Friday, September 28, 2007

Raising the Stakes

Black Four throttled back his engines, watching all the red on his hull status display flash angrily. Plasma flames racing over the main engine's cowling, his gunship had more holes and gaps than the second Death Star...

...before it blew up...

...which was going to be his fate if he didn't get help quickly. As a squadron leader, he had access to the emergency frequency but he'd been informed by Black One upon pain of death not to use it unless he absolutely had to do so. It was for the most dire of circumstances only, to be punched up only if he was in danger of being captured or if there was absolutely no chance of the mission succeeding.

The former wasn't a risk; he'd managed to hyperspace out of that death trap. Four flights of Ties, each lead by a gunboat, and he was the only one to make it out alive. They'd jumped into a firestorm, turbolaser fire tearing them apart before most of them even knew they were under attack. He'd resented being chosen as the rear squad leader. Now, he was grateful.

The lasers tearing through all the others first had given him the few precious seconds he'd needed to run like hell. Sure he'd abandoned his flight but they were all going to die. No sense in throwing his life away with theirs.

Besides, someone had to report the mission failure. He just hoped a rescue ship would get here before his life support ran out.

He entered the manual code numbers, activating his transponder as soon as the frequency locked in. His communications array dispatched a pre-recorded distress call complete with current space coordinates and recorded footage of the mission.

Then the thermal detonator under his seat exploded, killing him instantly and setting off a chain reaction of plasma charges that vaporized his assault ship down to the last fight panel. Within moments, even the glowing motes of ash dispersed, leaving only empty stars and the cold void between them...


Thick fingers toggled a bright red switch on a dark wooden desk, revealing a display screen behind a hidden, sliding panel in the wall. The monitor alone was worth thousands of credits, the concealing systems around it costing ten times that to install.

He didn't care. The money was irrelevant. He had hundreds of millions of credits, scattered across the galaxy in hundreds of accounts. He could buy and sell star fleets. He had before and he would no doubt do so again. Right now, money did not concern him. All that mattered was this transmission and what it would mean to his plans.

The watcher took in every last image on the screen, silently observing the attack on the Mandalore fleet, the Rebel fools breaking off their assault, his Imperial vessels having to strike at the Neo-Crusaders directly, their unexpected retreat and the ambush waiting for his ships on the other end of the hyperspace jump.

That was not been in his plan at all. Neither had the survival of the Ithorian hive carrier nor the Rebels not doing his dirty work for him. These were chaotic elements in an otherwise flawless scheme.

Random factors.

He hated random factors. They could not be bought or sold. They could not anticipated. He preferred to deal in assets and exchanges. A few hate groups combining to form an intergalactic racist brotherhood. A single base on Tattooine traded to simulate planetary bombardment. A ship full of worthless aliens to instigate a Rebel response.

And finally a manipulated clash with rabid would-be "honorable warriors" to simulate a false first strike in what would become a very real war. Such a plan had worked twenty years ago to forge the Empire, after all. There was no reason it couldn't work again.

Expect that now there was a very good reason. He needed lots of dead Rebels and angry Mandaloreans getting righteously blown out of the stars by Imperial forces. Right now, he had neither.

This would not do. This would not do at all.

Fortunately, he never did anything without a contingency plan. And a contingency for when that contingency failed. And a third plan to back up the other two just in case.

He detested being in the position of having to relay on his very last option but such was life. If this was how the game would be played, he would have to make the best of the sabacc hand being dealt. Fortunately, just like in sabacc, he knew how to cheat.

It was time to stack the deck.


A calm, feminine voice played over the desk's integrated speaker. "Sir?"

"Get me Savan."

He steepled his fingers in front of his heavy-jowled face. Black Sun. He'd been trying to avoid this, but there wasn't any choice now.

"Tell her I am ready to discuss an alliance. Tell her... tell her I know where she can find a certain droid she's looking for."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chain of Command

Dim red lights pulsed along the halls of the almost-derelict ship, lighting their intermittently. Many of the glowing strips had burned out, leaving several sections of walkway in deep, dangerous shadow.

Even without the optics of his helmet, Darrus could see without difficult. Darkness had never been a problem for him. Even as a child, night was far preferable to day. The day, especially on Coruscant, was painful. Bright agony. He'd was twelve years old when his mentors in the Academy got him his first pair of night lenses. Once he had them, he stopped weeping blood in the daylight.

In a place like this, he was grateful for his light sensitivity. There was little of it left, especially the deeper they all went into the Mandalore vessel. Beside him, Maya was obviously not so comfortable. She was tightly clinging to his hand, relying on him to lead her through the tangle of dark, broken corridors.

He kept his hand behind him, letting her hold on without making it obvious to the hunters in front of him that he was doing so. He was not entirely sure who they thought he was but Darrus doubted that handholding was a common occurrence among this lot.

Wat little he knew about this situation bore him out on that suspicion. These people were Mandaloreans... or at least they were using Mandalore technology and wearing the trappings of that ancient, military culture. Some of their body armor was new, other pieces were old or obviously salvaged. Their weapons were a mix of tech from all over the galaxy and no two men were armed the same.

What they lacked in uniformity they were more than making up for in training and discipline. They had the look of professional soldiers; that much suggested that they were at least familiar with the warrior's way of Mandalore. But something seemed odd, something that suggested that these people were not all their seemed... or perhaps more than they appeared.

In his mind's eye, he pictured Maya and used that connection to speak to her through thought. "I do not think these people are entirely Mandalorean. There's something strange going on."

She answered, her mind-voice softer and less controlled but still strong enough to be heard. "I agree. I feel a lot of unease about them. They aren't deceiving us... but they all seem to be part of some kind of self-deception. I can't explain it."

He nodded, more to reassure her than to express any kind of understanding. None of this made much sense to him and he was quite willing to admit Maya's expertise over his own when it came to people. "Who do you think they believe us to be?" Maya was empathic on a level he would likely never reach. She often had insights he did not. He appreciated her for that ability, even envied it slightly.

"Their reaction to you was genuine and I don't sense that they mean us any harm." She squeezed his hand reassuringly even as he helped her avoid a panel of sharp, ragged metal. "They are scared, not that they'll admit it. I can't really sense anything beyond that."

Fear was something Darrus understood. Fear and what it could make people do. This situation was starting to make a little more sense. As they walked, he reached out with his other hand and tapped the armored soldier in front of him on the thick, reinforced shoulder.

"Yes, sir?" The man's voice was slightly obscured by static, issuing from a small speaker in the front of his helmet.

Darrus asked in as calm a voice as he could, leaving the reverberator effect in his own helm off for the moment. "What happened here? Why is the ship so damaged?" It seemed like a simple enough question, general but to the point.

The soldier gestured to the warped walls as he answered. "The Telos IV exchange station was attacked a few hours ago. We were responding to the open distress call when we were jumped by a surprise attack. The..."

"They ambushed us, Exarch." That voice came from the front of the group ahead, the same man who'd addressed him before and told the others to hold their fire. "We got caught with our greaves down and the Battlelord paid for his failure with his life."

"How so?"

The leader of the Mandaloreans continued to press on as he spoke, answering Darrus succinctly with seemingly no emotion in his voice. "When the attack hit us, we lost our forward cruisers in the first volley. The Battlelord ordered all power to the main guns and returned fire on the attacking destroyer instead of rising deflector screens. We punched a hole clean through the enemy's main vessel..."

Darrus could tell there was more.

"...and then a drone fighter carrying a full rack of primed torpedoes rammed our bridge and killed the entire command staff. The flashback gutted us, taking out primary power, half our guns and detonating most of our charged ammo stores. Only Mandalore luck kept us in the star and not scattered between them, sir."

Darrus nodded, his face obscured by an armored mask similar to their own. "I see. And the ambush? How did you make it out?"

The men bristled, making Jeht think for a moment he'd chosen a poor question to ask.

"We survived because we were stronger than those cowards thought." The man's voice was ice-cold.

"Reassure them, Darrus. Take charge."

He turned on his vocalizer and let the sound module turn his voice into a grave-like rasp. "That's Exarch to you, soldier, and I wasn't questioning your skills. I wanted to know how you managed the jump to this system."

The sudden wrath in his modulated tone startled the men, shaking them all from their moment of hostility. Even the soldier in the lead was visibly cowed. "Forgive me, sir. Exarch. I misunderstood the question, sir."

"I want an answer, not an excuse. Can you provide it or do I need to give your rank to someone who can?" Darrus had been a general in the Clone Wars, commanding the finest soldiers in the galaxy for several years. If these men needed command, that was something he could provide. Behind him, he could feel Maya's surprise. She had never heard him like this before.

The soldier in the lead stopped and turned, stiffening to attention. "No, sir; I can and will answer your question. We were able to keep navigation and the hyderdrive engines online, sir. Once we repelled the ambush, every ship capable of pursuing them do so, sir!"

Darrus nodded, his dark silver armor gleaming like old blood in the flickering red light of the access corridor. "That is better. Carry on."

"Sir!" The man saluted with his fist to his chest and then spun on his heel. The passage through the halls was faster now, as if the men here now had something to prove. Darrus didn't mind the haste at all. Outside the battle might still be raging, especially if whomever had made that strange transmission on a Jedi frequency proved unable to call off the Rebel ships. The sooner they got to where they were going, the better.

"That was well done, Dar. I didn't know you could do that." Maya sounded impressed. Surprised but impressed.

He allowed himself a slight smile, knowing she could feel it but also glad no one else could see his face. He seldom let his emotions reach his expression... but Maya had a way of doing that to him. She was a lot like Trill that way.


Before his mind could go down that dark road, the world shook violently. The ship was taking hits. Lots of them...

"We need to hustle."

"No need, sir. We are already there." The soldiers between Darrus and the leader started to scatter into the room, taking up positions at computer stations and targeting screens. They had emerged into a well-armored command room, a secondary bridge located deep inside the vessel's bulkhead.

"Your orders, sir?" Even as the commander spoke, the other Mandaloreans were bring up tactical displays and charging weapon batteries. A large cylindrical holo-screen in the middle of the chamber showed their situation. All but three of the Mandalore ships were gone, overwhelmed by a large force between their location and the planet below.

Planet below? That didn't make any sense. The Rebel ships had been straight ahead, splitting to flank even as he and Maya were being pulled above. They hadn't been approaching from below. Besides, there were too many hostiles on that display, flying in a tight, oddly familiar formation. More than two dozen. Had the Rebels already gotten reinforcements? Or...

Darrus cussed under this breath, a bad habit he'd picked up from Marr-ek.

"Sir? What was that? Permission to fire?"

Darrus shook his head, the math in his mind coming up with some very ugly... and final... numbers. "Negative. Order the remaining ships to charge deflectors to full and jump on our mark."

The soldiers in their chairs reacted exactly like Darrus had assumed they would; all of them hesitated, turning to their commander in confusion.

"Sir? We may be outnumbered but we can die with honor..."

"We will fight them but not here." Darrus let the reverb in his helmet trail off into a spectral growl before continuing. "I want them to chase us this time, soldier. All the way back to Telos."

Darrus was gambling that one very important aspect of the station at Telos IV hadn't changed in the time he'd been asleep. If it was still the same stardock he remembered, it had one special feature not normally found in a repair/refueling point -a full array of fire linked, capital class turbolasers.

The total change in the commander's posture told him his bet had paid off. "I understand, sir! Send the command and set our course. Get us as close to Tee Four as possible. Now!"

Darrus nodded; the commander understood his strategy perfectly. "Send a tight comm as soon as we get there. I want the enemy to come out of hyperspace to a very warm welcome. Am I clear?"

"Sir, crystal, sir!" The commander ran across the room to the communications console and started seeing to the order himself.

As he did, Maya pulled Darrus aside as subtly as she could, concern in her eyes and an upset waver to her thoughts. "Darrus! We can't just gun down Rebel ships! Those pilots out there are innocent. They were only trying to help!"

Jeht rested his hand on Maya's shoulder, hoping his touch would calm her as it always did. It worked, to an extent. He could still sense her worry. Her panic. She cared so much about people. Sometimes, she cared too much. There would be times, probably sooner rather than later, when they would he to make hard choices and good people might end up hurt.

But this wasn't one of those times. "Maya, you need to trust me. The ships outside are not Rebels and they aren't innocent."

She stared at him a long while, not looking away even when their ship trembled and shook from the effort of lurching into hyperspace. She wanted to trust him but fear was making that hard. Fear of hurting former friends. Fear of good men dying. Fear of being responsible for it.

He stepped around the corner of the room's doorway and pulled her into his arms. "I know I am right. I can feel it, Maya. Please. Please, believe in the Force."

She buried her face in his armored chest, forcing herself to make a very hard decision. In the end, even if they were about to do something terrible, she had chosen her path longer before this moment. Nodding, she clung tight.

"I do. I believe... in you."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dark Homecoming

"Darrus, what's happening?"

He had nothing to tell her. Darrus was as confused as Maya at the moment. The what was actually quite simple. Their Basilisks were no longer under their control. They were flying as fast as the war droids could move towards the lead Mandalorean vessel, weapon systems retracted and environmental shields up.

The why, on the other hand, was a complete mystery. They had started moving this way only a few moments after the dark fleet arrived. Their flight systems were all off-line, controlled from an outside source. Presumably, the ship was bringing them in but there hadn't been any communication or attack. If they had been identified as enemies, why weren't they being shot at? The ship definitely had its share of guns.

Right now, those weapons and the ones bristling across the hulls of the other vessels in the Mandalorean fleet were making themselves known, sending glowing lances of deadly light across space into the makeshift Rebel ships in the distance.

Before he could say something to his panicking partner, his comm light glimmered. Hoping it was some kind of explanation, he toggled the receiver. Only then did he notice it was on a frequency usually reserved for Jedi Temple communications.

"If you're hearing this, 'Wraith', you are who I think you are. Don't talk, just listen. I'll try to reach the Rebels and get them to break off their counter attack. This has all gone Bantha up. If you can, do the same with the Mandals."

Then the transmission ended. There was something familiar about the voice but at the moment, Jeht couldn't place it. He silently wished the mysterious figure, whoever it was, luck and sighed to himself. He wasn't sure he'd have the ability to sway the Mandaloreans from their attack but he was certainly about to get the opportunity.

The side of the vessel was scored with dozens of blaster cannon hits, a single working cargo bay opening to receive them. The other loading doors were too damaged to open or, in one case, close. There was a plasma fire raging inside that bay, metal glowing from intense, unquenchable heat. He hoped there hadn't been men inside it but he suspected that hope was in vain.

"Darrus... I'm scared."

That wasn't over the comm. That was Maya using the thought sending ability he'd shown her. Unfrtunately, she was also sending her fear and it was very strong. Strong enough to touch a darkness of a wholly different source.

"Calm yourself, dear." He used the term of affection to change her mood, knowing that it would make her focus on her feelings for him. It was manipulative, yes, but it was better than them both dwelling on fear and panic right now. "Calm your mind. We have to both be prepared for whatever awaits us here, be it battle or escape."

He could feel her affection but it was tempered with embarrassment. She answered with a quick, "Of course. Sorry..."

He sent soothing thoughts her way, easing her mind of doubt and regret. They would also cloud her vision and he was concerned they would both have need of her healing skills before this was over. A warship of angry Mandaloreans? That did not bode well.

The bay engulfed them, swallowing their relatively small Basilisks like a Naboo spurwhale feasting on glow-krill. Below them, the landing deck was in shambles. There were four fighter craft, all with serious damage. None of them looked flight-worthy. Half the bay was a mass of wires and twisted metal, as if a massive explosion elsewhere had nearly shaken the bay apart. On the outside, the ship was a fearsome sight.

Inside, Darrus wondered how it could possibly still be functional.

His time to wonder anything was cut sort by what he'd been fearing. As guidance tractor beams brought their Basilisks in for an auto-landing in a small cleared area of the bay, several Mandaloreans in full gear, complete with heavy blasters and powered armor, came forward and pointed their weapons in a textbook cover formation.

At least one mystery was solved - the reason for their Basilisks having their environmental systems active. His instruments showed that outside the droid's cockpit, there was pressure but no breathable atmosphere. The bay's life support was completely shot. No real surprise.

His control panel crackled to life, the communications array switching on. "Come out slow, hands up. We see a weapon, you stop seeing. Comply." The voice was rough and invited no argument or discussion.

So Darrus didn't argue or discuss. Popping the clasp on his seat harness, he left his blaster cannon behind and opened the droid's chassis. Plates slid open and footholds extended to let him climb down outside the loyal metal beast's body. His back still turned to the Mandaloreans, he watched to make sure Maya's rebreather would be up to sustaining her outside the droid. Seeing that she was fine, he touched down on the warm deck and turned to face his captors.

There was a stir among the Mandalorean soldiers. Jet had been afraid of this. His armor was a custom piece of work by Vaaro but it was still noticeably Mandalore in design. By their warrior culture, owning a suit without being one of them was an offense punishable by death.

This was about to dissolve into a fight. An ugly one. And he was disarmed.

The Mandalorean in the lead strode forward, pistol still in hand, and crossed halfway to Jeht before dropping to one knee and clapping the grip of his gun to his chest in a salute. "Sir! We had no idea one of the Silverguard had made it here before us!" The soldier turned his helmed head to the others, ordering them to stand down immediately.

They did.

"Sir, please come with us. Our Battlelord and his entire command staff are dead, the bridge is knocked out and we are running the entire ship from the aft consoles. We need you!"

The other soldiers all stood at instant salute. "Lead us to victory and glory, Exarch!" As one, they turned and followed the speaking commander out, obviously expecting Darrus to bring up the rear.

Inside his helm, Jeht blinked very dark, very confused eyes.

"What just happened?" Maya said, handing him his cannon and fetching her blasters.

Now, like before, he had nothing to tell her. Nothing at all.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hell in Zero-G

"That's the last of them, Darrus."

Maya was not at all used to this new communication system. Of course, she wasn't used to any part of this huge, robotic war machine surrounding her flesh, fused to her nervous system and acting as if it were part of her body. All she had to do is think and the Basilisk responded. Sometimes, she didn't even have to think.

The strangely agile mechanic monster was seemingly prescient, moving at times before she had completed her instructions for the action. When a shrapnel canister from one of the bombs on the Ithorian breed ship had come loose and started to drift away, the Basilisk's right arm had extended and caught it before she was consciously aware of the need to do so. Part of her was grateful for the droid; it was the only way they had been able to get here in time to disarm all these explosives.

The rest of her was utterly terrified.

Maya was a medic, a healer both in training and in spirit. All her life, she had been raised and educated to understand the body and its functions. She knew muscle, bone, blood and tissue. She was comfortable with the myriad forms of life in the universe. From big to small, organic existence was endlessly fascinating to her.

This... this machine was not alive, yet it acted in every way as if it was. The Basilisk was more than just a droid. It was something more, something beyond its metal and composites. Something beyond even the cerebral link that melded its operating systems to her brain.

This thing was not a mere tool or a weapon. It was not just a siege engine or war machine. It was...

...a companion.

An alien, nigh-incomprehensible companion to be sure, but like having a Rancor for a lap dog. It was loyal, faithful, unquestioningly obedient while being apocalyptic and unbelievably destructive at the same time.

And in the end, it was hers. Or she was its. Maya really couldn't be sure.

"Darrus, did you hear me? That was the last of them. The bombs are disabled."

She waited again, drifting in space near the gargantuan Ithorian vessel. Held in place by glowing blue thrusters, Maya was able to move in any direction and rocket forth with as much speed as she desired. Right now she was just hovering near the connection site of the final ion charge, holding its disengaged power core.

But Darrus wasn't answering her. Instantly, the engine cores along the back of her Basilisk fired up and sent her hurtling towards where he had last been, where his locator showed him to be right now. She didn't will them to do so; the droid just started moving on its own.

In this case, she didn't not mind at all. Panic was already starting to grip her senses. When the ex-Jedi stopped talking, she started worrying.

She darted like a shark through a sea of darkness, flying up over the glimmering transparent dome of the breed ship. Below, the arboreal floating city, encased in silver metal and softly glowing crystal, rested like a timeless forest among the stars. It was beautiful, breathtaking really, and if she wasn't so frantic to get to Darrus she would have admired it longer.

As it was, the city was no longer in danger of being blown apart and dropped onto Tatooine in a fiery rain of death and destruction. That was good enough for now. The ship was safe. Now all that mattered was finding Jeht and making sure he was okay too.

He had to be all right. He just had to!

She finally found him, but only because of the internal sensors of the Basilisk. It was linked to Darrus' own war droid, allowing her to track him anywhere within a parsec of open space. This was good, because the black finish of the basilisks made them virtually invisible in space.

She hovered close, watching him closely, not getting within reach in case something was seriously wrong. Darrus was just floating there, engines barely blazing. Through the shadowy cockpit, she could see him staring down at his droid's instrument panels, dark eyes wide and expressionless.

"What is it?" she sent again. She knew he could here; there was no way to quiet the mental channel between these two droids. He was hearing every word. He just wasn't responding. "Darrus, what is it?"

"I know why we are here."

His voice was ashen, the exact tone she was afraid she'd hear. That was Darrus' cold voice, the sound of imminent death. Usually someone else's. Somehow, she suspected he wasn't talking about someone else this time.

"To save the Ithorians," she said hopefully, upset at how flat it sounded. "Right?"

She could see him shaking his head, the visor of his armored helm reflecting the lights of the screens inside his canopy. "No. I mean why we were sent here."

She thought she knew that answer as well. "To plant the final bombs."

"That's what they told us... but that's not why we were sent."

She came a little closer, easing her Basilisk beside his. "Why then?"

The main arms of his droid came up, holding open the bomb he'd been given to mount onto the Ithorian ship. It was open, its shrapnel cases exposed, and its timer wired into one of the computer ports of the Basilisk. "This thing was set to explode as soon as it was turned on. The timer was a fake."

She narrowed her eyes. "They sent us up here to die? Why? Did they figure out who we were?"

Darrus shook his masked face again. "No. It's bigger than that." He reached into the bomb with a secondary servo arm attached to the droid's right battle claw and withdrew a fragmentary canister. "Look at this." With that, he crushed the cylinder open, bursting it and scattering its contents.

Maya looked at the drifting metal shards uncomprehendingly. "It's anti-personnel shrapnel. I've seen it before."

"Look closer."

She shrugged, not really understanding, but did so. Some of the pieces were painted, others weren't. A few even had lettering or symbols, in whole or in part, but she still did not see their significance. It was shrapnel, something usually made by grinding up salvage just like this seemed to be. Nothing out of the ordinary.

"What am I supposed to see, Darrus?"

His tone was still cold and dead still, the sort of thing she hated to hear. "It's Mandalorian iron."

She blinked again. "Some of it?"

"All of it."

That made no sense. Anti-personnel weapons were typically packed with random material; in any given bomb there could be a dozen different alloys present. She'd seen the terrible effect of these weapons on their intended victims. 'Soft targets', the military called them. She called them people, usually people in several small bags once exposed to this kind of hideous munition.

"Wait... Why was the Scarlet Wake using a shrapnel mine on a starship?"

Jeht looked up inside his cockpit and nodded. "That was meant for us. The other bombs are, I'm sure, much more appropriate for the task of destroying the hive vessel."

"But..." Her mind was reeling. "Why Mandalorian iron? Are these Basilisks that tough?" Mandalorian iron was generally regarded as one of the strongest metals in the galaxy, capable of being forged into superheavy armor or weapons of surpassing sharpness.

"No. A mine of this size and power could have torn us both apart with Jawa scrap. The Mandalorian iron is there for another purpose." His tone was still grave, still dire. Her stomach sank as his suspicions started forming in her own mind.

"Mandalorian armor, Mandalorian shrapnel, Mandalorian battle droids..." She murmured this, doing the math in her head. The clues were painting an unfortunate picture, one she was sure Jeht had already seen in its entirely.

Below, along one arc of the planet's atmosphere, Maya could see more than a dozen ships moving this way. Planetary security ships, likely Rebel starfighters and transports on loan from the main fleet and here for repairs and refueling, had already been dispatched to their location. No doubt this was all prearranged by the Scarlet Wake; all that was missing was the demolition charges that would have given them something to investigate.

"No, Maya. There's something else missing."

She looked into his eyes, suddenly wishing there wasn't so much armor plate and glass between them. "What, Darrus? We saved the ship. There won't be a massacre today." Again, she was trying to have hope. Again, it sounded so bitterly flat.

"The Scarlet Wake, or more accurately the power behind the Wake, wants a war." Darrus closed his black void-eyes. "And every war needs two sides."

Maya sighed, understanding at last. She pointed with one servo-claw to the incoming Rebel ships. "There's one... but where's the other?"

Darrus didn't answer. He just turned his Basilisk to regard the empty depths of space beyond the Ithorian ship. Moments later, the glimmer of hyperspace anomalies began to form.

"I can only assume, Maya, that this plan had two halves. We stopped our half but if the other succeeded..."

The glimmers resolved into several military transports and a huge battle carrier. Its gun ports were glowing bright and fully open, its hull proudly bearing the symbol of Mandalore. Sections of the carrier were badly damaged but it was still in fighting shape, despite one of its command desks being gutted and trailing smoke.

Maya looked first at the arriving armada and then at the Rebel squadron. "This..."

Jeht finished the sentence, his voice colder than ever. "...isn't going to end well."