“4 minutes to weapons range,” spat the bridge officer.
“Weapons charged and ready, Captain Li,” shouted another officer from across the bridge.
Small chatter occurred from the many consoles around the bridge of the ISN Tarkin. The officers could sense the dread from the incoming battle. They had faced the Collective before on a few fronts, but the unknown status of the Severian Principate is what scared them more.
At the front of the bridge stood Lieutenant Colonel Keylar and Battlelord Dek Iron’yikut. They were on the left and right sides of Captain Li, current head of the ISN Tarkin. Captain Li was an average sized, stout fellow with black hair splattered with a slash of white. He was older, but with that came years in battle.
“Dek,” started the Captain, who technically outranked him in this case, “what do you propose be our first tactical maneuver?”
Dek didn’t hesitate for a second, “Warring Yakama. A similar plan to the Alpha Demicron.”
“Warring Yakama?” Keylar side-eyed the unknown phrase.
“Aggressive defensiveness until the transports and fighters can establish a hold on the shipyards itself. Then we step back further and weave in and out of combat,” Dek responded astutely.
Li was shocked. “Surprised you know of the Yakama. They are creatures which fight defensively in battle, preferring to fight close as well. They move in and out in mirror like patterns to their opponent.”
“Very ordered strategy for something that will most likely not go the way it seems,” Keylar huffed.
“We have the Thrawn at our side, the Imperial Justice deploying two squadrons of B-Wings, a Raider 2 class Corvette, and multiple troop and personal transports aiding us,” Dek retorted.
“And what of the other Brotherhood members?”
“They’ll do what they do best.” Dek laughed.
“And what is that?” Keylar inquired.
“Whatever the Empress orders them to do. Or maybe Jorm will try to blow up another ship. We’ll never know until he decides.”
“2 minutes until weapons range,” shouted another bridge officer.
Dek stepped back to a tactical console imaging system directly behind another officer. He needed first hand info on the battle to make quick decisions.
Captain Li put his hands on the railing of the bridge, while Keylar stepped in front of him, ready to see that his orders were followed directly. He asked to be patched into the Retribution, “Any last orders Moff Willow?”
The current head of the Retribution responded, “Remember, if the Severian Principate attacks us, we retaliate. We’re here to intimidate if need be. Hopefully we won’t have to join you.”
Dek gave a side smirk to a bridge officer and whispered, “Cowards. The lot of them. What are they going to retribute with that attitude?”
Moff WIllow continued, “We still have somewhat of a hand at the negotiating table. Our mission should be to…” she paused.
The comms were overridden by the sign of the Empress. Dek stood above the console and looked at the holographic projector that appeared. Keylar shouted, “Attention!”
The image of the Empress, a calm, dignified togruta formally dressed in a royal violet blazer, appeared.
Captain Li, shouted, “All hail the Empress!”
The crowd of officers shouted along, with Dek mumbling the words to himself.
“This message is to all Scholaean troops and ships. Soon we will engage The Collective. The alliance with the Severian Principate must be preserved at all costs. Your orders are to ultimately keep your hands off of them. Although we will be securing the station, we will be searching for evidence that The Collective has used this against us. Use whatever means necessary to do so. You have your orders.”
Keylar shouted again, “Hail the Empress! Hail the Empire!”
The ship repeated in glorious unity as the image disappeared.
The officers had a stronger sense of what was to come.
Dek walked towards Captain Li and Keylar, “20 seconds till weapons range. Any idea what ‘any means necessary’ implies?”
“As you said,” Keylar smirked, “Whatever the Empress decides.”
Captain Li spoke past the two, “Launch fighters. Cover the LAATs. They’re carrying our troops and our Brotherhood fighters. Swoop into defensive postures. Coordinate with the Thrawn. And the Raider 2. Keep open communications with all the ships.”
Dek went to sit in front of the bridge area on the metal ground. He sat with his legs propping up his crossed arms which rested his head. He slowly developed a state of mind that whirled around him. His attitude punctured the souls of others. Slowly, he worked confidence into the bridge. He was able to touch the minds of a few of the pilots as well as they guided soldiers towards the shipyard.
He ignored all outer distractions. The yells of officers as the first few volleys from Collective ships firing upon them were blocked out. As were the rocking that rumbled throughout the ship. He meditated in this state, attempting to use what little field of affect he had to influence the start of this battle.