Episode V: The Assault on Kashyyyk
A few days later we came out of hyperspace. Before us was the planet Rakhuuun – initial scans showing it to be a tropical world, green islands dotting its teal-blue ocean, with one single continent covered in jungle and mountains – as well as a fleet of starships, in a variety of shapes and sizes, near its shipyard. The Wookie colony world was teeming with activity as smaller ships landed in docking bays, others throttling up to hyperspeed, flicking out of sight.
“This is Freedom Flight Control to unidentified starship, please identify yourself.” came a voice over comms inside the cockpit as we'd apparently appeared on their sensors.
“Killik Faz here aboard the Scarlet Estoc.”
“State your intentions, please, Scarlet.”
“We've been sent here for a rendezvous with the Mandalorian Ascendants.”
“Hold while we get confirmation." The voice replied… A moment later returning: “Scarlet you may proceed to docking bay X-94, sending coordinates now. Follow your escort.”
Plugging the data into the ship’s autopilot system, I transferred controls to the ship and flipped the switch to release the landing gear before addressing the crew. A pair of X-Wings flew up from behind, slowing their speed to match ours and holding position, just ahead on either side of the Estoc, guiding us into our destination.
“Guys,” I said into the onboard comm speaker, “Freedom Flight just commed us. We’re docking at their bay now. I think the Ascendants might be there. Check out the viewport if you've got a sec. Looks like these guys have done a little repainting job on an acquisitioned Star Destroyer.” As we vectored in towards the docking bay of the mentioned Star Destroyer, a few crewmates took the moment to look out at it. The once metal-grey hull was now painted bright red, making it stand out dramatically against the typical gray-and-black of the other ships as well as space itself. I also noticed a Keldabe-class Battleship being refitted amongst the larger Capital ships in the fleet, the plans for which were known to be stolen from famed “Mandal Hypernautics” by pirates of the Zann Consortium. I took note of a few of the other Capital-class ships which made up the fleet: Mon Calamari Cruisers, a few other Star Destroyers, and even Separatist-made ships. The sight was quite impressive. I switched control of the ship back over to me as we glided slowly through the barrier of the hangar into our designated docking bay, where the magnetic field separated the vacuum of space with its various gasses and particles from the hangar's interior where varying starships stood on landing gear below, others clung from above by huge clamps, operated by a Control Room's staff. Sparks flew as mechanics welded parts together, different crew members ran this way and that, and a Kel Dor female waved her green and red batons, motioning for us to set the craft down before her. I inched the controls in her direction, then slowly powered down the ion drive, following with the repulsorlift generators. Setting down smoothly, the weight shifted to the hydraulic landing gear, and I took a breath of relief before lowering the entry ramp.
“Nervous?” said Zeb from behind me.
I laughed a bit, not realizing he'd been watching me land. “Maybe a little.”
“Scarlet, you are free to disembark.” came a familiar voice over comms.
“Copy.” I replied, removing my headset and turning to exit towards the craft's rear ramp. “Looks like we're all set.” I said to Zeb as we made our way out of the cockpit and through the corridor joining us to the lounge area where the remainder of the crew waited.
“Ready?” I asked, the crew nodding, Mr. G glancing around. “Let's finish this.”
We proceeded out of the Estoc and the smell of welded metal came over us, a bit overwhelming, although I think the mechanics of the group found it exciting. Not too much of a surprise, knowing gearheads. An officer aboard the ship was awaiting our arrival.
I nodded, trying to appear confident while actually a little apprehensive at the feeling of representing the group again, not being the appointed representative.
“Sergeant Casper. This way to the briefing room.”
We followed, out of the hangar bay and into a series of corridors. A smell began to reach us that caused looks of disgust as it became more and more powerful the farther we went. It must be a faulty trash compactor, I thought to myself as we followed the Sergeant, hearing life support systems overhead working overtime, attempting to extricate us from the smell. Eventually we reached a large, open room with a conference table. Holo-projectors showed 3-D imagery of a fleet of starships, and a revolving planet I believed to be Kashyyyk. Two men stood in the room on either side of the table, one in olive green Mandalorian armor, the other in what looked like Jedi robes. I realized I was mistaken about the smell aboard the ship, as it was coming horribly from some sort of pet-creature laying at the feet of the Mando.
The Sergeant addressed my crew as a whole this time as we filed into the room, taking our places around the side of the table nearest the entrance we'd just come through, Mr. G taking his place between us and the Mandalorian.
“Master Durron, Ambassador Skirata, this is the crew aboard the Scarlet Estoc. They've just arrived from Bothawui.”
“Thank you, Sergeant. You may leave.” said the Mandalorian, then facing us. “Who is the leader amongst you?”
Aegeon nudged me a bit as I looked around, unsure of what to say.
“We have no leader, but I represent the group, when necessary.”
He nodded slightly, understanding, then held out his hand in a gesture for me to shake it. I did, and he then asked, “Do you have the data?”
“Right here.” I replied, holding up a datapad. “I'm assuming you have the funds?”
His response was removing a cred-chip attached to his waist's utility belt and holding it out for me to take. I checked its reading, pocketed it, and in turn held out the datapad. “Ready when you are." He reached again for his utility belt, this time into one of its pouches, and extending a datapad of his own to me. I took it, and within seconds I had transferred the data, handing it back to him. “And there's more where that came from.” I said, attempting to intrigue him.
“Yes. My associate tells me you have other information concerning the ‘droid factory.” He said, inspecting the data I’d transferred.
“If I may, sir,” Hector cut in, holding his datapad up, “we found information that we think you'll value quite highly. It's no longer just a factory, but instead, it's become a prison.”
The Mandalorian offered no sign of surprise nor enthusiasm. “I won't be able to offer anything from the Ascendants regarding this information without seeing it first. What can you show me?”
Hector moved toward one of the large holo-projectors, plugging his datapad into it and bringing onscreen the data that had been transferred from the Venator’s Bridge back at Hypori.
“So,” I began, “as you can see, someone has been modding this Star Destroyer, The Venator, recently, where we'd retrieved the data on the ‘droid factory. Apparently, they've been raising a fleet there using the factory, as well as making a few changes planetside. We found several power relays going from the Venator to this ‘factory’, now named ‘Skullkiller’s Watch’. There is now a prison there, guarded by YVH ‘droids, with only one prisoner, not even kept on a log, named 'Durge,' kept in a stasis field. The only one who's got permission to release him is this being by the codename 'Beast Blade.'”
The Mandalorian leaned forward with apparent interest at the names “Durge” and “Beast Blade”.
“And there's more, actually.” said Hector. “We weren't able to unencrypt all the data, but it's been copied here as well.”
“How much do you want for all of this?”
Thinking for a moment, I put forward a figure: “150,000. It's worth at least that much.”
“Fine.” he said, extending his hand again.
I pulled the cred-chip he'd given me out of my coat and put it in his palm. He plugged it into his datapad, changing the amount it contained, then handed it back. I plugged it into my own datapad and saw the amount it now contained come up onscreen: 400,000 credits. Never before seeing such a large amount at my fingertips, my eyes widened before I regained composure and pocketed the chip, nodding to the Mandalorian.
“I must get this information to the Ascendants. Thank you for your assistance. I will be back momentarily. Speak with Master Durron if you have further questions.” With that, he and Mr. G exited the room, the pet creature rising from its spot on the floor, following them.
I turned to the Jedi. “Master Durron, is there anything you need from us? We’re going to be needing some work soon and our ship needs upgrades I’d like to speak with someone about.”
“Yes,” the Jedi replied. “We have a battle coming up, as well as ongoing smuggling operations if you're inclined. We’ll need all the help we can get. In return for your assistance, you can receive your ship’s upgrades at a discounted cost. Which would you prefer?”
I turned to the group, looking for a consensus. It didn't take long to figure out what we were looking for.
“We'd like to take part in the battle. Is it possible to have salvage rights as payment?”
The Jedi contemplated the question for a moment. “The salvage rights are not quite mine to give away. I can only say what the Ascendants don't see you take is not my concern.”
I nodded. “I’d like to see if you have some upgrades I'm looking for available, possibly.”
“That is not exactly my area of expertise here, but go ahead and I'll tell you what I know.”
“We’re looking to get three ship upgrades as soon as possible, and we've got the credits for them: Physical Countermeasures, Pseudo-Cloaking, and a Concussion Missile Launcher.”
“Hmm, the Pseudo-Cloaking will be a problem, that stuff is hard to come by, and very popular around here, I doubt there's any way to get it. The other two won't be a problem, just speak with one of the mechanics down in the hangar bay you docked at, they'll get you squared away, and let them know you're fighting with us, they'll give you a good price. Better wait a minute though, looks like we're about to go over the battle plan.” With this the Jedi faced the opposing entrance.
A moment later, the Mandalorian Ambassador Skirata walked into view through the entrance, the large metal doors hissing closed behind him.
“Ambassador Skirata, I believe these men need to be prepped for battle. Would you mind relaying your plan to them?”
“Of course.” The Ambassador replied through his olive green helmet’s voice modulator, and turning to us, began without hesitation. “The planet Kashyyyk is a central trade spot. There is a small fleet led by the Wookies defending its capital city of Kachirho. There, the Protectors are sending a fleet to attack, landing on the water and fighting on the beach. It has been done before. The Sith are looking to pick a fight with the Jedi, and they will have it. Jagged Fel, head of the Imperial Remnant, appointed by Luke Skywalker, has begun civil war on a nearby system in order to distract Daala and the GFFA. Freedom Flight, made up of the Jedi, Hapes Consortium, the Mandalorian Ascendants, whom I represent, and the Wookies, are the only ones currently standing between the opposition and their acquisition of Kashyyyk. The Ascendants are sending a fleet to assist in the battle at the right time.
My leaders have successfully freed the young Ben Skywalker from the Protectors, who had kidnapped him. Currently I'm unaware of their intentions with him, although I've been made aware and informed to relay the information to our Jedi allies.
We will first encounter the enemy’s fleet over Kashyyyk, maintaining a diversionary attack while a group makes their way to the beach of Kachirho for an assault on the invading forces. A small fleet of the Ascendants joined with other various crews will be the initial invasion, in the hopes of luring Boba Fett out of the battle to fight against his rival Mandalorians. When this happens, the Ascendants will launch their main fleet in tandem with Freedom Flight, wiping out the Protectors’ leader while simultaneously freeing Kashyyyk. You will be a part of the initial ground invasion. Your job is to make planetfall and take out as much of the opposition as possible while staying alive in order to lure the Protectors, and Fett in particular, away from the mainland and toward the beach of Kachirho. Questions?”
We glanced at each other, shaking our heads. “No. We're all set. We'll be ready when you are.”
“Good. See you at Kashyyyk.”
With this, we left the room, walking hurriedly towards the hangar to meet with the mechanics aboard about our last minute adjustments and upgrades. Minutes later, we'd made arrangements with one of the Wookies, with the help of his nearby protocol droid, to have the Physical Countermeasures attached to the ship’s rear, wirelessly connected to a button added to the cockpit, as well as a Concussion Missile Launcher fixed into the Scarlet’s chin, with the work to be completed before takeoff. For a cool 4,850cr, we were all set, minus the Pseudo-Cloaking device I’d been hoping for. All in all, the ship was more than I, nor any of us I think for that matter, had ever hoped for, and we still had just over a hundred-thousand credits left in our joint fund used for upgrades to the Scarlet. That in itself could just about buy us a new ship if need be.
But we were getting ourselves into something much bigger than we'd ever anticipated. A war. Who would have thought, just weeks ago on Tatooine, that we'd be involved in a battle between just about every major faction in the galaxy?
Where's my golden chance dice? I thought to myself with a humored sigh, wishing I hadn't left them on the Scarlet even for a minute in a situation like this. Heading back aboard the ship, I knew I'd better do a systems check as well as focus up before the big fight. Even the best pilots could get taken out in a skirmish like this. Kriff, I've seen pilots better than me go down in an ice chasm from just trying to set down in a storm. As I opened up the ramp, I saw Zeb looking over the Wookies' shoulders as they worked, checking every weld for quality. Hector was off somewhere looking for some kind of cigarras, Aegeon was bargaining for armor upgrades, and I…was wishing for a piloting simulator. Attempting to put nerves aside, I closed the ramp behind me, and set to work checking systems, all the while going through possible maneuvers and scenarios in my head, as if my life depended on it…
A couple hours passed by, weapons had been welded and connected to the ship’s systems, crew back aboard, but the anxiety of the upcoming fight lingered, if not worsened, as the crew and I waited on a call to battle. Finally a call over comms came in: “Come in, Scarlet.”
“Killik here,” I immediately responded, almost accidentally flipping a switch to the onboard waste emission system in my nervous haste, “we’re ready for liftoff.” I began warming up the ion drive engines and was just about to close the boarding ramp when the voice responded.
“This is your designated liaison, Advisor Tribunis. The invasion has been halted pending further notice.”
“What? Why? What happened??” I blurted.
“The Freedom Flight group and Ascendants have reached an impasse. The Jedi are currently halting the invasion due to suspicion of the Ascendants motives and earnestness in their agreement.”
I hesitated, unsure of what to say, considering Ambassador Skirata himself had only hours ago given us a full rundown of the battle plan. “Is there a way for us to talk with them? The Jedi at least, or both groups if possible?
“We can certainly arrange that.” The Advisor seemed to be on the side of wanting the battle to take place. “Take your crew to the Keldabe. You will be escorted to the conference room. I will arrange it personally. Both groups are there currently in heated negotiations.”
“We’re on our way.” I said, closing the entry ramp and relaying the conversation to the group just before lifting off, knowing we were all anxious to get into combat.
Mere moments later, we were pulling into the nearby docking bay aboard the Keldabe-class vessel, whose name I wasn’t made aware of, as everyone just kept referring to it as “The Keldabe” given its rarity. Air traffic control wasn't even involving themselves with inter-fleet flights at the moment apparently, and we found ourselves disembarking with zero instructions this time, searching for someone to talk to.
The hangar of the craft was buzzing with activity, but as we glanced around, a Mandalorian male jogged towards us, straightening, then introducing himself as Valinz. He cut straight to the point. “Are you the group sent by Advisor Tribunis?”
“This way.” And with that he guided us out of the hangar bay and to a set of double doors just ahead. “Good luck,” he said just before punching a button on the control panel in front of him, straightening once more as the doors “hissed” open, revealing a conference room much like the first we'd entered, although this time, there were two groups of beings: one being the Mandalorian Ascendants, which there were quite a few of, led by Ambassador Skirata as well as an unknown, cloaked individual dressed in all-black armor and clothing, sitting at the table; the other group being the ones who named themselves “Freedom Flight,” led by Kyp Durron, which were many in number as well, with Wookies and Jedi side-by-side, though segregated. The members of the Ascendants as well as Freedom Flight were both locked in what equated to a screaming match between the parties, but as we walked in, the two groups turned to see who had entered the room, recomposing themselves as they did so.
“Greetings Master Durron... Ambassador,” I said, nodding to each after taking a moment to allow the Scarlet’s crew to file in and take their places. The room was stale, waiting for me to speak. “We have received word that there has been a stalemate reached, and that the Jedi have become suspicious of the Ascendants intentions. I would like to ask why that is, after the Mandalorians have come all this way to face their rivals, and obviously will gain the upper hand against them if the battle is won.”
Kyp responded with, “The Ascendants’ fleet is not even here! The Mandalorians have been against us for too long to be trusted.”
Hector chimed in, “There is a time, however, when alliances must be made for war. Would you instead prefer the Sith reign over the galaxy with the Imperial Remnant and the GFFA because of your dislike for the Mandalorians?”
“And I think your Wookie allies would prefer to spend this time saving their brothers and sisters from the invasion that is occurring right now on Kashyyyk rather than holding grudges.” I added. A roar of agreement came from the Wookies of Freedom Flight, filling the room.
“How many of us have they killed?” Kyp continued, not giving an inch. There was a murmur amongst the Jedi.
The Mandalorian in black leaned forward. “Sun Crusher.” At once the room fell silent.
I remembered a story I’d read of the ‘Sun Crusher’, a ship that had been found by Han Solo and Kyp Durron (that's where I remembered his name from), in the Imperial installation inside a cluster of black holes named ‘The Maw'. The ship was apparently almost indestructible, no bigger than a starfighter, and had the power to turn a target star into a supernova, eliminating an entire star system. It was secretly stowed by the jedi inside the poisonous gas giant Yavin, where no one could find or reach it, but Kyp Durron hated the Empire to such an extent - also being influenced by the Sith Lord Exar Kun - that he traveled to Yavin IV, home to the Jedi academy where he'd been trained as well as the spirit of the long dead Exar Kun, and was able to use the force to retrieve the Sun Crusher from the gas giant, then proceeding to destroy the Carida system, and was on a rampage of destruction before being stopped by Lando Calrissian and Han Solo, and just before he shot down Han with one of the Crusher's torpedoes, the spirit of Exar Kun was destroyed by Kyp's fellow apprentices, and he realized what he'd done. The story went that Kyp then piloted the superweapon into one of the Maw's black holes, ejecting himself in a message canister just in time, and barely surviving, by using the Force…
“I, Mandalore,” the figure spoke again, “believe it is time to put the past behind us. We must together defeat the enemy who poses a threat to our galaxy.”
Kyp pondered this. “And what of Ben Skywalker?”
“Skywalker is in safe hands aboard our fleet nearby. If we were to send him here or give the coordinates to reach him, we would be effectively giving our position away to the enemy. You have my word, Skywalker will be brought safely here when it is time.”
Kyp looked as though he was reaching agreement finally. “I believe that instead of waging full-scale battle against the Protectors and risking the lives of many, we may be able to assassinate Fett and bring this all to an end.”
“Then you are unfamiliar with the structure of the Protectors. If Fett falls, another will replace him, and they will not stop until Kashyyyk is theirs, and that is just the beginning.”
I spoke up again, “We must destroy the Protectors if possible, if not seriously maim them, in order to keep Kashyyyk out of enemy hands. If they take the planet, they'll have taken ‘The Slice’ (referring to the portion of the galaxy that contains Kashyyyk as well as several other surrounding systems that make up a centric portion of galaxy Trade).”
Kyp continued, “And what happens when we win the battle? What will you take then? How will we know to trust that you won't take up where the Protectors left off?”
“There will be time for post-battle agreements when we reach that time and place.” I said.
There was a moment of unrest, silence, then Kyp spoke again. “Fine... I agree... Let's begin the assault.”
With this, an uproar filled the room, Mandalorians, Wookies, and Jedi alike all raising their arms and voices in unison, a signal of welcoming to the battle ahead. With a nonchalant salute and a “see you there,” the crew and I left the room. We exited through the double doors, passing Valinz, still standing guard at his post. “Good luck,” I said, feigning a scoff at the last word as the blast of the voices inside made its way through the docking bay before being sealed shut by the hissing double doors. He nodded firmly, and we walked through the hangar to board the Estoc once more.
“Killik? Killik Faz?... Can anyone hear me??” a voice over comms was shouting into the cockpit of the Scarlet as I ran to put my headset on.
“Scarlet crew, do you-”
“Here! I’m here!” I yelled into the microphone of the comms unit as I maneuvered it over my head with one hand, simultaneously flipping switches to fire up the starship with the other.
“This is Advisor Tribunis. We’ve received word of the agreement being reached! We’re now plotting coordinates for the jump to Kashyyyk; they’ll be sent momentarily,” he said as though trying to keep his voice professionally under control.
“Copy. Leaving the hangar bay now,” I replied, shutting the boarding ramp as I relayed the information over the onboard speakers to the crew. Increasing power to the repulsorlift generator, the Estoc rose gently into the circulated air of the hangar before the ion drive was kicked in, sending the freighter out into the blackness of space, where ships large and small were maneuvering into position already for the upcoming jump to hyperspace.
“Zeb, can I get you up here to copilot? Hector, you wanna-”
“I’m headed there,” he responded as he climbed up the head ladder toward the dorsal quad-turret.
“I’m on my way,” said Aegeon as he slugged toward the head ladder as well, before descending to man the ventral ion cannon.
I laughed and turned to Zeb, who was just getting settled in behind me at the copilot/navigation system seat, “he hates guns,” I remarked, covering my headset’s mic.
The Dug laughed as he put his own headset on, punching in the coordinates as they came beeping in over transmission before giving me the thumbs up with one of his hand-like appendages on his two lower limbs.
“This is the Errant Venture. Check in, fleet.” a voice came over comms from the Star Destroyer painted in red.
“Check. This is Blue Leader standing by.”
“Copy, Gold Leader standing by.”
The comms were busy for a straight standard-minute with independent ships and squadron leaders checking in.
“Scarlet, standing by,” I interjected when I had a chance.
“Affirmative. New Rebellion standing by.”
I wondered who that might be as the check-ins continued..looking around through the forward viewport at the starships surrounding us, all facing our destination of Kashyyyk.
“Prepare for the jump to hyperspace..in 3..”
I gripped the lever which activated the hyperdrive with my right hand, the craft’s main control stick in my left, feeling the sweat between my hands and the metal. I need gloves, I thought to myself.
I throttled the generator’s lever forward, and the stars began streaking past..
- A Galaxy Far, Far Away..
- H.C. Ogden
Creator of the written series and upcoming podcast:
"STAR WARS Edge of the Empire: Life and Death on the Rim"
Experience the galaxy of STAR WARS in a whole new way..
Jump into the shoes of Killik Faz as he navigates the galaxy as part of a mercenary crew..
Author of the upcoming novel "Tales of Shady Grove Episode I: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"