Zonia and Jaspar, along with the other group of rebels, walked alongside Triumphant’s hull for as long as they could. They started off at the bow of the ship and were making their way towards the aft end, which was somewhere around two and a half kilometers away from the bow.
“It just keeps going…”, Jaspar commented.
“Do you know what we’re looking for?”, Zonia asked.
“Yes”, replied Crowley, “an entrance to ship, and I think I know where, assuming they haven’t changed it”.
“Wait, you’ve seen this ship before?”, Jaspar asked.
“Yes”, replied Crowley as he found a hatch and opened it, “once…”.
The rebels entered the ship and they found a long corridor leading to what looked like a staircase. They knew the ship’s bridge, where they needed to be, was hundreds of meters above their current location near the ship’s keel. If they had any hope of finding the bridge, they would have to take the stairs all the way up. Zonia looked around the dark corridors of the ship. While this was far from being her first time on a starship, she had never seen one before of this size. It was one and a half times longer than an Imperial Star Destroyer. She had expected the ship to have been left clean and tidy, but this was not the case. In fact, there was a lot of garbage and broken glass lying all over the decks. She could tell that whoever decided to hide the ship on Kelma did so in a hurry. The climb up the stairs was long and slow. Had Kelma’s gravity not been so weak, the climb would be a living nightmare. After climbing up a few decks, she could see areas of the ship that looked more familiar. One deck had a galley, that hasn’t served any hungry sailors or marines in centuries by this point. Some of the decks above it had berthing area where crewmembers had once slept and lived on. She also saw duty stations, ammunition lockers, even a section for officer’s quarters as she walked up.
“This way”, Crowley cried out as he led the rebels onto another deck away from the stairs.
“What’s down there?”, Zonia asked him as she pointed down the corridor with her lightsaber.
“Well, if I remember correctly, the bridge…”.
The group walked down the narrow passageways, which were finally being bathed in artificial light for the first time in centuries. Before long, they made it to the place on the ship that they were all looking for. They made it to the bridge. Crowley looked at the controls carefully, remembering the last time he was standing in the bridge prior to him being frozen in cryostasis.
“Are you alright?”, Zonia asked him.
“Yes”, he replied sharply, but coldly, “I’m fine. It’s just I, I never thought I’d be standing here again…”.
Staff Sergeant Crowley looked at all the controls carefully. While he had never been stationed in the ship’s bridge before, he was familiar with it as the captain of the ship would have had need to talk to the small garrison of Commandos stationed on Triumphant in regards to missions and day-to-day procedures. Since the Commanding Officer’s, along with the Executive Officer’s, quarters were less than 100 feet away, nearly all their meeting took place on the bridge.
Crowley looked at all the buttons, dials, and switches carefully. He looked at one button carefully which he was certain was capable of doing one thing and one thing only. Zonia and Jaspar looked on carefully as he pushed the button ever so slowly.
Suddenly, without warning, the lights on the ceiling came on and the bridge was illuminated. Just seconds later, every working light on Triumphant came back on. Lights, which had been turned off for centuries, sprang back to life, both inside and outside the ship. The small group of rebels finally got a clear view of the bridge. They saw the a massive wheel suspended from the ceiling on a pivot near the center of the bridge, with two control panels on each side. The entire bridge had crystal-clear windows that gave a nearly full view of the front, the sides, and part-ways towards aft. Only the entrance to bridge prevented them from having a full 360 degree view.
The rebels all looked outside the windows and they could finally see the true size of the ship that had just discovered. They saw the massive 72-inch guns, each almost 50 meters long, and a total of 48 on Triumphant’s dorsal side alone. There were another 48 down on the ventral side beneath the keel, just a few hundred meters below them.
Jaspar looked at the control panel Crowley was looking at. He saw a button that had a symbol that looked like a cloud. Without thinking, he decided to push it. Suddenly, gas began pouring out of vents in the ceiling and bulkheads. Zonia turned around and saw liquid mercury inside of a tall glass cylinder begin to ascend.
“There’s pressure in here…”, she quietly whispered to herself. She looked around and saw that all the other rebels were still wearing their space suits, thinking that the interior of the ship was still a vacuum. But there was only one way to find out. Jaspar turned around and saw Zonia try to take off the glove of her space suit.
“Zonia, what are you doing?”, he asked her while she started pulling the glove off, “Zonia, you’ll decompress rapidly, seal your suit now!”.
Jaspar ran up to Zonia and was astonished by what he saw. She was still partially wearing her glove, but now her wrist was completely exposed.
“There’s pressure in here…”, Zonia commented.
“This ship has been hidden in this hangar the last 400 years. It’s impossible…”, Crowley said in disbelief. Soon, he too took off his own helmet and breathed in the air.
“Well, the air is a bit stale, but it is breathable…”.
“What about all the other systems?”, asked Jaspar.
Crowley turned around and faced the control console.
“Well, if you intend on flying this thing out of here, we’re going to need a crew down in the engine rooms to fire this thing up…”
“Way ahead of you”.
Jaspar pulled his commlink out of his pouch and immediately tried to contact General Loughly.
“Father, it’s me Jaspar, have you landed on Miranda yet?”
General Loughly picked up his commlink and replied.
“Yes, Jaspar, we’re on Miranda now. We broke through the blockade, we’re hovering above the surface and preparing to escort a fleet of freighters off the surface. What is your status on Kelma?”.
“You’re not going to believe where I am. We found it. I repeat, we have located Triumphant”.
General Loughly let out a sigh of relief at hearing the news.
“But we have a problem. This ship is a lot bigger than we thought. We’re going to need as many hands as we can get if we’re to even attempt getting it out of here. Me, Zonia, Crowley, and the other 12 are not going to be enough. It’s in a hangar buried underground right behind Gaffer Canyon’s northern slope”.
“Alright, I’m going to get as many to your location as I possibly can. Loughly, out”.
While Zonia, Jaspar, Crowley, and the rebel squad rushed to bring Triumphant back to life, Barriss and the 11th sister continued their duel in the canyon just outside. In one swift move, the 11th sister extended her prosthetic hand and force pushed Barriss away from her. Barriss immediately recovered and stared down at the inquisitor just meters in front of her. They stared at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move.
“How interesting”, remarked the 11th sister as stepped towards Barriss, “normally, your snotty little pet would have come to your aid by now, as well as her lover”.
Barriss didn’t respond. She simply maintained her defensive stance, her purple bladed lightsaber in one hand, behind her, and Jaspar Erisil Gladius, now glowing red hot in front of her; it’s orange red glow shining in her eyes.
“This is weird, by now she would have come to your aid, it’s almost as if they were delayed…”.
Barriss glanced at the northern slope, then quickly refocused her attention on the inquisitor.
“No. They were not delayed. They found something…”.
“They have found nothing…”.
“Why else would you come back to this system? And to Kelma of all places?”.
Barriss refused to respond.
“Oh I see. You’re after the TSS Triumphant”.
“That ship is a myth…”, Barriss replied sternly.
“Then why do you look for it? Do you honestly think the Rebel Sympathizers on Miranda found the operating instructions for that class of battleship by accident? We infiltrated the headquarters of the Erisil Guard. We WANT you to find that ship”.
Barriss became very uneasy with what the inquisitor was telling her. The more she listened, the more she realized that they had fallen right into a trap. The 11th sister judged her reaction carefully, and smiled.
“Looks like I do own you after all”.
The 11th sister started up the gyroscopic motion of her lightsaber and charged at Barriss. Barriss swung her lightsaber and sword around in front of her relentlessly to keep those red blades as far away from her as possible.
“On second thought, I won’t kill you”, the 11th sister told Barriss as their blades locked in a hold, “I think I’d rather keep you alive. I want you to see everything I’m going to do to your little padawan…”.
Barriss let out a scream and charged at the inquisitor, tapping into her dark side to increase her strength and striking speed. While the 11th sister and Barriss battled in Gaffer Canyon, General Loughly hovered over the surface of Miranda as the last transports, most of them hammerhead corvettes, prepared to take off towards Kelma. He immediately contacted all the rebel ships, and ordered them to keep in tight formation. As the ships left Miranda and headed into orbit, he positioned the Venator in front of the fleet of a dozen hammerhead corvettes to shield them from the duo of Star Destroyers waiting for them. He looked at his position from the bridge and saw what he was up against. The Empire had sent more Star Destroyers into the system as a response to their presence. There were two directly in orbit above Miranda, blocking their escape. Another two, one of which is commanded by Agent Ruiz, was directly in orbit above Kelma and were about to pin down the rebels there, and another set of three star destroyers waiting in between Kelma and Miranda to be called wherever they were needed.
Almost immediately, the two Star Destroyers orbiting Miranda positioned themselves on his fleet and fired on him. General Loughly ordered the Venator’s shields be concentrated towards the front and ordered the fleet of hammerheads to position themselves behind his cruiser, to take cover from the maelstrom of fire being unleashed by the approaching Imperial Star Destroyers. He looked outside the window and saw two of the hammerheads break formation and head towards Kelma as fast as they could, nearly sublight speed. All the rebels on the bridge of the Venator looked on helplessly as one of the hammerhead corvettes was set ablaze by one of the Star Destroyers.
In Gaffer Canyon, Barriss and the 11th sister looked on as the hammerhead corvette that broke through landed not far away from where Zonia, Jaspar, Crowley, and the others had gone underground in the northern slope.
“Interesting”, the 11th sister commented, “it appears your rebel friends have indeed found something. I wonder what that could be”.
Barriss charged at the inquisitor angrily, forcing her to step back.
“You want to find out for yourself? You’ll have to go through me…”.
The 11th sister smiled and charged at Barriss, resuming their duel.
Back on the Venator, General Loughly looked at the two star destroyers in front of him and weighed in his options. Without a large enough crew, Triumphant was not taking off the surface of Kelma, and he knew it. If they tried to get past them unprotected, they stood little chance of making it through. Without any options, he contacted Jaspar back on Kelma and requested a status update.
“Jaspar!”, General Loughly cried into his commlink, “do you read me? I need to know how far ahead you are in reactivating that ship”.
“We’re very behind”, Jaspar replied, “We’re doing all we can here in the bridge and the engine rooms. A hammerhead corvette just landed and delivered more personnel but it just isn’t enough”.
“We’re doing all we can, Jaspar, but right now, I’ve got two Star Destroyers blocking us off from Kelma. We’re pinned down”.
“We need you to break through that hold if we’re to get this ship off the surface. We found it. But not we’re counting on you!”.
General Loughly thought long and hard about which course of action to take. He studied the sizes of the two Star Destroyers in front of him carefully and compared them to his Venator. His Venator was still a lot smaller than each of the Imperial Star Destroyers, and it had a lot less armament than they did. But he quickly found one strategy that just might work to remove them from their path. He looked at all the Mirandan rebels that stood in the bridge with him. They all looked at him awaiting his orders.
“I want everyone on this ship to evacuate”, he ordered them, “now. I’m taking these star destroyers out myself…”.
The Mirandan rebels did not hesitate to obey their leader. They immediately made their way towards the escape pods. One of the pilots approached General Loughly and looked at him. He made it absolutely clear that he had no intention of leaving. General Loughly looked at the pilot and nodded. They immediately proceeded to the Venator’s controls and put themselves in a course where they would collide with the two Imperial vessels simultaneously. The officers on the the Imperial Star Destroyers looked on in horror as they saw the Venator fly towards them at terrifying speed.
Anfisa looked up from her position in her fighter, just above the surface of Kelma, and saw the suicidal move General Loughly was preparing to take. She immediately contacted Jaspar from her commlink.
“Jaspar, this is Anfisa, do you read me?”, she asked him.
“This is Jaspar, reading you loud and clear”.
“You’re not going to like this, but it looks like your father is going to ram the Venator into the Imperial Star Destroyers”.
Jaspar’s face immediately went cold. He changed the channel on his commlink and started calling out for his father.
“Father, what are you doing?!”, he cried out.
“Jaspar, listen to me. I won’t be able to see through to the end of the mission. Get that battleship off of kelma, rally the Mirandan people, and find them a new home!”.
“No”, Jaspar replied, “I can’t let you do this!”.
“I’m very proud of the young man you have become”.
Seconds later, the Venator collided into the two star destroyers. All three ships erupted in flames as they were ripped to pieces in the collision. General Loughly closed his eyes as he saw the wave of explosions approach the bridge.
On Kelma, Jaspar collapsed in anguish as the signal with General Loughly’s commlink fell dead quiet. Zonia saw Jaspar’s anguish and wrapped her arms around him, doing everything she could to comfort him. Staff Sergeant Crowley stood over them, and silently removed his cover from his head.
“Your father was a great man”, he told Jaspar as he extended his hand to help him up, “the bravest man I’ve ever met. I believe we should honor your father’s memory and grant his last wish”.
Jaspar reached his hand out, and with Zonia’s help, got back up and wiped the tears from his eyes.
“I agree”, he replied, “now let’s get this battleship started up”.
Outside in the canyon, Barriss looked up in anguish as she saw the Venator go up in flames after the collision. Through Zonia’s emotions, she could sense General Loughly’s sacrifice. The 11th sister saw her reaction and laughed mockingly.
“This battle will be even shorter than I thought”, the 11th sister told Barriss mockingly.
Barriss did not respond. She simply maintained her defensive position and continued her duel with the inquisitor.
Up above in orbit above Miranda, the fleet of hammerhead corvettes took advantage of the opening and flew quickly to Kelma. In Gaffer Canyon, Barriss and the 11th sister looked on as the ships landed not too far away from where the first one landed. Barriss immediately jumped in between the inquisitor and the landing site to keep her away for as long as possible.
The Mirandan rebels quickly disembarked and went down the corridor that connected Triumphant’s hangar to the world outside. They were all awestruck as they saw the giant ship for the first time. Right away, they all went to their stations or wherever they were needed. Some of them went into the engine rooms to restart the ancient propulsion systems. Others went to operate any one of it’s massive 72 inch guns, or its secondary weapons.
Up in the bridge, Zonia, Jaspar, and Crowley saw all the systems return to life, displayed on the control consoles. They were able to see fuel pressure, speed gauges, warp drive controls, life support systems, and countless other operations in working order. They felt the ship begin to shake and a bright flash of light coming out the aft end. The sole flash was followed by even more bright flashes of light. It became clear to them that it’s engines were coming back online for the first time in centuries.
Outside in the canyon, Barriss and the 11th sister briefly stopped their duel when they began to feel the ground shake beneath them.
“Interesting, Imperial reports say that Gaffer Canyon is not a geologically active zone. Which means this earthquake isn’t natural…”.
Barris ignored the 11th sister. Despite their prolonged duel, she had no intention of backing down and resumed her duel against the 11th sister.
Back in the hangar, Zonia saw all the controls at the pilot’s station but had no idea how to operate them. Jaspar looked at the controls carefully, but also had trouble understanding them. They were not even remotely similar to the XK-31 fighters.
“So”, Staff Sergeant Crowley remarked, “who is going to fly this thing?”.
The three of them looked amongst each other. They had almost everything they needed. The life support systems were activated, the engines were online. The steering thrusters were responding to every movement on the ship’s wheel. All they were missing was the pilot”.
“I’ll pilot this thing”, replied Anfisa as she stepped into the bridge, walking slowly because of her implants.
“Anfisa, are you sure you can handle this thing?”, Jaspar asked.
Anfisa looked around carefully at the bridge and all the controls in the pilot’s station.
“I’m positive I can”, she replied as Zonia helped her to the controls. She felt the meter-wide wheel in her hands. She saw the throttles for all eighteen engines on the console to her right, and all the instruments displayed on a console to her left. All of the most vital instruments were displayed on a monitor on the wheel itself. She reached for the throttle and held firmly.
“All hands, hang on!”, she exclaimed as she pushed the throttle forward.
Outside in the canyon, Barriss and the 11th sister were immediately knocked to the ground by another powerful quake. When they got up, they saw Triumphant flying through the canyon wall, knocking down boulders and debris as it escaped the hangar. The 11th sister couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Barriss caught notice of the 11th sister’s distraction, and made her pay for it. In one swift move, Barriss swung her lightsaber towards the 11th sister and aimed at the hand that held her lightsaber. The 11th sister collapsed as her hand was cut off, lying in the dust. Barriss stepped back slowly, believing that she had ended their duel and looked at Triumphant carefully, judging carefully so she could jump on. Just as soon as she about to jump, the 11th sister recovered her lightsaber and charged at Barriss. Barriss ignited her lightsaber just in time to block the lethal strike.
“Did you really think it would be that easy?”, the 11th sister asked her as she held her stump where her hand had been. Barriss looked on in shock as she saw that it was her prosthetic hand that she had cut off.
Barriss didn’t respond. She kept her blade locked onto hers and tried to put as much distance between her and the inquisitor as she could. As soon as she was far back enough, the 11th sister extended her arm where had hand had been and force-pushed Barriss into a boulder. Barriss suddenly found herself struggling to breathe. When she saw why, she saw that her Oxygen tank on her back had been ruptured. She worked quickly to get it off and seal her suit before it lost any more pressure.
THe 11th sister pointed her lightsaber at Barriss.
“You’re out of oxygen, your time is up”.
Barriss held her breath as the 11th sister charged at her, unleashing a full fury of strikes. From Triumphant’s bridge, Zonia saw her master duel against the inquisitor and could sense she was distressed.
“We have to help her!”, she cried out.
Crowley immediately pointed Zonia to a set of AA guns mounted in a pod on the port side right next to the bridge.
“Try to see if that thing works”, he told her.
Zonia wasted no time. Immediately, she got on the AA gun and began firing on the 11th sister. Both Barriss and the inquisitor ducked to avoid the incoming rain of fire Zonia unleashed on them. Barriss used this moment to her advantage, and in one swift move, force-jumped towards Triumphant as it began to fly overhead. The 11th sister looked on in frustration as she missed her chance to take down Barriss once and for all. Just moments later, the Imperials had finally become aware to Triumphant’s presence on Kelma. They sent a wave of TIE fighters in an attempt to bring down the ship. One TIE fighter passed directly over the surface of Kelma, allowing the 11th sister to jump on it just in time and make her way to Agent Ruiz’s star destroyer, which was flying alongside another, getting into position to commence orbital bombardment on Triumphant.
The 11th sister made her way to the bridge, where she met Agent Ruiz. Agent Ruiz was most displeased to see her.
“I see you have failed us yet again…”, Agent Ruiz scolded the inquisitor.
“I failed? Where were you with your troops when I needed you the most?”
“Enough, inquisitor. When this is over, you may explain your failure to Lord Vader”.
A shiver of fear went down the inquisitor’s spine. She gripped her wrist where her hand had once been.
The 11th sister began to walk slowly away from the bridge, refusing to break eye contact with Agent Ruiz.
“I want all batteries to fire on the Triumphant”, ordered Agent Ruiz, “that ship does not take off from Kelma”.
Right away, the two star destroyers turned their batteries into Gaffer Canyon and began to open fire on Triumphant.
Anfisa struggled at the helm, working hard to keep her ship from crashing onto the surface of Kelma. Jaspar looked at the instrument panel and could already see fire and decompression alarms going off throughout the ship.
“We’re pinned down here”, Anfisa exclaimed through the commlink to the other rebel ships, “we need help”.
Rebels on the Trailblazer and the ELJ-300 cruiser heard Anfisa’s cries for help. But with the two Star Destroyers orbiting Kelma, and the other three that were fast approaching, they were powerless to do anything about it.
On Agent Ruiz’s Star Destroyer, the 11th sister listened to Anfisa’s cries for help as she walked into her quarters. She remembered another time when she asked for help. She began recalling memories from her distant past when she first inducted the twins, Anfisa and Catarae, into the Erisil Guard. She remembered Anfisa as a youngling many years ago, when she fell off a dock in the Aklis River and the current nearly swept her away. She remembered when she jumped into the river to save her right before she could make it to the rapids. She stopped and nearly collapsed in grief as she listened to Anfisa’s cries for help once again. She closed her eyes to take her mind off of her. She still wanted to believe she was her enemy.
“It’s not too late you know”.
She could hear Ksenia’s voice in her head once again.
“What do you mean?”, she asked her.
“We’ve done some very horrific things after the Empire took us away, but you still have a chance to make things right…”.
“How?”, she asked her, tears beginning to build up in her eyes.
“Help her. Ksenia, help her…”.
The 11th sister opened her eyes. She saw herself in the mirror. Her eyes were no longer black and yellow. They were crystal blue. Almost as blue as the eyes of a Mirialan. She took off her helmet and let her curly blonde hair hang loose from her head. She looked at her reflection and saw who she really was. The woman she was meant to be.
“I know what I have to do”, she whispered to herself as she made her way to the bridge.
“Inquisitor? I thought I ordered you to leave the bridge”, exclaimed Agent Ruiz.
Ksenia looked up and saw the ISB agent. Agent Ruiz was shocked when she saw that the inquisitor’s eyes were no longer black and yellow; a sign of corruption from the dark side of the force. Instead, they were crystal blue. She wasn’t even wearing her cover anymore, as dictated by Imperial Protocol.
“What is going on?”, she asked the Mirandan.
Ksenia looked up and looked at Agent Ruiz, her crystal blue eyes locking onto her dark brown eyes.
“I’ve had a change of heart”, she replied. Suddenly, she extended her hand and force-pushed Agent Ruiz against the bulkheads. Before any of the other Imperials could respond, she used the force to pull a blaster rifle away from a stormtrooper and began spraying the entire bridge in blaster fire. Officers and stormtroopers immediately cleared the bridge as she peppered the entire deck in blaster fire. Ksenia looked around and saw that everyone had left. She looked outside, down to the surface of Kelma and saw Triumphant, still pinned down i the canyon below. She picked up a commlink and tried to contact Anfisa.
“Anfisa, do you copy? I can get you an opening. Listen carefully”.
Back on Triumphant, Barriss made it to the bridge and could hear Ksenia’s transmissions. It did not take long for her to recognize her voice.
“Anfisa is indisposed at the moment. I told you, if you want to get to them, you have to go through me!”, Barriss screamed angrily into the commlink.
“Those terms still stand?” asked Ksenia.
“Yes”, Barriss replied.
“In that case, I need you to do me a favor…”.
Barriss could not believe what she was hearing.
“After everything you’ve done to us, do you really expect me to do YOU a favor?!”.
“Tell Anfisa I said I was sorry…”.
Barriss could not believe what the former inquisitor was telling her.
“I’m sorry, please come again?”.
“I said please tell Anfisa that Ksenia said she was sorry…”.
Barriss nearly dropped her commlink on the deck at hearing her words.
“Listen to me closely, Jedi, I can give you guys an opening. You’ll have one chance. As soon as the Star Destroyers are out of commission, you need to plow right through them. Triumphant has dozens of layers of reinforced armor plating. It can take a hit”.
Before Barriss could respond, Anfisa got into the controls of the Star Destroyer and took a sharp turn into the one next to her. The officers on the neighboring Star Destroyer looked on in shock as the other was set on a collision course. In seconds, Ksenia felt herself being thrust forwards as her Star Destroyer collided into the other one. On the surface of Kelma, orbital bombardment ceased as the two Star Destroyers were knocked out of action. Zonia, Barriss looked outside the windows in complete disbelief.
“Now is our chance!”, Barriss cried out, “we have to go now!”.
Right away, Anfisa turned Triumphant into an upright position. Crewmembers all over the ship, including Barriss, Zonia, Jaspar, and Crowley, rushed into the nearest seats and put their seatbelts on. They were not expecting Triumphant to take off vertically like a more primitive spacecraft. As soon as Triumphant was turned upright, Anfisa gunned her engines to nearly full power, putting it on a collision course with the two disabled Star Destroyers.
Back on the Star Destroyer, Agent Ruiz regained consciousness and saw Ksenia standing at the window, looking down towards Kelma. She didn’t hesitate to pull it out and aim it at Ksenia.
“You!”, Agent Ruiz cried out, “you traitor!”.
Ksenia didn’t respond. She closed her eyes as Agent Ruiz took aim.
“What? Now you have nothing to…”
Before Agent Ruiz could finish her sentence, she saw Triumphant taking off from the surface of Kelma, coming straight at them at terrifying speed. Agent Ruiz stood petrified as Ksenia stood calmly, accepting her fate. Within seconds, Triumphant sliced through the two crippled Star Destroyers, killing Ksenia and Agent Ruiz instantly, as it took off into space.
“I can’t believe that actually happened”, exclaimed Anfisa as she righted her ship, “did we have an agent one of those ships?”.
“No”, Barriss replied coldly.
“How was this even possible?”.
Barriss looked down for a second, unsure of how to respond, and then back up.
“Because Ksenia sacrificed herself to give us a chance…”.
Anfisa’s face immediately went cold as a single tear rolled down her cheek.
“She gave up her life honorably so that we could live. Actually, she told me to tell you, that she did it FOR YOU”.
Jaspar immediately approached Barriss and Zonia.
“I am in need of your help, both of you”.
Barriss and Zonia looked at each other and then back to Jaspar.
“What kind of help do you need?” asked Barriss.
“The special kind”, replied Jaspar, “I need to make sure the special weapons the ship is carrying haven't been compromised. They need to be loaded in a secure manner. No one on this ship will obviously have any experience moving these weapons, so it’ll take the precision and care of a Jedi to properly and carefully secure these weapons”.
Barriss looked at Jaspar curiously.
“What kind of weapons?”, she asked him.
Jaspar led Barriss and Zonia away from the bridge and down to the lower decks, deep in the bowels of the ship. Barriss studied every detail carefully. Some of it looked familiar, resembling the interior of the cruisers she served on during the Clone Wars, but other areas didn’t look as familiar. Before long, they were near the center of the ship. She saw large, red-colored tanks around them, resembling fuel tanks. Not only that, but they were also highly magnetic, she and Zonia had to work hard to prevent their weapons from flying towards the tanks. She saw ancient Mirandan symbols that caught her attention.
“Jaspar, what do these symbols translate to? On the tanks?”.
Jaspar looked at her fearfully, unsure how to respond. Barriss waited patiently for her answer.
“These are fuel tanks. Specifically, they are called ACA’s. It stands for ‘Antimatter Containment Apparatus’”.
Barriss’ face immediately went cold with fear.
“Antimatter? Jaspar, do you have any idea how unstable this stuff is?!”, Barriss asked him angrily.
“It’s what we used as fuel to travel between the stars”, he replied.
Zonia kept quiet. Barriss was already livid enough with Jaspar for sharing his bed with her, and she did not want to infuriate her anymore.
Not long afterwards, Jaspar led them away from the fuel tanks and he showed them a large compartment, deep within the ship. Barriss and Zonia looked around and saw what looked like missiles stored in the compartment. Gigantic missiles. Each almost 100 meters long and sporting a warhead at the tip the size of a speeder.
“Jaspar, what are these things?”, Zonia asked him.
Jaspar gulped down, unsure of how to explain the nature of these weapons. Barriss became fearful once again when she saw the Mirandan symbol for ‘antimatter’ painted on warheads of the missiles.
“Alright, here’s the thing. When my race went to war against the Tromvoyans, 1,700 years ago, we built a fleet of warships to protect ourselves, as our first line of defense. This ship was just one of many. After the war ended, we knew we had to do everything in our power to prevent another one from occurring. So we built missiles like the ones you see here”.
“Enough with the history lesson”, Barriss interrupted, “what do these missiles do, exactly?”
She became increasingly more paranoid and angry as Jaspar told them more about the ship.
“These missiles, when their warheads are activated, unleash an antimatter explosion. It doesn’t go outwards like an explosive device. It goes inwards. When the antimatter implosion takes place, in a very concentrated area, it creates a gravitational wave on the space-time fabric. A gravitational wave that can destroy an entire planet”.
Barriss immediately shook her head in disbelief. She and Zonia had lived with the Mirandans for several years now. She knew they were very clever. But she had never imagined them to be so destructive.
“Jaspar, please tell me these missiles don’t work”, Zonia begged him.
Jaspar studied the six missiles carefully and was petrified when he saw the two that were loaded in the launch tubes.
“Of these six missiles”, he explained, “the two that are here in the launch tubes are armed and ready to be fired”.
Barriss and Zonia looked around and saw the six missiles, each one with almost unimaginable destructive power. These missiles were undoubtedly the reason the Empire wanted to find Triumphant in the first place. Before they could do anything else, they felt Triumphant shake around as the trio of Star Destroyers that was orbiting Miranda finally caught up to them. They could hear muffled explosions coming from outside the ship. They immediately went back to the bridge. Not far ahead of them, they saw the three star destroyers, with their main batteries firing on Triumphant. Barriss immediately walked over to Anfisa on the helm.
“Anfisa, concentrate all shields to the front of the ship…”.
Anfisa looked at Barriss completely confused, unsure of how to carry out her order.
“Is there a problem, Anfisa?”.
“Just one, Master Offee”, she replied as she maintained Triumphant’s course, “this ship has no shields…”.
Barriss turned to Jaspar angrily.
“A battleship Jaspar? A battleship with no shields?!”.
“What? I told you this thing was old…”.
“Old is one thing, unprotected is quite another. Are our main guns online yet?”.
“Working on it”, Crowley replied as he tried to communicate with the gunners from his position in the bridge.
In seconds, Triumphant’s forwards most turrets came online and they began to rotate. Staff Sergeant Crowley worked tirelessly to guide the guns into taking aim at the Imperial Star Destroyers. The sound of muffled explosions outside could be heard throughout the ship.
“Staff Sergeant, what is the status of our main guns?”, Barriss asked Crowley.
“They’re taking aim and loading”, he replied, “these guns fire solid projectiles, 72 inches across. They need time to be loaded…”.
“We don’t exactly have a lot of time right now…”.
As the trio of Star Destroyers moved closer to Triumphant, they began to intensify their fire on battleship. Zonia pointed to a squadron of TIE-bombers as they prepared to make a bombing run on Triumphant.
“All hands duck!”, Zonia shouted as she got on the ground, her hands behind her head. Barriss looked on as the TIEs launched proton torpedos towards the bridge. Everyone on the bridge looked on in fear as they saw the proton torpedos fly in their direction. Even Anfisa tok cover behind the wheel. The whole bridge shook violently as the proton torpedoes struck the ship, just meters away.
“Damage report! Are there any fire or decompression alarms going off?”, asked Anfisa as she struggled to get back on her feet.
“None whatsoever”, replied Zonia as she helped Anfisa back to her feet, “the ship’s armor is holding up so far”.
“What is the status on our guns?”, Barriss asked.
Crowley got back to his control console and saw that they were finally online. The gun crews managed to manually load all 96 guns with armor and shield penetrating and high explosive shells.
“Guns are online!”, shouted Crowley.
“Take aim at those Star Destroyers and fire!”, Barriss ordered.
Within seconds, Staff Sergeant Crowley communicated to the gunners below decks via the bridge’s telegraph the angle and position of the guns so they could score effective hits. The gunners complied and aimed the two forward-most turrets at two of the three star destroyers.
“Bridge, this is dorsal turret one, locked on target”.
“Bridge, this is dorsal turret two, locked on target”.
“Our two forward-most turrets are locked on two of the three star destroyers”, Crowley commented, “we are ready to fire”.
“Fire!”, Jaspar cried out.
The gunners in the forward-most turrets, each side by side, obeyed Jaspar’s orders and fired at the Imperial Star destroyers. The turrets, each sporting a pair of 72-inch guns and separately aimed at two of the three star destroyers, fired on the enemy targets. In less than a second, 4 solid projectiles were hurled out of the guns, Triumphant shook as the shells left the ship at near light speed and towards the Imperial Star Destroyers. The Imperial Star Destroyers shook violently as each took two shells amidships, penetrating their deflector shields, ripping through the engine rooms, right before the shells flew out through the other side without losing any speed. In seconds, the two star destroyers went up in flames and broke into two along where the shells had made impact. Rebels on Triumphant cheered as they saw two of the Imperial Star Destroyers go up in flames.
The third Star Destroyer wasted no time in retaliating. It took aim with its ion cannons and fired at Triumphant, with the intent of disabling all of its power and rendering it defenseless. The rebels on the bridge watched as the ion blasts impacted Triumphant’s hull, but to their surprise, power was not cut to the ship. The lights didn’t even flicker. The ion pulses passed safely around Triumphant’s armor plating which contained tungsten, an ideal metal for blocking any form of EMP attack, protecting the ship like a giant faraday cage.
“All gunners, reload!”, Barriss ordered.
“We don’t have time!”, Crowley shouted as he made his way to the helm, “Those two forward guns are the only ones that can aim and fire. If we wait for them to reload, or wait to bring her about so they other guns can fire, they could gain the upper hand or worse, call for backup. We can’t wait!”.
Barriss immediately turned to Crowley as he took over the helm from Anfisa. He turned the ship from its original course and put it straight in a collision course with the third star destroyer”.
“Crowley, what are you doing?!”, Barriss shouted.
“Anfisa, whatever you do, keep us on this course”, Crowley told Anfisa as he gave her back the helm and made his way to the ship’s PA system.
“All hands, brace for impact!”.
Every crew member on Triumphant dared not delay obeying the Commando’s order. They all grabbed hold of anything that was secured to the ship, or fastened themselves into seats with safety harnesses. The whole battleship shook, and its metalworks moaned, as it made contact with the Imperial Star Destroyer. Its bow cut clean through the Star Destroyer’s armor and shields, tore the superstructure off the ship, and passed cleanly through to the other side; cutting through the star destroyer from bow to stern. The crewmembers on the bridge watched in complete disbelief as they tore the last enemy star destroyer in two. They celebrated and cheered that they were finally kicking the Empire out of their home system.
“I am detecting an object emerging from hyperspace. A large one too”, Anfisa cries out as she looks at her radar screen.
Barriss rushes over to Anfisa at the helm.
“How large?”, Barriss asks her.
“If this radar is correct, this object is 19 kilometers long”.
Zonia immediately points to Miranda outside the windows.
“There, it’s emerging from behind Miranda on our starboard side”.
The rebels look at where Zonia points to and they see a large object emerging from behind Miranda. A large arrowhead shaped object. As soon as it emerged from behind Miranda, it took a sharp turn to port and began speeding towards Triumphant.
“Do you know what that is?”, Jaspar asked her.
“Yes”, replied Zonia, “it’s a Star Dreadnought. A Super Star Destroyer; Executor-class”.
Almost immediately, the Imperial Dreadnought attempted to make contact with Triumphant.
“Put it through”, Jaspar ordered.
Right away, Anfisa opened Triumphant’s broadcasting channel so it could communicate with the Imperial battleship and turned on the microphone.
“This is Mirandan battleship Triumphant, please state your business”.
“Attention rebel ship, this is Imperial Dreadnought Merciless, stand down at once or you will be destroyed” ordered an officer on the enemy ship.
Jaspar immediately went up to communication console and made contact himself.
“This is Mirandan battleship Triumphant. We will not stand down. Depart the system at once or we will open fire”.
“You can’t honestly believe that the Empire will just back down so easily”, replied a voice over the commlink. A voice they knew all too well; Admiral Thrawn.
“I congratulate you in locating your missing warship. An uneasy feat by anyone’s standards. But you are outnumbered and outgunned”.
“I disagree”, replied Jaspar, “this ship took down three of your star destroyers. How is one big one going to make a difference?”.
“You are very simple minded if you really believe those three star destroyers were there by accident”, replied Admiral Thrawn, “I ordered those three star destroyers to engage you so I could judge the capabilities of your ship, and exploit its weaknesses in our grand finale”.
“We will see…”, replied Jaspar as he cut the transmission.
On the Merciless, Admiral Thrawn began giving orders to his officers on the bridge.
“Move us closer to the Triumphant and get us within range our cannons. As soon as we’re close, we’re going to make a hard turn to port so we can get across their bow. We have the advantage of broadsiding them, while they will be limited to their forward armament only”.
“Right away Admiral”, replied the ship’s commanding officer. Almost immediately, the Merciless began moving diagonally across Triumphant’s starboard side. Triumphant’s gun crews struggled to get a good aim at the Imperial warship, but through a combination of its speed, and their inexperience, they were unable to get a good shot. Barriss looked at the Merciless carefully, trying to judge what Admiral Thrawn was planning. She closed her eyes and meditated. To try to sense anything that could offer a clue as to what the Chiss admiral was planning. When she sensed that the Merciless was about to make a hard turn to port, she opened her eyes and rushed over to Anfisa at the merciless. Anfisa stood at attention, ready to receive Barriss’ orders.
“Anfisa, they’re going to attempt to cross the ‘T’”,
“Cross the ‘T’?”.
“Yes”, replied Barriss, “they’re going to bring their full broadsides to bear while we can only fire our forward guns”.
“Alright, what should I do?”.
“When I say so, fire all our thrusters so the ship can move downwards on its yaw axis”.
Anfisa held firmly on the wheel, waiting for Barriss’ order. Barriss looked at the Merciless outside as it began to turn sharply. In less than a minute, all 19 kilometers of the Super Star Destroyer made a 90 degree turn to port.
“Now!”, Barriss cried out.
Anfisa complied and she pulled the wheel down towards the deck. All hands on the ship held on tightly to whatever they could as they felt the sensation of the ship falling into the blackness of space that surrounded them. The Merciless fired on Triumphant, the Mirandan battleship dodged the incoming rain of fire that the Imperial dreadnought unleashed upon it.
“All engines, ahead full!”, Barriss cried out.
Anfisa complied and pushed the master throttle of all 18 engines ahead full. Triumphant began speeding closer and closer towards the Merciless.
“Jaspar, are any of the special weapons operational?” Barriss asked.
“From what I saw, at least two of them were armed and ready to be launched from the tubes”.
“How long would it take to fire one of them up?”.
“Standard procedure, it would take about three hours. With Erisil Knights, it would only take a matter of seconds”.
“How is that?”.
“I saw a control console with a symbol of the Erisil Guard painted on it. If it can be electrocuted simultaneously in the correct pattern, the security can be overridden”.
“Well, you need to be down there Jaspar”.
“I can’t do it myself. In order for the security procedure to be overridden, we’ll need TWO Erisil Knights to electrocute the console. Anfisa, after her injuries, can no longer produce lightning. I can’t do it on my own”.
“I’m going back down there with you, let’s go. Anfisa, Whatever you do, do not let them turn their broadsides on us. If they do, we’re dead. Zonia, I’ll need your help down there too. Let’s go”.
Jaspar led Barriss and Zonia back in the special weapons area, where the six anti-planetary missiles were being stored. They looked at the two missiles cautiously, knowing full well of the destructive potential they possessed. Near the firing control panel, they saw the Console that was intended for Erisil Knights, should the need to override its security ever arose.
Barriss looked and studied the console carefully. Thinking as to how she could fool the console into thinking that Two Erisil Knights were trying to override it. But as she looked closely, she saw that there was no way to fool it. It would simply not work with just Jaspar, but she did have an idea.
“I know what I have to do…”.
Barriss removed her lightsaber and blaster from her belt and handed it to Zonia.
“Barriss, what are you doing?”, she asked her.
“In case I don’t come back”, Barriss replied, “do not hesitate…”.
Zonia became very fearful of what Barriss had just told her. She saw Barriss walk up to the console slowly. She closed her eyes and started meditating, deep into the force. Outside, they could hear muffled explosions as the Merciless tried broadsiding Triumphant. Barriss ignored the chaos outside, and instead focused only on her connection to the Force. Zonia immediately sensed that something was off about Barriss. She wasn’t just meditating. She was connecting to the Dark Side of the Force. Almost immediately, she got a cold feeling from Barriss. Like the feeling of being near her presence made Zonia feel cold. Jaspar saw Zonia’s distress over Barriss and stood next to her and held her hand, to try to calm her down.
Barriss finally opened her eyes and stared down at Zonia and Jaspar. The pair were petrified by what they saw. Her eyes were no longer blue. Her sclera were black, and her pupils were yellow. She connected herself to the Dark Side.