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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-14 10:42pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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Chapter Four (cont.)

“Priority One signal from Lamaredd Central Control, Sir,” a young communications technician reported as he snapped to attention and saluted Abril with his right hand as he held out the data-pad in his other.

Abril frowned and he took the device, and quickly browsed through. His frown faded, and his eyes grew wide.

“Communications! Was this decoded properly?” he barked.

The Comm officer in the Pit turned and sharply nodded. “Yes, sir. Sir; the message header requires us to confirm receipt and to acknowledge the order.”

The Captain of Ascension turned back to his bridge windows, and he placed his hands behind his back. “Communications, confirm that we have received the order—ask Lamaredd Central Control to authenticate the order before we acknowledge.”

Abril licked his suddenly dry lips as he watched the drive flares of Morvin’s ships slowly closing the distance between his Fleet and high orbit.

“Sir. Lamaredd Central Control authenticates the order and requests that we acknowledge the order.”

The twenty-six year veteran of the Imperial Fleet let out a breathe that he had not realized he was holding. “Transmit our acknowledgement to Lamaredd Central Control.”

Abril’s executive officer walked up the catwalk to stand beside the older man. “Captain, what did the order say?” he whispered.

The Captain did not answer, he merely handed his first officer the data-pad.

“What the . . . ? Sartan will go ballistic.”

“Yes. It is, however, a legitimate and legal order, Chang. We will keep the crew at alert stations for five more minutes and then stand down.”

“Aye, aye, Sir.”

“STATUS CHANGE!” A Lieutenant in the Pit barked. “Cyralis Fleet is launching fighters!”

“Belay that order,” Abril snapped. “Order the Squadron to combat readiness—on my authority! Tactical, are the fighters closing on an attack vector?”

“No, Sir. They are forming up though.”

“How many?”

“Looks like all of them.”

“Ready our own squadrons for hot-launch—upon my command only!”

“Aye, aye, Sir.”

****************************************************

Fleet Admiral Whartil Sartan sneered at the holographic image of Kell Morvin. “And I don’t care what that idiot Moff ordered, Morvin! This is my Fleet, my Sector!” Spittle flew from the corpulent man’s lips as he shouted at the hologram. “Now turn those ships around and leave or I will open fire upon you!”

“You will not abide by the orders of your own Moff, Fleet Admiral Sartan?” the image asked very precisely.

“He was tricked! Tricked! He would never issue such an order without going through me! Never! If that worthless transmission even came from him!”

The hologram flickered, and the image looked off-screen and said something that was not transmitted.

“Sir! Morvin’s ships are launching TIEs.”

Sartan’s eyes bulged with rage—and more than a little fear. “You be will remembered as a Renegade and an Outlaw, Morvin,” he spat.

“Admiral Sartan, it is not I who is disregarding the order of his Moff today. All ships broadcast,” he ordered off-screen.

****************************************************

A holographic image of High Admiral Morvin appeared on the bridge of Ascension. “All Imperial Fleet personnel. You have by now received your orders from Moff Osar. I am not concerned with your personal feelings in this matter, your orders are clear. I expect them to be fully obeyed. I hereby relieve Admiral Sartan of his command, for the following violations of the Imperial Code of Military Jus . . .” the hologram scattered, and Abril turned to face the communications Lieutenant.

Justicar is jamming the transmission, Sir. Ah . . . Sir,” he continued as he held one hand to the comm piece in his ear, “Admiral Sartan is ordering the Fleet to immediately attack the Cyralis vessels.”

Abril Jonas nodded crisply and then he turned back to face the bridge windows. “Squadron orders; all ships are to come to heading 115 mark 20 and accelerate at maximum thrust consistent with maintaining our squadron formation.”

Chan Palomar stared his commander. “115 mark 20 will take us away from the fight, Sir.”

“I am aware of that, Mister Palomar. We have our orders from the Moff—and he outranks Sartan.”

“That means Morvin is in charge, Sir . . . should we not be assisting his ships?”

“Did you hear an order to provide assistance, Mister Palomar? I did not.”

The XO simply nodded and he turned to walk back down the catwalk, keeping a close eye on the stations below.

“Sir,” the communications Lieutenant—the frazzled communications Lieutenant—turned around once again. “Valorian and Caprice have refused to acknowledge the Squadron orders—they are attempting to coerce other vessels to come about and assist Justicar.”

Abril frowned. “Repeat the orders; and instruct Valorian and Caprice to acknowledge immediately.”

“No response, Sir,” the Lieutenant replied after he relayed the instructions.

“Gunnery. Lock our starboard battery on Caprice and our port battery on Valorian. Communications, repeat my orders and request acknowledgement again.”

Valorian and Caprice are spinning up their shield generators and bringing weapons on-line, Sir,” the XO called out from a station at the rear of the bridge.

Damn you, Abril thought. That is not the right answer. “Gunnery. Fire into Valorian and Caprice.”

“Sir . . .” the chief gunnery began in protest.

“NOW, damn you!”

A dozen heavy turbolaser bolts lashed out from turrets mounted in each side of Ascension's hull; the Carrack-class Caprice simply exploded as her unshielded hull absorbed bolts designed to rupture Star Destroyer armor. The Dreadnought-class Valorian staggered, her hull broken and spilling atmosphere and tiny flailing figures into the vacuum. Then the second volley of the port guns broke the old ship in half.

“Communications, broadcast to the Squadron. This is Fleet Captain Jonas. You will obey my orders or I will obliterate you! Immediately come to heading 115 Mark 20 and accelerate to maximum thrust consistent to maintain formation. Ascension out.”

The massive ship and her escorts began to accelerate away from the remainder of Sartan’s force. Abril closed his eyes and he wordlessly mouthed a prayer for the souls of the Imperial crewmen he had just slaughtered.

“Sir, we are being hailed by Justicar,” the comm officer spoke up.

“On screen, Lieutenant.”

The main communications screen flashed to light and Abril could see the red-faced Admiral standing there. “What are you doing, Captain Jonas? Get back here you coward!”

“Sir, I am no longer under your command, by the express order of Moff Osar. Accordingly . . .”

“You damned traitor! That order is a fake! Get back in formation at once!”

Abril’s jaw hardened. “Admiral, the order was authenticated twice and confirmed by Lamaredd Central Control. Baring legal orders from my new commander to the contrary, I cannot and I will not obey your instructions.”

The screen blanked, and the communications Lieutenant looked up from the pit. “Transmission severed at the source, Sir.”

Ascension rocked hard, as several turbolasers struck her dead astern.

Acrimonious is pursuing, Sir! She’s firing into our stern!” another Lieutenant barked out.

“New squadron orders! All ship’s come about—target Acrimonious and open fire as you bear! Launch TIEs!”

The Star Destroyer banked hard to port and she slowly came around as turbolaser bolt after turbolaser bolt slammed into her hull, shaking the crew and ship.

“All ahead flank! Increase power to forward shields!” Abril commanded as the white-painted wedge of a Star Destroyer appeared as a miniscule dot in the bridge windows. “All ships—reset transponders to Cyralis Fleet protocols. And communications; see if you can cut through the jamming and raise Admiral Morvin. We may need some assistance here.”

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-15 11:35am
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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Chapter Four (cont.)

Olin Payne blanched as he took up station just outboard and behind the starboard wing of Zach Jin’s Avenger. His scanners were crowded with more than twelve hundred friendly fighters and bombers alone. And the other side had almost as many.

Scorpion Wing,” the comm hissed, “proceed to Way Point Four; you are authorized to carry out your assault.”

Olin banked in unison with Zach and the Avengers and Scimitars accelerated quickly along the curving path of the way points that would lead them to the flank of Sartan’s ships. And at that moment, the scanners went crazy.

The precise and serried ranks of the enemy formation broke apart—dozens of ships and hundreds of Starfighters surged forward, opening fire on the Cyralis Fleet. But a solid third of the enemy ships began to alter course, evading the battle. Even as the masses of TIE fighters, interceptors, and bombers between the two Fleets merged in a furor of laser fire and the unshielded craft began to explode like popcorn, the opposing capital ships on the other side began to fire into each other!

“Zeta-Four, close up!” Zach snarled. Olin pressed his accelerator forward and moved his Avenger in tight against his wing leader. “Here they come!”

Three squadrons of TIE interceptors rushed down on the more advanced Cyralis fighters and brilliant beams of bright red and green laser fire began to cascade through the formation. Olin no longer had time to think; his vision narrowed and he stayed glued to Zach’s wing as the pair swooped through space, jinking left and right and up and down, as the Avengers and Interceptors merged.

“Break left, Zeta-Four! Split-S and scissor him!”

The two Avengers barrel rolled past the lithe little Interceptors and then they pulled up, splitting apart, two of the enemy fighters pulling high-g turns of their own in an attempt to get behind them. One stayed behind Zack, and Olin smoothly slid in behind the Lamaredd fighter, his quad lasers spitting fire as he held down the trigger.

“Watch it Zeta-Four!” Zach thundered. “That burst almost caught me!”

Olin swallowed and he twisted the stick and adjusted his throttle as the Interceptor broke off his attack—and then the enemy pilot’s wingman began hammering Olin’s rear shields with laser fire. The rookie pilot panicked, and he rolled, he climbed, but the veteran TIE pilot behind him stayed on his tail—until it suddenly exploded, and Zach’s Avenger flew through the fireball.

Without thinking, Olin turned with his wing-leader and the pair of them began chasing the original TIE, their lasers catching the swift and maneuverable fighter in a vicious cross-fire that ended with a fireball.

“Good shot, Zeta-Four. We have reached the initial point—begin attack run!”

Olin swallowed as he followed his wing leader in a long slow turn and lined up on the tremendous bulk of a Star Destroyer—and his threat receiver began to flash. “Lancer-class flak-ship!” he barked. “Coming up fast!”

“I see it, Zeta-Four. Arm missiles.”

Olin switched his weapon systems from guns to the pair of missile launchers, placing his sights directly atop of the anti-starfighter escort. A shrill tone sounded in ears as the seeker heads locked unto the target. “Tone!”

“Fire!”

The rookie squeezed the trigger, and in sequence one after the next, the twin launchers began spitting out missiles. One, then two, then three, and four. Five and six and seven and eight, before the high-pitched lock alert ceased. “Missiles away!”

Zach broke hard to the right, and Olin groaned as the g-forces pressed him deep into his ejector seat. The sixteen missiles sped toward the frigate, and the flak-fire suddenly diminished as its guns began to target the incoming warheads.

Scorpions scatter, now, now, now!” called out the wing commander. Olin follow the lead of Zach as the veteran pilot climbed and poured on the engine power—and then a massive capital ship thundered past. The Carrack’s heavy turbolasers bellowing fury and rage at the smaller frigate equipped with nothing comparable to shoot back.

Turbolaser bolts and missiles exploded against the lightly armored hull of the Lamaredd ship, and then it exploded. “Scratch one escort!” Olin yelled.

“Don’t worry, Zeta-Four,” the rookie heard Zach say grimly. “There are more of them.”

The next few minutes blurred for Olin as he ducked and weaved, trying to stay right beside his wing-leader. And then he saw the white wall of the bulk of the Star Destroyer before him; he toggled his ion cannons active, and as he entered range he simply held down the trigger, spraying shimmering blue bolts into the heavily armored hull ahead of him.

“Aimed fire, Zeta-Four! You are exhausting your capacitors! Shields to full frontal!”

Capital turbolaser bolts soared past, but Olin’s Avenger was far smaller, far faster, and far more maneuverable than those weapons had been designed to engage. Still, there were so many bolts tearing into the attacking fighters that some found a target—and for each one that did, the light shields provided virtually no protection; even a glancing blow shattered the Avenger or Scimitar it struck.

“Missiles away!” cried out the wing commander. “Scorpions evade!”

A chain of explosions erupted along the flank of the Justicar as nearly seven hundred heavy concussion missiles slammed into the shields and bare hull. But for all the hellish fury of those explosions, the Star Destroyer’s armor held; many of her weapon’s turrets, on the other hand, were now either missing or heavily damaged and the volume of its defensive fire suddenly dropped.

Scorpion Avengers,” the wing commander broadcast. “Rendezvous with Shock Trooper transports and provide escort; Scimitars return to base and rearm.”

Olin took a deep breath as Zeta Squadron followed the others back towards his own Fleet. For a brief moment, he was in the clear—and he looked at his port starboard solar panel in horror, seeing for the first time just how close he had come to death. It was warped; half-melted by the intensity of a near miss.

“Zeta-Four,” his wing-leader said. “You stayed with me the full time. Good job, rook.”

“Zeta-Three,” Olin broadcast. “We aren’t going to rearm?”

“Negative, Zeta-Four, we’ve still got lasers and ions and we don’t have time. You done good, kid. Now let’s get the grunts over there in one piece.”

“Aye, aye, Zeta-Three.”

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-15 12:53pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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Chapter Four (cont.)

Kell stood on his bridge without showing any emotion as his forces closed on Sartan’s ships. “Captain Garrett,” he said to his Flag Captain, the officer commanding the Star Destroyer Scorpion. “Have Resolution and her squadron provide assistance to Ascension. Scorpion and Relentless squadrons will deal with the remainder of Sartan’s Fleet.”

“At once, Sir,” the officer answered smartly, as he turned to pass the orders along.

The defection of the old Glorious-class Star Destroyer and her escorts—and two of the smaller Victory-class ships—had shifted the odds dramatically against Whartil Sartan’s forces, Kell thought. He has to realize that he cannot win this. Kell nodded to himself.

“Instruct Bulwark to activate her gravity well projectors, Captain Garrett. We do not want Sartan fleeing, after all.”

Scorpion shuddered as a pair of Strike cruisers laid their turbolasers onto the flagship, but her heavy armor and shielding held. Even before Kell could issue an order, the Flag’s escorting cruisers and frigates concentrated their fire against the two ships. Their shields flared under the impact of scores of turbolaser bolts and then both disappeared in an eye-tearing flare of light.

“Sir, Moff Osar is hailing us.”

“On screen.”

“Admiral Morvin, what is happening? My people say that you are fighting up there! Why won’t Sartan answer my hails?”

“Moff Osar,” Morvin said with a slight bow. “I regret to inform you that Admiral Sartan refused to obey your order—and that he has since attacked my forces with your Sector Fleet.”

WHAT?” The distraught Moff wailed.

“The situation will be resolved in short order, my Moff. Rest assured, we shall not allow the traitor Sartan an opportunity to take you hostage.”

“He threatened me? He threatened me?” Osar asked incredulously.

“It shall not come to pass, Sir. The Imperial Fleet will defend you and this planet from Sartan and his treasonous followers.”

“I-I . . . I must speak with Patrice. Carry on, Admiral,” the Moff said.

Kell shook his head sadly, and then he turned his attention back to the battle.

“Sir, the first strike against Justicar has been successful—she’s lost many weapons, although our casualties were heavy,” Garrett reported. “Our wing is returning to escort the transports to take the ship.”

“Very well, gentlemen. Let us relieve some pressure on the fighter pilots—all ships are to close at flank speed and take the enemy under fire at close range.”

“Sir,” a Pit Lieutenant called out. “Justicar is turning to run for light-speed.”

The admiral frowned. “Where is Bulwark?”

“She’s closely engaged with a Victory-class, sir. Captain Nealon reports his gravity well projectors are disabled.”

“That is a pity. New orders—abort the Shock Trooper assault, all ships are to concentrate fire on the Justicar; we cannot allow Sartan to escape.”

A blindingly bright flash of light caught Kell’s eye, and he looked down at the screen that showed the Star Destroyer Acrimonious shatter into a million pieces of debris. The Flag Captain smiled. “Resolution reports a direct hit on her main reactor, Sir.”

“Well done,” Kell answered. More explosions began to sprout across the hull of Sartan’s flagship, her answering fire becoming weaker and weaker.

“Admiral Morvin,” the Flag Captain added as he held a hand to the comm-device he wore over one ear, “the Star Destroyer Leviathan is offering her surrender. Along with that of her escorts.”

A cheer went up on the bridge.

“Instruct Leviathan that she—and her escorts—are to power down all weapons and propulsion. She may retain station-keeping thrusters only. Inform her Captain that failure to comply will result in a resumption of the attack.”

“Aye, aye, Sir.”

Kell took in a deep breath as Justicar, and Admiral Sartan aboard her, erupted in yet another massive explosion. A second cheer echoed from the bridge.

“Captain Garrett, record a general signal to Lamaredd Fleet vessels engaging us. Your traitor Admiral is dead, gentlemen. I would advise you to surrender immediately if you wish to retain your own lives. You have sixty seconds to comply. Transmit to all ships.”

The flag captain clicked his heels and nodded to the communications officer. The silence dragged on for several moments as the seconds slowly ticked away, and then a lone voice spoke up from the Pit.

“Sir. All hostile vessels are powering down weapons and broadcasting their surrender.”

A third cheer went up, and Kell Morvin smiled.

“Very well. Communications, inform Moff Patrice that we are proceeding with Phase II. Hail the Cataphract.”

On the communications screen, the image of General Conal Ise appeared aboard his command troopship. “Sir,” he said.

“General Ise,” Kell said warmly. “You may land the landing force.”

“Yes, Sir,” he answered with a grin.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-16 03:28pm
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Joined: 2012-04-09 11:06pm
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Chapter Five

Conal waited until the ramp of repulsorlift command vehicle had lowered and then he stepped out into the open, ignoring the stinging drops of rain and the thunderous cracking bolts of lightning overhead. The spaceport tarmac was rapidly filling up with the troops that he brought to Lamaredd—the best of his own Sector Army. From the massive holds of the grounded Acclamator-class troop ships, emerged AT-ATs, repulsorlift tanks, troop carriers, mobile artillery vehicles, and infantry units that slowly filed out and formed up.

Once arranged into discrete companies, they headed out from the port, each with their own objective to secure in the first hours of this invasion. Conal shook his head and he smiled grimly. No, this was not an invasion—instead it was a liberation.

The officers and NCOs of his command staff braced themselves to attention and Conal gave them a quick nod. “Status?”

“The spaceport is secure, Sir,” came the distorted voice from one of his Colonels. “No opposition—although local security was . . . rather taken aback when we began to disembark. The 57693rd Infantry is already en route to secure ISB headquarters, the government quarter, and COMPNOR bases in the capital. I attached the 777th heavy armor battalion and 404th assault walker battalion to Colonel Eliad in case he meets with resistance—along with Battery Beta of the Corps Artillery Reserve. The 811th, 55720th, 64301st, and 99999th Infantry Regiments are spreading out across the capital tasked with maintaining civil order.”

“The 84th Legion,” another staff officer added, “reports that it has secured Lamaredd Sector Army headquarters with no casualties—General Koras says the rank-and-file troopers are more than willing to follow his orders. The few officers who protested have been relieved of command are being held in temporary confinement. Their battalions are now spreading out and instructing the Regular Army units stationed here to return to base immediately.”

“Very good, gentlemen. Local COMPFORCE?”

“One Regiment, Sir. Osar deployed the remainder to the systems of this sector with the highest incidents of Rebel activity. Their commander is refusing to obey the order to return to base, citing that he ‘isn’t under the command of the local army’, Sir.”

Conal nodded, and the turned back towards the ramp of the distant Acclamator where precise ranks of identically armored Shock Troopers were now off-loading. “I believe I know just the unit to dispatch and deal with that COMPFORCE Regiment, gentlemen.”

Another bolt of lightning cracked across the sky, drowning out his any answer.

****************************************************

A long line of armored repulsorlift troop carriers glided into the massive square surrounding the ISB headquarters building. Ramps mounted the rear of each vehicle dropped to the ground and scores—hundreds—of armored infantrymen quickly exited. Colonel Eliad did not wait for his own light speeder to come to a halt, he leaped down from the hatch as it was still moving, using the momentum imparted to add a spring to his step as he climbed the marble risers leading up to the twin bronzed doors, each emblazoned with the Imperial seal.

The two guards standing post began to raise their weapons—but each came to the quick realization that he was a dead man if he did. Instead, they snapped to attention and saluted. Eliad did not slow down, nor did he respond, and the troopers following him pushed the guards back into the wall, holding their own weapons on them as the guards were disarmed. Still more infantry followed him into the vast complex as the Colonel pushed the doors open.

He entered a great rotunda, tiled with mosaic patterns of marble upon the floor, with frescos on the walls depicting the Emperor in all of his glory and majesty. The men and women within the building came to a sudden halt at the flood of armed and armored soldiers, with blasters raised—none offered any resistance.

Squads split off and entered rooms off the chamber, more climbed the curved stairs that circled the rotunda, but Eliad simply marched towards a second set of doors and rushed straight through, finding himself in an immense, ornate, and luxuriously appointed office. A white uniformed Colonel sitting behind a desk, who had just been sharing a laugh with several other officers—all clad in the pristine white of the Imperial Security Bureau—rose to his feet.

“What is the meaning of this?” he snarled, his anger quickly transforming into fear as yet more of Eliad’s troopers followed in his wake.

“Colonel Tibben,” Eliad said loudly, “I have orders for your arrest—and the arrest of all members of the Lamaredd Imperial Security Bureau for crimes against the Empire.”

“What is this nonsense?” the ISB agent shouted. “I have people arrested, you dolt! It is not possible for you to walk in here and demand my arrest! I have people like you vanished! Get Osar on the comm!” he ordered an underling.

Eliad, who unlike the soldiers under his command was not wearing armor, only a heavy dark grey trench coat that he wore over his uniform, walked around the desk and he slammed his gloved fist into the stomach of the ISB Colonel. Of course, the soft gloves of polished leather that he wore on his hands contained a half-kilogram of powered lead sewn into pockets between the layers of calf-skin.

Colonel Tibben gasped in agony and he folded over. “I think you will find that many things that were once not possible have changed, Colonel Tibben,” Eliad whispered. “Please, by all means resist; it will save the Empire the cost of your trial and execution.”

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-16 07:52pm
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Chapter Five (cont.)

One of Colonel Wellon’s youngest recruits came rushing up. He stopped two steps away and saluted smartly—never seeming to realize that he was in full view of the Cyralis Shock Troopers dug in the low hills outside of the COMPFORCE Garrison Base. Wellon did not admonish the recruit; instead he returned the salute.

“Message from Command, Sir!” the young man—the boy—snapped holding out a message board.

Wellon took it and he frowned as he scanned the brief and concise message.

“Damn them!” he snarled. “These traitors have taken our Headquarters men!” he bellowed as he walked up the lines of the unarmored recruits garbed in what were once pristine white uniforms. Now, of course, each of those uniforms was smeared with mud, stained with grass, blood, or other bodily fluids, scorched from the heat of blaster bolts, lacerated from fragments of flying debris. “The Army has surrendered! The ISB has surrendered! Our leaders in COMPNOR have surrendered! But not us! No, never us; we who are the most loyal of the Emperor’s combat arms!”

“Soldiers of the Empire!” he yelled. “We will restore the New Order in its Glory! We will throw down these Rebel dogs who seek to put aliens over us! We will repel their assault and drive them into the ocean! We will turn the seas red with their blood!”

Three quarters of a kilometer away, Colonel Camlaan shook his head as the audio enhancers in his helmet softly repeated those words in his ears.

“QV-3348,” he said into his comm.

“Sir?” the Shock Trooper answered precisely and immediately.

“Silence that imbecile—he makes Gungans appear to be master orators and my ears can no longer take his braying.”

Already resting the prone position, his TC-15c(s) Sniper Blast Rifle supported by its own biped, QV-3348 dialed in on the strutting target.

“Wind is 7.2 kph on a bearing of 106 true,” his spotter whispered. “Ambient temperature 17-degrees; humidity 96%; range to target 764 meters.”

“Acknowledged,” the sniper whispered as he craned his head to the side and peered into the sighting scope, the reticule turned green as the scope finished uploading the data that the spotter had announced. QV-3348 adjusted one dial slightly, and then he slid his hand back down along the foregrip. His right thumb released the secondary safety catch on the trigger-guard and then he began to gently release his breath as he slowly squeezed his forefinger laying atop the trigger.

“They lack faith in the New Order! They do not believe in Doctrine! They seek to destroy all that our beloved and gentle Emperor wrought! They will throw down our Legacy and replace the Empire with a weak and ineffectual Republ . . .”

Colonel Wellon never got the opportunity to finish the word he was speaking when a single overcharged blaster bolt blew apart half of his skull in a fountain of blood.

The COMPFORCE recruits—the children—at this base looked with horror on their fallen commander—the man charged with training them, raising them, teaching them to be loyal minions and servants of the Emperor. And then one of the older teens, almost ready for promotion into the ranks of real COMPFORCE units for service against the aliens, he stood; his cadet major rank tabs soaked in the blood of his Colonel. “CHARGE!” he yelled, throwing his arm forward. And he climbed over the broken wall and began to run across the muddy fields towards the Shock Troopers. And in his wake came the three thousand other child-recruits of the COMPFORCE training command—each armed with a blaster carbine whose lethality did not care for the age of the man or boy pulling the trigger.

“Permission to open fire, Sir?” asked one of Camlaan’s company commanders as the COMPFORCE training regiment bogged down in the soggy field, their once highly polished boots sinking deep into the muck and mud. But they were shooting as they came—and not one of them was bothering to aim.

What a waste, Camlaan thought. “Mortar sections,” he ordered. “Load riot gas and open fire. All other personnel, you are to hold fire until my command. They shoot worse than a Clone two days out of Carida, but everyone stay behind cover—a random bolt will kill you if hits just as sure as an aimed one.”

The three dozen crew-served mortars attached to Camlaan’s command began to cough, sending their payloads high in a ballistic arc overhead and then down into the center of the oncoming children. Three meters above the ground, each shell detonated—but in this instance, the shells did not send forth lethal fragments or burning plasma or chemicals designed to kill or maim. Instead, the mortar rounds dispersed riot gas, burning the eyes and ears and mouths and throats and nostrils and lungs of the children caught within the dense clouds.

The attack first faltered and then it collapsed as the COMPFORCE recruits began to gag and vomit and several of the younger ones just sank down the ground and began to cry in agony—the chemical agents were non-lethal, but remained extremely painful all the same.

The hail of random blaster bolts slowed and then stopped, and Camlaan stood. “Make certain your blasters are set to stun. I’ll shoot the first one of you—free birthed, quick-cloned, or Kamino-cloned—that fires a live round. The Regiment will advance—disarm those children and place them in custody! Move out.”

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-16 11:33pm
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vChapter Five (cont.)

Conal watched the Lambda-class shuttle’s wing fold up as it settled down on the landing pad outside of the Moff’s Palace. The ramp lowered and Admiral Morvin quickly descended.

“He is inside?” he asked briskly as he hurried towards the shelter of the doorway, trying to avoid the heavy downpour falling from the sky.

“Yes, Admiral—and he is . . . quite paranoid. He claims to have a thermal detonator and is threatening to activate it if my troops enter his chambers.”

“And does he?”

Conal shrugged. “His security detail abandoned their posts; we captured one and he confirms that are detonators stored in the Palace Armory—however, he cannot recall how many. Whether the Moff actually possesses one or if he is bluffing . . . I do not know with any surety.”

The two men passed by a pair of Conal’s troopers posted to either side of the blast doors and they exited the cold rain. “This way, Sir,” Conal said as he steered the Admiral to the right.

“I have a special missions squad standing by with hostage rescue training, Admiral—although since he is alone in there I am not exactly certain if hostage is the proper term. And if he does have an armed thermal detonator, stunning him is not an option—you and Moff Patrice did insist that he be taken alive.”

“And we will, Conal. Have faith, be optimistic, look on the bright side of the equation,” Kell said as the footfalls of the men echoed throughout the mostly empty palace.

“Oh I am, Sir. You are here now, so if he dies it is your responsibility and not mine. That alone brightens my day.”

“And depresses mine, thank you Conal,” Kell said in a somber voice.

“You are most welcome, Sir.”

The pair reached Osar’s private office and study adjacent to his formal working office, where around a dozen troopers waited. Their sergeant merely nodded at the two, causing Kell to frown—and Conal chuckled.

“Standing orders, High Admiral Morvin. This is technically a war zone after—my men do not salute in a war zone.”

Kell’s face reddened slightly. “My apologies, Sergeant,” he said quickly. “The rules of engagement ground-side are far different from what I am accustomed to.”

The faceless trooper merely nodded again. “Sirs. I have a squad posted on all entrances and exits—he is still in there and sounding crazier by the moment.”

“Open the door,” Kell ordered. “General Ise and I are going in. You are not to storm the chamber while we are in there—is that understood?”

“Yes Sir.”

Two of the troopers opened the door and Kell walked in, Conal trailing behind him.

“GET BACK!” Osar screamed from the far side of his desk. “I will kill us all, I swear I will, if you do not get back!”

Kell stopped and he bowed low. “Your Grace,” he said carefully. “High Admiral Kell Morvin reporting—I am unarmed, Sir.”

“Morvin? Patrice’s Morvin? Who is that with you?”

“General Conal Ise; he is another officer in the service of Moff Patrice, Sir. We are here to help.”

Osar panted heavily, as he tightly grasped a spherical object in his hands. “Why have my guards fled? There were sounds of fighting in the Palace—I’ve heard reports of your men fighting mine. What is going on?”

“Your Grace, Moff Patrice can answer those questions better than I. I took the liberty of having his communication piped into your office terminal, if you would activate it?”

Osar stared at the two officers for a moment and then he walked over to his comm unit and noted the flashing red light of a holocomm transmission on hold. He pressed the button and a miniature holographic image of Thom Patrice sprang into life.

“Osar, my friend,” he said. “It is good to see that you are well.”

“And you,” the distraught man said quietly. “What is going on, Patrice?”

The hologram shook his head and he looked down for a moment, and then he raised his head again. “Admiral Sartan and several of your officers were planning a coup against you Osar. Those officers have now been taken into custody, is that not correct, Admiral Morvin?”

“Yes, sir,” the Admiral answered as he snapped his heels together. “All those involved in the plot have been arrested—or shot while resisting arrest.”

Osar looked relieved and his grasp on the powerful explosive loosened, and he fumbled with it for a moment before holding it tight once more. Conal flinched and even Kell felt a chill run up his spine.

“So now I am safe?” Osar asked. “We can cleanse this Sector of Rebels and get back to business and life as usual, right, Patrice?”

“Unfortunately, Osar, you are far from safe. Admiral Morvin, have you informed the Moff of Indefatigables report?”

“No, Sir. I have not yet had the opportunity,” Kell answered.

“What report?” Osar asked. “Did he manage to wipe Bandaar III clean of the Rebel scum?”

“Yes,” Kell lied. “At 0200 hours this morning, Your Grace, the Base Delta Zero protocol was employed against Bandaar III, destroying all lifeforms on the planet and rendering it uninhabitable. There were, unfortunately, complications, I have to report.”

“Complications?”

“Yes, Your Grace,” Kell continued. “It seems that there was a Rebel scout ship in the system that recorded the lawful execution of your orders. That recording was transmitted via holocomm to Mon Mothma, the head of the newly formed New Republic.”

“Good. She will discover that I am not to be trifled with,” Osar said defiantly.

Patrice shook his head. “One hour ago, Osar, she broadcast a galactic wide transmission lamenting the destruction of an entire planet. She claims that there were no Rebels present there and that your orders represented a crime against all life in the Galaxy. She placed a bounty on your head of twenty-five million credits—dead or alive, Osar.”

Once again, the Moff fumbled the detonator, and Conal licked his dry lips. “She WHAT?” wailed Osar.

“Your Grace,” interjected Kell. “Perhaps General Ise could hold that thermal detonator for you while you continue your discussion with Moff Patrice—we will return it afterward, if you wish.”

“Oh. Well, yes; that would be kind of you, Morvin.” Osar held out the explosive and Conal stepped forward and gingerly took it. He examined it, and he let out a deep breath.

“It hasn’t been armed, Sir,” he said in a very relieved tone of voice.

Osar looked up and he nodded. “Yes, there is some safety catch on it that I wasn’t able to figure out how to unlock—you need to fix that. What if someone needed to use one in a hurry?”

Conal simply stared, his jaw worked for a moment, and then he made himself nod and bowed slightly. “I will get my engineers to work on it immediately, Your Grace.”

Osar smiled and he looked pleased. “Patrice, why do you get all the good subordinates?”

The hologram of Thom cleared his throat, and Osar looked down upon Patrice as Conal took the thermal detonator to the door and handed it to the troopers standing outside.

“About this bounty, Osar . . . you are in grave danger, I fear.”

“She put twenty-five million on my head? She can’t do that, Patrice!”

“But she has, Osar. And that sum will bring bounty hunters of a high caliber out of the woodwork—assassins like Bossk, Dengar, Fett, IG-88, and Tark.”

“Fett is dead. I heard that he died before Endor,” Osar protested.

Patrice laughed. “I have heard many times that Fett was killed—I will believe it after I see the body. That man has a way of coming back to life more often than a dehydrated plant.”

“I cannot run this Sector from a bunker! How . . . how will I . . .” Osar sat down in his chair heavily and his face whitened.

“There is a solution, Osar,” Patrice continued.

“Tell me,” the Moff begged.

“We announce to the Galaxy that you were killed in the fighting during Sartan’s Coup. That will ensure no hunter will come looking for you.”

Osar frowned. “But I won’t be dead . . . will I?” he asked in a small frightened voice.

“Osar, Osar, Osar,” Patrice said as he shook his head. “No. I have arranged a safe haven for you and your family here on Cyralis. And a new identity. Rest assured, my friend, that no hunter will get past me to do either you or them harm.”

“My family? Why would they go after my family?”

“Osar, for a bounty of this magnitude do you really believe that these hunters will not try to use your wife, use your daughter, to get to you?”

“Patrice, you cannot let them get hurt. You simply cannot.”

“I know. And they will not be—you have my word, Osar.”

The Moff began to cry. “I only wanted to do my job, Patrice—why has all this happened?”

“There, there, my friend. It will be all right. I have toured the estate where you and your loved ones will be kept safe. It has a nice sandy beach and the climate is warm—just like Lamaredd; without the aliens, corrupt officials, or Rebels. And there will be no bounty hunters there to pursue you. It will be like a vacation, Osar. And you have been rather stressed lately, haven’t you? Eh?”

Osar wiped his face and he nodded. “I haven’t wanted to complain,” he said, “but I hate this job.”

“Shhh. Everything will work out for the best, my friend. And once you are feeling better, perhaps you can help me organize my Admin section—they are nowhere near as efficient as your own.”

“Really?” the Moff asked as he blinked. “I can go back to doing my old job that I did for Adair, for you?”

“Only if you feel up to it, Osar. And you must get some rest first—you do not look at all well.”

“But who will take over here? I have not appointed a Deputy . . . and I do not know who to trust."

No one spoke, and then Osar brightened. He looked down on the hologram. “Patrice, I know that it is much to ask of you, but could you . . . would you . . . do you think . . .”

“I would honored if you appointed me as the Interim Moff of Lamaredd, my friend. After all, my Admiral and General are there—and we will solve your Sector’s problems with this . . . insurrection.”

Osar sniffed. “You are a true friend, Patrice. I will do that right now,” he said as he activated his terminal and typed out a quick order appointing Thom Patrice as the new Deputy Moff of Lamaredd. He touched his seal to the screen, and saved the file. And he nodded and then he stood.

“Are my wife and daughter here? Are they safe?”

Conal cleared his throat. “I dispatched my best company to escort them here, Your Grace. We have a shuttle and a fast ship standing by to take all of you to safety. Might I escort you there?”

Osar nodded. Then he turned back to the hologram. “I really did do my best, Patrice. I did.”

“I know,” the hologram said gravely. “It is not your fault Osar. And I will come and visit you, quite often. Without you, my friend, we would not be where we are today.”

The former Moff took in a deep breathe through his nose and he sharply nodded. “Well then. I leave things in your capable hands, gentlemen. Carry on.” He marched to the door, and Kell nodded to Conal, who accompanied him.

“And do you have further orders for me, Thom?” Kell asked the hologram.

“Just get things on an even keel, Kell,” Thom answered with a bitter laugh. “I am glad we did not have to kill him—it would be like strangling a puppy. You know what to do now.”

The hologram dissipated, and Kell Morvin nodded. Yes, the work was only just beginning.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-20 08:38pm
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Chapter Six

“Is this information real, Kell? Or did we manufacture it?” Thom asked after he finished reading through the copies of various ORO-Corp internal memos.

Kell Morvin grinned broadly. “I had considered asking Mal Galen if we could borrow one or two of his slicers, Sir—but then we started going through the actual records. No. These are the real deal, Thom. The question is how do we want to use this?”

Thom Patrice nodded and he leaned back in his far-too-comfortable chair. The memos were certainly damning on their face, for it appeared that ORO-Corp had not suffered a loss from profits in the immediate days following the Battle of Endor. No, they had shuffled funds and hid their ill-gotten gains—and then claimed the loss of profits to squeeze out even more from the miners. In and of itself, of course, it was merely unethical—not illegal under Imperial law. But the subsequent memorandums and the pressure placed on protesting miners certainly were against even Palpatine’s loose corporate restrictions. The execs had called for ‘setting an example’ and even offered a cost-benefit analysis that the production would not slow down or fail to meet quota even with the loss of fully 5% of the miners. The memo might appear to be innocuous in nature, but for the reply.

In light of the increased subversive activity by our employees to disrupt operations, authorization is granted for Security Branch to use lethal force in order to restore normal mining operations. The increasing paucity of the mines on Havelis, combined with the recent deployment of the 3333rd COMPFORCE Regiment makes installations and facilities within that system ideal for implementation.

Thom tapped his finger on the electronic data-pad as he thought and then he nodded.

“Charge all of them with mass murder, Kell. I will be on Lamaredd again in six days and at that point in time we will convene a tribunal, hear the evidence, find them guilty, and stand them against a wall.”

Kell jerked. “They have strong connections on Coruscant, Sir. Are you certain you want to do this?”

“Kell, they conspired to kill sentient beings—for money. They already had money pouring hand-over-fist, but they got greedy. They convinced Osar to send out the COMPFORCE to crack down—and their own corruption of that organization’s officers ensured that those fanatics targeted exactly who the execs wanted eliminated.”

Thom Patrice stood, quickly followed by Kell and the three aides and assistants sitting in chairs along the wall.

“No. They gambled and it went wrong. And I need to send a message to all of my new civilians in Lamaredd—aliens and humans alike: you play by the rules or you will get hammered. Hammer them, Kell. I want all of them interrogated under full military protocols—find out everything they know. And then we will have a nice public trial, a sad-faced Moff as he passes sentence, and a swift execution of that sentence.”

Kell clicked his heels together. “And ORO-Corp itself?”

“Osar did seize the entire company did he not?”

“The local offices in Lamaredd Sector, yes Sir. But the corporation has facilities and offices throughout the Rim.”

Thom thought for a moment and then he nodded again. "It could work in our favor, Osar seizing it. We will reform the company as the Cyralis-Lamaredd Oreworks—the Sector government will retain a one-third interest, a second third will be offered on the public market, and the remaining third will be divided equally amongst all those miners currently working for ORO-Corp in our space. We kill three birds with one shot, Kell. First, we show our Sectors commitment to have just and ethical businesses operating here. Second, we ensure that there will be a sufficient close source of metals and minerals for Ord Tanis. And third, we give the miners themselves—aliens or humans—hope that we are not the same as the previous government. And a stake in their own futures.”

“And Kell?”

“Sir?”

“Make certain the local media receives invitations to the tribunal hearings.”

“It will be done, Your Grace.”

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-21 11:02pm
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Chapter Six (cont.)

Thom heard the ligaments in his knee pop as he knelt down onto the holo-projection platform. I am really getting too old for this, he thought to himself. He twisted his head, stretching the neck muscles, and then he cleared his face of all visible emotion and nodded to the technician standing by. The young man activated the system, tied into the galaxy-spanning Holocomm network and then he rapidly left the room.

After several seconds, the lighting the room dimmed, and a massive holographic image of a woman’s face appeared, hovering in front of the old man. Thom bowed his head and lifted his right fist to his chest. “Madame Director, you honor me,” he said.

“General Patrice . . . what a pleasant surprise,” Ysanne Isard replied. “My records indicate that you are dead, General—and while those of other Intelligence and Security agencies sometimes contain misinformation or disinformation, mine are normally quite accurate.”

“Perhaps your records were merely premature in anticipation of his late Imperial Majesty’s orders, Madame Director—or perhaps I should say Your Imperial Majesty?”

The auburn haired lady—other than the single streak of golden blonde hair flung over her right shoulder—laughed. “Why General Patrice, you do know how to flatter a lady. I am but one member of the Ruling Council—presiding over this transition period.”

“Of course, Director Isard,” Thom continued as he raised his head and looked directly the dinner platter sized eyes of the floating head, one an icy blue and the second a harsh crimson. “The Ruling Council, as a whole, governs the Empire until a legitimate successor to Palpatine can be found. And, as a whole, with certain exceptions, the intellect of the members of that Council combined do not quite equal your own.” Their ambition, on the other hand, probably exceeds hers, his unvoiced thoughts added silently.

“They are my puppets, General Patrice? Is that what you are saying?”

“No, Director Isard. They have their own goals; their own ambitions—and little if any chance of seeing them come to fruition. Their drive might well equal yours, but their planning is sadly lacking.”

She laughed again. “Perhaps I should recall you to Coruscant, General Patrice—appoint you as the Supreme Military Commander and offer you a seat on the Council itself.” But then her eyes narrowed and her voice grew frosty. “Although there may be reasons why that would not be such a good idea.”

Thom smiled and he nodded. “I can assure you, Madame Director, I have no . . . Imperial ambitions. I am but a loyal soldier of the Empire.”

“Really? That is at odds with the deluge of protests that I have received from the governing board of Outer Rim Oreworks and the Moffs of Bitrose, Gaulus, and Pelgrin Sectors. According to them, you have illegally seized power in Cyralis and Lamaredd, taken upon yourself the duties of a Moff—two, actually—seized assets belonging to a private Imperial corporation, and issued edicts and decrees that shatter the ideals of the New Order. Are those protestors in error?”

“No, Madame Director. They are not. At least, they are not completely in error that is.”

“Explain, General Patrice,” she spoke harshly.

“Palpatine’s New Order went too far, Director Isard. It caused more Rebellion than it quashed. With his death, I have . . . corrected his errors within the Sectors under my authority. They remain, however, loyal to the Empire.”

“That explains your purge of the ISB and COMPFORCE, General Patrice,” the hologram stated flatly. “I have not yet heard how you came to be Moff of Cyralis and Lamaredd both. Moff Jendar is quite . . . distressed and has begged me to spare him a Fleet to restore his Sector to . . . official rule.”

“Moff Jendar, in effect, Madame Director, abdicated his post when he abandoned Cyralis in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Endor; leaving no appointed deputy behind to carry on with as governor in his name. Fleet Admiral Morvin, using the emergency powers granted to the ranking military officer of a Sector Group in a time of crisis by his Imperial Majesty, asked me to come out of retirement and assume the post. My decision to merge Cyralis and Lamaredd is based on Moff Osar’s appointment to serve as his deputy before his unfortunate death at the hands of Admiral Sartan’s attempted Coup.”

Ysanne Isard frowned. “It is most . . . unusual . . . for a serving Fleet officer to invoke that long-disused statutes, you must admit, General Patrice. Tell me, why should I not hand a Fleet to Jendar and send him to Cyralis to reclaim his rightful appointment?”

“Because Jendar is an idiot and will probably get ships you cannot afford to lose destroyed, Madame Director. The man’s ambitions exceed his grasp by an order of magnitude—he is a preening peacock concerned only with his own status and not with the good of the Empire as a whole.”

The woman’s eyes flash as she drew in a deep breath, and then she chuckled again. “And what you recommend that I do in this matter, General Patrice?”

“Nothing, Director Isard.”

“Nothing?”

Thom nodded. “We have consolidated Imperial rule over these two Sectors that slid onto the verge of Rebellion. We remain loyal to the Empire—and to the ruling Council. And we are far too distant from the important systems of the Core and Inner Rim for you to send a good portion of your Fleet here, where my own officers and men will defend their homes. Should you win—and you most likely would, Madame—then you would have to garrison these Sectors, weakening your own position against . . . disloyal elements within the Imperial Army and Fleet as well as the New Republic. Many of your worlds are already on the verge of servile insurrections among the non-humans—diverting your attention here to this the edge of the galactic rim at such a time is . . . beneath your station.”

She smiled. “General Patrice, if you were twenty years younger and forty thousand parsecs closer, I might indeed have use for you. I agree with your analysis,” but then she paused and her eyes narrowed. “So long as you are remain loyal to the Empire, that is. And what that means, in plain language, Moff Patrice, is that you are to quit poaching adjacent Sectors into your own personal fief out there. Jendar has his . . . uses . . . here on Coruscant. I approve your actions—for now—but tread lightly, Moff Patrice. My arm is long and not all of the weapons at my disposal consist of Fleets and Armies. You are not beyond my grasp should I wish it. Remember that.”

Thom bowed his head as the hologram flickered once and then dissipated.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-22 12:37pm
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Chapter Six (cont.)

A dozen sour faced men were gathered around a polished table, several were shaking their heads in shock and disbelief.

“She will do nothing?” one asked.

“Iceheart will take no action against this so-called Moff. She will do nothing to restore our lost capital, gentlemen,” the man at the head of the table said as he crushed out the embers of a deathstick in a stone container.

“Lamaredd represents less than 3.2% of our entire holdings, Piar,” a third member of ORO-Corps executive board spoke up. “We can absorb this setback without adversely affecting profits—if we reorganize operations.”

“The profit loss is not the issue, Klar,” Piar answered solemnly. “Lamaredd means nothing to ORO-Corp as a whole—but the precedent set by this Moff seizing our assets, murdering our executives, and setting up a competitor must be answered. If we do not respond, we appear weak . . . and we make ourselves ripe for other powers to do the same.”

“But what can we do? Patrice has two dozen Star Destroyers, after all! Half of them are Victory-class, but still! We have some ships, but even were we to concentrate them, we could not afford to send them into battle—and if Iceheart is supporting the thief, then she will not be pleased with us for destabilizing another two Sectors!”

Mutters arose around the table, and the bickering grew in volume until Piar slammed his fist down on the surface. “Grennal, we are not talking out military intervention—our hopes of that resolution died when the Director of Intelligence and her ruling Council decided to grant this Coup legitimacy. Sending ships against Lamaredd and Cyralis would be counter-productive—the cost in such a deployment would dwarf what we have already lost, and such an action would turn Imperial Center and other Moff’s against us. No, we need something more . . . deniable.”

“And what then do you suggest, Piar?” a fifth executive asked calmly.

Piar smiled grimly. “I understand that you have excellent connections with the Hutts, Joleyn. We will deal with Patrice in the Hutt way.”

Several members of the board winced. “That will prove . . . expensive,” one wailed.

“Not really,” Joleyn answered. “The sum total required will be less than one-tenth of one percent of the anticipated profits of Lamaredd. I presume, Piar, you are talking about setting a bounty on his head, are you not?”

“I am. Two million credits for Patrice dead.”

Silence fell over the room, and several of the execs picked up their own smoldering chemical sticks and inhaled deeply. Others were nodding in agreement.

“The Hutts will demand a finder’s fee—twenty percent at the least, Piar,” Joleyn warned.

“Acceptable. But they are to serve as the middlemen—our name is to be kept out of the matter completely.”

“They will agree to that; they have no love for Patrice since he squeezed one of their own and forced him into a deal where they lost face and credits.”

“Can the hunters be successful?” Klar asked. “Palpatine had vast sums on the heads of those leading the Rebellion—and they never managed to find their targets, after all.”

“There is a difference here, Klar,” Piar said slowly. “The hunters will not have to search the known galaxy to find Patrice—we know exactly where he is. I can authorize the action out of our petty cash reserves, but I would like a vote on the record—so that we might gauge which of us are not willing to protect our holdings.”

The vote was quick and unanimous.

“Excellent—Joleyn, make the arrangements. And once we have confirmation of Patrice’s death make certain that rumors leak as to why he died. That should prove to one and all that we will not tolerate such liberties.”

“And after the Moff is killed, Piar?” Klar asked.

“His successor will be Moff Jendar . . . it is already arranged, gentlemen. He will remove this Quarren that Patrice placed in charge of our Lamaredd operations and restore unto us our property—and he has agreed to allow us to expand into Cyralis, where Patrice’s changes in the law will be revoked.”

“Jendar? He is on Coruscant; how pray tell is he going to assume command on Patrice’s death?”

“That has been arranged, Klar. Moff Jendar will resume his rightful station—and my brother Admiral Hassel will take the place of Morvin as his High Admiral.”

“And Iceheart has agreed to all of this?”

“Isard is not the only member of the Council—and she does not solely write binding orders executed on their behalf. She might be willing to overlook what Patrice and Morvin have done, but others are not. It is all legal, however; from a certain point of view.”

And one by one each of the executives nodded in agreement.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-22 04:47pm
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I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and eagerly await more chapters - thank you.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-22 05:25pm
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Chapter Six (cont.)

The captain of the Star Destroyer Ascension sighed as he felt the dry dock supports connect against his wounded vessel’s hull. Ahead of him he could see the massive bay doors beginning to cycle closed, and soon enough Bleredd Station—the repair hub for Lamaredd Sector—would fill the volume with atmosphere that would allow the repair droids and technicians to labor over his ship without the need for bulky environmental suits. Abril turned and he nodded briskly to the officer standing beside him. “Well, then. She is your capable hands, now Commander,” he said placidly, although his stomach churned as he realized that he was no longer in command here.

“We will take good care of her, Sir,” the station engineer answered, as he took a step back and saluted smartly. Then he turned on his heel and departed to brief his repair teams on the preliminary survey he had taken of the damage.

“Shut all systems down, people. Personnel not assigned aboard ship during this refit, proceed to the Station and report in—you will be assigned quarters there.” And if I am lucky, I will get a tenth of them back, as other ships scoop up the trained officers and men.

“Sir,” the Pit Lieutenant called out. “Bleredd Command requests that you report to Hanger Bay Three immediately, Sir. You are wanted on the Flagship.”

Abril Jonas nodded in answer, but he didn’t speak; instead he turned back around and watched the bay doors finish their cycle and seal, even as the lights on the bridge around him dimmed.

****************************************************

“Captain Abril Jonas, reporting as ordered, Sir!” Abril snapped out as he came to attention in front of Kell’s desk. The High Admiral sitting there looked up at the middle-aged man turned out in perfect regulation fashion. And he sat back and folded his hands across his stomach.

“Take a seat, Captain. Would you care for some refreshment?”

“Thank you, Sir, but no.”

“I read both your damage report, Captain Jonas, and that of Commander Tharn—would it surprise you know that the two differ dramatically?”

“Commander Tharn consistently underestimates the ability of his repair teams, Sir. I believe that Ascension can be back in service within the next ninety days.”

“Most engineers pad their estimates, but Tharn seems to think your ship will require a full year to get ready for combat. And I do not usually see such a . . . dramatic difference between a Captain’s report and the official damage survey. Would you care to explain?”

“I know my ship, Sir. If we keep my crew aboard and have the assistance of Commander Tharn and his men, I can have Ascension ready for space in ninety days.”

Kell glared at the man who sat across from him. But that glare was . . . deflected by the earnest younger man, and the High Admiral slowly nodded. “It is against regulations, you realize—and there are other ships waiting in line that need crew.”

“Sir, I believe that this Fleet can be better served by restoring Ascension in one-quarter of the official estimated time and retaining the officers and men who know that ship best. Not only would it get Ascension on station faster, but it would free up a berth for other damaged ships so that their repairs may begin all the sooner. Sir.”

Kell pursed his lips. “Tell me, Captain, why did you break way at Lamaredd?”

Abril looked Kell straight into his eyes. “I received confirmed orders that you were in charge, High Admiral Morvin. Admiral Sartan’s orders to attack you were illegal on their face.”

“Yes. But you turned your ships away and did not immediately engage. Why, Captain?”

“I . . . I hoped to avoid the entire battle, Sir,” Abril finally uttered after a long pause.

“For what purpose, Captain? From your record and from speaking with you, I doubt that cowardice was your reason?”

Abril’s eyes flashed, and Morvin smiled slightly. “I am no coward, Sir. We weaken the Empire when we fight amongst ourselves—and I will see that my men are not sacrificed on that alter, regardless of who is in command; if I can prevent it. Sir.”

Kell Morvin considered the officer for several more seconds and then he nodded. “Very well, Commodore Jonas. Report aboard Ascension and assemble your crew—then get to work.”

Abril started. “Commodore?”

The High Admiral laughed. “Moff Patrice and I have need of men like you, Abril. I am promoting you to the rank of Commodore. I presume that you will select Ascension for your flagship? Unless, of course, you would prefer to refuse the promotion?”

Abril Jonas stood and he came to attention. “No, Sir!” he barked.

“Then get back to your ship, Commodore—and collect your crew before they are picked clean by other hungry ship commanders. And Abril?”

“Sir?”

Ascension had best be ready to leave dock in 90 days—I have no patience for an officer who promises something he cannot deliver. Dismissed.”

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-23 10:00pm
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Chapter Six (cont.)

“Put him through,” Ran Karyda order his subordinate as he smoothed away the wrinkles in his business suit and took his very best salesman smile for a test ride. In front of the executive, a hologram sprang to life, and Ran bowed his head.

“Moff Patrice, how wonderful it is to see you again,” he said—and lo, and behold, his sincerity for once was not feigned.

“Master Karyda. Your ships have proven a wise investment—and it was your rapid and quality service that made your corporation the first on my list to contact for a new request.”

“We aim to please here at Corellian Engineering Corporation, Moff Patrice. Quality is our byword, unlike some other shipbuilders within the Empire.”

“Quite so, Master Karyda. Does CEC still lease its Mobile Repair Vessels?”

Ran’s grin grew wider. “Certainly. While the demand for such services waned in the wake of the Clone Wars, we found that after the Battle of Yavin the Imperial Fleet would often arrange for such short-term leases. Those vessels are not . . . inexpensive, however.”

“I did not expect otherwise, Master Karyda. Cyralis has need of one, preferably two, of your Haven-class, if any are currently available.”

The Corellian executive could hear credits clinking together in his head. The Havens were amongst the largest Mobile Repair Vessels ever constructed, able to make repairs in distant systems to ships as large as an Imperator-class Star Destroyer. “They are available, Your Grace.”

“Excellent. And does CEC still provide contract services for distant stations, such as the Cyralis Sector?”

Ran almost swayed with giddiness. “We do. I take it that you need some technical support out there, Your Grace?”

“Master Karyda, I have at my disposal an old shipyard that was decommissioned a century ago. My people are working on bringing it back on-line—but progress has been slow. I would like to contract a . . . few . . . of your engineers and two Havens to assist in restoring the yards, making them operational, and training local personnel in shipyard operations.”

“That is definitely something we can do, Your Grace. How many personnel do you believe that you need—and what sort of time frame are we looking at?”

“We have estimated that the project will require fifty thousand engineers and technicians, Master Karyda; exclusive of the crews of the MRVs, of course. And I want—I need—those yards operational within the next six months.”

Ran froze and he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He licked his suddenly dry lips. “Fifty thousand? Did I hear you correctly, Your Grace?”

The hologram of Patrice smiled and he nodded. “You did.”

“Fifty thousand engineers and technicians should be able to restore most shipyards to service within half that time—less when you consider the fabrication shops and facilities aboard the MRVs.”

Thom grinned. “The shipyards of which I speak are not most yards, Master Karyda. They are the orbital construction and repair elements of Ord Tanis—I believe that CEC should have the details for those facilities in your archives.”

Ran leaned forward and he typed in a search request and within moments a schematic of the Ord Tanis Depot facilities began filling his monitor. He reduced the resolution once, and then twice, and then he leaned back and whistled.

“Fully on-line, did you say? I am not certain that fifty thousand skill workers will be sufficient, Your Grace. And the expense to you will be . . . very high.”

“Ah. Yes, the price tag. I understand your hesitation, Master Karyda. Have you not heard that we have recently formed a separate Corporation out here, from seized assets of ORO-Corp? Cyralis-Lamaredd Oreworks; I believe that we have an account with you.” Patrice rattled off a string of numbers and letters.

Obediently, the executive typed them in and then he sat back smiling once more. “As usual, you have more than sufficient funds to cover the transaction.”

“Yes. The thing is, Master Karyda, once we bring these facilities back on-line—and repair all of my damaged ships, then restore some older vessels currently in moth-balls back into service—they will prove rather time consuming and expensive to maintain. And my two small Sectors out here on the Rim; well, we simply cannot afford to make full use of those graving docks and building slips and repair bays. Therefore, I would like to make CEC an offer—fifty percent ownership of the Ord Tanis yards. Of course, my Sectors would have first call on your services, but such an auxiliary facility would go far in making up the disparity in size between, oh, let us say Kuat Drive Yards, or Sienar Fleet Systems, or Rendili Stardrive and yourself. And many of your customers—especially for your civilian lines of freighters and light transports—hail from the Outer Rim as well. Buying into the these yards will cost CEC very little in the short term, and is far less expensive than building new facilities from scratch—especially in these perilous times with the . . . instability being witnessed in the Core.”

Ran’s mouth gaped open. He licked his lips again, and he shook his head. “I-I-I cannot, literally cannot agree to that, Your Grace! Only the Board could make such a decision!”

“I understand. But it is a matter that should be brought to the attention of your Board, yes?”

“Yes,” Ran croaked.

“Good. Now, regardless of CEC’s final decision on buying into the Ord Tanis yards, I will be making a deal today for the MRVs and those contract engineers, Master Karyda. Shall we start our negotiations?” Thom asked with a smirk.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-24 08:25am
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I don't read a lot of Star Wars fiction, but I am really glad I decided to check this one out. It's a nice mix of things that I find really appealing. It's also nice to follow an intelligently ruthless leader, rather than one that tends more to the stupidly ruthless side of things.

Of course, at the moment it appears that things are going Patrice's way a bit too easily. I expect there to be some reversals in the near future. I suspect that Patrice himself would be expecting that, as well.

I eagerly await the next update.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-24 05:44pm
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Chapter Six (cont.)

“I don’t know,” one of the execs muttered as he shook his head. “Look, we’ve got to make certain CEC is not seen as taking anyone’s side. As close as we are to Coruscant, I don’t want us to do anything that will have her coming in here and taking over the Board!”

“We are already the home of a powerful Imperial Fleet, Harlow,” an old man chimed in. “If they wanted to take us over, they could—and CorSec couldn’t stop them. We’ve walked a tightrope since the end of the Clone Wars; you know that Palpatine was never happy with how we sold and marketed our ‘civilian’ freighters and transports—or with how so many of our corvettes and frigates wound up in the hands of the Rebellion.”

“He couldn’t ever prove anything, Shamis,” Harlow protested. “But taking over an Ordnance/Regional Depot! It is unprecedented!”

Shamis snorted in derision. “Palpatine didn’t need proof, boy!” the old man snapped. “And Isard is the same—she doesn’t care what the law says or what your lawyers can argue; you are either useful or you are dead. Palpatine found this company useful—so does Isard. And she is not one to throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

“Enough you two,” a balding man with a hooked nose and thick white sideburns soothingly said. “It is not exactly unprecedented—KYD was given access to an O/R Depot in the last days of the Old Republic. And they have since been allowed to keep the yards and factories there in operation—and profit from it. The question before us is a simple one: is Ord Tanis worth the offer that this Moff has made? Will it be a liability to the bottom line of CEC or a profitable investment?” The CEO turned to face the youngest man seated at the table. “Karyda, what are your thoughts on this project? I ask since you brought it to our attention?”

Ran swallowed heavily and he stood. “In the short term, brining the facilities at Ord Tanis on-line will consume more financial resources than those same facilities will generate. But in the long-term . . . my office did a quick study that projects we will fully recoup our investment in only three years time, showing a profit from year four onwards. Even if we restrict the yards there to building ‘civilian’ vessels, the proximity of those yards along the Rim—home to some of our best customers, gentlemen, promises quite a few sales. If, if, we also produce military hardware for the local Imperial Sectors . . . well, gentlemen; many of the Outer Rim Sectors have seen their supplies from the Core slashed. There is quite literally no limit to the profits CEC could make in the long-term.”

“Thank you, Karyda,” Ran’s father-in-law continued. “CEC has always supported the Empire, gentlemen. And it will continue to support the Empire.” He placed a small box on the table and pressed a button and a green light began to blink. “Having said that we have also done quite well in making old and refurbished ships available to the Rebellion I spoke with Moff Patrice, and so long as he as first access to the yards there—and a discount upon our sales to him—he has assured me that he will more than willing to turn a blind eye to sales which do not otherwise directly affect his two Sectors. Which will then allow CEC to move that aspect of the company to a more distant part of the Galaxy, gentlemen; and should those operations then come to the attention of Isard or other Imperial agents, well, it will be the responsibility of the local executive, not this Board.” He nodded to the other executives at the table, and then he shut down the electronic device.

“We have a request from an Imperial Moff,” he continued. “One that will provide CEC with continued profits and will link our Corporation closer to the Imperial Government. Corellian Engineering Corporation is not political, gentlemen. And we always comply with Imperial requests.”

One by one each member of the board added their own statement and their opinion of either Yea or Nay. The preponderance of the former soon enough outweighed the latter.

“Excellent, gentlemen! We must now decide to appoint an executive to oversee CEC operations on Ord Tanis and to bring the ship-yards and factories there back to full working condition. I nominate my son-in-law, Ran Karyda, for this position,” he said with a smirk.

Ran jerked in his seat. What the . . . ? His astonishment grew as the board quickly agreed.

“Gentlemen, we are dismissed,” the father of Ran’s wife said as he stood. Ran stayed in his seat, facing his father-in-law across the table as the rest of the board left the room.

“Something on your mind, Ran?”

“You are sending me out there, the very edge of the Galaxy?”

“Ran, Ran, Ran,” the older man said as he shook his head. “Seniority on Corellia is not based on merit—but on profits. You have a chance to show the Board that you are able to turn CEC Cyralis into a profit making center—after all it was your own projections that convinced them. And should you succeed . . . well, when that happens your own seat amongst us will be assured. Congratulations, son,” the old man said as he stood and left the room.

Oh, Marya is going to kill me, he thought.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-25 12:30am
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This is a fantastic story and I've subscribed to the thread. I'm looking forward to more.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-25 01:05am
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Chapter Seven

“I was beginning to doubt you, Commodore Jonas,” Kell said with a grin on his face. “Another two minutes and seventeen seconds and you would have exceeded your promise to me of 90 days in the yard.”

Bleredd Station is lucky, Admiral Morvin, that I did not simply train my turbolasers on the bay doors and blast my way clear.”

Kell barked out a laugh and he shook his head. “I do not doubt in the least that you have, Abril. How ready is she?”

“Her hull is sealed, all compartments have life-support and gravity, new slabs of armor have been cast and welded into place. The sub-light and hyperdrives are functional; shields are functional. All her guns work, along with her sensors. Launch and recovery facilities are on-line, and the comm is working. Ascension just needs to stretch her legs for a bit and work out the kinks of being cooped up in there too long. We’ll work out the gripe sheet on station, Admiral—if you don’t mind.”

“If I don’t mind—Commodore Jonas, I never mind when an officer asks me for more work. There is always more work, and not nearly enough ships and officers.”

Abril turned away from the High Admiral and he walked along the elevated platform to stand directly in front of the massive, armored windows of his ship’s bridge. He heard Morvin’s boots on the deck, but did not turn as the Admiral came to a halt at his side.

“It never grows old, this view—does it Abril?” Kell whispered.

“No, Sir. The dark of space goes on forever, lit by stars that despite their immensity are mere motes floating in the depths of eternal night. One could stand here for the rest of his life—and never even know that somewhere, on some blue-green world orbiting one of those distant stars we are fighting amongst ourselves.” Abril’s hushed voice replied.

And Kell nodded. “If you are confident that Ascension is ready, then I do have work for you Abril. If you do not mind ferrying Moff Patrice to his meeting on Wrea, that is.” Kell sighed. “Our neighboring Moffs ignored him for the past three months, but now they ask him to come to a gathering—to discuss issues that have arisen of late.”

Abril turned to face the Admiral and he curtly nodded. “You fear that they other Moffs have baited a trap?”

“I . . .” and Kell shook his head. “It doesn’t feel fight, Abril—and I intend to provide the Moff with as much protection as I can safely arrange. How are your pilots adapting to their Avengers and Scimitars, by the way?”

“They are in love with the things—it worries me that they will grow too dependent on the shields and slacken off on their own discipline,” the younger officer frowned. “Having said that, the increase in firepower available to my pilots has proven quite remarkable in simulations.”

Kell smiled again. “Ord Tanis just finished the first production outside of Phaulkon Station, Abril. Give us a year and I’ll replace every TIE in the Sector. Of course, if you want to keep your old Interceptors and TIE Bombers . . .”

“Thank you, Admiral, but no. I think I will keep what I have,” Abril answered quickly.

“Smart man,” Kell replied. “Moff Patrice requested that we keep his escort to a minimum—so you are not going to have a lot of ships alongside of you: a Vindicator, two Millenniums, two Adamants, and a pair of Assassins.”

“Eight ships?” Abril asked with a raised eyebrow. “A Battle Squadron normally consists of twenty-one vessels.”

“I had to fight tooth-and-nail for these eight. The Moff originally planned on travelling to Wrea aboard a single Adamant.”

“And my reserves?”

“That is what I like about you, Commodore Jonas—you are as sneaky as Moff Patrice and myself some days. I have two Imperators and their full complement of escorts, along with the rest of your squadron, holding station in deep space five minutes hyperflight outside of Wrea. If you need the cavalry, they are there and loaded for Wookie.”

“Well, then. When is the Moff expected to come aboard?”

“In six hours, Commodore—can you and this ship be ready in time?”

“Yes, Sir,” he answered with a slight grin.

“Carry on then, Commodore.”


Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-04-25 07:12pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-25 05:43pm
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Excellent :)

Since I can't get my Broken Empire fix at SB until it finishes re-booting, thanks god for SD.net

Keep it up MA, delighted to see this continuing with. Sorry I've been so lax commenting thus far!

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-26 03:03pm
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Quote:
One could stand here for the rest of his life—and never even know that somewhere, on some blue-green world orbiting one of those distant stars we are fighting amongst ourselves.


That's an inadvertantly hilarious paraphrase of the old BSG intro

Quote:
there may yet be brothers of man, who even now, fight to survive, somewhere beyond the heavens




"Since when is "the west" a nation?"-Styphon
"ACORN= Cobra obviously." AMT
This topic is... oh Village Idiot. Carry on then.--Havok

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-27 02:06pm
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Ascension and her tiny brood emerged from hyperspace far above the verdant green of Wrea. Almost immediately, gunboats began to stream out of her ventral hanger bay—first two, then four, and six, until a dozen of the five-winged assault ships were circling the Star Destroyer as they waited. The shuttles came next—six in total—and the gunboats closed up in formation and all eighteen of the small parasite vessels streaked down towards the planet.

The shuttles and gunboats glided down through the thickening atmosphere relying on their sensors to see in the thick cloud cover, but at long last they broke through the ceiling and saw their destination below. Pardain’s Hold, the capital of Wrea, spread out in all directions until the city met the jungle—and it looked alone and lonesome isolated there amongst the tall trees and triple canopy rainforest. Still, the spaceport was keep free of any encroaching plant life and the shuttles began to descend one after the next as the gunboats took up position and circled overhead.

Four shuttles touched down at almost the exact same time, and each lowered their ramp. Ranks of Shock Troopers descended and they lined up in formation—an entire company of troopers strong. And then, at long last, the two remaining shuttles lowered themselves unto the landing pads, their wings folding up as the landing gear extended and the front ramps slowly opened.

Several men in civilian dress walked down one of the ramps, while still more Shock Troopers trotted out of the second shuttle. And then Moff Patrice began to descend, the troopers snapping to attention.

It was at that moment that the bomb planted underneath the landing pad exploded.


Last edited by masterarminas on 2012-04-27 04:28pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-27 03:38pm
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You horrible, horrible tease.

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-27 08:41pm
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Unfortunately, it was the wrong landing pad :D

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-29 10:18am
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I will try to keep posting on this on a daily basis (or so), but I am working on an original manuscript for Baen Books. I submitted my work to them some time back and got a reply this week: the original was rejected, but the editor went into a fairly detailed reasoning why. He then suggested that I 'tighten' up the story which he called 'compelling' and 'well-written'. He finished the e-mail by say that Baen would be interested in taking a second look at the same story if I could eliminate some of the technical detail and tighten up the storyline itself.

So, that project is consuming more of my time. I am still working on Broken Empire (it relaxes me when I get stuck on a section) and will continue to post it. But, my focus right now is getting In Harm's Way fixed and re-submitted. Thank you all for following this and I hope to have the next snippet up before the end of today.

Master Arminas

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-29 11:45am
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Hey, don't sweat it... it's always great news to hear that one of us is actually getting something into print.



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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-29 12:41pm
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Crayz9000 wrote:
Hey, don't sweat it... it's always great news to hear that one of us is actually getting something into print.


Nothing like that yet . . . Mr. Rinehart just made clear that it is a story that they are interested in taking a second look at. But, they haven't committed to anything. I am psyched out it though; it is my understanding that is not all that common for a publisher to say we aren't going to pick this up, but if you tighten up the story line and eliminate these issues, we want to see it again.

I tell you, I was on cloud nine for two days after that e-mail--first manuscript I have ever submitted and I was actually expecting just a generic form letter saying 'this does not meet our needs at the present time, thank you for your submission' with nothing else.

So keep your fingers crossed.

Master Arminas

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 Post subject: Re: Star Wars: Broken Empire PostPosted: 2012-04-30 01:15am
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Wow, good for Baen for letting you know their reasoning. I expect most publishers to just reject without ever giving a reason.

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