The Gatekeeper stood on the bridge of the Uberweapon, gazing at the stars out the window. "So I heard you have a bounty out on that pest, Julio." The Gatekeeper turned to see Ty294, a bounty hunter standing behind him. "I will gladly take up that offer so I have the money to replace the Corvette I lost during the battle." And the Empire is a little ticked at me for dragging them into the battle during which they suffered extreme losses... I may need cash to bribe the Admiral into not putting a price on MY head. The mercenary thought to himself.
"You know, Ty," Said the Gatekeeper "The Shadow Empire would make a strong ally. As it stands, I've been looking for one ever since the original Galactic Empire voted to integrate itself into the Shadow Empire. That left me with a lot of new toys to play with, many ships and units to upgrade to their maximum potential. That, and coupled with the fact that the Shadow Empire was originally a branch of the Trader Emergency Coalition WAY back in the beginning, thousands of galaxies away from here. The point I am getting to, is the Alliance would have been watching our battles very closely and would know that we are in a tough spot right now. If they decide to attack, the Empire would probably be able to fend them off, but your scattered remnant ships would be doomed. Why don't you start a Trade Alliance with us? You will get Credits, Metal, Crystal, other raw resources to build stronger ships? I could even make you a copy of the plans for the Argonev Star Base, to defend your key planets and to expand your trade network, as well as it's remote construction facilities AND firepower and hull equivalent to 5 ISD's? Think about it and let me know..." The Gatekeeper thought for a moment. "And, for your help in my battle, if you wish, I will help you jump-start your economy once again."
Ty294 replied, "Well, I'm not actually a member of the Imperial Remnant, although I work very closely with them. The Remnant faction that participated in the recent battle was under command of Admiral Alexander Grage. I met Grage during my time with the Empire Reborn. Of course, after Kyle Katarn and Luke Skywalker screwed up the whole project," Just before my scheduled artificial force empowerment... "We both went our seperate ways. I will gladly put you in contact with him and I'm sure he'll be more then willing to forge an alliance. Meanwhile, if you have any well-paying 'work' to be done, I'll gladly do it."
Lord Darkon's permanently placed undercover agents intercept recent communiques between the Gatekeeper and his favourite mercenary.
"Hmmm... how intriguing." The Sith Lord said "The Trader Emergency Coalition, with highly advanced technology. I can only imagine how much more advanced their technology might have become since then. If my True Sith Empire could secure that technology for itself, I could launch a new invasion of the Gatekeeper and his puny Shadow Empire, with the required technological superiority. "
Through his tenure in the Gatekeeper's outer-dimensional plane, Lord Darkon knows exaclty which far away galaxy the TEC originates from. A large RTSE(Reborn True Sith Empire) Expeditionary Task Force is dispatched to that distant galaxy, to secure samples of that advanced technology, and possibly even conquer the TEC. Equipped with the new Interphase Space-Folding transgalactic hyperdrive engines, the journey should take no more than a month at most.
The Gatekeeper continued, "Well, If you are interested in artificial force infusion, I can immensely help you there. Just name the side and the skillset, and it shall be done. In the meantime, I want you to take out- "
Incoming transmission: To: The Gatekeeper. From: TEC Section B-12.
A voice throught the comm said: "Sir, our borderline scouts have detected a large hostile fleet with RTSE markings making it's way toward our galaxy. Request permission to engage." "Permission granted, B-12. Where will they arrive?" "At the Akates Star System, at the star itself, Sir." "We have 4 Argonev Star Bases there, they don't stand a chance. Just in case, I'm sending you a Kol Battleship with all abilities integrated. ETA 5 minutes. In the meantime, use the production bays to whip up a fleet of Kodiak Heavy Cruisers and Javelis LRM Frigates, as well as a few Garda Flak Frigates." "Yes Sir!" *End transmission*
The Gatekeeper steps back from the console, "They're obviously after the TEC technology. Even if they get it, it is encrypted with a secret password that only I know of. Now, Ty, about those Force powers. Please continue."
"Fleet Admiral Rajko, our advance scouts have reached the TEC galaxy. As Lord Darkon suspected, the TEC technology is formidable, but they are far from warriors. A coalition of traders, they have lived in peace for far too long for their own good. Though covert scans of the Akates border system indicate heavy defence presence. No mobile defenders, though they appear to be manufacturing several dozen medium sized ships in the nearby shipyard. They must expect an attack."
"Acknowledged. Battlegroup JZ2," Replied Fleet Admiral Rajko. "Proceed to attack the shipyard. Perform a quick hit-and-fade strike with your Munja class fast-attack cruisers, concentrate on their central manufacturing control. That will initiate a chain reaction to destroy all the vessels currently being built, than get out quickly."
"Support Group JH2, your Karas class heavy carriers will launch all strike bombers to engage the Argonev battlestations. Stay out of their heavy turbolaser range, and deploy your fighters to provide close point-defence if necessary."
"Battlegroup JZ1, our Kurgarin class reactive-armoured dreadnoughts will engage the battlestations directly, providing distraction as required. My instincts tell me their heavier vessels may be on the way..."
"Support Group JH1, Battlegroup JZ3, you shall wait in reserve, ready for a flanking maneuver if required."
"All forces, engage!" The enemy fleet comes out of hyperspace, and finds a massive fleet of literally hundreds of ships of unknown type, without any turbolasers, and in the back, churning out dozens more by the minute, are four Death Star size star bases. In the front is a massive ship that must be the Kol Battleship. The RTSE Fleet, Not expecting such heavy resistance from mere traders, turns around, only to find a massive vessel, in the shape of a highly modified Star Destroyer, blocking out the sun! The Gatekeeper is about to give an order when an arm reaches from the shadows and twists his arms painfully while holding a blade to his throat with his other hand. "You have no idea what you've gotten yourself into." the unknown captor says "You and Darkon have kicked a rock that has started an avalanche, now it's my job to stop it before it gets any worse. In a moment you are going to hear a report from you friends telling you that the fleet they were battling has been destroyed, but that is just the beginning" *A voice buzzes through the Gatekeeper's com; "Darkon's strike team has been destroyed, do you copy?" "We have 72 hours." said the unknown voice. The Gatekeeper is about to respond when his comm says again: "I repeat, Lord Darkon's strike-team has been destroyed, do you copy?" "We will meet again...." "I repeat, Darkon's Strike team...." "You may want to answer that." The Gatekeeper spins around, bewildered, but whoever he was, he was gone now.
The fight rages on outside, "JZ2-A to Admiral Rajko. The shipyards are integrated with the battlestations, and are manufacturing far more vessels than anticipated. However, their weaponry and defences are inferior to ours. It seems, for all of their advanced technology, they have not invested in tactical systems. We have disabled their central control, and their assembly lines are destroyed. 5 out of 14 ships in the battlegroup lost. Moving out as instructed. Mission complete."
"Excellent, Captain. We are outnumbered 6 to 1 here, but you are correct, their armaments and battle tactics are inferior. I anticipate a complete victory within an hour. If this is the best example of vaunted TEC technology, perhaps our coming here was a waste of... WHAT?!?"
An enormous black superdestroyer reverts from hyperspace behind the assault fleet, its massive beam cannon already charging to fire. However, just as the weapon is about to discharge... nothing.
"The unknown vessel has suddenly depowered, Admiral. Strange."
"I can see that. All vessels, move into encirclement positions around the ship. Assault shuttles, launch! We shall capture this ship for Lord Darkon. But... something doesn't smell right..."
Darkon is meditating in his flagship, when he senses something... rather, someone... He is about to turn around when the intruder grabs him by the throat with on hand and pokes a blade at his back with the other. "If I were you, I would tell your men to stay away from that ship, unless they wish to meet the same fate as the Gatekeeper's crewmen. You see, I need you and your army alive, for the time being. I would suggest calling your men back now, commander." Darkon spins around to see that the being had vanished. Annoyed, Darkon walks to the bridge.
Incoming Global Transmission: From: The Gatekeeper.
The Gatekeeper appears in a hologram, still in his masked form. "It seems we have a new enemy, Lord Darkon. Just as the Uberweapon, under my direct command, was about to wipe out your pathetic invasion force, an unknown captor swooped in and stopped me. Now, if you check the battle, you will notice most of your fleet has been destroyed as a direct result of battle with my fleet AND my star bases, as well as your boarding shuttles destroyed BEFORE they could get to the SEALED hangars. If I were you, instead of stealing other people's technology, I would improve your own, as I have. Now, this is a direct order: Refrain from future attacks until I uncover the identity of my assailant. If you do not adhere to my demands, I will send my countless fleets to destroy ANY intruders to MY galaxy. As in, if I here of another ship of yours crossing the border, it will be destroyed. As for my assailant: Come out from the shadows and face me head on! You have 24 hours. If you do not, I will put 1,000,000,000,000,000 (One Quadrillion) credits on your head. Ty294 would like to have this kind of money, I am sure..." The message ends.
Suddenly, the Uberweapon exploded, destroying everything around it.
A voice comes through the Gatekeeper's comm: "As tempting as that may be, I have more important matters to deal with. I'll see you in 71 hours."
Darkon felt a massive disturbance in the force. "Return to RTSE space, Admiral!" Darkon yelled as most of the fleet avoided the explosion. "We have a breach of internal security to deal with." The Sith said calmly. "Your fleet will redeploy to reinforce our border defences, while I use my Force permeator matrix to monitor this unknown enemy's movements. It seems the Gatekeeper has issued a direct challenge to him. That will distract him, giving me the advantage. If this situation develops as I predict it will, I shall kill two birds with one stone... Don't worry about his Uberweapon. Shortly after your fleet retreated, I sensed a massive disturbance in the Force as it exploded. It seems you did more damage than you thought, Admiral. Well done!"
A few minutes later, the Uberweapon reappears with the rest of the fleet, fully functional. "All systems operational, Sir. Seems the cloaking device fooled them all, and the explosion got the rest of Darkon's forces."
"Excellent." Said the Gatekeeper. "Return to base and proceed with repairs to the star bases. It would seem that Lord Darkon's as well as this mysterious Assailant's plans have been foiled. For now. As from this moment on, I will assume personal command of the Uberweapon. This kind of... stupidity... will not happen again. Preparations for the fleet commander's executions are well underway. Now, send someone to find 294. I want that Assailant dealt with. It is obvious he is too cowardly to fight me himself, so I'll send my best mercenary after him, as I am far too busy to deal with him myself, and he does not seem to be very much of a threat..."
Rapier 331 Rapier Squadron VF-33 "Black Knights" Terran Confederation Expeditionary Fleet Unnamed System, Uncharted Space
Rattler looks out through the Canopy of his Rapier Medium Fighter at the aftermath of what appeared to be a large scale battle.
"Excalibur, Rattler. Looks like we missed some sort of party."
"Understood Rattler. The fleet will maintain position at the edge of the system. We're still detecting some active signals in system."
"Copy that. Rattler out. Hey Mags, What do you think happened?" "No idea sir."
"Well... Stay Frosty. We could find ourselves in a furball real fast. We may not be anywhere near Kilrathi Space, but that doesn't mean squat."
Rattler again looks out at the carnage, and cringes.
"Whatever did this... Dang... I'd really hate to be on the receiving end of that gun."
Whilst the Gatekeeper is busy rebuilding after the failed invasion by Darkon, Ty294 and Admiral Grage arrive in an old, modified Victory-Class Star Destroyer. The Gatekeeper informs them of the situation, and Ty294 begins an investigation. Ty294 begins his search for clues as to the mysterious invader's identity while Grage convinces the Gatekeeper to board the Star Destroyer so he can show him what is stored on board.
"These artifacts were recovered during the Fury Crisis a number of years back." Grage explained, "They were brought to this galaxy by the Furies which were extra-galactic beings. I have kept them hidden away over the years so I can study it without the knowledge of Imperial command or anyone else who may interfere with my work."
The Gatekeeper surveys his surroundings, as he noticed that the interior of the Star Destroyer has been converted into a large labratory, where engineers and scientists are busy researching and developing new technology based on the artifacts. Grage shows the Gatekeeper deadly weapons such as the 'Bolt Buddy', the 'Blast Cannon' and the 'Wasp Missile'. Finally, Grage shows the Gatekeeper his impressive legion of Cyborg soldiers.
"All my assets are at your disposal my lord. I hope you can make good use of them."
The Gatekeeper looks with extreme interest at the Cyborg Soldiers. "Hm... With proper funding, this could be something good. I've actually been looking for the perfect robotic/living soldier for generations now. This might just be it. I'll have my engineers reinforce this ship's hull and shields immediately." The Gatekeeper raises his head, as if he senses something, quickly thanks Grage, then vanishes without a trace. Grage shakes his head, "Damn force users..."
Returning to his research lab, Admiral Grage leaves his bodyguards outside to guard the door, and proceeds to continue his study of the Fury relics. Suddenly, a blaster bolt from a silenced weapon comes from seemingly nowhere, and hits him in the back. As he collapses, he sees a shadowy form darting towards the back exit from the lab. Wearing a body armor made from unknown material beneath his uniform, Admiral Grage is only singed by the bolt. He presses the alarm button on the console. Moments after the mysterious assassin had vanished, his bodyguards charge into the lab.
"Sound intruder alert! Contact the bridge to initiate full lockdown of the ship! We have an uninvited guest aboard. I saw him leave through the back entrance! Come with me!"
Admiral Grage and his two elite bodyguards set after the assassin.
Deathstrike, one of Darkon's apprentices, makes her way to the wide corridor with maintenance access tunnels running through the walls. She can see two cyborg troops positioned at the far end. Activating the portable holographic illusion, she wires a shaped charge into the motivator unit to detonate within 4 meters of the cyborgs. As she can already hear the footsteps of Grage and his bodyguards approaching from the cross-corridor she just left, she is aware of the critical timing required. She sets the hologram moving towards the cyborgs and hides into one of the maintenance tunnels, just as Grage and his bodyguards charge into the corridor. The hologram is nearly to the cyborgs by then.
"Halt, intruder!" - Orders the first cyborg in an emotionless tone of voice
"Wait! I want this one alive" - shouts Grage from behind. "I want to interrogate him!"
She watches from the shadows as Admiral Grage and his pathetic bodyguards approach behind the holographic bait, a smug smirk on her tatooed face. A concealed shaped charge in the hologram suddenly explodes, destroying the two cyborgs in front. As the bodyguards rush forward to protect Grage from a possible follow-up attack, a soft whisper of air behind them is their only warning. Turning around, they see Grage collapsing to the floor with a knife protruding from the back of his neck, as a shadowy shape seemingly flies over them. They spin back around, as Deathstrike lands soundlessly behind them. An uppercut palm-strike rips off the lead trooper's helmet, a semisecond before the other palm drives his nose into his brain. Deathstrike sidesteps and rolls behind the collapsing body as the other trooper's rifle blast hits the dead man's chestplate, coming to a kneeling position with the dead trooper's rifle in her hands. A point-blank shot to the other trooper's helmeted head puts this one out of his misery as well. Before the second body even hits the ground, she is gone.
"Lord Darkon, a master of Teras-Kasi, trained me himself, you pathetic fools! You are nothing but... prey... to me."
She sends a covert burst transmission to her master.
"Deathstrike to Lord Darkon: Infiltration successful. Obtained samples of Fury technology from Remnant forces. Promising potential for further development. Adversaries still preoccupied with tracking this unknown assailant. VSD sabotaged. Rogue Admiral Grage assassinated. Proceeding to Objective Beta."
"Acknowledged, Deathstrike." The Sith Lord replied, "Do not compromise your cover by executing Objective Beta just yet. I have dispatched Deathshade to the staging area. She will relay you more specific instructions when you join them. Too sensitive to discuss even on a secure channel."
"Understood, my lord. Deathstrike out."
As Deathstrike proceeds toward Objective Beta, she overhears more and more reports on the lockdown of the ship and the search for the assassin. Realizing that her deep cover has been completely compromised, she decides to abandon the mission, and makes her way to her infiltrator ship.
Deathstrike's sensor-stealthed infiltrator ship decouples from the VSD's auxiliary transfer port just as the destroyer is towed into Uberweapon's bay. Before entering hyperspace, she dispatches another covert transmission to Lord Darkon.
"Unable to maintain deep cover, my lord. Enemies alerted to my presence. Proceeding to the staging area. Objective Alpha accomplished, forced to abort Objective Beta! I beg forgiveness, Master..."
"No matter, most lethal one of my assassins. The Fury relics have been delivered to RTSE's Experimental Research Bureau, and that is what matters. Objective Beta would have been a nice bonus, but it is not essential. Soon enough, our weapons technology will surpass that of Gatekeeper's puny Shadow Empire, and the time for ultimate invasion will be at hand! At the moment, I am far more interested in that unknown fleet your ship's sensors detected at the edge of Akates system. Meanwhile, return to the staging area and await further instructions."
Hmm, they seem to be taking an interest in Gatekeeper's Uberweapon. I can't believe that thing survived our assault! I think a closer look might be useful. Let's see what they are up to...
"Lord Darkon to Fleet Admiral Rajko: An unknown force has appeared near TEC space. Dispatch your Advance Scout Group to maintain long-range surveillance on the Akates system. Find out as much as possible about them, but maintain a low-profile until we know for certain what they are up to... whether they could be a potential ally, or a new enemy."
"Yes, my lord."
Meanwhile, Ty294 discovers one of the Gatekeeper's techs who has been brutally executed. The cause is obviously a stab wound in the back. This infiltrator must use a form of cloaking technology to sneak up on his prey. Ty294 makes a brief call to a 'friend' then continues his search.
A disturbance in space is visible at the edge of Akates Star System. Suddenly, the space is ruptured as a gigantic fleet emerges from hyperspace. A massive battleship can be seen in the center, larger than any previously known Super Star Destroyers. The commander of the fleet sends an intercom message that anyone can hear:
"This is Grand Admiral 'Legend' Patten, commander of the Atlantea Mk.III-class Battleship, Leviathan, of the New Ethoran Federation 417th Expeditionary Fleet broadcasting on channels. All contacts, please respond."
Legend turns to his second-in-command, Admiral Jackson, and says, "There must have been one heck of a battle here, we better keep on our toes."
"Admiral," the sensors officer calls, "We have contacts of our port side. They seem to be some type of fighter. Wait! More contacts! Another fleet is positioned on the edge of the system. Unknown affiliation."
"Good God!" Legend says. "What is that massive ship out there?" He is, of course, referring to the massive ship seen in the center of the system.
"Well, I guess we're going to find out," Jackson responds, "And I'm unsure if we're going to like what we find."
"Advanced Recon Group Alpha, break out of formation and spread out." Legend ordered, "Try to gather as much information as possible on all contacts. Time to test out our new sensor equipment. All battlegroups, power weapons and prepare for battle if necessary. We don't yet know what's out there."
"Sir, Recon Lead reporting. We've detected unknown contacts at long-range. They appear to be some kind of scout vessels."
"Recon Lead, jam their sensors, we don't want any prying eyes here. However, do NOT fire upon them. We don't yet know their intentions, whether they're friendly or hostile. Meanwhile, I'll try to contact them."
Legend opens intercom channel, "Unknown scout vessel, report your affiliation and intentions. Be warned, if you come within 5,000 miles of our ships without stating your intentions we will regard you as hostile and open fire. Repeat, we WILL open fire. Please respond."
Meanwhile on the Uberweapon, the Gatekeeper stands alone, looking out of the throne room viewport window. "They obviously do not understand the powers at work here. Perhaps I should remind them exactly who they are dealing with." He turns to a Sgt. who just walked in, "How is Admiral Grage?" The Gatekeeper asked. "Surgery was successful, my Lord." "Good... Bring him here." "Yes Sir!" The Sgt. runs out of the room. "Now, to monitor that fleet just a few miles away. I will not open fire until I know their intentions..."
"Captain Boljak, the unknown vessels are jamming our scanners. Reconfiguring to a cross-frequency bandwidth. Scanners operational again. Resolving... they are hailing us, sir."
"We are under orders from Fleet Admiral Rajko to maintain low-profile. However, since they have obviously detected us, I see no reason not to respond. Open the channel."
"I am Captain Boljak, commanding the Reborn True Sith Empire's JS13 Advance Scout Group. You have entered a contested sector of space. On the supreme authority of Sith'ari Overlord Darkon, I demand you state your affiliation, purpose and origin." He looks at the comm officer, "Transmit our sensor scans to the Fleet Admiral. Immediately."
"I am Grand Admiral 'Legend' Patten," He replied, "Commander of the Atlantea Mk.III-class Battleship, the Leviathan, flagship of the New Ethoran Federation 417th Expeditionary Fleet. We were sent on an expeditionary mission to discover new galaxies to open diplomatic relations with. Our origin? Well, I will not give the coordinates. Suffice it to say we are from a far away galaxy, a galaxy we call the Phalanx Galaxy. I now demand to speak to your leader, so that we may open diplomatic relations."
Legend turns to the comm office, "Hail that dreadnaught out there, I want to see what exactly is going on here."
"Recon Lead, this is the Grand Admiral. Run a full scan of that dreadnaught. Pay attention in particular for possible weapons systems."
"Yes, sir. We've also detected communications leaving the RTSE scout vessel. In addition, they've gotten past our first level of jamming. Should we start Phase 2?"
"There is no reason to, they've probably already sent a report to their superiors. Besides, we want to keep them guessing at our technological abilities."
Fleet Admiral Rajko opens the comm to Lord Darkon. "My lord, have you received the encrypted packet sent by my advance scouts?"
"I have, Admiral. I am authorizing you to conduct the preliminary talks on my behalf. Stall them for now, and try to find out as much as possible about this 'New Ethoran Federation'. This overture of 'opening diplomatic relations' might be a ruse of some kind. Conduct further scans of their vessels, as well. I have more important matters to attend to. I have lost contact with Deathstrike after her last report, she may have been captured after all. I'll deal with this personally... if the Gatekeeper has so much as taken a hair off her head, I'll feed him his own intestines! After the... situation... has been satisfactorily resolved, I'll take over the negotiations, Admiral. Perhaps I can convince them to assault the TEC from the rear, forcing the Gatekeeper's forces to fight on two fronts. Take Battlegroups JZ1, JZ3, JZ11, JZ20, and JZ37, as well as Support Groups JH4, JH7, JH41, and JH50. I doubt the Gatekeeper has run out of his petty tricks... be prepared for anything."
"Understood, my lord. Reconfiguring the fleet to Standoff Formation K1O-12. Proceeding to Akates system. ETA-13 minutes."
"Admiral Recon Lead, reporting. We intercepted a RTSE transmission a short while ago. It's contents are... interesting. They mention some 'Gatekeeper' and the Trader Emergency Coalition. It was also mentioned having us attack the TEC. And they further mentioned scanning our vessels. Further, they are configuring their fleet into a standoff formation."
"How amusing." Said Patten, "They think they can 'scan' our ships. What a suprise they'll get when they find that their scans cannot penetrate our advanced hull plating. They seem to underestimate us. We shall teach them never to do that again. Recon Lead, stay cloaked and continue your close surveillance. Legend over and out."
"This is Grand Admiral Patten broadcasting over Fleet Channel Alpha. All forces, move into Fleet Formation Standoff Phi-Gamma-Beta. I am declaring a state of combat readiness level 5. All forces prepare for possible battle." He turns to Jackson "I don't like this turn of events, hopefully we won't have to resort to war. I'll try talking to the RTSE Fleet Admiral."
He opens the channel to Fleet Admiral Rajko. "You seem to be underestimating us. Your leader doesn't even believe our our true motives. Further, you are hiding information from us. I DEMAND to be told exactly what is going on here!"
"Fleet Admiral Rajko to fleet. The NEF fleet is scattering our scans again. ASG-JS13, deploy your multispectral sensor nets. I do not like this."
"Nets deployed, Admiral. We are detecting several faint tachyon signatures close to the center of the fleet. Possible cloaked scouts."
"They are monitoring us at close range! BG-JZ11, move to intercept the interlopers! BG-JZ3, SG-JH7, move out to flank/crossfire stance. Rest of the fleet, reconfigure to Bastion Formation B22-41. Pilots to their fighters and bombers! All ships, activate deflector shields. Kurgarin dreadnoughts, energize reactive armour in addition. All armaments at the ready, but do not charge them yet. Transmit a general warning to their scouts to withdraw to a secure distance. I will not tolerate espionage!"
"Admiral, the NEF Grand Admiral is hailing us, sir. Channel open."
"And you, Admiral Patten, are openly provoking us by sending your scouts to spy on my ships at close range! We do not seek a confrontation with the NEF, but your provocative actions are uncalled for. Withdraw your scouts at once! As was explained to you before, this is a contested sector. The only information I am authorized to disseminate is that the RTSE is at war with the Gatekeeper's Shadow Empire and their puny TEC allies. There is more happening here than meets the eye, Admiral, and until Lord Darkon is able to speak with you himself, this is all the information you shall receive. For the moment, do not interfere with us, and we shall not interfere with you. Otherwise, we will be forced to take action!"
"Close channel, Lieutenant."
Grage arrives at the Gatekeepers throne room, his neck completely reconstructed by the surgery.
"My lord, I regret to inform you that the spy has likely escaped my vessel with some of the Fury relics. Fortunately, these relics are of lesser importance. We have also captured a second agent sneaking around the ship."
Deathshade is dragged into the room by two cyborgs.
"Admiral, this is Recon Lead. We've been detected and are moving back to rendezvous with the main fleet."
"Very well, Recon Lead." He turns to comm screen, "Well, the cat's out of the bag now." Patten walks to fleet communication. "All vessels, we are now on highest alert. The RTSE may attack at any moment. All carriers, launch fighters for CAP. All Bastion-class Battlecruisers, move to the front of the fleet, full power to shields." He turns to weapons officer. "Power up the prototype M182 beam weapons, full power. Divert power from all non-necessary systems to weapons and shields. Launch Hornets for CAP. Prepare the Havocs and Novas for launch. We will be ready if they attack."
Legend opens a channel to the Uberweapon, "So, are you the Gatekeeper, the commander of the Shadow Empire? We are willing to open up diplomatic relations and may even be open for an alliance, if you wish."
He turns back to the comm officer. "Lieutenant, send an encrypted message to the Prime Minister on Ethora, Code Level 0. 'We have exited hyperspace in a contested system. A large battle took place here just before arriving. Contact made. Tensions high. Preparedness level 10. Reinforcements may be necessary. Requesting additional Atlantea-class and Decimator-class Battlecruisers, carriers, and escorts.' This is Priority Level Black. Send the message."
"Yes, sir. They have an ETA of 30 minutes."
"Let's hope we last that long."
A few minutes later, the hologram communications device turns on in Patten's flagship, and a massive man who must be at least 7 feet tall and wearing some sort of mask and armor with glowing red barbed wire up the sides appears.
"Good evening, Grand Admiral Patten. I am the Gatekeeper, creator of the Force as well as the majority of the known universe, and the Emperor of the Shadow Empire. You have stumbled into a very precarious situation. My Empire is currently in a standoff with the Reborn True Sith Empire, ruled by the Sith'ari, Lord Darkon. I have absolutely no idea what he has against me, you, the Imperial Remnant, or Ty294, but he has a lot of enemies. I am open to diplomatic relations, as my Empire's roots can be traced back to diplomacy, and not the art of war. The massive vessel between your two fleets is the Uberweapon, my flagship. It is in it's 'Compressed' form. Uncompressed, it would roughly be about the size of this entire star system. That takes care of that. Now, onto something you will not enjoy hearing: Lord Darkon will not hesitate to attack you at any second. I guarantee you he is just biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. If you wish to discuss this further, contact me at will..."
The Gatekeeper contacts Grage, "Grage, I want you to ask Ty how he is doing in his search for my Assailant. I am rather curious to know his identity..."
Deathstrike sends another burst transmission from Lord Darkon: "My lord, I have managed to escape the Uberweapon! But Deathshade is in their hands. Your orders, my lord?"
"Deathshade did her duty by providing your escape. The important thing is that you are no longer in their hands, and that the information you are carrying is no longer in danger of being compromised! Transmit the termination signal to Deathshade's cranial implant, and join me on the Blood Sanctum. Events have developed considerably during your incarceration, and the final phase of our war with the Gatekeeper and his SE is about to begin. You shall stand at my side in this final campaign!"
"Yes, Lord Darkon. I am honored that you think me so worthy!"
Deathstrike transmits the termination signal, and, on the Uberweapon, Deathshade suddenly collapses, dead, no longer able to divulge anything to the Gatekeeper that might compromise RTSE security.
Meanwhile, on the Blood Sanctum, Darkon's Flagship, "My lord, it seems these creatures from the NEF are about to form an alliance with the Gatekeeper. How foolish of them to side with a doomed Empire... when they could have became allies with the might of RTSE!"
"Indeed, my dear Deathstrike... and as I said before, the final campaign is about to begin. You have proven a worthy apprentice, and I grant you command of the Blood Sanctum. You shall lead our core fleet to battle!"
"Me, Master?! To command your flagship? But..."
"Do not worry... I have something else planned. Now, take your fleet to the outskirts of the Akates system, and cut off our enemies' retreat. When the dust settles, not one of them shall be left alive! The Reborn True Sith shall bathe in their blood before this day is done!"
"At once, my lord!"
Space ruptures behind the NEF fleet, creating a hyperdrive portal. 50 massive ships along with hundreds of smaller ships jump through as the portal closes. Legend smiles.
"Ah, the reinforcements have arrived, what a wonderful sight."
"It most certainly is," Jackson replies.
Legend goes to fleet communications, "All NEF reinforcements, we are in the middle of a war zone, we are currently on Preparedess Level 10. Hostile forces may attack at any time."
He opens holographic communications with the Gatekeeper. A nearly 7 foot tall man appears in the Uberweapon's hologram device. He is wearing state-of-the-art Guardian armor, Commando variant, which is equipped with a personal shield and increases the wearers strength, speed, and agility. "I am willing to forge an alliance with you so that we may provide mutual protection against the RTSE. It seems as if you may need some fresh blood in your fight. My fleet, army, and elite Guardian super soldiers may be what you need to turn the tide of the war."
"Very well, Legend. It shall be done. But I must warn you: The RTSE does not show mercy... Nor does the SE..."
Meanwhile on the other side of the system, the RTSE fleet commander notices that the Uberweapon is slowly turning to face them, then he notices a massive fleet of Allegiance Star Destroyers appearing beside it, THEN he notices a large fleet of regular Star Destroyers appearing behind them, but all of them, as well as all of the Allegiances, are pitch black. Garda Flak Frigates start flooding the scene, and an unknown type of fighter/bomber hybrid starts deploying from all of the larger ships. He then realizes they are outnumbered over 10/1
A comm channel opens.
"RTSE fleet commander, this is the Gatekeeper. Surrender your forces to me or die! You have 5 hours!" *The comm goes dead...*
Moments later, Ty294 arrives in the throne room and reports to the Gatekeeper.
"Unfortunately, I have learned little of this mysterious attacker. I do know he uses a blade of some sort and that he strikes in an undetected manner. There are no clues as to where he has gone unfortunatly. Perhaps he will come out of hiding again, but in the meantime, perhaps I should get that force infusion you offered earlier. I don't like how this set of affairs in going."
"Admiral, Recon Lead reporting. The RTSE fleet appears to be making combat preparations and is heading in your direction."
"So, they decide to take us on. Well, this should be an interesting battle." Fleet communications: "This is Grand Admiral Patten. We have information that the RTSE may be about to attack. Be on your toes, since we do not yet know the power of their weapons. Men, this is where we take our stand, this will be a battle for the ages. Now, all forces, prepare to engage!"
He turns to Captain Carter, second-in-command of his personal Guardian squad, "Get our troops to the landing ships, and prepare for launch and boarding."
"Yes, sir!" He says, as he runs out of the command center. Legend turns to Jackson, "This is going to be one heck of a battle."
Deathstrike stood on the bridge of the Blood Sanctum, waiting for her Master's order. Her Master's voice came through the com, "The lethal force poison I infused is dispersing through the Uberweapon as we speak. Is your fleet in position?"
"We have just reverted out of hyperspace, my lord. The NEF fleet has been substantially reinforced, and I am reconfiguring my fleet into an assault formation. Their retreat is cut off, with Admiral Rajko's forces still holding the front, and the pathetic Uberweapon caught in the middle! I am about to engage the enemy, Lord!"
"By all means, proceed, Deathstrike! Let them taste your fury! I shall be along in due time, with a very special surprise for our dear 'Gatekeeper'..."
"Supreme Admiral Deathstrike to the Prime Fleet: Dreadnoughts, move into encirclement formation around the Blood Sanctum. Attack the center of the NEF fleet! All fighters, deploy! Karas carriers, deploy all bombers! Munja cruisers, move to engage their Havoc and Nova squadrons! Weapons officer, deploy the Fury tetryon disruptor! Let them taste our newly developed technology!
A tetryon disruptor pulse shoots from the Blood Sanctum, aimed for the center of the NEF lines. Two Atlantea and four Decimator class battlecruisers are vaporized in a microsecond, dispersed as atoms across the sector.
"Deathstrike to Fleet Admiral Rajko - the word is given! Engage at will!"
Rattler looks on in shock as fleets seem to appear out of nowhere, and move to engage each other.
"Crap! Where did these guys come from? Knights, fall back to Excalibur! Do not engage unless fired upon!" Pulling back on the stick, Rattler narrowly avoids a blast of unknown energy from the capital ship that had appeared almost on top of him, and vaporizes 6 capital ships. Rattler curses under his breath at the shear destructive power of that weapon.
"Rattler, we're not gonna make it back to the carrier in this mess!" Mags called out. Getting an idea, Rattler transmits on an open channel, hoping someone would listen and help them get out of what is obviously not their war.
"This is Lt. Commander Christopher Johnson of the Terran Confederation. My squadron is non combatant! I repeat, the Black Knights are non combatant! We're not here to fight anyone, but we will defend ourselves if fired upon!"
"Sir, I just got word from the fleet. They are moving in system to try and clear us a path out, but they won't get here for another 20 minutes." Rattler cringes at the estimate.
"By then, we'll be space dust. Knights, go evasive. Use the larger ships for cover if they aren't bristling with Anti Fighter turrets. As soon as Excalibur's close enough, hit the afterburners. We're getting out of this furball!"
Grage looks out at the destruction. "Hmm, seems they have imployed the Fury relics quicker them I would have expected. Corporal, send a message to Captain Zerik, I want the Black Dawn brought to our location. I will assume direct command of the vessel upon its arrival."
"Lord Gatekeeper, I must leave now. I promise you, Darkon will regret the day he dared mess with Admiral Alexander Grage!"
As Grage leaves the throne room, Ty294 bursts in.
"Gatekeeper, it seems Darkon has made his last mistake. Request permission to lead boarding operations targeting his flagship"
"Permission granted, Ty. Proceed as you desire." Outside, the battle is in heavy favor of the Shadow Empire. The Uberweapon, with it's hardcoded unique abilities, has sustained no damage. The SE has only lost 1 Allegiance and 4 ISD's as well as a few smaller, less valuable ships not worth reporting. The Blood Sanctum, under the command of Deathstrike, was foolish enough to engage the Uberweapon in direct combat. It has sustained major damage to the engines and is unable to move or enter hyperspace, thus unable to retreat, and rapid fire Autocannons from the Uberweapon are literally tearing the hull apart. The Gatekeeper feels a sharp pain in his neck, and everything goes black, just as he was about to fire the Shadow Laser at the Blood Sanctum...
Still 10 minutes away from the battle, Captain Sasha O'Neill decides to try and secure the safe extraction of the Black Knight Squadron from the middle of the battle. Knowing that she might have to get in the fight, she orders the fleet to prepare for battle, and for all pilots to report to the flight deck. Nodding to the communication's officer, she addresses the forces involved in the battle.
"This is Captain Sasha O'Neill of the Terran Confederation Expeditionary Fleet. We are not here to take part in your conflict, however, one of our squadrons that was out on recon is trapped inside the combat zone. Any hostile action taken against our squadron or elements of this Expeditionary Fleet, and we will defend ourselves with lethal force if necessary."
Rattler evades more weapons fire as the signal from the TCS Excalibur is sent on all channels.
"Let's hope someone listens this time..."
"Captain O'Neill, this is Admiral Delagon of the SE Navy. I am supervising the battle while the Gatekeeper is away. It would be my pleasure to offer you cover fire while you get your recon team out of harm's way. What is your location?"
"We are about eight minutes out from the battle, bearing 224 mark 67 from the battle. I'll have our squadron light up their transponders so that you can identify them."
Rattler barrel rolls to evade a fighter that had decided to tail him when the order came from the Excalibur. "You want us to WHAT?"
"Squawk your transponders Knight 1. Local forces are willing to cover you, but they need to be able to identify your craft."
"You do know that if we do that, we'll light up like a Christmas Tree. And most likely everyone's gonna be gunning for us."
"I'm well aware of that Commander, but we don't have a choice. As soon as you're aboard, we're pulling back away from the battle. After the battle we will offer humanitarian aid if needed, but we are not fighting in a war that does not concern us."
"Understood Excalibur. Knights, light up your transponders and put the pedal to the metal. Anything takes a pot shot at us, you are cleared to engage, but only if it pursues. We are outta here!" Rattler flicks his transponder to transmit openly, revealing his location to the entire universe, and hits the afterburners while transferring extra power to the shields. The rest of the Black Knights follow their squadron leader as they make their way towards the edge of the raging battle.
An SE flak frigate pulls up beside them and starts gunning at and shooting down the enemy fighters pursuing them. Moments later, they are at their transport.
"Black Knights, you are cleared to board your transport and proceed with retreating manuevers."
The flak frigate rushes back to join the battle.
About an hour later, the majority of Darkon's fleet has been wiped out, and the Blood Sanctum, mortally wounded, floats there, all systems disabled.
"Since the Gatekeeper is no longer with us, I am supervised to... Well, supervise!" Admiral Delagon declares. "See the Blood Sanctum out there? I want boarding shuttles launched ASAP! You have 45 minutes! Kill everything on board and get back those relics, or we will blow the ship to bits!" "Sir, I can not agree with your assessment. We are under direct orders from the Gatekeeper himself NOT to destroy that ship! He has said that a mercenary is leading a boarding operation to it, but he would not specify!" "Well then, our boarding operations will join theirs! Wait for orders from the mercenary THEN board the ship! Use ion beams to further disable it's systems!" "Yes, Sir!"
"Thanks for the cover!" Rattler transmits to the frigate that covered their tails.
The 12 Rapiers from the Black Knight Squadron quickly land on the Bengal Class Strike Carrier TCS Excalibur. Rattler jumps out of his fighter and quickly makes his way from the Flight Deck to the Bridge as the Carrier and the rest of the Expeditionary Fleet pull back from the battle. He approaches a Middle aged, Auburn haired woman, and snaps off a salute, which is returned by Captain O'Neill.
"You guys got lucky out there Rattler."
"Yes sir. I don't know what's going on out there, but it looks like we jumped Galaxies only to end up in the middle of someones war."
"Until we can find a Jump Point back to our Galaxy, and our own war, we may have to pick a side."
"Considering the firepower I saw out there, I think it would be better not to get involved. They got guns out there that make our new Phase Transit Cannons look like squirt guns."
"I noticed Commander. Still, this 'Gatekeeper' might be able to help us get home."
Rattler shakes his head. "Things were so much easier when we only had to deal with the Cats."
"If we don't do something here, the Cats may not be Earth's only problem. We have to consider the safety of every Human world in our galaxy."
"Understood sir. I'll make sure we're fueled up and ready. If we have to fight, then we'll show them a reason not to mess with Confed." Rattler salutes, and leaves the Bridge. Captain O'Neill turns her attention back to the battle, and watches as one of the larger capital ships is disabled.
"What the heck was that?!" Legend exclaims as the weapon blows away six capitol ships. "Well then, time to hit back! Launch all Havocs and Novas!" Prepare to fire M182 EPB (Enhanced Plasma Beam) weapons. Firestorm-class Heavy Missile Cruisers fire everything you have! Havocs, Novas, plasma torpedoes, disruptor, burst, disintegration missiles, everything you have! All carriers, launch all fighters and bombers and attack! All Decimators, fire heavy MEV (Magnetically Enhanced Velocity) cannons (Heavy MEV's can fire a massive slug of molten metal that disintegrates frigates in a single shot. They cause severe damage to capitol ships) at their capitol ships! All Bastions, move to the front of the line, full power to shields! All Atlanteas, all classes, go for their capitol ships!"
The destruction ensuing causes severe damage to remaining RTSE forces. The EMP from all of the nukes disables most of the remaining forces, as well as the heavily damaged Blood Sanctum. The MEV rounds tear through many RTSE vessels
"Lieutenant, move the Leviathan to the center of the battle. Fire EPB's at all hostile vessels that come into range!"
As the Leviathan moves into battle, EPB's leap out from turrets on the ship. 1 slices a cruiser in half, while another, cutting throught a dreadnaught, finds a reactor, creating a massive fireball.
"What a wonderful sight! Soon they will be no more. They should know not to underestimate the NEF anymore." Using his intercom, Patten he hails Captain Carter. "Carter, assist SE boarding operations by deploying Guardian squads on the Blood Sanctum. I will join you aboard once most of the remaining RTSE fleet is destroyed."
"Yes sir, and good luck."
Admiral Rajko to Deathstrike: "Affirmative! All vessels, engage designated targets!"
Many more TEC ships have arrived in the meantime to reinforce the Uberweapon, but, like before, their armaments and battle tactics are inferior to the RTSE. Even outnumbered so heavily, Rajko's armada is holding its own, the Kurgarin dreadnoughts' reactive armour nearly impervious to puny TEC weapons. The Uberweapon is proving more of a problem, however, as BG-JZ11 battlegroup is obliterated within seconds into the battle. With TEC ships less of a problem with each passing moment, the Admiral reconfigures the fleet into Assault Formation A51-11, outflanking and surrounding the Uberweapon, literally smothering it with weapons' fire.
On the other front, Deathstrike's Prime Fleet is meeting with stiffer resistance from NEF forces, after the initial heavy push...
"Supreme Admiral Deathstrike to the fleet: They are deploying heavy tactical missiles! Munja cruisers, intercept and destroy the missiles with your point-defence rapid fire autocannons before they can hit us. Attack pattern Z1-A7! "
The Munjas dart away from the fleet's center like wasps, and direct heavy saturation fire at the cloud of incoming missiles. Too fast and agile for the NEF heavy capital ships to get a good weapons lock, only a dozen Havocs manage to get through the screen, destroying 5 Karas carriers and severely damaging one Kurgarin dreadnought. One manages to impact the Blood Sanctum, but the behemoth remains undamaged. Enemy bombers move to engage the Munja's, and are intercepted by Sith fighters providing close cover.
"Kurgarins, move forward to engage their capital ships directly. Karas carriers, have your bombers begin launching Power-flechette graviton torpedoes! I am taking the Blood Sanctum to attack the Uberweapon!"
The Kurgarins surge forward like relentless moving fortresses that they are, their reactive armor and heavy shielding proving very effective against enemy MEV and EPB weapons. While the lighter-shelled Karas carriers do not fare so well, 3 more being lost, only one Kurgarin is destroyed. The heavy PGC (Polaron Gauss Cannon) fire from the Kurgarins claims 4 more Decimators within minutes. Meanwhile the Power-flechette graviton torpedoes from the bombers get through to impact on the hulls of several Atlantea vessels, ignoring the shields and, the Atlanteas relying on shields mostly, lacking heavy armor, causing a severe gravimetric shear in their hulls, while the high-powered Flechette neutron warhead detonates INSIDE the hull itself. 2 Atlanteas vanish in fireball, while 2 more suffer severe damage, one of them Grand Admiral Patten's flagship! With the center of the NEF lines breached, two battlegroups get through to reinforce Admiral Rajko's forces battling the Uberweapon and TEC vessels.
The Blood Sanctum is already there, its Fury tetryon disruptors gouging huge molecular-disintegrating holes in the Uberweapon, as Rajko's forces continue to smother it with fire from all directions. The Sanctum has suffered moderate damage from the Uberweapon, but is holding its own.
And Lord Darkon himself is not far now...
The Gatekeeper reappears at the bridge of the Uberweapon, Irritated at the unknown attacker. "As you can see, Sir, their pathetic weapons are not doing a bit of damage. Our hull and shields are still at 100%. The Blood Sanctum, as you well know, has been critically damaged and is disabled. Our TEC vessel's are absolutely slaughtering Darkon's ships, and our Star Destroyers are making mincemeat out of everything else." "Good. However, our allies to the North are not faring so well. Reposition the fleet in a box position around them to reinforce their numbers, and activate the Phase Disruptors. Darkon's pathetic fleet will regret the day it messed with the Shadow Empire!"
Four long hours later, Darkon's fleet has been destroyed. The only vessel left alive is the Blood Sanctum, completely disabled, and due to it's disabled engines and the Phase Disruptors, it cannot enter hyperspace.
"Patten, if you can still hear me, help me position our fleets so we can completely surround that ship in all directions! Up, Down, Left, Right, Diagonal, Every single one! I want that ship completely outflanked!"
"As for my Assailant, once again, you make an empty threat. I've played your little game, and I've won. Now you are going to play MY game. If you have the nerve, that is..."
"We're hit!" Yelled Patton, "Seal bulkheads! Decimators, regroup around me! All Hornet Heavy Fighterbombers, concentrate fire on the Munjas! Talon-class Strike Cruisers, fire on the Munjas! Firestorms, launch EMP missiles to take out the dreadnaughts' shields! All power to EPB weapons!"
The increased power to EPB weapons create massive destruction, each shot tearing through Kurgarin armor and shields like they were paper. Dozens are destroyed, momentarily halting the RTSE advance. The Decimators move forward, Heavy MEV cannons crushing hostile armor and overloading shields. Flak frigates and intereceptors fly CAP, destroying any bomber foolish enough to move into range. The Bastions, full power to shields, deflect any shots fired in the proximity of the Leviathan. The Talons destroy the Munjas, using superior engine technology and rapid fire plasma cannons to plaster them. The Firestorms, with point defense weapons out of the way, commence a heavy bombardment, launching thousands upon thousands of missiles into the hostile fleet. Many vessels, already partially disabled by the EMP missiles, succumb to the fusillade. Many more Novas and Havocs are launched, adding to the destruction as dozens of ships vanish in gigantic fireballs. The RTSE advance has now been completely halted. The tide begins to turn in the NEF's favor.
"All ships, Attack Formation Delta-Romeo-Theta. Prepare to deliver the killing blow!"
Deathstrike senses her Master arriving. "Yes! Lord Darkon is here!"
A new battlegroup of RTSE ships; Decloaks, vessels unlike any ever seen before. They seem to exist outside the normal space-time, and have the ability to merge with other vessels. Three of them merge with the Blood Sanctum, bringing its hull and shields back to 100%, and empowering its weapon to 250%. Meanwhile, the Battle Meditation effect causes an almost palpable loss of hope among the NEF forces, some ships actually turning their weapons on one-another.
"Lord Darkon to Deathstrike: Dispatch assault shuttles to board the Uberweapon! Have the rest of the Prime Fleet hold off the NEF forces! To Fleet Admiral Rajko: Have your battlegroups break from the Uberweapon and destroy the rest of the puny TEC fleet! My ships will continue the assault on the Uberweapon."
The Munjas, taking heavy losses from the pursuing Talon strike cruisers, come back toward the main body of the RTSE fleet. Suddenly, they scatter, a second before a barrage of PCG fire rips through the space they just occupied, shattering two battlegroups of hapless Talons.
"Deathstrike to all remaining Kurgarins: Transfer additional power to shields and reactive armour, and reconfigure the shield frequency to negate their EMP pulses."
With the enemy forces scrambled by the Battle Meditation effect, the Kurgarins have enough time to regroup and go back on the offensive, while the Karas carriers launch a new wave of bombers with Flechette graviton torpedoes. A Munja battlegroup engages a force of Flak frigates at point-blank range, creating a window for the bombers to attack the remaining Firestorms. Armed mostly with missiles, lacking point-defence, the Firestorms are slaughtered by a storm of Flechette graviton torpedoes, while the regrouped Kurgarins wreak havoc among Decimators and Bastions, burning dozens! Suddenly, the Leviathan finds herself cut off from the rest of the NEF fleet, a Kurgarin heading right for it...
The Blood Sanctum, regenerated and reinforced, renews her attack on the Uberweapon, destroying all of its forward weapons arrays, while Lord Darkon's time-displaced vessels literally ram through the behemoth, causing even more damage. Lord Darkon himself phases to the Uberweapon's bridge, for a face-to-face with the Gatekeeper.
Admiral Rajko's forces have destroyed all of the Remnant Star Destroyers, and have the remainder of the TEC fleet in panic, as the Kurgarins reap through their ranks like scythes through wheat.
From a safe distance, the TCS Excalibur and the rest of the Expeditionary Fleet observe the battle. A few stray Sith Fighters attempt to draw the Confed ships into the battle, only to get chased off by Scimitar and Rapier squadrons. For now, the Terran Confederation remains neutral in the conflict. The larger Confederation class Dreadnaught TCS Kyushu maintains a steady charge to her Phase Transit Cannon just in case a capital ship tries to harass the fleet. But so far, the Confederation forces are being largely ignored, much to the relief of the fighter pilots.
"Sensor Officer: Admiral Rajko, I am detecting a new fleet of unknown contacts at extreme range. They seem to be observing the battle. A while ago, some of their fighters were rather close to Supreme Admiral Deathstrike's fleet, but they did not engage. Curious..."
"Well, at this juncture, anyone who is not attacking us is a welcome change. We have no lack of enemies." *To Commodore Tagic* "Commodore, assume command here. Continue decimating the TEC forces, and be prepared for any surprises from the Uberweapon, as well as to reinforce Supreme Admiral Deathstrike if required. I am taking Battlegroup JZ1 to make contact with that force out there. Perhaps they could be persuaded to join the battle on our side."
The RTSE Zatornik, Fleet Admiral Rajko's Kurgarin class flagship, leads the battlegroup to within medium range of the unknown force.
"Channel open, Admiral."
"Transmitting to unknown vessels claiming to belong to the "Terran Confederation". This is Fleet Admiral Rajko, commanding the Reborn True Sith Empire's Battlegroup JZ1. You seem to be taking an interest in the conflict taking place in this sector. Obviously, this region of space is not quite the safest sector to be in at the moment. Some of your fighters were waylaid by our forces before. I assure you, hostility was not our intention. Our forces saw unidentified vessels on the battlefield, and naturally assumed they could be a threat. Even more so, considering the rather difficult position we are in at the moment. I am interested to know who you are, and would you be interested in acquiring a potentially powerful ally in this region of the universe."
The Gatekeeper looks calmly out as his ships are being torn apart, as Lord Darkon stands behind him. The crew turns their heads simultaneously to him. "Ignore him. Keep the cloaking shield active. Let them think they are actually winning." He pauses for a moment. "Fire the Shadow Laser." The Shadow Laser fires at the Blood Sanctum, and its energy is dissipated and dispersed across the Sanctum's hull, causing no damage at all. Once again, the Gatekeeper underestimates Lord Darkon's capabilities both remote... and direct. Even as the Gatekeeper attempts to suppress Lord Darkon's powers, the spell is likewise dissipated. As the Uberweapon's bridge crew collapses, dead, around him, Lord Darkon slowly walks to join the Gatekeeper at the front viewport, and the continued contest unfolding there. Finally, he speaks: "Your delusions shall not save you, Gatekeeper. Look out there. Your pathetic TEC allies are being wiped out, and even though your newly acquired NEF lackeys are barely holding their own for the moment, that shall not last long. I do not have to make a move, Gatekeeper... you do. I am willing to end this war, if you immediately cede the TEC to the Reborn True Sith Empire. What you have failed to grasp throughout this war, is that I was not interested in your Shadow Empire at all, but at the abundant resources of the TEC galaxy. I told you once before, the time shall come when you will proclaim your loyalty to the RTSE, but that time is far from now. The TEC is all that interests me. Consider your response carefully," Lord Darkon looks once again out the viewport, "because your time is running short..."
Deathstrike's battle meditation is suddenly interrupted by a disturbance in the Force. She leaps to her feat to face the enemy but it is too late. A blast from a disruptor rifle rips through her chest. Her body disintegrates in an instant. Ty294, flanked by two mercs, enters the bridge of the Blood Sanctum. The merc who fired the disruptor, a rodian thug from Nar Shaadda, speaks first: "I thought you said this would be difficult!"
"Keep quiet you idiot. Do you think it would be this easy?"
A moment later Ty294's words ring true; a blade slices through the rodians chest, killing him instantly. The second merc meats a similar fate. Ty294 turns to face the attacker. Before him stands Deathstrike.
"You fool! You'll pay for interfering with Lord Darkons affairs!"
As Deathstrike moves in to attack, Ty294 activates two purple lightsabers mounted on his forearm armor. As the two engage in a vicious duel, the remainder of Grage's fleet, including the Black Dawn, arrive. Grage is quickly shuttled to the Black Dawn where he takes command from the bridge tower. The Black Dawn is a regular Imperial-class Star Destroyer, with two large turrets mounted on top. It's dark grey surface is covered with strange cyan-colored lights.
"Admiral Grage, the full fleet is here as requested."
"Good... good. Move in quickly! I want... I-I-I want... Kill Darkon!!"
Grage stammers, his hands shaking feverishly, his face has grown extremely pale. An aid quickly rushes up carrying an injector needle.
"Admiral, you forgot your medication."
After recieving the injection, Grages coloring returns and his shakes calm.
"Thank you Coporal, I can't let my mental illness get in the way of my better judgement. Now Captain, move the fleet into position behind Darkon's armada. I want his retreat cut off and his forces seperated from any further reinforcements."
"Turbo-bolt cannons at the ready!"
"Commodore Tagic to BG-JZ20, BG-JZ37, and SG-JH41, more SE and Remnant vessels are decanting behind our lines. Break off from the TEC forces to engage the new enemy." He opens the commlink to Fleet Admiral Rajko. "Sir, things are deteriorating over here. We need more ships!"
"Acknowledged, Commodore. I am dispatching the rest of my battlegroup to reinforce you. The Zatornik will stay here to continue negotiations with the Terran Confederation."
Deathstrike manages to sneak in a quick blow to the Mercenary's solar plexus that sends him staggering backward, long enough to reach for her commlink*
"Prime Group 21-A4, proceed to reinforce the rear lines. More scum has arrived."
With those words, the Mercenary comes back at her, his lightsabers slashing wildly. Her cortosis-laced tremor vibrosword moves almost on its own accord to parry the blows, and one of her counterstrikes manages to score a gash across the Mercenary's left thigh.
Rattler observes from the Bridge of the TCS Excalibur as a Sith group closes on the Fleet. A Transmission is received, and Captain O'Neill decides to respond. Rattler pulls her to the side, and advises against revealing too much about their situation or origins. The captain nods, and transmits a reply.
"This is Captain Sasha O'Neill, commanding the TCS Excalibur. We are not from this region of space, and only recently discovered a way to come here via a Quasar Jump Point. This fleet is an Expeditionary Force on a mission of exploration and, if possible, find resources that can be used in our war with the Kilrathi Empire. We have no interest in getting involved in another conflict if at all possible. Our Black Knight Squadron was on recon, investigating the aftermath of what I'm assuming was a previous battle involving your forces and those you are currently engaged with when your fleet appeared and opened fire. After the battle, we are willing to provide Humanitarian aid to both sides."
Rattler mutters under his breath about wishing Admiral Tolwyn was there to handle this First Contact situation. He then gets a feeling that they may get maneuvered into a position where they will have to take sides. Rattler inches closer to the door so that he can get down to the Flight Deck just in case things get ugly.
A paralyzing dart shoots past Darkon's ear and hits the Gatekeeper in the throat. A man armored in mandalorian armor steps onto the bridge.
"You two shiks sicken me." The intruder said quietly "I'll explain this in simple words, so maybe it will have a chance to get past your thick skulls. When you and Darkon fought, when you killed Darkon, when you drained each-others powers, when you came back from the dead, you threw this galaxy out of balance." Idiots, the man thought to himself, "We are about to face an enemy far more deadly than either of you have ever dreamed of, and you two squabbling like children is extremely counter-productive. If we are going to have any chance..."
He is cut short by an explosion that rocked the Uberweapon, causing every on to fall around the room.
"We have to... get off the ship!"
Alarms started blaring, and officers started yelling damage reports. Something was tearing the Uberweapon apart, from the inside.
"Not even the force can save you this time. But I need the two of you alive because you are the two most powerful forces in this galaxy, but even that may not be enough."
The Gatekeeper pulls the dart out of his throat. "Do you really think a mere paralysis dart is going to stop me? Instead of trying to cheap shot me, why don't you tell me your plan before I decide to kill you for breaching my ship? The same goes for you." *Glares at Darkon*
"Hold!" Darkon yelled, "I am intrigued... what is this 'enemy far more deadly than we have ever dreamed of'? Explai..." Darkon is cut short, when the walls and ceiling of the Uberweapon start to ripple and the glass starts to crack. Everyone falls to their knees as the floor starts to disfigure. The Assailant pushes a button on his wrist and yells, "IT'S TOO LATE!" The Glass window shatters as a small ship flies over. Darkon, the Gatekeeper and the Assailant fly out into space and land on the small vessel.Once the three were safely in the ship, they looked out the window as the Uberweapon folds in on itself. The Gatekeeper tries to remake it, as he did before, but something prevented him.
"As I said." Said the man, looking out the window. "This enemy is far different from any you have encountered before." He sat at the controls of the small ship, "My plan WAS to get you to to stop fighting long enough to defeat this enemy, but now that both your fleets are gone..." Said the Assailant as he looked out the window to see the shockwave from the uberweapon destroying everything around. "I'm not sure how useful you'll be." He pilots the ship away from the destruction.
Rattler curses at the sight of a massive ship, if it could even be classified as a ship, is ripped apart. Captain O'Neill is speechless. The officer assigned to monitor the sensors alerts the Captain that they have detected a small vessel heading towards them, and that it apparently was near the large vessel before it went up.
"Try to establish contact with that ship. They may be survivors, and may have wounded. Mr. Ramirez, get a medical team on standby on the Flight Deck."
Rattler suddenly focuses on the ship, as he gets a weird feeling that something powerful is on board. It could be nothing, but then again, he got the same feeling after they made the jump into this galaxy. Maybe his Pilgrim genes were going wonky from being so far from known space. Shaking his head, Rattler made his way to the Flight Deck to assist if needed.
Both Deathstrike and the Mercenary are thrown to the deck as a massive explosion comes from the Uberweapon. Leaping to her feet, she addresses the remaining ships in the Prime Fleet: "All ships, retreat immediately! The Uberweapon has exploded, its shockwave will obliterate everything in the sector. Regroup at Staging Point 4R, and head for RTSE space! No contact from Lord Darkon at the moment. Stand by for further instructions."
About half the ships made it, including a severely damaged Blood Sanctum, as the remainder of the TEC fleet, the NEF forces, and Admiral Rajko's battlegroups are annihilated. The Zatornik, with Fleet Admiral Rajko, is still near the Confederation fleet, outside the blast radius, and is unaffected.
Grages fleet, having been flanking Darkon's forces at a distance, are among the few TEC craft unaffected by the blact.
"By the force! What in the galaxy was that!?"
"Captain, attempt to establish contact with the Gatekeeper and Ty294. I want to know exactly what has just happened."
Ty294 staggers to his feet, Deathstrike 1 is busy commanding Darkon's surviving ships. His comlink suddenly buzzes.
"This is Ty294, who am I speaking to?"
"This is Captain Zerik of the Black Dawn, Admiral Grage wants to know what the heck just happened."
"I have no bloody idea! Have you contacted the Gatekeeper?"
"We're trying that now sir, no luck."
"What?!? My entire fleet is... gone?! Fleet Admiral Rajko stares in shock as the expanding shockwave from the Uberweapon's explosion consumes all the vessels around it.
The sensor officer address's Rajko, "Admiral, I am detecting faint thermal emissions heading in this direction... launching a sensor-focus probe... confirmed, sir. A small vessel is approaching from the direction of the detonation. Sir, the Confederation ships also appear to have detected it."
"Helm, intercept course." O'Neill orders, "I have a strange feeling that this ship might be somehow responsible for what just happened. And my instincts are rarely wrong. I would like to keep the Confederation out of this for the time being. Shields up. We don't yet know the capabilities of that vessel! It may be small, but I have learned long ago not to make the mistake of judging firepower by size. Stay ready!"
The Zatornik closes on the unknown ship, and activates a tractor beam. The small vessel is snared, and is being drawn into the auxiliary portside hangar bay.
"So much for getting that ship aboard Excalibur..." Rattler mused as he watched the small craft get pulled into the Zatornik.
Captain O'Neill orders two Southampton class Destroyers to move into the debris field to search for survivors, then informs the surviving forces that were involved in the battle about the Search and Rescue operation now underway.
"We'll figure out what happened," Captain O'Neill states calmly.
"I've got a bad feeling about this," Rattler said as he leans against the bulkhead. "I think we might have stumbled into something much bigger than we thought."