[Originally written by Foln]
Imperial Army Chronicles: The Tenacious
Power. The concept of power has made subservient every example of life ever encountered. Even in the realm of non-sentient life is power a constant pursuit, where plants vie to grow over top of their peers to claim as much sunlight as possible. Some assume that power is in wealth, or influence, or personal martial skill, but to conclude that power flows from just one or a few of these traits is to reflect a complete naivety of its nature. Power manifests in forms innumerable, begging all life in the galaxy to lust for and chase after it in ways specific to every various life form that it encounters. Power enables; it is the fuel by which living things make progress. Some beings seek power to make themselves and others safer, while some use gained power to make others serve their interests. To empower oneself is to advance in this existence, no matter the ends which one applies that power toward. Power is the propellant of goals and agendas, peaceful or otherwise. To stagnate oneself in its pursuit is to forfeit all ambition in life. Power, for all its effect on individuals, organizations, and history itself, is impossible to quantify in any measurable way. It might be said that one man is more powerful than another, but the difference remains without a unit of measure. Since power draws from such an infinite pool of sources, there is no process more precise than speculation that can compare the power of two entities with any degree of accuracy. Instead, power has been represented by symbols over the ages. Symbols, large and small, spoken and crafted, from the name of an inept man to the massive monuments of the Great Sith Lords of old on Korriban, have been used to signify degrees of power. Speaking the name of the Jedi Order conveys a certain degree of power, as does the Hutt Cartel. Hearing the title of Darth before a Sith Lord’s name is enough to communicate the power that the individual wields. It is through symbols that power is shown, and through symbols that power is wielded. Viciously strike at the symbols of your enemies’ power and watch your foe wither; jealously guard the symbols of your own power, lest you suffer a similar withering. - Historian/Philosopher Ance Assur, Fallen Jedi and Dark Lord of the Sith -
One such symbol of power is the planet of Begeren, buried deep in the center of the Esstran Sector. In the very heart of Sith Space, and among the collection of worlds administered through Korriban against the Republic in the Great Hyperspace war, Begeren served a vital role in the procurement of minerals to the Old Empire. Great monuments to legendary warriors, alchemists, and philosophers among the Sith Empire once loomed over the rocky terrain and inspired the subjects and slaves of Naga Sadow’s Empire to develop a society there much like those on Korriban and Ziost. When Emperor Vitiate’s resurgent Sith Empire returned to the greater galaxy from the fringes of deep space to visit vengeance on the Republic, Begeren and all its symbolic and material importance was among the early targets for reclamation. A contingent of Republic soldiers, reinforced by defense droids, laser turrets, and a wing of Liberator-class starfighters, who were tasked with defending Republic mining operations on the planet, stood to defy the 10,000-strong Imperial invasion force led by Moff Cantion Harvus. Harvus’ fleet had overrun the orbital defense station less than six hours ago. Since that time, his troop transports had landed, staged his invasion force, and began the assault on the Republic Governor’s palace. The year is 25 BTC.
Prologue Moff Cantion Harvus stood on the bridge of his flagship, the Harrower-class dreadnaught Wrath of Ragnos, observing from orbit the events taking place on the surface through vidscreens with live feeds. “Aurek Battalion is taking heavy losses, sir.” The Moff always carried an intimidating air about him. He was proud, noble, and professional, and carried all the physical characteristics of his crimson-skinned Sith ancestors, except for a strong affinity in the Force. Where others in the Sith bloodline that were not sensitive were considered lesser beings, Harvus powered past his disadvantage and thrived in the realms of tactics and diplomacy, working his way up the ranks of the Imperial Military until gaining charge of the Begeren Invasion and the title of Moff. He was a stern, reserved officer that spoke rarely, but authoritatively. When deep in thought or contemplating a decision, he made a habit of stroking the red, gangly tendril hanging from the right side of his chin (the left one had been cut down to a stump long ago). His black hair was kept short, in accordance with military code, and always kept neatly. He abhorred the facial ornamentation that was common among his people, seeing vanity as a weakness and a dead weight, and instead took a fascination with technology, adorning himself with gadgets and devices of all uses and flavors while stopping just short of cybernetic improvements. He took time to calculate and analyze a response before he spoke it, but his words were always brief and definitive. “I trust the plan laid out by the Commander and the Sith. Stay the course” said Harvus, not turning to address the deck officer who had relayed the report from the surface. Another deck officer suddenly reeled in his chair, checked his vidscreen again, and then firmly announced, “Sir, I’m picking up the signatures of small aircraft coming from the west! They appear to be Talons!” The flight commander, senior officer of the standard 95-strong Supremacy-class starfighter wing aboard the Wrath of Ragnos, reported, shocked, via Holo from the hangar, “Sir, Red and Silver Wings reported 100% objective completion in sectors 6 and 9. We blew them all away while they were at home; the enemy shouldn’t have any birds left to fly!” “It seems that you missed a few, Commander Tetran” replied Moff Harvus. “What is the status of Red and Silver Wing?” The Commander replied after hurriedly observing his own readouts in the hangar bay. “They have fuel and armament to engage, but the turrets on the roof of the palace…” “I understand the enemy’s defensive emplacements, Commander” Harvus retorted, speaking with a sense of urgency. “The palace will be neutralized soon; once we receive the all-clear, send in Red and Silver to eliminate the Talons. Until then, have them circle the perimeter of the field just out of range of those guns.” The Commander gave confirmation as the latest casualty reports streamed across the vidscreens. From the rear of the bridge came a hiss, indicating the opening of the door to the lift that served as the only entrance to the dreadnaught’s massive command deck. As the doors open, a few of the deck officers directed their attention to the form standing in the lift, but Harvus kept his gaze fixed on the vidscreens. Out from the lift stepped a female of seemingly pure Sith blood, standing tall and regal as the Sith species often do. Her hair of a modest length was arranged into a ponytail behind her, and her face was lightly ornamented across the nose and ears. Her form fit the description of what was physically appealing to her race, standing about one and three quarter meters tall, and weighing around 52 kg. Her face sported horizontal tendrils that extended outward from her cheeks, and the contours of her face flowed rather naturally, if not aggressively. She walked with the gait of a queen as she made her way toward the viewports. “Amaranda” said Moff Harvus, not turning from the consoles and a weight of sarcastic enthusiasm toward her arrival hanging in his voice. “You said yourself that you have no interest in the affairs of command.” “Cantion…” replied Amaranda, her own voice carrying a falsely diplomatic tone. “I have no interest in the affairs of a forgotten rock like Begeren. There’s nothing here to look forward to after this fight. Why couldn’t we invade Corellia, or Nar Shaddaa, or Coruscant itself? I’ve read such fascinating things about…” “Begeren is where we were sent, and Begeren is where we will stay and govern” Moff Harvus barked sharply, agitation obvious in his voice. “The developed worlds of the galaxy are a long time away from conquest.” Amaranda, visibly annoyed at being cut off, began to say something when another deck officer called out a report from the surface “Casualties mounting, sir. Aurek is still holding position, but just barely. No word yet from Teneb Kel.” Amaranda’s eyes widened slightly at this revelation, but kept quiet as she waited for Moff Harvus to reply. After a moment of thought, Moff Harvus firmly stated, “We must place our trust in the Sith. He will do his duty.” The captain of the Wrath of Ragnos turned from the viewport to face Harvus. “Sir, if I may be blunt: that man down there is no Sith. His master is being charged for treason; He has not even completed his tainted training and is only here to serve out a punishment for learning from a traitor. I am no ground soldier, but I think it's foolish to place all of our hopes on a such a failure of an acolyte.” “Teneb is more than capable for the task!” asserted Amaranda, just before she realized the lack of procedure in her proclamation. Nervously, she avoided the inquisitive glares from the entire command deck as she continued, “…If he learned half the techniques of assassination from Calypho, he is more than prepared for this mission. His master was a brilliant assassin.” “That being said” Moff Harvus started, now having turned to look at Amaranda. “…You overstep your bounds, Amaranda. I could be court-martialed for having you hang around the bridge! And besides, who are you and what have you done with my wife? My Amaranda has no love for the history or practitioners of the dark side, yet you seem to be an expert on Lord Calypho. Care to explain?” “As it so happens…” she managed to spit out before a deck officer shouted a report, to her great annoyance and relief. “Squads Three, Eight, and Fifteen are unresponsive, sir. Squad Seventeen is pinned down by cacophanizers. Still no report from Teneb. The commander is asking for orders.” Amaranda’s eyes betrayed a look of concern, but only for a second. Moff Harvus studied her briefly before replying, “Teneb Kel will come through for us. I have a feeling that his destiny does not end here.” An uneasy quiet settled over the command bridge. The casualty reports continued to stream across the vidscreens, the deck officers continued to listen to the chatter on the comms below, and Amaranda continued to bite her lip. It took nearly eight seconds before she realized her husband was studying her. The Moff was about to say something when one of the deck officers threw his headset back and proclaimed, “He did it! The governor is slain and the palace is ours! Teneb is disabling the facility’s defensive systems!” A few cheers broke out across the bridge as Moff Harvus turned back to the holo feed connected to the hangar. “Commander Tetran: See to it that one of those Talons escapes. We don’t know where they launched from, so we need to track one back to its base. Once we have the coordinates, we will terminate from orbit.” An obligatory confirmation and a deactivated holo later, Moff Harvus looked over the slowing casualty report, and it did not look good. Most of Aurek Battalion was dead, and only a few squads were still barely operable. “Get the medical battalion on site NOW. Patch up as many as you can. And get me contact with Teneb.” He glanced at Amaranda, who could barely contain her relief at the news of the outcome. “I want to debrief him…personally.”