Some days you were the bug.
Other days you were the triple-injected overcharged ion engine that roasted the bug.
Word first came in from panicked reports on the Holonet. The One Sith were on Alderaan. Soon after the reports were confirmed with heavy fighting projected in several areas. It was going to be a brutal fight. The few images and shaky videos that came through showed some of the most brutal fighting Ayden had ever seen, but it also made him think. The One Sith appeared to have thrown a large percentage of their weight behind the attack. It was evident that they were out for blood. A choice had to be made then. What to do? To Ayden, the choice was clear. They would only get this chance once.
"This is either madness, or brilliance."
Ayden turned and stared at Admiral Nai with a smile. "There's nothing that I know of that says it can't be both, Admiral." He turned back and looked at the holoprojector. It illuminated his face with its soft blue light, photons dancing around in a display meant to mimic the hundreds of starships that were flying through hyperspace. The assemble fleet was colossal, easily dwarfing what the Protectorate had mustered for Kayri. Unlike that ill-fated invasion though, this was a fleet full of experience and high on the victories that had been won from the fights with the Confederacy and Fringe.
The Spirit of Druckenwell led the fleet. Onboard her bridge, Ayden stood with High Admiral Nai and several other high-ranking military officials. Several of them had been brought aboard in haste during one of the few drop spots the fleet had to come out of hyperspace to make a course correction. Many of them seemed stunned at the turn of events and what they had been told. None had expected an assault so quickly after the last.
"Do you really think this will work, Lord Protector?" One of the Admirals asked. A man younger than most at his station, his hair had not yet begun to grey, but he remained experienced all the same. After Kayri, men and women like him had been recruited into the ranks of the officers due to their unique and non-traditional strategies.
"Of course I do, Admiral Neran. This attack comes when our enemy least expects it. They are committed elsewhere and will be unable to return to reinforce the besieged world before it is too late." He explained confidently, turning to each of the other officers with that same look. "Our plan is risky, yes. But this situation is unique. We will likely never get an opportunity like this again. If we do not strike now, we risk losing the entire Core. We cannot allow that to happen."
"But will our force be sufficient?"
"You forget; we will not be fighting alone." Ayden turned to the holoprojector and switched it to a map of the galaxy. "Already, several of our allies are making their way towards the target world. Unlike us, they are not burdened with a great fleet. Theirs is an advantage that lies not in brute force, but tactical. We do not have to bring a force sufficient to subjugate the planet's populace. They will cheer at the sight of our ships and will work with our troops to liberate their world from the hands of the Sith. Once we arrive, I expect the enemy force on the ground will rapidly find itself under increasingly numerous civilian riots and attacks. All we will need to do is target several key areas. Once we have taken those, we will be able to secure the planet."
Murmurs worked their way through the assembled admirals and generals before they each looked at him with a matching look of resolve. In short order, they each got their orders and returned to their ships. They had come out for the last time before the assault would begin in earnest.
Barely six hours after the One Sith began their assault on Alderaan, the assembled Protectorate fleet dropped out in realspace above Coruscant.
The bulk of the fleet engaged the defenses the Sith had left over the planet. Their hubris, the gaul, to think that none would contest their assault on Coruscant was astounding. While the warships kept the Sith forces occupied in space, thousands of dropships descended. They were flanked with an equally great number of starfighters and bombers. One third of them broke off and headed for the ruins of the Jedi Temple. Another third broke off and headed for the old Senate building and Senate District. The remainder headed for the Palace District. Other groups of dropships headed to different locations, but these target sites were designated secondary.
"People of Coruscant. We come to you today not as conquerors, but as liberators. The Sith have stolen away your liberty and we are here to give it back. We fight today not to destroy your homes, but to bring families back together." Ayden spoke with great confidence, knowing that the entire galaxy was listening. "If you can believe that in your heart, then I ask that you join me in repelling the Sith from Coruscant so that it might be returned to its glory, free of their tyranny. Theirs is a leadership that rules through fear and oppression. That is not the way of Coruscant. That is not the way of the Republic. Today, freedom calls. Take it!"
As the channels were filled with cheers from innumerable sources, Ayden turned and monitored the deployment of the Protectorate forces. Quietly he muttered to himself.
"Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell."
Immediately all outbound communications were jammed. Further out, interdictors began priming their gravity well projectors and locked down the space above the galaxy's most populace world. There would be no help. No cries of warning. While their masters attempted to pillage and burn one of the most peaceful worlds in the galaxy, Coruscant would fall.
The Protectorate had come to liberate the people of Coruscant from the One Sith.