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Old 04-27-2006, 02:52 PM   #44
machievelli
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Shake up

In the late afternoon, Chancellor Skywalker stormed into Admiralty house. Like a Frigate/flagship, he was surrounded by the escort vessels of his staff. No one attempted to stop him. He went to the office of the CNO, glaring at the secretary there. “I want these officers in this office immediately.” He took a pad from the rail thin young man beside him. The Secretary, a very young and very attractive commander looked at the list.

“Chancellor, except for the head of ONI, they are all in conference room Beta.”

“Oh, good. It saves time.” He turned to one of the staffers. “Martin, do stand here, and watch our young friend. I want my arrival to be a pleasant surprise.”

The Chancellor marched down the hall to the lift, and out onto the floor below. The two security men on conference room beta snapped to attention at his approach. Ignoring the brilliant red lighted DO NOT DISTURB sign, he went in.

The men that had been working now for in some cases 15 hours looked up in surprise at the entry.

“So sorry to interrupt you at your celebration.” The Chancellor said smoothly. “I came for a report on the Station situation.”

“Well in hand, sir” the CNO reported. “We’re shuttling down those affected. Every emergency medical unit in the Capital is full, but the other hospitals around the planet are taking up the slack.”

“Oh that.” The Chancellor waved his hand as if trying to clear smoke. “That is not why I am here, Gentlemen. I am here to find out why a group of Monks with no authority or military training at all had to come up with a plan to save 42,000 people you were quite willing to merely slaughter.” He sat, his face benign. No one who had seen him in action allowed that disguise to fool them. Or at least not more than once.

“We asked our Marine Commanders-” The Chief of Home Fleet began.

“Oh do spare me the cover story you are even now concocting. I asked Commander Palpatine what occurred, and he has found out.”

“That is retired Commander.” The Chief of Procurement snapped. “Who has no training in this at all!”

“Oh that is true. At two O’clock this morning when I asked him to keep track of the incident, he told me he had no experience in Marine boarding procedures.” The Chancellor looked around. “I know a lot of you chuckled a bit when I picked a Colonial from Naboo as my chief assistant when it came to naval affairs. But you see, I asked the best man the loyal opposition had. I spoke with the one military man I knew would never lie to me, even if it saved him from death.

“I asked Retired Admiral Antilles.”

They all looked at each other. The Chancellor smiled gently. “Yes. The man that told me exactly what he though of our first Space Lord. And of each of you as you were chosen. Since I had to form a coalition government two years ago, I wasn’t going to just sit and turn a blind eye to what those other parties might decide to play at.

“Let us start at five minutes after midnight today. This Jedi Monk called down to Admiralty house to notify you,” He pointed at the CNO. “-that he had the latest information from the joint meetings on Delta 4. He came here forty-five minutes later, expecting to have you and your staff here.

“One hour and forty minutes later you arrive. You bring your own staff, but not the Commander of Home fleet or the head of ONI. You didn’t consider what he might have said important enough it seems. Yet an hour into that meeting, you decide that you have to call the Commander of Home fleet-” His thumb jerked at Admiral Nadien, “-Who took another half hour to arrive. Odd that again the head of ONI has not been called.

“The briefing material is again reread-”

“Sir we are not that inefficient! Admiral Nadien was briefed enroute.” The CNO complained.

“That is not what the transcript states.” Palpatine handed him the pad. “You see, I do have people I trust in this building. Some of them even working in your offices. When you were first called, the recorders in the conference room were activated. Are there any more lies you wish to tell me before I go on? No?

“Very well. So we come to almost five in the morning. This Jedi has repeated the same bloody thing over twice, and answered every complaint both of you had come up with more than twice. Then again when the Commander of Planetary defense was called at 4. When he mentions that the chemicals had to be transported and cleared through customs, our dear friend from Procurement was called. Why I ask? He doesn’t have any authority with the Customs department. That is under Justice. Why again, I ask, was ONI not informed?”

“The Chief of ONI was-”

“Asleep in his bed, I know. As was I supposedly. Gentlemen, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Chief of ONI had been informed by message torpedo that this report was coming in, and who was delivering it. He was in his office. So Admiral Lucas is it? Was waiting in his office for a vital communication.

“When it was not delivered, he called the Jedi Monastery first. He has excellent rapport with the Jedi. It seems his son Georg is a member of the order at Ossus. This was at twenty minutes after one this morning. He knew that the courier might have been delayed.

“He was astonished to find out that the courier had been in the building for almost an hour. He tried calling your office, Admiral Tori-” He nodded toward the CNO, “-but you were in an important meeting and could not be disturbed.

“So he did what protocol tells him he must. He contacted the Naval attache of the Chancellor, who waits all of five minutes to awaken me. You see, my staff knows that if it is really important, I must be notified immediately. I don’t yell at them for waking me up. Only for waking me up when it is not necessary. But having a farce as you men have created this morning is in my view important, as I told Palpatine and Admiral Lucas.

“I had Palpatine run through the transcript. He is very good at speed reading you know. Then he reported to me. I was therefore on the same page by the time the Chief of Home fleet arrived. I listened as this Sanji asked you not once, not twice, but four bloody times told you that I should be informed immediately. I also listened to every stupid excuse you came up with as to why I should not be disturbed. Your excuse Admiral Charles-” He glanced at the Chief of Coruscant Defenses, “-Was masterful if passing the Buck was most important.

“Admiral Lucas contacted the Jedi Monastery again, and I spoke with them They informed me of Padawan Gretu’s bona fides, and a brief precis of his career with them to date. I was not looking at him as a, how did you say it? ‘Some Knight from a Fantasy story’.” He looked at the Chief of Procurement. “I had a full report of what this gas could do in a station. Admiral Lucas at my direction called in General Wonsan of the Fleet Marines for a conference. You see, we had considered what none of you had. That we might have another such attack on a station, possibly in an inhabited system.

“You will no doubt be delighted to know that five minutes before the incident occurred on the station here, message torpedoes had gone out to all outlying stations. The security forces there have been moved to sections with their own air supplies, and are patrolling with air tanks on my order.

“Unfortunately as you were busy playing this little game with the Jedi, the station here was also notified, but too late. So we have an entire station full of madmen 25,000 kilometers in orbit above this very city. The General told me what the losses would be. He assumed they could assault with about 30% casualties. Yet what do you do?

“You, Admiral Logan-” He glared at the Chief of Procurement, “-Who have absolutely no experience with marines refuse to even consider an operation. These fools who do have such experience-” He waved at the CNO and Commander Home Fleet, “-Don’t even call the one man that can tell them if it is feasible, our dear General Wonsan. Who by the by had already given orders for the Marines to deploy, and to steal if necessary every non-lethal weapon they could find.

“No. You instead finally talk to me. Not because you wanted to, but because I got sick and tired of this and called you!

“And your response? Blow the station up!”

“While we are still in communication, this young girl, Solo calls the Monastery. When she hears that the only option you are putting forward is mass murder, she contacts you directly.

“You-” He pointed at Nadien, the finger now a weapon, “-Let Logan berate her for at least five minutes, then tell her you had permission to destroy the station, an order I never gave. Yet when she offers to risk her life, you give her the ten minutes she asked for.

“General Wonsan and the commanding officer of 7th MAF tells me that she saved almost a thousand lives among the Marines alone.”

“But it cost us over 200 men!”

“Let me see. You send in 1200 men. In the three hours it took you lose just over 16 percent of that force. The Jedi sent in 40, and lost 5. They lost 20 percent. Of that number, only one was over twenty years old. They also cleared a third of that station by themselves.

“So now you are all here, discussing damage control! Instead of telling me of this meeting instead you called the First Space Lord!” He waved toward the ceiling. “Before you lie again, remember what I said? This room is also fully monitored, and the Judge Advocate General is even now listening. Oh not the one you think. I checked his records, and he has been asked to resign.

“You men are not that lucky.” The door behind him opened, and four men entered, wearing the brassards of Military police. “Gentlemen, you are all under arrest. A court of Inquiry will hear charges of gross negligence leading to the deaths of over 8,000 civilians, complicity in an attempt to cover it up, and failure to heed your charge as officers of our fleet and Conduct unbecoming. Your good friend the First Space Lord will be in another dock. He is charged with the same thing, only the Capitol police are making that arrest.”

He stood. “Where is Lucas?”

“Enroute from his office sir.” Palpatine reported. “I was keeping him apprised.”

“Good. Someone has to take over until this mess is cleared up.”
*****

Breia looked at the controls of her ship pensively. Outside her hull, a team of Navy damage control specialist had torched away the emergency sealing joints, and had pulled the ship from the wreckage of the control section of the station. A tug was attaching towing cables

The damage was severe. The engines had been broken from their mounts, and had smashed forward, shearing off the fuel tanks, which had gone gods alone knew where. The nose had crumpled far enough that it had merely looked like it had thrust through the deck. Both chain guns had been ripped from their mounts as had the missiles. Thankfully they hadn’t been armed.

The only things that had still worked after the ramming had been the main landing gear, the life support systems and the galley. It would take months for her ship to be repaired.

Yaka sat beside her glumly. “I wrecked your ship.” He moaned.

“You did what no other pilot could do!’ She replied. “You saved those marines, you saved every one of those people.” She grinned suddenly, “You faced Master Soo-chin and asked her if she wanted tea! That in itself is a greater victory than most can claim.”

“But I wrecked the ship!”

“She will be repaired if I have to pay for it out of my own pocket. It was worth it, believe me.” The com panel bleeped, and she thumbed the contact. “Hawk Flight. Padawan Solo here.”

“Can you tear yourself away from your ship for a few hours?” The Padawan at the Monastery below asked. “The Masters have been called by the Chancellor. They want you to be there.”

She looked around. The Damage control officer had told her that the ship would have to be towed down to the planet for repairs. “I will contact the team that is recovering the ship about transport.”

“Don’t bother. The Chancellor has ordered a fleet courier to pick you up. They should be standing by off your hull.”

“Understood. Enroute.” She thumbed the contact again. “Come on. You can commiserate with me below. I think several bottles of Corellian red ale each will at least ease our sorrows.”

*****

The courier dropped like a stone, then smoothly transitioned to level flight over the City center. The pilot, a girl that didn’t look old enough for her first date dropped onto the Government pad, shutting down. “Welcome to Coruscant, and thanks.” She looked at the Padawan that sat in the second seat. “My brother is a Marine. Your people saved his life.”

Breia shook her hand, and walked down the ramp. The Masters were there, along with almost two dozen Padawan and students. The entire group marched into the lifts, going down. “What is this all about?” She asked.

Master Hobart shrugged. “We were asked to be here by the Chancellor. Have you heard the news?” She shook her head. “The Judge Advocate General has resigned. The First Space Lord, CNO, Chief of Coruscant Defense, Commander Home Fleet and Chief of Military Procurement have been arrested. There is a major shake up going on right now. Admiral Antilles has been asked to come out of retirement until a new CNO can be appointed.”

She shrugged. She knew it was important, and her mind went through the organization of the Navy, considering who might be appointed to those positions. It kept her occupied as they were ushered through the halls. Her eyes snapped to the door, and the engraved name above it.

The Coruscant Senate Chamber was huge. Over a thousand men and women watched as the Jedi marched down the main aisle. Representatives from the Colony worlds stood, and began clapping. Breia looked around as more and more of them stood. In the seating areas above the floor cameras were rolling, and she could see the logos of every major network on the machinery.

Before her on the dais the Speaker of the House stood. The Jedi came to a halt about fifteen meters from him.

“People of Coruscant, members of the Senate and Parliament, representatives of the colonies, I give you the Chancellor of Coruscant.” He turned, clapping as another door to Breia’s right opened, and the Chancellor marched down the aisle. The applause if anything redoubled.

The Chancellor walked up to the podium, bowing to the speaker, then faced the lectern. He held up his hands, not signaling approval of the ovation, merely for silence, which he eventually got.

“People of Coruscant, members of the Senate and Parliament, representatives of our colonial brothers, honored guests, a great tragedy was averted in orbit yesterday.

“An unknown enemy released a chemical weapon aboard station Alpha 4, which caused the people aboard that station to go mad, and begin killing each other. The activated weapons of that station, one of the linchpins of our planetary defense net fired upon and destroyed the Frigate Kolrami, the Tarisian liner Bonart, damaged the Frigate Caspi and three other vessels.

“The disaster would have been averted by prompt action by our Navy. Sadly this did not occur. Except for one man, the men responsible have been arrested. That last man, is myself.”

There was a roar of anger. Cries of ‘No!’ from the crowd. The Chancellor stood there, hands raised for silence. It took almost fifteen minutes.

“I thank you for your support, but the fact is that it was my choice with the advice of his party, of who would have the portfolio for First Space Lord. That man chose the subordinates that caused this to flare almost out of control. Once my duty here is done, I am calling for a general election. Whoever replaces me can deal with me as he will.” Again there was an outpouring.

“Genius,” Hobart whispered. “He takes responsibility, allows the courts to crucify those that really caused the damage, and take a wild guess who ends up as Chancellor after the election?”

The shouting finally died again. “I regret to inform this body and our people that the death toll is staggering. 8,000 men women and children died during the incident. Both Kolrami and Bonart were lost with all hands. Over 200 Marines who boarded the station are also among the dead.

“But I can also tell you that it was not our fleet, or our Marines who saved most of the 42,000 survivors. Members of an order that is considered a bit odd by most of us risked their lives to save the lives not only of our citizens but our Military men as well. Of the forty members of that order who led our marines to victory, five are also among those honored dead. The oldest was in his early sixties, A master named Hontu. The youngest was a Padawan learner named Sani, a native of our colony world Naboo. She was 14.” He looked at the silent crowd.

“The after action records of our own military and the station internal log shows what occurred. That forty people from seventeen different planets, some we would consider mortal enemies, stood together. They breached the security system of our station, allowing our Marines to land almost unopposed. They risked their lives not with guns and bombs at their disposal, but only the swords they wear as a mark of their order. Even though capable of deadly force exactly seven of the 20,000 people they subdued were killed by their weapons.

“The men of our Marines, from General Wonsan to the lowliest private extols their capabilities and virtues. Master Hontu entered the primary reactor core which someone had set to destruct and stopped that tragedy. His was not the greatest feat of that day, that goes to others who by chance are still among the living.” He looked down at the silent men and women arrayed before where he stood.

“During the events leading up to the boarding, one of those to be tried made a sarcastic comment about those that risked so much for so little gain. Well before you all now, I will say with distinction, what he said in derision.

“Lords and ladies, I give you, the Knights of the Jedi order!”

Again there were cries, but these were glad. Around them, the senators leaped to their feet, applause threatening to collapse the roof.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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