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00 19 ABY

Written by: Tuba and posted on: May 1, 2013

-as told to an Emperor’s Hammer News correspondent by a surviving member of the Command Staff from that period.

 

Nineteen years after Yavin.  Hardly anyone knew about that system before then.  Funny how that works.  Nearly two decades after Alderaan and Skywalker’s impossible shot.  No, I wasn’t there, but I knew men who were.  Good men who believed in making something better.  All gone in a single instant…But we were young and idealistic.  You’ve seen horror now, so you know what I mean.

 

Sorry, I tend to reminisce.  We were talking about 19 ABY.  It started as a year like any other – we fought the New Republic, they fought us.  We all chased pirates in our spare time.  Everyone got excited when Thrawn resurfaced but that was just an actor made up to look like him.  Things changed after that.  It was almost like the Hammer and the Remnant were holding out hope for one last miracle and when we realized it wasn’t coming, we moved on to more sensible things.  As if our leaders finally took a good look at the galaxy and realized the New Republic was here to stay.

 

Events moved rapidly after that.  Skywalker and Jade settled down.  Rumor has it she keeps the legendary Jedi Master on a short leash.  Overheard calling him ‘Moisture Boy’ a few times.  Intel had a great laugh over that one.  Then word came down that Supreme Commander Pellaeon wanted peace and Gavrisom obliged.  All smiles and handshakes for the holos.  Everyone looked more relieved than happy, in my opinion.  Glad the war was finally over.

 

Then it was our turn at the negotiating table.  A few ships from each faction gathered over Xal 3 – it seemed a nice neutral site.  Negotiations were brief since all they really had to decide was when to stop shooting at one another.  Oh, there was posturing on both sides, but everybody knew why they were there and in short order a peace treaty was hammered out.  More ships arrived and soon a rather impressive fleet stood guard over that one tiny space station.  Probably the largest peaceful gathering of Republic and Imperial ships on this side of the galaxy.

 

The day before the treaty signing we lost all contact with Xal 3.  There were ion storms in the vicinity so we didn’t think much of it, but High Command wanted to be sure.  That afternoon a gunship jumped to investigate and we never heard from her again either.  So after a few hours the admirals ordered battlestations and the Colossus Battle Group jumped for the Xal system.  ‘Reconnaissance In Force’ I believe the term is.

 

You know about the carnage we found.  Not a single ship from either side survived, nor did Xal Station.  Dozens of capital ships including twelve ships of the line tumbling and burning in space.  No log buoys or escape pods, not even an intact shuttle, although we found lots of debris.  Of course at that point the New Republic’s own group arrived and immediately accused us of sabotaging the talks.  We did look rather guilty, I suppose, and in retrospect we made rather convenient scapegoats. 

 

Old hatreds flared and everyone reverted to their usual way of thinking, which is just a pleasant way of saying the shooting started.  We withdrew in good order but not before recovering a few data recorders from the wreckage.  After returning to EH space we reported in and discovered the Republic was already massing a fleet near our borders.  Nobody was interested in talking at that point, so Battlegroups III, V, XII, and XVII launched at the Republic staging area in the Elatha system.  The raid was a success and only the Redemption suffered light damage so our forces deployed to defend the borders.  What we knew at the time was whoever attacked the peace conference destroyed both sides.  The data recordings showed lots of battle, but no conclusive evidence of the attackers’ identity.

 

Reportedly the NR forces came to the same conclusions as an uneasy truce was declared after the initial skirmishes.  Neither side knew who had attacked them but we knew they wanted us fighting each other.  One month later they nearly got their wish.

 

On a bright Zhellday morning, five Imperial Star Destroyers and thirty support vessels emerged from hyperspace right on top of Aurora Prime and opened fire.  The Golans never had a chance; only one of them managed to raise shields but those were quickly battered by concentrated ion fire.  The Sovereign was out of the fight almost immediately.  They were smart about it; knew right where to hit her.  Couldn’t disable the whole ship, she’s too big for that, but even something that massive can’t withstand hundreds of ion cannon blasts and remain combat effective without shields.  You know the overall precision was astounding, really.  Jumping a fleet that size into a system with secret hyperlanes, and attacking at point blank range.  Supernatural coordination like I’ve never seen before.  Heard about that sort of thing, though…

 

With the defense platforms disabled in the first few minutes, the planet was wide open.  Most of our forces were arrayed near the hyperlanes around the system perimeter and in the confusion it took them a while to get into the fight.  You see, those approaches were among our most closely guarded secrets and our forces were arrayed accordingly.

 

The line ships shifted to turbolaser fire, raining death on New Imperial City.  Squadrons from the Challenge and Immortal were the first to reach the attackers and they drew fire away from the civilians.  TIE Drones launched from the line ships and while they were no match for our pilots, there were enough to keep our boys occupied. 

 

The Hammer and Crusader joined the fight next and that really took a lot of the pressure off Aurora Prime.  The attackers had shifted their aim by that point, moving out from the capital and slagging the outlying areas, but now they had to defend themselves against four of our line ships with more on the way.  Millions were already dead, but it looked like we’d avenge them.

 

Fifteen minutes into the battle, the first enemy line ship fell thanks to a precision torpedo strike by Praetorian Squadron.  Blew off the top half of the command tower and our turbolasers made short work of the rest.  No escape pods ever launched.  Kind of odd, really, but we weren’t in the mood to take prisoners.  Just then the Avenger comes rushing out of orbit around Eos but she wasn’t firing on the line ships.  Not at first.  Turbolasers firing every which way and tractor beams sweeping around, knocking many of our smaller ships out of position, but she kept charging through like she and her fighters were chasing something.

 

At first we thought the Dark Brotherhood had gone mad and were firing wildly, but they were herding an escort.  Seemed silly to concentrate on such an insignificant vessel at the time, but the Sith knew better. When it looked like the Avenger was about to plunge straight into the enemy formation, all her forward tractor beams converged on a single gunship and ripped it apart.  There was an explosion of course, but much larger than what anyone expected.  Big enough to take out the two nearest enemy star destroyers and vaporize the wreckage from Praetorian’s kill.  That got everyone’s attention.  Turns out the gunship was packing a Baradium Fission Device intended for Aurora Prime.  A planet killer.  Whoever those murderers were, they really hated us.

 

After that the enemy went insane, pouring fire into us and the planet alike with wild abandon.  The remaining star destroyers started suicide plunges into Aurora Prime’s atmosphere.  Almost elegant, really: big ships like that spiraling in unison.  Crusader, Kawolski, and Relentless arrived and with the combined fire from them and the Avenger Group, none of the enemy line ships survived.  Some wreckage impacted on the surface, adding another problem for the poor souls trapped below.

 

Near the end, only a handful of enemy escorts remained.  No quarter was asked and none was given.  The last ship was a burning Assault Frigate that tried to ram the Crusader.  It fared no better than its predecessors and after thirty minutes the Aurora Prime Massacre was finished.  Then the recovery began.

 

We organized rescue teams and flew over what remained of New Imperial City.  Our capital was in ruins, entire neighborhoods slagged into molten craters.  The heat was unbearable, but we kept on, scanning for any signs of life.  Those teams assigned to the fringes of the attack fared better and helped many people.  Ours found nothing but sickening death and shattered futures.

 

Grand Admiral Cyric viewed the carnage and quietly passed his thanks down the chain for defending our home.  Pyrrhic though our victory was, it could have been much, much worse.  Cyric and SA Rapier organized the Rapid Response Force aboard ISD Hammer and Grandmaster Hades dispatched House Drakonan to discover the attackers’ identity.

 

Whoever did this, wherever they are, you have to find them.  The way they butchered our citizens and attempted genocide on our entire homeworld is inhuman.  Those animals must pay for murdering our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters.

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