Aggressive Expansion: A Taldryan Story

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Aggressive Expansion: Chapter I

Bridge
Command Deck, Victory I-class Star Destroyer Sidious
Unknown Location, Caelus System
38 ABY

The bridge of the Imperial-era destroyer was illuminated completely by the interior lighting provided by the ceiling panels, with each of the command deck’s viewports midnight black. The area was not overly bustling with activity, with a skeleton crew running the bridge as operations on the vessel were at a near stand-still for the time being.

Several of the technical officers and essential personnel such as the communications officers and the ship’s captain remained on the bridge of the Sidious, directing the flow of information and ensuring the ship remained ready to launch at a moment’s notice should the order be given. The crew of the ship had yet to fail since the fall of their Lord, and were extremely determined not to let anything stand in their way. Standing at the helm of the bridge structure and staring directly into the black abyss beyond the viewport’s transparisteel was a dark cloaked figure a few inches under six feet tall, a hooded cloak obscuring any distinctive features.

Although there was nothing to look at through the port, the figure meditated on their thoughts and the Force, delving into the future and the Force itself to answer hard-pressed questions. From behind, the life force of the ship’s captain approached.

“My lord,” bowed the captain once he arrived, “The crew just received a report from one of our advance teams. It appears as though a detachment has pinpointed its location, on Ostara. We can begin assessment and excavation of the lower levels immediately.”

The figure was silent for a moment as the vision of the future and their concentration broke free. The well-concealed figure slowly turned to face the vessel’s captain, mouth curling at the edges of a set of dark red lips and two blood-crimson lekku covered in black tattoos draped just over the shoulders. Nearly everything else, including the rest of her face above her nose, was obscured by the cloak.

“Very good, Captain,” she hissed. All was proceeding as she had foreseen thus far.

Consul’s Office
Taldryan Citadel, Taldryan Sector
Chyron, Caelus System

The still rather fresh and newly minted Consul of Clan Taldryan stood in the center of the spacious office that lay at the summit of the Taldryan Citadel, the current headquarters of Clan Taldryan on the moon of Chyron. In front of her fit, black and red-trim covered pink form was the office’s board-room like holo-capable tactical table on which she rested her hands palm open. Nearly seven feet long in length, this custom holo-projection table was recently commissioned by and installed in order to help supplant the Zeltron’s tactical planning shenanigans on behalf of the Clan. As a former Combat Master for the Brotherhood, Seraine “Erinyes” Ténama was rather well oriented in warfare, and determined to forge a new legacy for Taldryan among the rest of the brotherhood.

Displayed across the expansive table in front of her was the red-hued projection of the Caelus System, with each planet and moon’s orbit arranged in proper alignment with the system’s star in the dead center of the table. Also included in the wide projection were the locations and reported statuses of various Taldryan assets within the system. These included everything from the Clan’s military forces and defenses to more scientific assets like research and reconnaissance teams. There were even statuses displayed for production assets like the facility constructed above Perune to process and syphon the giant’s valuable Clouzen-35 gas - a valuable source of revenue for Clan Taldryan.

As an unsteady ground rocked the foundation between the people of the Caelus System and the Clan, Erinyes monitored any and all important movements within the system while she instituted her own reforms to revive a struggling Taldryan once she ascended to the role of Consul upon Rian’s resignation. With everything reporting the all-clear for now, she reached over to her datapad and brought up the latest reports from ongoing events. Some of the developments were not favorable to the Clan’s cause, yet others would prove valuable down the road.

One of the foremost disappointing outcomes as it involved a lost revenue stream for the Clan’s coffers was the failure of the Clan’s TEAD Technologies delegation to conclude a high-profile meeting with BlasTech executives and lawyers, leaving them without a licensing or manufacturing deal to boost TEAD’s slim share of the galactic arms market. The people at TEAD and its new Chief Executive would need to devise a new plan to expand the Clan’s business front.

It also seemed as though the forward team the Summit had dispatched to the moon Ostara to investigate a rogue presence felt by the Mystics had yet to report back in shortly after their craft landed, uncharacteristic of Taldryan servicemen. The Clan’s former Consul, Rian Taldrya, had sent the Zeltron a report just over an hour ago that he had arrived at the planet recently detected at the outermost fringes of the Caelus System. Since the planet, nor any planet had never been observed at that location prior to last week, some special care was due on that front.

There was still a chance the Taldrya could find something less than interesting and locate some rogue signal emanating from the planet’s surface, but his report stated he began with searching the surface for mineral deposits. Still, she keyed into the holo-projection table the Mirialan’s personal contact frequencies and initiated contact between them.

A moment later, the symmetrically tattooed face of her fellow Adept appeared before her, nodding immediately as a sign of respect to his successor. Erinyes nodded back, looking up from her datapad.
“Have your searches yielded anything so far?” the pink-skinned humanoid queried. Rian nodded again affirmatively, transmitting some data that scans to the planet had produced. Ténama switched the projection over to the new information once it had cleared the encryption protocol and processing, the view of an unremarkable and equally unimpressive icy planet taking place of the Caelus System.

Whoever made themselves a home here must have balls of steel, the information from the former Consul specifically commented.

“It’s an icy planet, nothing too special. There are a couple deep mineral veins dotting the planet’s surface” began Rian, “Mostly those used in traditional metals like durasteel, and some titanium. Still, if we did some development here we could extract the resources for manufacture. It wouldn’t yield a massive profit for sale, but would reduce our dependence on others.”

“Have you located any settlements, or the source of the signal the SRI traced there?” Erinyes was not nearly as interested in resources - although Rian was right, they could be a valuable asset - as she was confirmation of what was coming from the obscure and unknown planet. This Sith wanted to be ready for anything that came their way.

“No,” the tone of the Obelisk adherent’s voice lowered, “We have not yet located any settlements or come across anyone. The signal is still active, and coming from somewhere. We will locate the source. I’ll report back once we’ve found something.”

“Thanks, Rian. Erinyes out.”

Not too long after her conversation with the former Scholae General Zentru’la, the Adept had already received word that the new outfit Vornskr Battalion was beginning to take shape and recruitment was underway. Ektrosis had been fitted with a new leader at its helm, Vodo Biask Taldrya. Tavros continued to perform clandestine operations. Everything was beginning to come together for Clan Taldryan, and Seraine loved it when a plan came together.

Southern Hemisphere
Unknown Planetary Body
Far-Outer Orbit, Caelus System

It wasn’t long after their conversation ended that Rian’s personal assault ship, the VT-49 Decimator Stormcloud picked up a small signature on their short-range radar. The signal they had been tracking was scrambled, preventing its exact broadcast location from being detected by the former Consul’s personal craft. For this mission, Erinyes’ new military prefecture had assigned him a squad of Taldryan soldiers in case things went south with the signal discovery.

It wasn’t long after their conversation ended that Rian’s personal assault ship, the VT-49 Decimator Stormcloud picked up a small signature on their short-range radar. The signal they had been tracking was scrambled, preventing its exact broadcast location from being detected by the former Consul’s personal craft. For this mission, Erinyes’ new military prefecture had assigned him a squad of Taldryan soldiers in case things went south with the signal discovery.

“Sir, we’ve got something on the short wave radar,” called the man assigned to the sensor suite, “The signal is weak, but we’ve got confirmed lock on the broadcast source.” The Mirialan Elder smiled from almost a meter and a half back, for he had been fully confident in the abilities of his military comrades to procure and determine the proper location of the signal. Although a strong Force-sensitive in his own right and well respected, Rian trusted the instincts of his allies. Dressed in his near-trademark tailored azure armor, the former Consul stepped forward.

“Good, lieutenant. Now we can figure out what’s going on here, and report back to Erinyes with something substantiated. Pilots change our flight path to the signal source and bring us in quietly. I don’t want them to know we’re here. If we can, use the terrain to our advantage.

“Yes sir,” stated the pilot on the left, before the pilot on the right began flipping switches and pulling back the craft’s accelerator. The loud whirl of the sublight engines faded slightly as power was reduced, bringing it to a glide as it slowed and drifted lazily closer to the ground. Several minutes later, the craft was firmly on the ground on top of a large plateau half a kilometer in the air - the signal coming from ground level off the cliff edge. Rian and his team disembarked, taking with them some scanning and observation equipment and approaching the edge.

A couple of the soldiers shifted their body to a prone position, crawling up to the cliff edge to minimize visibility once they peeked over; afterall, who was to say there wasn’t someone or something on watch down there. The two prone troopers from Rian’s detachment placed their macrobinoculars fully against their visors, observing the broadcast location of the strange signal. Five hundred meters below them lay a full flight of Gamma-class ATR-6 Assault Transports surrounding a cave entryway into the base of the plateau, with a small encampment setup amid the spacecraft. Several power generators were running, and squads of red armored troopers filled the immediate area.

Crawling backwards until he was out of sight from the edge of the cliff, the senior of the two troopers approached the former Consul to relay what the two men had just seen. After filling in all the details he had witnessed, the trooper returned to scout duty while the Taldrya pondered their next move.

We could get the drop on them… Literally. We just need to know who they are first.

That line of thinking gave Rian an idea.

Outskirts
Unknown Base Camp, Hidden Temple
Ostara

The view from the Taldryan reconnaissance trooper’s macrobinoculars was certainly unsettling. Inside a collapsed cave with a large skylight that was concealed by both boreal forest and a raging river lay a structure that looked slightly odd to Lieutenant Payton Carson, but would be recognizable by any studier of Sith or Jedi lore to be a temple for worship. It was full of jagged and sharp lines, but was not overly massive as to remain completely hidden by the rock and vegetation above. Her line of sight allowed her to see the two landing craft they had in front of the structure, but not inside a lower entryway she presumed existed underneath due to excessive foot traffic.

There were very few red armored troopers in this location, with the rest of the uninvited, unknown guests to the system wearing a simple black and red robe-like attire. Lieutenant Carson lay as still as an icicle from her prone position on the far outskirts of the base camp, there was a small rustle coming from directly beside her position. Carson sighed lightly, but didn’t move an inch as she continued to observe.

“Stop… moving,” she whispered quietly.

“I have an itch,” replied her scouting partner, an average sized Human male of an unbefitting stature and physique. Payton had been assigned a fellow trooper she didn’t even bother getting to know the name of - probably because he’d be dead soon anyway, as all her former partners were - from her squad leader to scout and do some reconnaissance on the lower-lying boreal areas of Ostara as part of the quest of Taldryan’s Force Mystics to locate the source of power they felt.

There’s definitely something going on here.

The Lieutenant had a nagging suspicion, but would need to get much closer to confirm. That was nigh impossible given their current position, and no unseen way into the portonomy. Their only choice was to observe, retreat to a further position - quietly, of course - , and radio in their findings once free of possible communications interception. Carson had no idea what her scouting partner was seeing, but she was taking a lot of mental notes.

There was another rustle directly beside her, the same side as before. Payton Carson was so focused on the structure and scene below that she was unable to determine whether the rustling was further away from her prone position.

He’s going to get us both killed!

She tried to hold it in, but she just couldn’t anymore; her irritation was entirely overwhelming. The Lieutenant shifted her head mouth open to give her partner a load of her mind, but watched in momentary shock - even letting out a gasp - as a vibroblade came down and impaled through the man’s chest cavity. Flipping her body in one smooth motion Carson turned to face her rear position with her rifle raised, eyes falling on several red stormtroopers all with weapons aimed directly at her.

Seemed like she’d survived by the luck of the draw. For now.

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