Grand Admiral Josef Grunger stood on the bridge of the mighty Executor Class Star Dreadnaught Aggressor and gazed out at the planet Gargon in contemplation. He was a tall man, fit and lean with black hair and goatee and piercing green eyes. He wore the spotless white uniform of an Imperial Grand Admiral. Some would describe him as cold and arrogant, though his arrogance was justified in his opinion. In his entire career he had never lost a battle. He had never failed a mission. He had defeated every opponent foolish enough to stand in his way.
He had just utterly defeated his old compatriot Grand Admiral Miltin Takel's pathetic attempt to retake his former holdings. Takel had thrown in his lot with Isard after Grunger had seized the Grand Admiral's holdings and fleet from him. Now Takel was dead, shot by an imposter during one of his Spice induced rants. Grunger thought this a fitting death for the defeated fool. The strong and decisive ruled, the weak died. That was the way of the Universe. It served Takel right for not having the Pride to die rather than become a beggar, it simply proved he wasn't committed enough, wasn't WORTHY enough. Grunger would NEVER allow himself to be bested by another, he would never be a beggar.
For months Grunger had absorbed, bullied or annexed Imperial Forces in the Sectors around Gargon in preparation for his masterstroke. As a Grand Admiral with a reputation of being undefeated and with a Super Star Destroyer this had proven all too easy. He had managed to amass 10 Imperial Class Star Destroyers, 20 Victory Class Star Destroyers, 100 Carrack Class Light Cruisers and 60 Strike class cruisers with the Aggressor serving as the central flagship. 191 capital vessels in all were more than enough for his offensive.
His plan was simple, his advantages were the chaos of the Empire, the reputation he held, his armada he had collected and his daring over the other pretenders to the throne.
He would strike the Core. He would seize Corellia and it's sector as a staging point for the ultimate coup-his strike on Imperial Center. The shipyards would allow him to add to his armada, the trade routes would be his to strangle the Run into submission adding it to his cause, finally his seizing of Imperial Center, its government, resources and symbolic value would legitimize him as the new Emperor in Name as well as Fact.
"Grand Admiral...uhm sir, the Fleet is ready and awaiting your orders sir." the Aggressors captain Otrik said hesitantly, the man was still uneasy with their new status as a Rogue state...no matter how short it would be.
"Excellent Captain, have the fleet jump to lightspeed within the hour as per my last orders. The Corellian Sector is ours for the taking...then Imperial Center and the Throne will be mine." Grunger said with absolute confidence.
"Sir, new reports from intel indicate the Corellian Sector fleet has been augmented as of a few days ago." Captain Otrik added
"Augmented how?" Grunger asked then irritably added, "and why am I just now learning of this development?"
"Sir, our intel is severely limited as we lost access to many assets when we broke from-official channels." Otrik replied with a wince, "We barely got this report in time sir, it says that a fleet belonging to Grand Admiral Danetta Pitta has augmented the already powerful Corellian Sector fleet and it's defenses. Grand Admiral Pitta has apparently bribed the Diktat and assumed full control of the Corellin Sector as his own personal Fief in exchange for protecting the Diktat."
"Pitta? That xenophobic mongrel? He's never been worthy of his position. He only earned it as a political appointment. I always wanted to expose him for the fraud he is. I annihilated Takel and he was ten times the tactician Pitta could ever be, so why should I worry over him?" Grunger replied harshly
Otrik shifted nervously at his commanders instant dismissal of the man"Sir, he will command over 100 Capital ships himself once combined with the Sector Feet there, the Golan Defense platforms, and planetary weaponry will make an assault very difficult sir." Otrik looked around and lowered his voice, " Perhaps we should postpone the operation sir." Otrik said cautiously
Grunger stepped right up to the man and said in a menacing whisper a few inches from Otrik's face, "We will NOT postpone this operation Captain. Pitta is NOTHING compared to me, he never was. I will crush him like the ant he is for daring to stand in my way, just as I will crush Isard, the Interim Ruling Council and ANYONE who is foolish enough to court death by defying me. Do you understand what I am saying Captain?"
"Yes Sir Grand Admiral, I understand completely." Otrik said as sweat ran freely down his now deathly pale face. Grunger stared right into the mans eyes a few moments longer, then said, "You have your Orders Captain, now carry them out." Grunger spun with regal weight and walked back to continue his contemplation at the viewport. He saw the galaxy of stars...soon every one of them would be his.
"Pitta's Torpedo Sphere,yes,yes that sounds correct. MY TORPEDO SPHERE! IT IS MINE," Danetta Pitta half-talked half-cackled to himself as he stared out into the stars of space. The space of Corellia had its sector defense force intact to defend his personal empire,exclusively made for humans with alien slaves,as his plans would see the eradication of all filthy,immoral,evil alien species.
A Near-Human male, but a renowned bigot and xenophobe who served in the former Imperial Navy the man kept his mixed ancestry, which included both a Borneck and an Etti, a secret by becoming one of the most zealous defenders of Human High Culture in the Galactic Empire which had now all but collapsed.He held these traits through its height even as officials from the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order balked at his fanaticism even now from their graves they taunted him!
"They balked at ME ! A defender of the HUMAN way of life! Eradicator of all alien scum from this galaxy!,"Pitta half coughed as he spat out to the silent bobbing crew that served under him on board the Sphere,"Grand Admiral Miltin Takel scrutinized me and those fools from COMPNOR didn't believe me.I will show them...hahahaha i will show them ALL the greatness of a all Human Empire!"
"Grand Admiral,ships have been detected roaming around near the sector,"A Report was stated by a Information Officer jerking the half crazed Grand Admiral out of his hysterical rants about building a new dynasty.Bleary eyed the man stared the man down with a glare that could cut durasteel.
"WHO DARES Trample upon my empire?!?!,"Pitta shrieked with anger as his gaze squinted and stared at the young man.
"Scouts pre-launched from a gathering of naval ships including A Executor class dreadnaught with a medium sized escort counting a few ships shy of two hundred smaller craft.They have been spotted in various regions of space but our reports have faltered due to our recent break with the Imperial Center,"The Information Officer replied shortly trying to avert his gaze but the Grand Admiral held it,"So how recent this news is has been declared unknown."
"I did not accept you individuals after COMPNOR collapsed into my fold so you could FAIL to know when something happens and how it happens! I WANT ACCURATE RESULTS,"Pitta shouted before lowering his voice,a trait that made many individuals in the bridge of the Sphere shudder," so help me.PREPARE for invasion!"
"But Sir we have no...,"The Information Officer replied before a raised blaster from a snapped individual that was his commanding officer shut him off,"Yes sir i shall relay the information immediately."
It was for not as the Information officer rushed off as all the ships in the sector,military or civilian,which had been seized by the Navy was already on high alert for no apparent reason aside of the one that the Grand Admiral seen a non-existant threat amongst the stars.
Entering the far edge of the Corellian sector near Tralus Grand Admiral Grunger's armada arrived with the Strike cruisers in conical formation, the Carracks in inverted bowl formation around them and behind them the VSDs and ISDs in Phalanx formation around the SSD Aggressor. It was an awesome display of firepower.
Hands clasped at the small of his back, Grand Admiral Grunger gazed hungrily at the sector that would soon be his.
"Status report Captain Otrik." Grunger ordered as he thought on how he would exploit this sector. He could just see the shipyards turning out VSDs for his cause, practically feel the Imperial Throne as he sat in it...then Captain Otrik interupted his contemplation with his worried voice.
"Admiral sir! We have enemy ships in Sector 2 through 5 and what appears to be a torpedo sphere! Signals ID them as belonging to Grand Admiral Pitta and the Corellian Sector Fleet! Tralus itself is heavily fortified. If we wish to proceed on to Corellia we will first have to clear Grand Admiral Pitta's Star Destroyers." Otrik said hastily
Grunger continued to stare out the viewports his frown deepening, 'So it was true, Pitta WAS here and meddling in afairs that did not concern him.' he thought to himself before replying without facing Otrik to convey his displeasure at the Captain's unseemly fears, "Very well Captain, All ships are to Launch TIEs, have the fighters takeup screening for the capital ships, the bombers will augment the carrack forces, the Interceptors will advance before the Strike class Cruisers.order the Strike cruisers to drive in on the enemy in three wedge formations of 20 each, the Carracks are to provide fast support and serve as rotational shields for the cruisers in Cloud formations. Have our VSDs move into outrider positions on the flanks. The ISDs and Aggressor will hold center rear to exploit any breakthoughs from the Strike cruisers. I will demand the unconditionl surrender of Pitta and the Diktat to me immediately. If they do not comply at once I will destroy them to the last being."
Otrik hesitated for a heartbeat, "Sir...if I may...that may not be wise...the torpedo sphere above Tralus is a planetary siege weapon...meant to slag through worlds like Coruscant's shields and battle stations. It gives a hidious edge in firepower to Pitta's forces against us. He also has 24 ISDs and 80 support sips of various types from 20 Dreadnaught cruisers to 30 strike class cruisers and 30 Carracks, sir we might not be able to-"
Grunger whirled and shut Otrik up with a stare cold as intersteller space, "Captain Otrik, I asked for the status report, NOT your OPINION of it. If you question me again I will have you fired at the enemy with our first salvo, is that clear Captain?"
Otrik gulped and stepped back, "Yes Admiral, very clear, it will not happen again!" he said in a rush
Grunger's voice was ice,"I trust not Captain... you have your orders, now carry them out and victory will follow. Pitta is nothing, that Torpedo sphere you tremble at is reading as only partly operational, it's not scheduled to come online for another month, it will not be a factor." Turning back to the viewports he watched his forces begin deploying as Captain Otrik relayed the orders to the fleet. Grunger was completely confidant, he would sweep aside this xenophobic pretender as he had Takel and every opposition he had ever encountered in hs life, for he was the very best there was, that was all there was to it. What did he have to fear from anyone? Absolutely nothing.
He stood tall in the holo pickup field and spoke with cold authority, "To all Corellian and renegade Pitta Forces above Tralus, this is Grand Admiral Grunger. You are hereby ordered to stand down. All your vessels will power down weapons systems and prepare to be turned over to my control. Failure to comply will result in your complete annihilation." Grunger waited for that to sink in before adding on Pitta's command frequency a personal message to the xenophobe, "Bend the knee or be destoyed, Pitta."
The 24 Imperial class Star Destroyers had been well placed around the Torpedo Sphere as a precautionary measure with the smaller Carrack class running Vanguard around each ship.Fighter screens were already scattered as the shields of each of the ships were raised with turrets powered and ready for an incoming.
The Strike Cruisers were prepared to run offense with hit and runs to mess with the enemies formations and the Dreadnaughts with the 80 other support craft formed a two layered V shape formation between the attackers and the insane Grand Admirals Torpedo Sphere,which he ordered fired.
"BUT sir this craft was meant for planetary bombardment not naval engagements we...,"the crack of a blaster firing made the crew on the Torpedo Sphere jump but quicked their pace to prepare to fire the weapons without question as they seen their comrade fall dead to the deckplates without a head.
"Grunger...Grunger....wants an answer he...he shall have one..hehehe,has he coordinates been found yet!,"Pitta snapped half crazed with a twitching eye as he stared at his crew.
"Yes Grand Admiral,the Executor class tagged as the Aggressor has been located with the following of the transmission and within target range in five...four...three...two...one..,"Came one of the operators.
"FIRE Proton Torpedo Salvo one through five,scatter formation orders to the fleet,hit anything out there that is not marked as our ship and make sure those deployed ships bring that Super to its knees,"Pitta screeched wide eyed,swinging his blaster around"I want to see it BURNING,bwhahaha."
It was obvious to the crew Grand Admiral Pitta had snapped but none of them were going to be the one to tell him as there was faint whispers of the loading of the missile salvos before they were fired.Due to incompletion of the ship the missiles had not be put in sync with bombarding planets and instead operators from the bridge had pre-programmed the missiles to hit anything that carried the enemy ship signatures,in other words anybody loyal to Pitta would not be hit.Though the scatter formation seen the missiles go wide and long striking the frontlines of the enemy fleet,most hit enemy ships.That was all it took though as the frontlines of Pittas fleet opened fire as Strikecruisers dropped in and phased out doing hit and runs,sending the entire battle into a fight from hell as it all broke loose.
On board the Aggressor's bridge Grunger's clasped hands made strangling sounds as he squeezed. Pitta was insulting him with his futile defense.
"Grand Admiral sir! We have lost 1/4 of our Carracks and 1/3 of our strike cruisers!" the tactical officer announced.
"Acceptable losses." Grunger replied curtly without turning.
"Grand Admiral, we have incoming torpedoes! 300 locked onto Aggressor alone! Repeat THREE ZERO ZERO!" The diagnostic officer reported
"Have point defense at the ready, order TIEs to shoot down as many as possible, then clear our fields of fire. I want fusillades of fire forward, then turn Aggressor on starboard heading to bring more of our guns online as we bear. Our outriders are to provide further cover." Grunger commanded in his cold and arrogant tone and watched his orders obeyed instantly.
The massive SSD moved ponderously in response to the torpedo attack, it's countermeasures and fighters shooting down most of the proton torpedoes. The rest of the ones exploded against but did not collapse the shield.
The rest of Grunger's armada was engaged with Pitta's forces, the rotating shield formations of the carracks adding to the survival of their escorted strike cruisers as they concentrated fire on Pitta's support ships. Vessels spiraled or drifted as burning hulks all throughout space. Atmosphere and bodies bled out into the void as TIEs chased one another in dogfights.
As Pitta's torpedo sphere launched another massive volley fully at the Aggressor this time, Grunger saw with frustration that he would have to use his support vessels as shields in order to preserve his flagship.
"Carracks are to abandon the strike cruisers and come about to heading 1103!" Grunger barked.
"Sir that will put them in the path of the Torpedo volley..." Captain Otrik replied in shock as the carracks followed the suicidal order and died in spectacular detonations as the volleys hit them.
"You think I don't know that Captain? Victory requires sacrifice, the Aggressor and my life are of more strategic value than all their lives combined." Grunger cut him off coldly, "Order the Strike cruisers into narrow wedge formations, all TIE Bomber squadrons will commence bombing runs on Pitta's ISD escorts. My Victory SDs will then follow the Strike cruisers in at flank speed to tear open the cracks the Strike cruisers make in Pitta's formation. The Aggressor will follow through with the ISDs and drive through their center. We will close with the enemy and Aggressor will burn that Torpedo sphere from space!"
"Yes Grand Admiral." Otrick said dutifully, but in his heart already despising this arctic cold man who had just decreed all his own soldiers lives worth nothing compared to his own ambition
As Grunger's heavy vessels closed in they tore through Pitta's support ships opening a corridor wide for the Aggressor as it cut it's own swath of destruction sending ISDs spinning out of control hulled and vomiting fire or cutting Dreadnaughts and Strike cruisers in half with broadsides of turbolaser fire. Grunger's pilots also were superior to Pitta's mainly due to Pitta's constant purges of his own 'suspect genetic' humans. Half of Grunger's armada had been lost but the Grand Admiral had pierced his opponents center and pinned the flanks against Tralus inflicting massive casualties. It soon became clear that Grunger's fleet would defeat Pitta's fleet if left to it's own but the Torpedo sphere's every volley diminished Grunger's armada substantially.
"All Destroyers are to concentrate on the torpedo sphere." Grunger said with the same surety that he had held at the start of the battle, he was going to win.
"Grand Admiral, we have lost over half our forces and the remainder are moderately to severely damaged. Aggressor and our ISDs are the only remaining vessels with shields! We must pull back and recover!" Captain Otrik said in a desperate attempt to make his commander reconsider.
Grunger turned and his cold demeanor could be felt across the entire bridge, when he spoke it was in a voice icier than Liquid Nitrogen, "I do not retreat Otrik. I will NEVER retreat. Victory goes to the strong, defeat and death to the weak. If you had any Pride you would understand this." Grunger gestured at the burning wreckage that had been his and Pitta's fleets barely an hour ago, "Our enemy is suffering even more than our forces. All that remains is a few remnant vessels and the Torpedo sphere. I'll crush him beneath my boot heel and every other fool in my way no matter how many have to die. I will never lose for if someone manages to bring destruction upon me then I will do the same to them. I will NEVER be defeated. Never."
Though spoken low and with a venom that made Otrik step back the captain finally realized what the Grand Admiral meant, he'd rather kill every single man under his command than admit defeat, Grunger knew only how to win or die.
"Fire another volley and another until you cut his fleet to shreds, yes shreds,"Pitta half-mumbled half-snapped at the crew his half crazed gaze looked upon.Their mixed senses of fear and loyalty made them obey without question though their fleeting gazes made it clear what they truely thought.
"We are never going to make it!,"Captain Otrik shrieked as wildly calculated and shot missiles slammed into the portions of Grungers fleet that had survived and followed their Grand Admiral in an all out attack.While others better aimed or just through sheer luck tore into the oncoming Aggressor, their intent clear on either crippling or destroying the massive Super Star Destroyer.
"NOTHING will stop me from victory,advance!,"Grunger commanded much to Otriks dismay and utter disgust to which made Grunger snap the order a second time,"ADVANCE."
The crew, working under the pressure of being destroyed and facing a ill tempered commanding officer, pressed the massive dreadnaughts power into its engines.Its armor would hold when the shields ebbed away Grunger knew this as he meant to stay alive to see the half crazed Pitta killed.
"Grand Admiral, the flagship is bearing down on us!,"The Bridge Crew Captain yelled snapping Pitta out of his pompous glory filled day dream like daze.
"Focus all missile salvos on it and destroy it than!,"Pitta choked out as his delusions of granduer began to fade as the enemy ship got closer and closer.
"But sir it is a Super Star Destroyer and all the missile slavos are nearly depl...agh,"The shot sounded through the bridge as Pitta executed the man with one shot before shooting up in the air as the crew watched the bridge captains body crumple in horror.
"Clear the bridge! Clear the damn bridge now all of your traitorous cowards,"Pitta snapped after he fired his blaster in the air and the crew quickly made for the exists as Pitta looked around with a half crazed look.He would end this threat presented by Grunger himself as soon as he figured out the controls that pushed the Torpedo Sphere.After finding them he threw full power into the engines and set a crash course directly for the massive dreadnaught,"They...hehe....will not laugh at ME! for too long...not too long at all."
Pitta's sphere smashed aside the remnants of Grunger's shattered armada in it's reckless charge. Now only the damaged Aggressor and Pitta's sphere remained. Captain Otrik tried one last time.
"Grand Admiral! Pitta is moving to attack! Aggressor has suffered extensive damage and our armada is all but annihilated! Sir...with Pitta's control of the Diktat and local ground forces...we've lost sir...we simply don't have the numbers...we HAVE to retreat!" Otrik pleaded desperately to his commander. Grunger ignored him.
"Transmission from the Torpedo sphere for Grand Admiral Grunger!" called the comm officer shakily as grunger glared ahead at the ruins of his ambitions floating there in the wreckage around the sphere.
Grunger ground his teeth, "Route it here."
"Grunger! You thought you could take MY sector?!! You mixed blooded fringe cur! You filthy xeno trash! You are inferior to a TRUE human!" Came the high voice of a clearly frenzied but gloating Pitta, then his image appeared on the holo screen, The Grand Admiral was a picture of derangment, he slavered and was sweating through his wrinkled Grand Admiral's tunic and had a constant twitch to his left eye, there were four dead crew members behind him and he appeared to be alone on the bridge. Grunger made no sound or movement save that the grinding of his teeth became audible so firmly was he clamping his teeth.
"Why dont you go run like the inbred cur you truly are?!! Go back to Gargon and lick your wounds alien lover, low born filth, you have LOST TO ME!!!" Pitta howled in deranged laughter.
The entire bridge crew on the Aggressor was frozen in open mouthed shock. No one had EVER spoken that way to Grunger, not even in private.
Grunger said nothing but walked over to the helm controls with hands clenched into white knuckled fists inside his leather gloves making strangling sounds as they clenched. The helmsman moved quickly aside as grunger punched in commands with deliberate control.
"What are you doing Grunger?" Pitta quipped with another facial twitch, " You can't hope to manuever that battered ship out of the way fast enough, I can attack you at will and reduce your weapons to slag! I can melt them to nothing! You are a fool to even try!" Pitta laughed again.
"You are the fool Pitta." Grunger said in his deadly cold voice that cut Pitta off, "You have not defeated me. I will not ALLOW you to defeat me. I will not allow ANYONE to defeat ME. I am Grand Admiral Grunger. I am a genius, I am unique in this universe, I alone am worthy to rule. The fact is I am supreme and you are not. I will NOT accept defeat from the likes of you or ANYONE! If victory will not be mine then it will certainly not belong to you either!"
The Aggressor shuddered forward at full speed toward the Sphere aimed right at the command bridge.
"Wha-what are you doing?!! You'll kill us BOTH!" Pitta screamed as he looked at his boards in shock as he grasped grunger's intention. Rather than let Pitta win Grunger had decided to kill them both, just to avoid defeat! Waves of Proton torpedoes fired tore into the aggressor ripping enormous holes in it's super structure and sending warning sirens blaring. Otrik had had enough and raced for Grunger as the bridge crew panicked.
"NO GRAND ADMIRAL!!! FOR SANITY'S SAKE THINK OF YOUR MEN!!!" Otrik screamed and dived for Grunger as the bridge crew were thrown to the deck by the Ships violent shaking. Grunger smashed Otrik in the throat before he reached the Grand Admiral, collapsing the man Grunger then viciously kicked him into the crew pit where he choked as his throat swelled closed.
"They are nothing to me, their lives have no value. Let them burn." Grunger ground out to the dying Captain before turning his attention back to Pitta.
On the screen Pitta's look became one of pure terror as he openmouthed stared at the Aggressor's flaming hulk bearing down on him in realization that he couldn't destroy it in time-or escape the sphere. Pitta gave a gimlet stare at Grunger who said between his gritted teeth,
"No one can defeat me Pitta, the best you managed was a draw. Congratulations, enjoy your accomplishment...in HELL!"
Suddenly the image cut off as did Pitta's death scream as the fiery bow of the Aggressor collided with the sphere's command module, obliterating it in an instant and continued down into the depths of the sphere detonating the mighty reactors in a chain explosion that carried up through the Aggressor itself, travelling up the mighty Super Star Destroyer. Crewmen went flying as consoles erupted in fire and death.
Grunger still held fast to the Helm, the sole occupant still upright in the hurricane of death he had caused then through thedeckplates under his boots the firestorm engulfed the bridge incinerating Grand Admiral Grunger in an instant and wiping both vessels and all hands aboard them from existence in an explosion that for a brief moment was brighter than the Corellian Sector's sun.