Chapter 41
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It’s been a day since the battle over Umbara. We had decimated the Republic fleet. By the time they surrendered they had barley four hyperspace capable Venators and two Acclamators. We did take some damage but we didn’t lose any ships.

Right now, I am talking with the Jedi in the common area of one of the prison ships. They won’t try anything stupid while surrounded by a few hundred Mandalorians and even more droids.

“So, are we now your prisoners?” asked Ahsoka.

“Well, if you rather be the prisoners of the Separatists or the Umbarans then be my guest,” I said to her. Which made her frown.

“Well, what are you going to do with us?” asked Luminara.

“Well I can ransom you back to the Republic or you can choose to sit out this war if you want” I offered “I have safe havens where both sides will never reach. If you are done with all the fighting and bloodshed, I can offer you a way out” I hinted at my fast-growing power base within the Unknown Regions.

“What do you gain by offering us a way out, plus what is it that you gain” asked Obiwan.

“Well, all I will say is that the war is going to ramp up this year. And I know some among your order might already be fed up with all this bloodshed. As for what I gain, I gain trainers. Let’s just say I have a few force sensitives among my cadre and I could use help teaching them to control their powers” I said.

“Why not hand over them to the Jedi? We can train them at the temple” said Anakin.

“Please, I will not hand over our young to your cultist. You only want new blood to throw into the war. As long as Jedi and Sith exist the cycle of War will never end in this galaxy. I want to teach them the middle ground. And the most important point. They are Mando. I will not hand over our children to your ilk” I said passionately.

“How can you say that. Jedi are peacekeepers,” argued Ahsoka.

“Really, how many lives has your order taken in this war. You lead armies and lay waste to planets. You might think so in your delusional minds, but the rest of the galaxy doesn’t. SIGH,” I stated “We will talk more about this in the future. And from your argument, I understand your position. You may return to your room” I turned and walked away while sending instructions through my coms “Cortana Send the message to the Republic”. The Jedi had been provided a room on a specially designed ‘prison craft’ we brought into the system. Their room was well ‘protected’ with all the amenities they might require and right next to the common area and in everyone’s view.

I asked them for trainers because of a few reasons. Force-sensitives among Mandalorians are very rare. So, they won’t pressure me to hand over one or two force-sensitive children. Another reason being, I was trying to indirectly put ideas into their minds. Especially after seeing my ‘involuntary’ passionate outburst. It’s all mind games.

Time slowly ticked by and the Separatists reinforced the planet. I even sold most of the wrecked republic ships to the Umbarans, making a tidy profit. Once that was settled, I took my prisoners and went off to Hutt space. I have a total of 265,000 prisoners and 6 Jedi prisoners. And I take no chances. The prisoner areas are cordoned off. Although they have amenities they may require and comfortable lodging, they are still my prisoners.

As time passes the clones start to get comfortable. I like to give my prisoners of sense of home. And if they try something stupid, I will give them a taste of hell.

Soon the all too familiar chrome abomination drops into hyperspace. I was informed that the people sent to negotiate the release of the prisoners were none other than Padme and Bail Organa. This will be interesting.

I wait for them in the meeting room of the Moby Dick. Soon they arrive.

“Well nice of you to drop by Padme and senator Organa,” I said chuckling.

“How could you do this Nomad. I thought you were our friend” said an angry Padme.

“Well who got your panties in a twist. It was either me or the Separatist. Who do you want them to be a prisoner off” I asked. I brought up live videos of the Jedi just meditating in their ‘secure’ quarters and the troops just chilling drinking beer and playing games. I treated the troops better than the Jedi.

“So, you will release them?” asked Bail Organa.

“Please, use your head. Why would I hold them, prisoner, if I wanted to release them just like that? Even if we are friends, I have a fleet to maintain and appearances to keep. So here is the ransom for the release of the prisoners. I just put an average price for all the troops without taking into consideration their training or rank. Same for the Jedi. It is non-negotiable” I said handing over a datapad with the relevant data “The price tag will come to a fancy amount of 26,500,500. Take it or leave it” I finished giving them time to read through it. I added the last five hundred credits just as processing charges for shits and giggles.

Their eyes were bulging out “This ransom is just too high” said an exasperated Bail.

“Really? It’s just half the price of a Venator. And those are being ordered in mass while at the same time plans for phasing them out for newer ships have been passed. And you are telling me you don’t have money for this?” I asked.

“How do you know that?” asked Padme.

“I have my sources. Look, this amount is pocket change for the republic. You get your people back. I get the money to keep this fleet afloat and keep up appearances. You don’t expect my people to starve just because we are friends do you?” I asked incredulously.

They remain quiet for some time before signing the contract. They had come prepared. They handed over the credits and I told them I will release the prisoners at Naboo. Just as they were leaving I called out.

"Hey, Padme. One moment please" I said.

"What is it?" she asked with a frown.

I handed her a datapad and said "Watch at your own convenience" with a chuckle. She takes it with a frown plastered on her face and leaves.

As soon as they left the entire fleet headed off towards Naboo. The prisoner transfer went without a hitch.

Well, what happened next was unexpected. Apparently, Sidious sent his little attack dog after me. Tarkin arrived with a sizable fleet. How did I know it was Tarkin. It was a part of the Eriadu defense fleet. Looks like he wanted revenge for the humiliation. This was most likely an off the book’s operation.

My fleet faced off against Ten Venators and four Arquitens’. If they wanted a fight, we will give them a fight.

They moved towards us in a wedge formation. I had my fleet engage them in a crescent formation two ships high, while I took the Moby dick and four Providence class battleships which were newer additions to flank them. We would come down on them without heavy hitters from their flanks.

They reacted to this by splitting off four Venators as rear-guard, while the rest formed up into a tight formation. Although the angle wasn’t optimum, I ordered the Mega canons to fire into the enemy fleet. It disables four Venators one from the rear-guard and three from the main battle line.

We didn’t give them time to think. Our fighter and bombers made their move immediately, while the fleet moved in for medium-range combat.

They were now completely engaged and couldn’t reinforce their rear-guard. I used this opportunity to slam into the three remaining rear-guard ships. Facing off against my heavy hitters they didn’t last long especially when I concentrated firepower one target at a time.

Yes, they did damage to my ships, but nothing substantial. The battle was an easy victory. Unlike the Umbaran attack fleet, I didn’t spare any ship. I minced them all up. Tarkin’s ship was shredded in half. Knowing the cockroach, he will most likely survive.

(POV Barriss Offee)

I was oh so tempted when Nomad offered us a way out. I had enough of this war. He was right we had lost the right to call ourselves peacekeepers. SIGH.

After receiving our ransom, he released us on Naboo. But what I didn’t expect was for a Republic fleet to attack them.

“Who is attacking them?” I asked looking at the holo projection.

“Looks like Eriadu’s defense fleet. Who authorized them to attack?” asked Anakin “Don’t they know we won’t attack neutral factions? And they don’t come any more neutral than the Ghosts” he stated.

“Most likely it’s a private crusade,” said Obiwan.

We watched the battle unfold before us on the holoprojector. The Ghost fleet chewed through the attacking force, leaving nothing but wrecks torn to shreds by turbolaser fire. Soon after they jumped into hyperspace.

“Well whoever authorized this attack tried to bite off more than they could chew,” said Ahsoka “What were they trying to achieve? Especially with such a small fleet,” she asked in a confused voice.

“Well whatever their aim was, it backfired,” said Master Luminara “We should coordinate with the Namodians to rescue the survivors,” she said.

We then spend the rest of the day rescuing everyone that survived the battle. The whole fleet had very little clone forces. And from what we were able to get out of some officers Tarkin received a call from Coruscant before he led them on this suicide run. Who would have enough power to move an entire fleet? This shows how far the corruption runs within the senate and how far down the wrong path the Jedi have gone. SIGH.

(POV Thrunn)

I could feel Palpatine’s irritation from this sudden retaliation. He must be fuming. All his carefully laid out plans are going awry and he doesn’t know why.

It was time for us to vanish yet again. We can’t be the target of Sidious’s rage. No, I will bow out and let the two sides duke it out. I will have to stay hidden for now. Why take damage when there is no need to? That is just stupidity. I most certainly won’t be taking the fleet out for some time now.

(Time skip)

The fleet is anchored at the Eldith system and undergoing repairs and retrofits. While that was happening, I headed back home to New Keldabe.

“Honey, I am home,” I said barging into our house. Only to see and thick book flying towards me. I catch it effortlessly.

“Stand still so I can hit you,” says a fuming Bo as she stomps her way towards me.

I catch her fist and pull her into a hug “Aww, I missed you too darling” and said kissing the top of her head.

“Humph, you knock me up and leave me here high and dry. All the while you are out there fighting and having fun” she pouted.

“I promise not to leave you side for a few months promise” I promise her. There is no way I can venture out anyway, too much heat going around.

“You better,” she says glaring at me. Then she smiles and kisses me “Welcome home” and then dragged me off to the living room. SIGH.

I spend the rest of the day with my pregnant and grumpy Mandalorian wife. The next day my uncle and Satine along with uncles and Trock came over to visit

“Now I know why you created such a governing system. You just dumped all the work on us, while at the same time having enough power to frolic around” complained Satine.

“Hey, you are the one who loves governing people. So, stop complaining” I retorted “Plus, we are leading our people to a brighter future,” I said.

“Sure, I know your spiel about creating a haven for Mandalorians. And that is why I agreed to help. But damn this is a lot of work” she said, slumping down into a couch.

“She just complains to let off some steam. She is actually in love with her work” said Trock sitting next to Satine, who wiggles closer to him. Well, that is surprising. I look over to Bo who nods confirming my unspoken question.

Seeing this my uncle laughs “Hahaha. You would know more of what is happening if you would spend more time with family” he said.

“Well, you are right. I do what I have to. But, for the next few months, I am not going anywhere. Especially before the kids are born” I said.

My uncle nodded "For us Mandalorians family comes before anything else” he said reminding me of one of the key Mandalorian tenants.

Then we went on to banter and tease my cousin and Satine. Spending some quality family time together. But on her way out Satine demanded I come over and help her run things since I am here for an extended period of time. SIGH. I hate paperwork.