display of explosions rocked the nebula again ... and Rhia felt a flash of discomfort, the irritating needle stab of guilt ... a feeling oddly similar to that which she had felt when she'd forsaken her twin sister after Callista had failed to thrive at the Imperial Academy.

The feeling lasted barely an instant and disappeared, leaving only an unearthly ghost in its wake.

"Are you alright, ma'am?" Tristan asked.

Rhiannon waved a hand dismissively. She continued to stand at the head of the bridge and the viewscreen of Tenacity showed the distant streak of blue and white hyperspace lights which were likely more a product of her own imagination than the real thing.

"Track their trajectory," the Hapan said, then pivoted on her heel and strode toward the main turbolift. Possibilities played out in Rhiannon's mind. With a captured Rebel on board, they could gain valuable information that could further undermine alliance presence in this sector. As for the escaped vessels, they obviously knew where they were going. They had a contingency plan that was in place long before the Tenacity had arrived. This was their mission: to survive.

Rhia stared at the turbolift door, waited for it to open and stepped inside. In moments, she would get her first glance on the captured prey.

The Galactic Empire needed to rule by force, to thrive. For that, there had to be a conflict. She knew that.

Rhiannon needed this conflict too, to thrive. She knew this as well.

Claudius Rodney had it within his power, possibly, to keep this conflict alive for as long as required.

As the turbolift descended, Rhia closed her eyes. She saw the captured crew of the freighter and imagined them in pain.

The flashing light on the side of the door panel and the opened door reminded Rhiannon of her purpose. Brisk, energetic stride carried her forth down the hallway and toward the main brig. Upon arrival, she was met by the deck officer who saluted her in silence, waiting for further orders.

"Take me to the prisoner," the captain said.

The officer looked to her, puzzled. "We searched the vessel top to bottom but found no one on board, ma'am."

"Search again - and get me the ship's logs - and anything else that may give us a clue as to its mission in the Ringali Nebula."

"Aye, ma'am."

The last sound heard in the hallway, was that of the Hapan's muted, receding footsteps...

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