Orbit of Lakton IV, aboard the Republic star destroyer Resolute
“Admiral, they've rammed the enemy ship.”
“I can see that.” Admiral Yularen said tersely.
He still couldn't believe that the harebrained attack had actually worked, but just as General Guo-Jia had said, the enemy didn't have time to orient their defenses to deal with the rapidly accelerating assault ship closing in on their flank from the shadow of the planet. Now it was just a matter of waiting to see what the rest of the fleet did while their command ship was under attack.
“Are all ground forces aboard?”
“Yes sir, they're aboard. All ships are in position to withdraw should such be required.”
Yularen shook his head. “No, there will be no withdrawal.”
“If we had the Generals aboard or they were safely on the planet we might withdraw and come back with reinforcements, with them aboard the enemy ship however...we can't very well leave them in the midst of the enemy fleet.” Yularen swallowed and stood up straighter. “All ships, form on the Resolute, prepare for general engagement.”
As the fleet readied itself for battle, Yularen kept a close watch on the enemy flagship. If the Generals failed, then this was going to be one of the most one sided—and most disastrous—battles of the war so far. Two fleets and two corps wiped out...he'd be damned if he wanted to preside over that!
“Sir, the enemy fleet has stalled, they're coming to a stop.”
Yularen nodded, it looked as if they'd been given some time after all.
“Now let's hope that they can trigger those ion pulse cannons.” he murmured to himself.
Orbit of Lakton IV aboard the Separatist cruiser Subjugator
Amidst the red emergency lighting six lightsabers flashed and weaved in the gloom as Masters Guo-Jia and Obi-Wan fought against their opponent. Obi-Wan understood now how this being had fought five jedi and won. It wasn't just that he could use four lightsabers—though that certainly helped—it was that he had a simultaneous mastery of those sabers. The result was terrifying. He parried a flurry of blows as Guo tried to press her advantage from the other side to little effect. Their foe was simply able to be in too many places all at once. Obi-Wan again wished that Anakin was with him. Perhaps together the three of them might have a better chance. His thoughts were jolted violently as their enemy kicked him in the ribs and threw him against the wall.
“You have no chance Jedi.” their foe said with mechanical laughter. “I have taken your weapons and mastered them.”
Obi-Wan was back on his feet immediately, renewing his attack alongside Master Guo-Jia as she continued to battle their foe. He wasn't afraid, no, this wasn't fear. However he did question whether or not he could win and not for the first time on this mission did he wish for Anakin to be here...or for any other capable duelist for that matter. He even wondered if Master Kahan would have been a boon in this case. Certainly the illusionist Master could have been of assistance here, though Obi-Wan didn't fully understand the Master's unique skill set anything would have been welcome here! He ducked under several of their enemy's vicious blows and continued his forward momentum only to have his attack deflected as if it were the clumsy attempt of an apprentice.
Master Guo-Jia did not consider herself to be an angry person. On the contrary she was usually fairly jovial and composed. However against this creature that had slaughtered her padawan so recently she was unable to control herself. Images of Kolleen's frightened face as this monster impaled her upon her own saber sent Guo-Jia into a blind rage that drove her incessant assault against the Separatist Commander. She refused to give in, to allow him to escape, or even to consider the implications of how angry she was getting. As the Commander laughed at them she roared back at him with each of her strikes, trying to find an opening where there apparently was none. She ducked a counterblow that very nearly took her head off, she could smell burning hair.
“Do you think they're alright?” Kil asked as the trio of them ran down the passageway.
“Of course they're alright!” Lana replied. “That thing can't beat two masters!”
“Didn't it beat five jedi?” Rex inquired.
Lana glared at the captains' backs. “Not helping guys!”
Neither of them said anything as they skidded to a stop, Lana slammed into them headfirst, nearly falling flat on her back as she collided with their armored backs.
“What?” she asked in bewilderment.
“Droids.” Rex said, drawing his blasters.
Kil sighed as he leveled his rifle at the oncoming battledroids.
“We don't have time for this.” Lana said as she ignited her saber.
The droids didn't seem to care about their timeline, merely leveling their weapons and opening fire with a vicious barrage of blasterfire. Rex and Kil returned fire from behind what cover there was as Lana rushed forwards with her saber.
“Commander!” shouted Kil. “We're going to hit you!”
Lana didn't reply as she slashed the first rank of droids, cutting them down and deflecting the shots from the next rank as she charged forwards.
“Shes's going to get herself killed!” Kil shouted.
“Not on my watch.” snarled Rex as he stood out from cover and began taking very careful aimed shots, walking forwards steadily as he fired methodically.
Kil shook his head and came to stand besides his fellow captain as they advanced down the hall, Commander N'ahrr keeping the blasterfire to a minimum as she slashed down the droids in front of her and the paired captains picked off the enemies to either side of her.
“Nice of them to just stand there.” remarked Rex as they whittled down their enemies.
“You think the Commander was a farmer?” Kil joked.
Rex snorted. “You're not the first one to make that crack about jedi Captain.”
Kil shrugged. “Not my fault it looks like she's harvesting the bastards.”
Lana finished off the last of the droids in her path and turned to see Rex and Kil coming to join her.
“Thanks guys, where to?”
Rex pointed over her shoulder. “That should be the firing control for the ion pulse cannons.”
“Should be?” Lana echoed.
Rex moved up to the door as Kil stood opposite him. “This is the first time we've ever been able to board one of these things that I know of Commander, we don't exactly have the complete schematic.”
“Ready?” Kil inquired.
Lana nodded as she moved behind Rex.
Rex palmed the door release and ducked inside, firing several quick shots in succession as Kil moved in behind him. Lana followed the pair in and found the droid operators dispatched.
“Alright, where are the manual controls for the cannons?”
Kil checked over the consoles. “Here ma'am.”
Lana moved over to the clone captain and looked at the controls searchingly.
“Can you target them?”
“Sensor feed is a bit messed up, must be the damage from the attack...but...yeah, I got visual.”
Holographic projections indicated the Separatist fleet around them, two red cones extended out from either side of the heavy cruiser indicating the firing arcs of the cannons.
“Alright,” Lana said as she looked at her targets. “Target the battleship,” she indicated the Lucrehulk. “And this destroyer. That should even the odds.”
Rex stood besides her and considered for a moment before nodding. “Good choices Commander, you should be a battery commander.”
Lana smiled eagerly. “Ready to fire?”
Kil gave her a thumbs up. “Ready and able ma'am.”
Lana sighed. “Kil, stop calling me that.”
“Excuse me ma'am?”
“I don't like being called 'ma'am', it makes me feel old.”
Kil paused, looking from Rex to Lana before trying again.
Lana beamed. “That works.”
“Roger that...uh, ready to fire Commander.”
“Good, then let's send the signal.”
Orbit of Lakton IV, aboard the Republic star destroyer Resolute
“Admiral! The Separatist heavy cruiser has fired its main guns!”
“At who?” Yularen asked, instinctively grabbing the railing and loosening his knees as he braced for a potential impact.
“At the Separatist fleet sir, the battleship and several other ships have been disabled!”
“Sir, the enemy forces are firing on the heavy cruiser!”
“Well let's get in there and stop them! We have men aboard that thing!” Yularen barked. “All ships! Combat speed! Engage everything that isn't already disabled excluding that heavy cruiser!”
“Sir, sensors show that most of its weapons are still under enemy control.”
“Doesn't matter, with those cannons disabled we can engage on equal footing. Move the Archer, Mantis, and Firebrand to the van of the fleet! Have our cruisers support them, destroyers and frigates in the stern. Deploy fighters!”
As the orders were being barked out, Yularen couldn't help but smile. The crazy idea was paying off it seemed. Now to finish wiping out the rest of the Separatist forces and rescue the Generals from themselves. All in a days work.
Orbit of Lakton IV aboard the Separatist cruiser Subjugator
“The fleet is closing in.” Rex said as the deck shook violently. “I think they realized we're not on their side!”
“What about our fleet?” Lana asked. “Are they moving in to support us?”
“Hard to tell.” Kil said. “Sensors are still choppy.”
The ship rocked again under the combined fusillade of its former allies and Lana bit her lip. Hopefully they didn't get destroyed before their rescuers arrived!
Obi-Wan staggered as the ship bucked violently beneath his boots. It seemed that Lana had accomplished her mission. However that didn't help with their deadly foe who was still glaring malevolently at them.
“It seems I do not have the luxury of killing you jedi.” he growled in annoyance. “That is unfortunate. I shall leave you to your graves!”
“You aren't getting away monster.” Master Guo-Jia growled.
Their opponent laughed, a mechanical cackle that sent Obi-Wan's hair on end.
“Your confidence is commendable jedi, however you cannot beat me, anymore than you could save your apprentice.”
Obi-Wan felt Guo tense but she maintained her control even if just barely. The pair of them closed in on their foe as he back away from them, the combined six sabers humming as the ship rocked and rumbled around them. A particularly violent explosion erupted somewhere in an adjoining compartment and the bulkhead collapsed, throwing Obi-Wan against the opposite wall and pinning him beneath the debris. He gagged violently and felt his armor crack, struggling against the pinning metal as their enemy laughed in grim amusement.
“Our time is at an end,” the Separatist commander said. “Farewell.”
He turned to bolt down the passageway, leaping over wreckage and scrambling through debris as the passageway began to give under the strain of the combat in space around it. The last thing Obi-Wan heard before passing out was the commander's laughter and the crunching ruin of the ship around him.
Guo-Jia froze for an instant as she recovered herself from the force of the explosion that had thrown her to the deck. Her quarry was getting away. She looked back at Obi-Wan and bit her lip before looking back at their enemy's retreating back.
“DAMMIT!” she shouted angrily as she whirled and used the Force to tear the debris off of Master Kenobi. “You owe me.” she growled as she hefted the unconscious Obi-Wan over her shoulder and began staggering down the wrecked passageway.
She looked up to see Lana and the boys ahead of her. She grinned at them.
“Good going Lana, you did it!”
“Is he alright?” Lana asked as she came to them.
Guo-Jia shrugged. “He's unconscious, but he's still breathing.”
“Did you get the commander ma'am?” Kil asked.
Guo-Jia bit her lip bitterly as she shook her head.
“Unfortunate, you'll kill him next time.” her Captain said with confidence.
She smirked. “Thanks Kil, you always know what to say.”
“We need to get out of this area.” Rex said tensely as he looked around at the groaning bulkheads. “Before they crush us in here.”
The rumble of impacts against the ship's began to slacken suddenly and then came to an abrupt stop.
Guo grinned triumphantly, feeling jubilant despite her nemesis' escape.
“I think the cavalry is here.”
Surface of Malastare
Anakin looked around at the rocky landscape as the gunship set down. Fordo jumped off the Larty before it even touched the ground. He and the other clone troopers with them fanned out, their weapons sweeping the area.
“Where are they?” Ahsoka asked impatiently. “These are the right coordinates aren't they?”
“Yeah.” Fordo grumbled nervously. “I don't like this General, feels like a—“
“Stay where you are!”
Dozens of dug appeared from the rocks around them, aiming an assortment of rifles, carbines, and pistols at them.
“—trap.” Fordo finished as he aimed his weapons at the closes dug trooper.
Anakin walked forwards, putting a hand on Fordo's shoulder reassuringly.
“We're not hear to fight.” he said simply. “We came to speak with your leader.”
“And who says he wants to speak with you?” snarled one of the dug.
Anakin turned to face the speaker and froze for an instant. Was that...Sebulba? He regained his composure and approached his one time rival.
“Hello Sebulba.” he said tightly in huttese.
The dug blinked and looked up at him in confusion, speaking in the same language.
“I don't know you jedi.”
Anakin didn't say anything for a moment and waited as Sebulba continued to look at him. Then the dug's eyes widened with surprise.
Anakin smiled at him viciously.
“Glad you remember me.”
Sebulba brought his blaster up and pointed it squarely in Anakin's face. Fordo stepped forwards and put his own blaster against Sebulba's head. Anakin heard the snap hiss of Ahsoka's saber behind him.
“Go ahead.” Anakin said darkly, still speaking in huttese.
Sebulba looked between Anakin and Fordo, his lip curling angrily.
“That, is, enough!” barked a commanding voice in huttese.
The dug troopers all lowered their weapons as a single, and very imposing, dug walked forwards from behind cover. He glared at Sebulba who still hadn't lowered his weapon. However under this new dug's glower Sebulba relented as did Fordo and Ahsoka.
The dug turned towards Anakin, his eyes narrowed.
“I am here, as you requested jedi.”
“You're the leader?” Anakin inquired, switching back to basic.
“I am Doge Ursus.” the dug said. “I represent my people.”
“I am Anakin Skywalker,” Anakin said. “One of the commanders of the Republic forces here on Malastare.”
“He's a slave brat.” groused Sebulba in huttese.
The Doge turned to look at Sebulba in annoyance, speaking to him in the same language.
“You are starting to irritate me podracer.”
Sebulba looked away sullenly but remained silent as the Doge turned back to Anakin.
“Your message said that you wished to speak with me.”
“Yes, I'm authorized to discuss the future of Malastare.”
The Doge lifted his head proudly, standing higher on his upper arms.
“The future of Malastare is not yours to dictate.”
“But it is the gran's.” Anakin countered. “Once we defeat the Separatists—“
“If you defeat the Separatists.” the Doge corrected.
“—the gran will be free to move in again and take over where they left off. Do you think you can beat them if they have the Republic's backing?”
The Doge's eyes narrowed. “We will fight.”
“And the gran will crush you, especially if they have the Republic's backing. They've done it before.”
“And you are offering what exactly?”
Motioned towards the gunship and a spider-like droid with a flat body clambered out from the troop bay. The Doge's guards all raised their weapons again but at a signal from their leader they lowered them again. The droid clacked over towards the Doge and a projection of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
“Greetings my worthy friend,” the Chancellor said warmly. “I am Chancellor Palpatine of the Republic and I am here to discuss Malastare's admittance to the Republic and her defense against the Separatist aggressors.”
The projection of the Chancellor was unimposing but the calm reassuring air her projected was detectable even in this form.
The Doge drew himself up. “I am Doge Nakha Urus of Malastare, you are willing to consider my people's rightful claim to our homeworld?”
Palpatine inclined his head. “I am. What has befallen your people is tragic, and I am interested in securing what is rightfully yours in exchange for Malastare's help in this war.”
The Doge's face betrayed nothing as he spoke. “If you will permit my people their proper place in the Republic, then you have our cooperation.”
“Excellent, I will compose a document specifying the details and submit it to you for your consideration. In the meantime, may I presume you will help the Republic's forces on Malastare?”
“To free our planet, we will fight.” the Doge replied.
Palpatine beamed. “Then I will allow General Skywalker and yourself to arrange the details.”
The hologram died, leaving the Doge and Anakin standing before one another again. The Doge considered Anakin for a moment before smiling slightly, holding out his hand.
“It would appear, General, that we are allies.”
Anakin clasped the Doge's hand, glancing for a moment at Sebulba before nodding.
“Welcome to the Republic.”
Aboard the Republic star destroyer Resolute
Obi-Wan opened his eyes slowly and looked around at the medical bay he found himself lying in.
He turned to look at Master Guo-Jia and then looked down at his stomach as he realized there was a weight on it. Lana was lying across him, her eyes closed.
“Is she alright?”
Guo-Jia smirked. “Poor thing has been worried sick about you, I don't think she's left your side for a second.”
Obi-Wan reached down and ruffled Lana's unruly brown hair for a moment before speaking again.
“Did we win?”
Guo nodded. “We did, the Sep fleet was in disarray after the boys and Lana blasted them. Yularen closed in and finished them off. They ran pretty early,” her face flickered. “No sign of their commander though.”
Obi-Wan met the other Master's gaze. “I'm sorry Guo.”
She shrugged. “It was my revenge or your life, neither of us needs to be told which is more important.” she smirked and punched him in the shoulder. “Besides, the two of us couldn't take that thing, it would have been suicide to chase after it on my own!”
Obi-Wan snorted. “You haven't changed much Guo.”
Her face sobered noticeably. “Give it a few years Obi-Wan, wars change people.” she stood up. “I'll see about bringing you some food.”
As she left, Obi-Wan looked down at Lana's sleeping face. How much would change by the time this was all over he wondered? Would he still be able to teach Lana what being a jedi was supposed to be about? Or would they both be too twisted by this war for either of them to know what that meant anymore? It was a heavy question, and one which he did not wish to grapple with at this moment. For now, they had won a victory, and that was all that mattered.