x30C: Continuity Episode

   
Prelude Palpatine Clones
Years ago, then-Governor Tarkin embarked on a dangerous and treasonous mission. He set about cloning the dead Emperor Palpatine. His reasoning was as simple as it was straightforward- Arsaec was a powerful Force-user, and Tarkin needed someone who could kill him. However, Tarkin didn’t believe a single Palpatine clone was sufficient, so he created as many as he could. Three survived.

The intelligence operatives aboard the Galactic Hawk realized this treachery and set about to assault The Hammer, Tarkin’s flagship, and kill the clones. They killed one, and kidnapped a second. The third escaped. The commandos were killed by a rogue droid after the assault, while the kidnapped Palpatine clone escaped in a pod and was later recovered by the Hawk.

The third, still retained by Tarkin, was a General now in his uprising. That clone commanded one of Tarkin’s finest Star Destroyed, The Scythe. He knew his twin still lived.


Prelude Alchemical Clones
There are two types of clones in the Empire, the standard clones, and the alchemical clones. Most of the standard clones have remained loyal to the Emperor, mostly due to their simplistic programming and training regimens. The alchemical clones, created with complex Sith alchemical procedures, are not so devoted. One of the cloning facilities was taken by Tarkin, who certainly has 6 loyal alchemical clones. The facility aboard The Revenge is certainly safe, assuring the Emperor has 6 loyal clones.

The loyalties of the remaining 12 clones are not known by the New Rebellion, yet.




Assault on the Scythe
The battle was a relatively small skirmish involving The Scythe and her two escorts, fighting against a half dozen smaller Imperial ships. The fighter battalions were engaged in an intense battle as each side tried to bring their heavier guns to bear. It was a losing cause for the Imperial ships- they were outnumbered and outgunned.

A pair of TIE bombers flew back towards The Scyhte, bearing heavy damage. Their transponders showed the correct codes, and the ships flew into the bay. The first one had just touched down when the second, just after passing through the magnetic shields, exploded with the combined destructive power of the engine as well as a full load of bombs. Emergency crews and droids responded immediately to mitigate the damage and ensure the fire did not spread.

From the first TIE bomber, six forms moved quickly through the bay. Four men noted their unusual escape, and all four died without sound. Vek’s silenced pistol discreetly eliminated the threat of an alarm. The infiltration was completed that simply.

For the next several minutes, the commandos moved through the ship as if they simply belonged. No one questioned six stormtroopers moving with a purpose, it simply wasn’t done, especially in the middle of a fierce battle. When the bodies were found in the bay, the on-the-spot conclusion was that they died in the explosion.

Finally, the commandos arrived at the door leading to the restricted area, and eventually the bridge. Argyle moved forward and planted the explosives, ripping the door from the frame and opening the first major hurdle. Alarms finally sounded, but this was to be expected. The commandos rushed in, only to quickly come face-to-face with a patrol squad rushing to meet the threat. Vik laid down a withering barrage of heavy blaster fire that neutralized the patrol, while Len picked off the commander before he could coordinate a response.

The team reached the bridge door, only fighting one more squad. This time, Sal stepped forward and plugged into the control panel, running it through a quick routine. The door slid open, and once more, Vik and Len took care of the details. The execution of most of the bridge crew took less than 30 seconds. Only one man remained, his red-bladed lightsaber lit from deflecting the blaster fire.

The Palpatine clone was every bit the appearance of his sire. The high hairline with the light brown hair, to the distinctive nose and chin, he simply looked younger and less wracked by the Force. His sneer was even every bit the Palpatine sneer. He obviously considered this attack no threat.


The final commando stepped onto the bridge, and with a melodramatic flair, pulled off his helmet. The other five commandos all but cringed at the needless display, but what could they do, Jedi are Jedi and their job was complete. The commando’s gesture, though, had the desired effect on the clone. Face to face, the men stood, now two obvious Palpatine clones, one robbed in the traditional Jedi/Sith robes, and the other in the armor of a loyal Imperial commando.

The commando-Palpatine lit his green-bladed lightsaber, and both Palpatine clones charged.


Aftermath Part One
The Scythe engine’s erupted, an internal detonation ripping the ship apart from the middle lengthwise. Her spine was broken and there would be nothing left to recover. Hundreds of escape pods erupted all along the ship.

From the bridge, a single escape pod breaks free. Inside, Palpatine transmits a secure signal to the Galactic Hawk: “Pick me up,” the message simply read.

There was only one Palpatine, now.


Aftermath Part Two
Emperor Arsaec stood in front of the six alchemical vats. Five contained bodies, nearly complete from the re-cloning process. The sixth remained empty- that clone stood to his rear, resplendent in his red Imperial Guard armor. Running even a single alchemical chamber usually required several Sith Lords, however, Arsaec had designed the process and knew it better than anyone. Completing all five simultaneously was a stress for him, but a good stress that tested his skill.

The Emperor called for the Force and wrapped each chamber, the Force working delicate and intricate operations in each. The best comparison would have been to describe weaving a planet-size flag using spider silk. The process took several hours, and left the Emperor exhausted.

The five doors to the chambers opened at nearly the same time. Five clones opened their eyes, and the first sight they saw was a kindly looking old man wearing stark white robes, flanked by his red-armored companion. They already knew who both were thanks to the alchemical memories bestowed upon them, and they knew why they were seeing him. They had died, again, in service to the Empire.

They would see him again soon, they knew.

PaymentWhen the Express finally get Horace Glaston delivered to Lt. Greer at the fleet,
each main character
they receive mission completion payment of 8,000 credits and a personal thank you message from Lt. Greer for returning Glaston alive, which as you can imagine is more snark than compliment.

Darion Goes Shopping
After the payoff Darion buys a few new toys.



"Ah, Major Sal. Thank you for joining us. Please, sit down." He motions with his hand as both he and Tarkin, as well as the young man who almost never leaves Tarkin's side these days, take their seats in the briefing room. Deena smiles tightly. "Thank you, sir, but I prefer to stand. I'm afraid my news is not particularly good."

Tarkin nods expectantly; this surprises her a little. "I am already aware, Major. In fact, Admiral Rehnou has already conveyed the details of the Ando Prime operation to me. The primary purpose of this briefing is to provide a more general overview of the strategic situation to my young companion here."

"I see."
Deena's voice is carefully neutral: She doesn't believe that for a second. "In that case, allow me to use Ando Prime as an example, as the development of events has actually been rather textbook."

Tarkin nods. "Proceed."

Deena taps a few buttons on her wrist bracer, and a holo of Ando Prime appears floating in the middle of the table. "This is, of course, Ando Prime itself. The planet is not of immense strategic value, but it was fairly unguarded. The intent of this operation was to capture the capital, Elesa. It's barely worth mentioning, of course, so the scale of the operation was small." A dot on the planet, presumably Elesa, begins flashing.

The young man leans forward. "Why Ando Prime and not Ando?"

Rehnou speaks up for the first time. "Two reasons. One, Ando Prime's resources are largely untapped. We have the industry in place for large-scale manufacture, but we don't have the resources to maintain full production for very long. Two, Ando Prime was intended to be used as a staging area for an attack on Ando, and a not-so-subtle show of power to the Aqualish." The young man glances at Tarkin, who nods slightly; Rehnou face twitches ever so slightly with annoyance as he does.

So that's how it is. Deena nods and continues.

"Arsaec's forces knew that we wanted Ando Prime, but had no other information on the attack. We used cloaked TIE boarders to land Sith, then quickly took strategic targets. And if I might add, Governor, the choice of TIE boarders was a very good one. The basic bomber chassis is proving increasingly versatile."

Tarkin frowns slightly; Rehnou smiles and looks at him. Deena raises an eyebrow; apparently, the reliance on the TIE/sa design for most roles other than air superiority had not been Tarkin's idea. Interesting. She goes on.

"Arsaec's troops resisted, of course, but there's not a company of stormtroopers can do against a full platoon of our Sith warriors. We gained control of the planet easily enough, but unfortunately, it wasn't for very long." Deena taps a few more buttons on her wrist, and a space battle appears above Elesa.

"Arsaec's navy had a Star Destroyer on-post at Ando, and they made an in-system microjump to Ando Prime. They appeared on the other side of the planet, but it only took them about half an hour to reach geosynchronous orbit above Elesa. We had deployed a carrier which carried cloaked bombers in addition to the TIE boarders, but they were unable to significantly damage the Star Destroyer."

The young man frowns. "Why? I thought anti-capital operations was one of the primary functions of the TIE/sa."

Tarkin smirks a bit and looks at Rehnou, who smiles and shakes his head, spreading his hands. "Unfortunately, Arsaec knows that we do not have a sufficient capital fleet to challenge his Star Destroyers, and his directed his military to retool his Star Destroyers for an increased reliance on point-defense technology. Combined with much larger fighter screens than we can effectively field right now, it's very hard for our force of bombers to take out a Star Destroyer, even with the advantage of a cloak."

"But why? Can't they just fire their concussion missiles and run away?" The young man is stubborn. Deena clears her throat.

"Unfortunately, there's a problem. The missiles themselves are far too small to cloak in a cost-effective manner; we can barely afford to cloak the bombers on a wide scale. If they were to fire their concussion missiles far away, as they have been, the fighter screen and PD weapons can take them down with ease; any closer..."

"...And they'd blow themselves up." Deena nods; the young man leans back in his seat, and expression of annoyance on his face that mirrors Tarkin's. Rehnou leans forward.

"We're trying a new strategy that refits bombers with proton bombs and trans pilots to make attack runs below the surface of the ship, but there's some trepidation that even a cloaked ship might be detectable at the short of a range. We'll see."

"So, they couldn't blow up the Star Destroyer. What happened then?" The young man turns back to Deena; Deena presses a few more buttons. Bubbling flashes begin to appear on Elesa.

"Scorched earth. Orbital bombardment. In many campaigns where we successfully capture a planet, Arsaec's forces destroy everything they can on the planet in order to deny us its use. There have even been a few reports of Arsaec himself using a low-power setting of his planetary destruction laser to cause widespread devastation to a target. The intended result is that we lose valuable materiel and have to waste time and resources rebuilding. Unfortunately, this is correct, and has seriously hindered our campaign thus far." She pauses. "Admiral, Governor... we're winning this war, but I have to admit that it's a much closer fight than our initial projections estimated."

"So really, no one's winning at all in any of this." The young man frowns. Deena winces: This is the part she's been dreading.

"Not... exactly. The Rebellion has actually made major psychological gains by portraying both us and Arasaec as willing to destroy the galaxy to get at each others' throats. Situations like Ando Prime are sending more and more undeclared parties right into their hands. In effect, a large amount of what we had projected would be our gains at Arsaec's expense are becoming the Rebellion's gains instead."

"But they are still Arsaec's losses." Tarkin cocks an eyebrow; Deena nods.

"Yes sir. As I said, progress is slow because we are not gaining resources as quickly as we had hoped. Arsaec is, however, still losing them at the projected rate."

"And when we have defeated him, we shall crush this 'Rebellion' in one swift stroke," Tarkin says, unconsciously echoing an ancestor from the distant past. "Thank you, Major. You may go."

Deena nods, salutes, and exits the briefing room.

Cato Neimoidia News Network (CNNN)Our top story tonight: Senior Umbaran Military Advisor Abid Leechi has been taken into custody early this morning and held on charges of Treason, Sedition and Conspiracy. Our source in the Imperial Prosecutor's Office claimed that they had received irrefutable proof that Leechi had leaked sensitive military information to leftist pro-terrorist groups.

Leechi had been under surveillance for some time, claimed our source, and some evidence suggests that she had been gathering funds from multiple sources both inside and outside the Umbaran administration in order to stake a secret terrorist project. High-ranking officials of the Umbaran government denied any knowledge of Leechi's actions.

Dralin Varm, a subordinate and close acquaintance of Leechi's, had this to say on the matter, "I had the highest regard for Abid Leechi. She was my mentor and greatest supporter, but there is no room for provocateurs and traitors amongst us. Our support for the Empire in this current crisis must be absolute."

"The Imperial Prosecutor's Office has pushed for an immediate execution, but the Judiciary has opted for an speedy trial, as per Umbaran law. We will afford Leechi that privilege given her years of service."

On recommendation from the Emperor's Office, Varm has been appointed to serve in Leechi's place in the interim of the trial, in addition to his new duties as head of an Imperial-Umbaran Joint Military Task Force.

Grey

Grey flips on the holo.

Cato Neimoidia News Network (CNNN)Our top story tonight: Senior Umbaran Military Advisor Abid Leechi...


Wookiee: "BORING!" Grey flips the channel and turns to an entirely entertaining serial that he's been watching for several years involving a hospital ship and the surprisingly amorous crew.







 

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