Chapter 2 - Conflict of Interest
Chapter 2 – Conflict of Interest
Exiting the C-9979 landing craft right behind the Multi Troop Transports, ST-ED’s AAT was armed and ready for combat operations against the Republic forces on the ground.
Communicating his orders through the local Droid Network, he began coordinating the plan of battle to various local troops.
He was now in his very element.
‘Deploy the troops’ He signaled the MTTs after all of them had exited their respective landing crafts and in response they opened up their cargo doors to deploy the masses of B1 and B2 battle droids onto the field.
Soon after all of the infantry was deployed he received the report that the rest of the vehicles had also arrived onto the junkyard planet’s surface, amongst them several pieces of artillery like Hailfire droids, J-1 semi-autonomous proton cannons and Heavy Artillery Guns, or HAGs.
Through the sensory feeds of several Mechanized Assault Flyers and recon probes he could observe the battle going on between the garrison troops that were already on the planet prior to the Republic’s arrival and how the current battle didn’t exactly seem to be going in the Confederacy’s favor.
Good thing he was here to correct that.
‘Artillery, get into firing position and prepare for a barrage.’ Came the order that the respective units followed to the letter.
‘Infantry march forward to designated coordinates.’ The battle droids began their synonymous march towards the battle going on amongst the two sides.
‘All walker units get into formation behind the infantry and provide support fire.’ The various lighter and heavier walkers like the Homing and Dwarf Spider Droids complied with the order and got into position behind the marching infantry formations.
‘OOM-29, take your tanks with you and protect the artillery units, they are vital to this operation.’ He ordered the command droid advisor who outside of his role as an advisor in space battles worked as a second-in-command on the ground.
‘Roger, roger commander ST-ED.’ Came the response through the network.
‘Rest of the mechanized units form up behind the command AAT.’ The droid commander ordered the remaining vehicles that had yet to be assigned any role in battle before telling his driver to begin maneuvering through the maze of junk piles that the planet had accumulated onto its surface amongst the centuries and even millennias that had passed by.
ST-ED had chosen the large junkyards as an opportune landing point since the Republic were mainly focusing their attacks on the garrisons located inside the habitable areas that housed the planet’s worker population and the junkyards around those areas had offered a somewhat cramped but safe landing spot for the Droid Army that was not too far away from where the bulk of the fighting was taking place.
Even though he couldn’t see it through the smog that covered the atmosphere of the planet he knew from the reports that were constantly being sent through the network that there was a fierce dogfight still going on amongst the remaining Republic fighter squadrons and the Vulture Droids. He just hoped that the hostile fighters would be too busy with the fighting to attempt to take down the MAFs that were in addition to doing strafing runs, combating their Republic counterparts; the LAATs.
‘Artillery is in position, commander. Ready to fire on your command.’ OOM-29 reported through the network.
‘Affirmative, sending in coordinates provided by the MAFs, you may proceed.’
‘Roger, roger. Coordinates received, firing for effect.’ As soon as those words were sent through the network the artillery began their barrage, which appeared in the form of a continuous stream of heavy artillery rounds and rockets that was aimed straight at the main Republic formation assaulting the droid positions of the nearest garrison.
The results were received live through the feed provided by both recon probes and the MAFs flying in the surrounding area.
The scene could be described by two words: utter devastation.
After the barrage was over, dozens of mangled clone bodies and smoking carcasses of destroyed GAR tanks lay strewn across the no-man’s-land separating the Confederate and Republic positions from each other and what little remained of the attack force was in full retreat.
But to their unpleasant surprise the droid infantry and walkers had by the orders of ST-ED arrived onto the scene and blocked their path with a wall of blaster fire, cutting off their only escape route.
The droid commander was impressed by the courage the Republic soldiers showed, even in the face of defeat they didn’t give up and charged in with their guns blazing, attempting to cut a path through the droid lines and produce themselves an escape route.
Unfortunately for them, the droids were simply too numerous and they themselves too few to actually achieve that objective and they were cut down one by one until only a single trooper still fought amongst the mass of droids not realizing that his comrades had already been killed, the last clone finally went down in a tremendous explosion in the midst of the droid forces by detonating a backpack full of explosives, taking dozens of droids with him to grave.
‘Pity his sacrifice was in vain, because unlike organics we can be rebuilt.’ OOM-29 commented through the network and ST-ED found himself somewhat agreeing with his lieutenant’s statement.
Seeing how the battle was over the droid commander opted to send in the OX9 labor droids to clean up the remains of battle droids that had fallen in battle for repair and recycling for spare parts.
With so many of the GAR’s troops already killed in a single battle alone, victory against the Republic on Raxus Prime seemed assured to ST-ED.
But he knew the battle wasn’t over just yet; they would still have to find a way to get to the Republic base hidden somewhere on the planet.
At the moment though, he calculated the Droid Army’s chances of a successful campaign pretty high.
Main Republic Base on Raxus Prime
Command & Control Center
“Our attack force at the local settlement was decimated by both enemy air units and artillery, no survivors were able to get out after their escape was cut off by Separatist reinforcements that had gotten behind them.” The clone lieutenant CT-100777 “Funn” explained to the people assembled around the holotable that was currently projecting a 3D version of the battle that had recently taken place.
Erus had his head hung low as the news was broken to him.
‘So many lives lost, and for what? Just so we could temporarily be the masters of small batch of land?’ He thought darkly.
“What is the situation with our remaining fighters?” He asked from the rest of the assembled officers.
“Not very good either, sir. They’ve been able to hold their ground with the enemy Vultures but their numbers have been steadily declining and we’ll soon be completely without air support outside of our remaining gunships.”
“Sir, Bravo Company has just come in contact with enemy armor and are requesting orders, what should I tell them?” One of the clones operating the communications console reported.
“Tell them to avoid open confrontation and retreat back to base...”
“Too late, sir they’ve been spotted and have engaged the enemy.”
“Damnit!” The normally calm Jedi shouted in frustration while smashing his fist against the table, surprising everyone else with his outburst.
There was a moment of silence in the CCC before Funn decided to open his mouth again.
“With respect, sir. We’re all worried about your mental health.”
“Yes, we think that your mindset is not really best suited for the task of commanding troops.” His advisor “Lee” said offering his two cents
“You think? You kriffin’ think?!” He let out an outburst uncharacteristic to Jedi scaring his subordinates who visibly jumped back.
“Ever since I became a Jedi I’ve been studying to help people through healing… I’m not fit to be a commander in a war like this…”
“I mean, why were we Jedi even assigned into service just like this? We are supposed to be peacekeepers not military officers…” He said as he hung his head in shame.
Everyone was silent for a moment not really able to come up with anything to say, but the eerie silence was soon broken by the sound of loudspeakers carried by Separatist recon probes blasting in the distance.
“This message is meant for any and all Grand Army of The Republic’s ground forces currently present on the planet of Raxus Prime.” The broadcast began. “The Confederacy of Independent Systems offers good treatment to all its prisoners and a guarantee of safety from cruel punishment, surrender yourselves to the nearest Droid Army patrol or perish in a hopeless battle you can’t possibly hope to win, the choice is yours to make we hope you choose wisely.” The droid commander’s distorted voice boomed through the speakers in Galactic Basic Standard.
The message kept repeating… over and over again for what seemed like hours, to the point that a group of green clones got irritated enough that they decided to attempt shooting the probes broadcasting it down.
Unbeknownst to them that was exactly what the droid commander wanted them to do.
Their more experienced comrades saw through the façade and attempted to stop them and were successful in halting their fire excluding the last member of the group who managed to land a shot on the probe with his DC-15S carbine from a vantage point on top the wreckage of an older model Republic gunship, downing the machine and ending the broadcast.
Without even realizing it, the rookie clone had just possibly sealed the fate of the remains of the GAR forces on Raxus Prime.
Several hours later
Crash Landing Area of a V-19 Torrent Starfighter
Clone Pilot CP-100359 “Kess”
‘Huh… wha… I’m still alive?’ Kess thought as he tried to remember what had happened, ignoring the spike of pain that was currently pulsating in his chest area.
‘Damn… I think I broke a rib or two…’
‘What happened though, I was in the middle of a MAF when that Vulture got behind me and...’
‘He crashed into the Vulture to save me…’ He thought in sorrow, mourning the loss of his good friend.
‘I got to get out of this thing.’ He mused as he looked around him to see his fighter was stuck in between the hulls of two older model civilian freighters, but there was still light peeking up from the top.
‘I’d have to climb up there, it’s gonna be hard though with all this pain.’ He thought while retrieving his DC-17 sidearm from its holster.
Due to the damage sustained by the hydraulic systems, he had to use the emergency lever located next to his chair to detonate the small explosives that blew the canopy window right off its hinges and climb out of the vessel that he judged was about to blow judging from the fire and smoke that was coming from the engine area.
He quickly began climbing through the narrow crack between the two ships, each move causing him excruciating pain but he attempted his best to ignore it for the sake of his own survival.
In the end it paid off, he got on the top just before the combined fuel and ammunition leaks caused the ship to explode in a huge fireball that rose up from between the cracks like a volcanic eruption.
The ship under him shook violently as a result and he fell on his back, rolling off the side of the ship and into a pile of rusty and scrapped droid parts, dropping his weapon in the progress.
As he was attempting to get up from the pile, he could hear footsteps closing in from the distance, he frantically searched for his weapon but it was nowhere to be found.
In desperation he picked up a large piece of a partly rusted droid arm to use as an improvised weapon against any battle droids that might come.
As the footsteps became louder, he began sweating nervously in his hiding spot, waiting for the droids to come into viewing distance.
“Come on you kriffing clankers… I’m waiting…” He muttered to himself in anticipation.
Soon he got his wish as a squad of B1 battle droids came in from around the right side of the ship he had stood on not too long ago to check out the remains of the starfighter and search for survivors.
“Search and secure the area, the commander wants all clones in this zone either dead or captured.” The yellow painted command droid ordered the rest of his squad.
“Roger, roger.” The other droids responded before getting to work.
Two of the battle droids split up from the group to check out the pillar of smoke coming out from between the cracks of the two ships while the rest spread out all around the area around them.
‘I can’t possibly hope to fight all of them off.’ Kess thought grimly while looking at his odds of survival.
‘Maybe I can get one of their rifles, it would at least increase my chances if nothing else.’
It seemed luck was on his side as a pair of droids that went past his hiding spot split up to go to separate directions at a crossroads section.
He quietly followed behind the left one, attempting to execute a sneak attack that would snap the head clean off the fragile droid’s neck.
Getting off his crouched position, Kess quickly wrapped his hands around the battle droid’s neck.
But while normally there would be a slight chance the droid’s head would come off, he was too weakened by his wounds sustained in the crash to even have any hope of taking out his opponent.
And it backfired as the khaki-colored battle droid after a brief moment of confusion elbowed the clone pilot in his chest, resulting in almost crippling pain that caused him to fall on his knees yell out in agony.
And while Kess was stunned and shouting various curses the droid had already turned around and hit him with the butt of its rifle, knocking him out cold.
As Kess’s unconscious body fell to the floor, the droid reported of its findings to the rest of squad through the Droid Network and soon enough the other droids came in to help the lonely battle droid carry the unconscious body of the clone back to Separatist lines.
‘Good job on taking down that clone KEK-921.’ The command battle droid complimented the B1 unit that had captured Kess.
‘He wasn’t even much of a challenge, Sir. He was likely pretty weakened from the crash landing his ship suffered.’ The other droid replied back through the network.
The droids continue conversing amongst themselves before a message was broadcasted to all units through the Droid Network.
‘Attention all droids, stay clear of Sector 7, our ships will begin orbital bombardment on a Republic base there in 21 minutes and 52 seconds.’ The voice of Commander ST-ED told them.
“Sector 7?! That’s where we are!” The command droid shouted out loud through his vocabulator to capitalize on the amount of danger his squad was about to be in if they didn’t hurry up.
“Everybody ruuuuu-un!” The other droids shouted in panic as they began sprinting as fast as their thin legs could carry them to get away from the danger zone.
Back in orbit
Droid Control Ship Bucket o’ Bolts
“Our sensors have picked up hyperspace signatures, we think it could be the Republic reinforcements coming in.” TD-42 Reported in through the bridge’s main holo-comm.
“So soon already? Blast it… they must have been preparing this invasion for quite a while.”
“If I may… I’d like to offer possible advice on how to counter their tactics.” ST-ED said as he joined into the call.
“Let’s hear it then, you’ve already proven yourself an able tactician there’s no reason for me to not at least hear you out.”
“Admiral Halcorr, have you ever heard of the term… Improvised Explosive Device?”
“Can’t say I have…”
“Let me explain the concept to you then…”
Republic Fleet en route to Raxus Prime
Flagship: Venator-class Star Destroyer Negotiator
Fleet Commanding Officers: Cndr. Anakin Skywalker and Gen. Obi-Wan Kenobi
“We’ll be reaching Raxus system soon, general.” One of the clones reported.
“I don’t like this, with little to no actual reconnaissance outside of the few ships that managed to escape from the battle we’re going in essentially blind.” Obi-Wan mused out loud in worry while stroking his beard.
“You worry too much, master. What possible threat could a few droids pose to us?” His padawan Anakin Skywalker asked with amusement through the holo-comm.
“May I remind you that those “few droids” as you call them, were able to wipe out almost an entire Republic fleet taking only minor casualties after they had completely surrounded the fleet through a simple flanking maneuver.”
“Well hey, if anything goes wrong you know I’ll be there to save the day.” Anakin said as he cut off the feed.
“Anakin…! Blast that boy will be the death of me one day with his attitude.”
“Sir, we have arrived.”
The blue tunnel of hyperspace soon disappeared from around the fleet as they arrived into the system.
Only to find there were no Separatist ships in sight outside of three Munificent-class frigates parked in orbit around the junk planet.
“General, we are picking up energy build-ups from those frigates… they are preparing to fire onto the planet below!”
“By the force… with that amount of firepower Commander Kieol’s position will be blown to kingdom come.”
“Sir, commander Skywalker’s ship is moving in to engage the Separatist fleet.”
Obi-Wan was conflicted about what to do, he could do like his padawan and attack the droid fleet, but that course of action would leave them vulnerable to any possible traps the Separatists had no doubt put up all around the system.
He didn’t have time to decide though so he opted to go with the first option that came to his mind, and that was to carefully advance alongside his padawan’s ship through the field of destroyed ships with the rest of the fleet.
“Deploy our fighters to scout out ahead for any surprises the Seps might have left for us.”
Confederate Navy 18th Fleet
In orbit around Raxus II
DCS Bucket o’ Bolts
“It seems the Republic has taken our bait and are advancing towards commander ST-ED’s ships.” TD-42 commented in his usual neutral tone.
“Yes, after the rest of their fleet has entered into the debris field we’ll be ready to spring our trap.” Halcorr said as he observed the visual feed coming from one of the many recon probes hidden inside the remains of the destroyed Republic fleet.
The rest of the wait was spent in silence as the both the organic and synthetic commander waited for the opportune moment to begin “Operation: Distress Call” as ST-ED had put it.
One of the things Halcorr was worried about with the tactical droid’s plan was if it failed to destroy or damage enough ships for the rest of the 18th fleet to overpower they would have to pull off a quick retreat out of the system and leave ST-ED to fend for himself on the ground against a numerically superior Republic force.
He didn’t like abandoning his allies but he would if it meant it would spare both his men and his own skin from total annihilation.
‘I just hope it doesn’t come to that…’ He thought while tapping his finger against the command chair’s armrest in anticipation; sweat running down his forehead.
Minutes went by... until finally the last of the Republic vessels had entered deep enough into the debris field for the trap to spring effectively enough… hopefully.
He stood up slowly, pointed his finger forwards and shouted a single word.
And as he said that single word, a signal was sent to the various caches of improvised explosives hidden inside the hulls of Republic assault ships, frigates and star destroyers with disastrous results for the Republic fleet that had arrived to the system not too long ago.
Much to Halcorr’s disappointment he wasn’t able to observe the fireworks for too long because the recon probes that observed the scene had to be destroyed alongside the Republic fleet.
But it didn’t keep him down for long as the Separatist fleet powered up their engines and came in from the dark side of the planet to greet what remained of the Republic fleet after the trap had been sprung.
Back onboard the Negotiator
“Damage report!” Obi-Wan shouted as he picked himself up from the floor to see the whole bridge in chaos.
“That explosion took out our shields and a good chunk of our fighters along with it. We’ll be defenseless against enemy bombers if they come en masse.”
“What’s the situation with commander Skywalker’s ship?”
“It’s still intact, sir. But it seems to have taken a brunt of the blast and has had a big chunk of its port side hull blown clean off.
“Incoming enemy fleet! They are approaching us from the dark side of the planet!”
“Battle stations! Prepare to repel any boarders they might send!”
“Right away, sir!”
In the barracks area all of the clones quickly got off their beds and began putting on their gear.
“All hands, man your battle stations! This is not a drill! I repeat, this is not a drill!” An automated voice sounded from the loudspeakers all around the ship as the clones got armed and ready for battle.
At the starboard side lower gun deck the medium turbolaser batteries were already being calibrated and loaded in preparation for the coming battle.
Soon enough they were put into action as the lead Separatist Recusant-class light destroyer opened fire with its weapons aiming for its Republic counterpart’s bow section.
“Brace yourselves!” Kenobi shouted as the ship shook from the impacts it suffered to its front section.
“That one destroyed our bow’s tractor beam emitter along with the generator.”
“What’s the situation with the rest of the fleet?”
“Not much better, sir. Some of them have managed to bring their shields back up but they are still far from combat ready.”
The situation was looking grim for the Republic, a fully shielded and armed Separatist fleet was already beginning their attack on them and they were by all accounts almost defenseless.
Another barrage smashed against the hull of the Negotiator, blowing off weapons emplacements and ripping large burning holes all along the hull, that sucked the clone crew into the cold empty space as the depressurization took effect.
As fire was being exchanged between the two fleets in space, the situation on the surface of Raxus Prime also seemed desperate for the Republic.
Separatist Frontline Positions
ST-ED was standing in an hastily erected trench that had been dug outside Sector 7, where the main Republic base on the planet had been located to be, observing the no-man’s-land for enemy movement with his optics’ built in zoom function, usually only seeing the occasional junk droid wobble about like it was going to collapse where it stood at any moment.
“What are those Republic fools up to…” He muttered to himself, another trait that he had picked up from the organic behavior that he had observed.
Through the Droid Network he could see that his plan had worked and the Republic fleet had flown straight into the trap the droids had built and were currently fighting a losing battle against the better prepared Confederate surprise attack.
Everything was going as he had predicted it would.
Except on the ground…
He had expected the Republic garrison to either begin further operations against the Droid army or surrender but they had simply been waiting inside their base, only engaging in the occasional skirmish with droid patrols.
The timer for the orbital bombardment was about to run out and the remaining GAR forces would vanish along with their Jedi Commander if nothing happened to chance that.
That was until ST-ED saw a single form approaching from the shadow of a rusted out half of the ruins of a light corvette.
He immediately alerted the other droids of his findings through the network and a line of B1s was rapidly assembled into a neat line on the edge of the trench for maximum effect when firing.
As the figure slowly walked out of the shadow, he could see it was a single clone trooper officer judging from his yellow-painted armor, the man was unarmed and carrying only a white flag, a sign of surrender amongst organics.
The tactical droid wasn’t about to take any chances so he ordered one of the B1s to move in and meet the clone in the middle of the no-man’s-land to check that he was truly unarmed and not carrying any concealed weapons or explosives.
‘He’s clean, Sir.’
‘Bring him over here, slowly.’ ST-ED ordered, the droid complied and nudged the clone forward and towards the line of trenches.
After the pair had reached them the droid commander immediately walked over to them.
“Why have you arrived here, soldier of the Republic?”
“My commander wants to negotiate our surrender, I was sent here to inform you of the two terms.”
“Fine, I will hear you out. Now speak.”
“The first condition is that all of his men are to be treated as prisoners of war and no cruel punishment or harsh treatment shall come to any of them.”
“That is acceptable.”
“And the second term is that the clones are allowed to bury their dead brothers.”
“The second term is also acceptable under supervision. You may inform your commander that I accept these conditions.” ST-ED said as he gesture for the clone to leave, which he did as fast as he could.
‘Are you sure this is a wise move, Commander? What if this is some sort of a trick? OOM-29 commented through the network from his position on the opposite side of the trench line that surrounded the Republic-controlled zone.
‘There is no need for worry, I always have a back-up plan for all things.’ ST-ED replied, dismissing any possible concern about the situation.
In the end, the Selkath Jedi commander did keep his promise and the entire two and a half thousand-man strong Republic force on the surface of Raxus Prime surrendered to the Droid Army. ST-ED followed the terms of their surrender treaty, as the clones were disarmed and gathered into temporary prison camps to await transportation off-world.
In space the battle had ended in Confederate victory after several destroyed or severely damaged ships on both sides, but most of the casualties came from the Republic and had as a result caused General Kenobi to order a full retreat. The taskforce led by GAR’s Jedi poster boys that had been sent to liberate the planet from Separatist control and relieve their forces already on the ground had been utterly decimated by the cunning tactical genius shown by the droid commander ST-ED while serving under the Confederacy’s 18th Fleet.
Many survivors of the battle had been taken prisoner in the end, they totalled around 3200 personnel both clone and natural-born.
In the end, all of the fighting that had taken place in the Raxus System during the two long days had been a waste of both time and resources for GAR and worst of all a humiliating defeat that would remain a stain on the reputation of the Republic’s armed forces for a long time to come.
The Next Day
Count Dooku’s Palace
“Are these reports accurate?” Dooku’s deep voice asked the holographic form of Admiral Halcorr.
“I’ll give you my word on it, my lord. You also have the report of General Tann concerning ST-ED’s actions on Geonosis to back my claims up.” The balding middle-aged Confederate admiral assured his superior.
The Confederacy’s head of state was deep in thought for quite a while as he read through the rest of the combat reports on the battle that took place inside the Raxus system.
After finishing with the reports he had finally come to a conclusion.
“Very well, from the reports provided to me I can conclude that the tactical droid ST-ED has completed his test run most successfully and is fit to be put into full-time duty as a General of the Droid Army.”
“My lord, if I may.” Halcorr said. “I’d recommend he be put in charge of the 21st Fleet alongside his advisor and second-in-command OOM-29.”
“I’ll take your professional opinion into consideration when making my final decision, but for now… consider yourself dismissed.”
The admiral bowed deeply before the feed was cut off from the other end.
After the conversation with the naval officer was done, the count got back to the various paperwork he had to go through, including the form which would officially confirm ST-ED’s assignment as an officer in the Confederacy’s armed forces and assign him to a designated fleet.
He filled all the necessary information and finally designated Superior Tactics Enforcer Droid as the commanding officer of the 21st fleet of the Confederate navy since it was the newest fleet of the CIS navy and didn’t really have anyone to command it yet.
After signing the form, he sent it away to be processed by the bureaucrats of the Droid Army’s logistical department who would pass the information on to the newly promoted general himself.
All the seemingly unnecessary bureaucratic work to promote a single droid made him seriously wonder if the Confederacy that he had helped establish as a more free alternative to the corrupt, over-taxing and bureaucracy-chocked Republic had only in the end, turn up becoming just like it.