Difference between revisions of "Essik Lyccane"
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- "'You treat war like Chess, a game with identical units and laws set in stone. Did you honestly think Essik would play by rules you dictated?"
Essik Lyccane is a Gand male of the lungless sub-species serving in the fleet of Clan Odan-Urr. A career officer, Lyccane has spent almost his entire life in one battle or another throughout the myriad of conflicts which shook the galaxy to its core; several of which were against enemies so terrifying that many refuse to accept they ever existed. First serving in the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars, he quickly sided with the Rebel Alliance following the purge of all non-humans with the rise of the rise of the new order. While both loyal and extremely diligent, he vehemently disagreed with what he saw as mistakes by both the leaders of the New Republic and Resistance in its later years, and was forcibly retired shortly after the Republic's destruction.
Tired of watching blind men leading the galaxy to ruin, he was only stopped from returning to his homeworld by a communication from Ka Tarvitz. After being convinced that there were still those who could use his experience, he joined the White Lotus Resistance and has since served directly under the Jedi of Odan-Urr at the rank of Commander.
- 1 Character History
- 1.1 Clone Wars (20 BBY - 19 BBY)
- 1.2 Rebellion (18 BBY - 6 ABY)
- 1.3 The Unsung Wars (7 ABY - 29 ABY)
- 1.4 The Death of Hope (30 ABY - 35 ABY)
- 1.5 The White Lotus Resistance (36-37 ABY)
- 2 Physical Description
Clone Wars (20 BBY - 19 BBY)
One of the rare few Gand who opted to associate themselves with the wider galaxy over their isolated homeworld, Lyccane rose to prominence during early 20 BBY. He was initially tasked by his Pocket Colony with assisting the traders which visited their backwater planet, but a growing fascination with the ships of foreign powers led to him breaking away from his home within a matter of months of accepting the role. Serving first as an adjutant on a sprint-trader travelling between the core worlds of Coruscant, Corellia and Chandrila, Lyccane's natural talent for tactical countermeasures and quiet pragmatism soon marked him as officer material. Lyccane's capacity to pick out inherent weaknesses prevented the freighter's capture by CIS aligned privateers on no less than two occasions and directly contributed to crippling a vastly larger enemy vessel during a boarding action. Under most circumstances this would have merely suggested that a skilled figure, word of these actions reached Republic Military command on Chandrila. Two years of relentless warfare had sapped the Republic Navy of skilled personnel, and Lyccane found himself unexpectedly conscripted into the war effort.Chandrila Defense Fleet under the command of Hiram Drayson.
Due to his history, Lyccane retained a basic grasp of the chain of command and discipline but lacked the finer points of mechanical detail and operating within a larger standing force. This typically left him relying more on personal guile or opting for unorthodox strategies to win the battles he supported. On the few occasions that he did not serve as an officer under a more experienced superior, Lyccane opted to use everything but direct methods of confronting enemy forces. This mentality led to a surprisingly beneficial outcome during the Cyphar skirmishes. During a disastrous initial assault, the Republic task force was destroyed while attempting to rush the linchpin world in the enemy defensive network. Gathering the survivors on one of its moons, Lyccane led an ad-hoc battalion of Clone Troopers and militia volunteers to repeatedly harry a much larger Confederacy force.
Opting to shadow them but always maintaining a tactically superior position on the terrain, he limited the capacity for one side to attack the other. The few strikes they made were to limit their ability to defend their bases, forcing the enemy Commander to draw on defensive platoons on the surrounding worlds in an effort to drive off the Republic units. Lyccane never pressed the advantage when given it, nor did he ever fully meet the enemy invasion force in battle, and instead opted to push them to consolidate as many units as possible on their position. This weakened Confederacy defences throughout the system, leading to a swift series of counter-offensives by another Republic taskforce and retaking the system with relatively little bloodshed. He would later tell the defeated enemy Commander that "Lyccane wins because you didn't."Rahm Kota, was enough for him to accept he was a small cog in a much larger machine. More than once, however, he was surprised to find that mention of his actions were erased from public propaganda or even limited his involvement. During the final Outer Rim Sieges of the conflict, his success in bypassing and then destroying the Confederacy's heavy orbital defenses the Battle of Triton proved critical to their final victory. The fortified planet had repelled three previous invasion attempts utilising a network of long-range batteries and torpedo launchers to cripple incoming ships. Yet records glorified only the accomplishments of the crews whereas he went nameless as an "enlisted officer" who opened the way for the Clone Troopers. Lyccane himself would reflect upon this in years to come, regarding it as the first sign of cultivated anti-human resentment that would blossom under the Galactic Empire.
By the time the war drew to an end, Lyccane had found himself promoted to Captain but was pushed further and further away from the frontlines. Eventually pulled back to Chandila itself, he spent the final months assisting with ship maintenance and fleet logistics until word came of the Confederacy's defeat and promotional holonet broadcasts announced the purge of the traitorous Jedi Order.
Rebellion (18 BBY - 6 ABY)
With an end to hostilities thanks to the dissolution of the Confederacy of Independent Systems and the rise of the Galactic Empire, Lyccane found himself serving a very different government. Rather than the victory they had been promised, the galaxy seemed to become a far darker place which emulated the very things they had been fighting against. The Chandrila Defense Fleet was effectively dissolved as part of the new regime, and the role of defending the planet was given to Moff Kohl Seerdon. A number of crewmen were integrated into the new Imperial Navy, but Lyccane found that most alien crewmen had been unceremoniously discharged. Worse still, rumours arose of mysterious deaths even among those accepted into the new order. Individuals who respected the Jedi or even questioned the new policies such as Jace Dallin were executed or seemingly disappeared without a trace. Knowing that there was little he could do, Lyccane attempted to return to a life of serving aboard civilian freighters for a small shipping company. Eventually, between the increasingly tyrannical methods used by planetary governors and word of a growing Rebellion being spearheaded by pro-Republic loyalists, Lyccane opted to align himself with those resisting the Empire.
Upon being given command of his own vessel, Lyccane gradually replaced its crew with other disillusioned figures who had fought in the Clone Wars, thus allowing him to make larger long-range drops and even entire runs in secret to major Rebel groups. While often requiring them to completely wipe segments of the navigation logs and even disguising their losses by faking pirate attacks, they were able to readily strengthen several groups when supplies were desperately needed. He was often forced to rely upon unsavoury means or burning through old favours to ensure he could meet with requirements, but the experience gave him a much-needed perspective on logistics in guerilla warfare which would serve him well in the years to come.
His efforts meant that he risked discovery more than once, but Lyccane was able to gradually use this to his advantage. Framing his pro-Imperial employer for treachery against the Empire, he was able to ensure that one of his older comrades succeeded him following several arreasts. This benefitted them considerably, allowing them to slowly build up a smaller fleet of loyal captains to provide essential resources to the war effort and more direct long-term support. When the company was forced to scrap a number of its GR-75 Transports, they made sure that they would fall into Rebel hands. Upon having several of its assets seized by order of the Empire, every effort was made to create blind spots and vulnerabilities for the Rebels to raid and capture facilities and ships alike. However, it was clear that these minor acts would only work for a time. Lyccane knew that one suspicious act too many would eventually draw infiltrators or more likely a direct raid by Imperial Intelligence, and began preparing to cut and run at a moment's notice.
Moving the vast majority of essential assets onto the freighters in dummy cargo containers, they began moving them as far from the Core worlds as possible on a series of long-range supply runs to defunct contacts. When the Imperials were able to begin moving against them following unusual flight patterns which might have suggested meeting with Rebel ships, Lyccane tied them up in red tape long enough to broadcast a warning signal to every vessel within the company before quietly departing himself. All eighteen freighters owned by the company defected en masse, using a series of false IFF signals and sensor scramblers to disappear into the Outer Rim territories.
For all their efforts not everything went as planned. Three ships were lost amid random jumps, caught either by Imperial patrols or pirate raids and destroyed before they could escape. The survivors eventually regrouped at Polis Massa, where Lyccane announced his plan to openly defect to the Rebellion. Most had been open to the idea, and those who had been wavering on the act of open support were eventually swayed into agreeing with the move. Only two ships and a handful of crewmen objected to this, and instead departed for regions unknown further toward the Outer Rim. With the matter otherwise settled, Lyccane used his contacts to meet with Hiram Drayson to offer their services. The multitude of freighters and experienced crews was a boon to Rebel fleets, allowing them to ferry tons of material between hidden bases. Under the direct control of the Support Services, Lyccane served for over a year in this capacity while occasionally lending his assistance to Ordnance and Supply in gathering Clone Wars era equipment.
Often having to make use with whatever they had on hand, Lyccane put his mind to reworking existing equipment or even vehicles to cover blind spots within the arsenal of several Rebel cells while remaining one step ahead of Imperial Intelligence. Simply targeting and raiding disassembly yards would have led to an easy ambush, and so instead he opted to focus upon building links with groups which had suffered due to the rise of the Empire. These were figures too morally upstanding to tolerate the tightening iron grip of Imperial doctrines, settlements which had found themselves placed under martial law, and even the odd corporation under threat of liquidation to benefit the Empire's war machine. Many refused, either out of fear of reprisal or the inability to believe that the Rebellion might succeed, but the few who accepted conveniently mislaid certain shipments which inevitably ended up in Rebel hands.Munificent-class star frigate, he installed them and two sets of torpedo launchers within its superstructure. With these weapons hidden beneath the freighter's sensor reflective shell and a multitude of fake cargo pods, he used it as a q-ship to draw out Imperial privateers and provide some limited protection for wavering supporters.
These combat modifications came at the cost of the Yastobaal's cargo capacity and the lack of military grade shielding meant that it was an ambush predator rather than a true warship. Nevertheless, it proved to be an effective method of quickly silencing hostile threats attempting to raid vital supply lines. When word of this broke out following the successful destruction of a Guardian-class light cruiser and two escorting Imperial Customs Frigates, Chief of Ordnance and Supply Ral'Rai Muvunc motioned to have Essik reinstated in a military role rather than to continue serving as a logician. It was never substantiated, but a long-standing rumour afterwards was that Lyccane had never requested permission to refit his vessel and Muvunc did not wish to deal with the possible fallout of his actions.
Seconded to the newly aligned Atrivis Sector Force, Lyccane was one of several figures dispatched to smooth over the transition of power now that they were an officially recognised subsidiary of the growing Rebellion. Given the rank of Captain once more, he immediately set to work analysing the group's greatest threats and possible organisational shortcomings. Lyccane spent weeks examining reports, structural details and indications of possible security leaks, only to find few to no flaws with their operations. Against all odds, the turbulent foundation of the resistance group had not led to any truly notable security risks, and the losses incurred its predecessors had burned most loose ends which could have been used against them. Even after examining the few survivors' histories he could find nothing substantial which might have indicated they were relaying information back to the Empire, or even times which provided the opportunities to do so.
For the last two years, the Imperial Navy had been forced to step up their patrol and counter-piracy missions in an effort to quell resistance, focusing their efforts on the systems directly attacked by the Rebels. This had not stretched their numbers thin, but these concentrated efforts had limited their capacity to effectively respond to attacks against several prominent targets. One of which was the twin Deepdock support facilities for the Noonian sector. This was one of the few locations in that region large enough to fully support the Empire's largest warships. Its destruction, combined with several attacks in surrounding areas on major sensor networks, would make it seem as if their previous actions had been an elaborate feint to pull off a massive offensive in the neighbouring sector. Lyccane argued long and hard over the point, both to colleagues and his superiors, but he was denied the capital ships they required to make the plan such an effective strike. Instead, he was granted a detachment of marines and a full Y-Wing squadron to see his plan to fruition. This was only a small fraction of the numbers he needed but Lyccane quietly accepted this offer and went about adapting his plan as best he could.
Without the benefit of turbolaser equipped vessels, any frontal assault was entirely out of the question. As such, Lyccane risked one final raid on Imperial shipping, utilizing the ion cannons of the fighters and a loaned transport to capture a single Gozanti-class cruiser bound for their target. Boarding it and taking control, the Rebel troops were able to claim the vessel before it could activate a distress signal. After dealing with the crew, Essik's forces refitted the transport with proton bombs from the Y-Wings with the plan to use it as a gigantic missile. After using the cruiser to ram the enemy main docking arms, the marines would break clear and begin to attack other areas of the gigantic framework, crippling its vital facilities. The other group, in their unarmed transport, would initiate a similar attack on the second Deepdock before both would fall back to escape pods and utility ships to flee the enemy facility. Essik knew the plan was risky to the point of being little more than a suicide mission, but as reports came in of growing enemy activity in the Atrivis sector, he knew they had no time to plan another operation.
While the detonation itself was delayed due to a malfunctioning timer, it proved to be far more effective than Essik could have ever predicted. Rather than scuttling the larger frame, the explosion triggered a chain reaction across the massive mobile shipyard leading to a reactor breach. The entire Deepdock was ripped apart by the sudden explosion, taking with it a multitude of smaller maintenance ships vital to the smooth operation of the local fleet. The second, too slow by far to avoid the debris, was pelted by hyper-accelerated metal fragments before being skewered by one docking arm and crippling it beyond repair. Their effort had not simply limited the ability to support Star Destroyers across the sector, but to rearm and refuel any Imperial ship larger than a corvette at a safe location.
Follow-up attacks by the Y-Wings on several communications facilities and the use of torpedoes loaded with IFF transponders gave the impression of a massive Rebel uprising within the Noonian sector. In response, the forces which had been dispatched to sweep through the Atrivis sector were rapidly withdrawn to counter this supposed new threat. However, Essik showed little joy in their accomplishment as the cost had been far too high for his liking. He grew to resent both his actions and the Alliance commanders who had denied him the means to a far less costly victory.
Essik and the survivors of the first group were eventually rescued by an Imperial support shuttle seeking out survivors, which the Rebels promptly hijacked and claimed for themselves. Regrouping with the others who had taken part in the operation, he spent several days reviewing local reports and enemy ship sightings. Hunting for even the slightest indication that the local Imperial governor may have picked up on their distraction, he made every effort to confirm that the operation had been a success. It was during this that word reached him of an unintended side-effect of his actions.
Images of the Deepdock attack had spread across the Holonet, and were promoted as an act of unprovoked terrorism against the ruling government. As was often the case with such actions, this only inspired further acts of resistance from the downtrodden populace. Combined with the heavy-handed response from law enforcement officers, within a matter of days riots and open protests had broken out across several worlds. It was obvious that these acts were by civilians and determined amateurs rather than the mix of criminals, combat veterans and resistance fighters which made up the Rebellion, and many ended in no small amount of blood being shed to restore order.
Despite Essik's best efforts, most cells were rooted out and annihilated shortly after their inception, he made sure that those left would remain a thorn in the Empire's side for years to come. Essik himself remained there for several years, posing as a trader and doing everything in his power to stall attempts to bring him before the main Rebel fleet. This eventually led to his promotion as a resistance leader co-ordinating efforts across several systems. Managing to acquire a small fleet of raider vessels, the movement was able to successfully raid Noonar itself, and initiate several attacks on Imperial supply convoys. Their presence proved to be a hindrance more than a true threat, but the resources diverted from nearby sectors to contain them bolstered Rebel efforts elsewhere, and Essik's leadership ensured that they never overplayed their hand.
Unfortunately, when the cells voted to formally align themselves with the larger Rebel Alliance, Essik was called to task for the abandonment of his post. While his successes saw that he was not removed from the Alliance entirely, initiating what was seen as a personal crusade drew criticism from several members. As a result, he was required to step down from his position as overall leader of the Noonian cells, and demoted to Flight Officer to prevent further rogue actions on his part.
Tasked with maintaining stores and assisting with the quartermaster of Home One, Essik was able to learn of recent developments within the greater galaxy. Misinformation and rumours were rife among them, but it was becoming clear that the Empire was utilising the Rebellion's existence as an excuse to gain further power. The already increasingly obsolete Senate was being bypassed at every turn, and while several Rebel movements had seen success in the Outer Rim, many had been rooted out or destroyed in concentrated attacks. Essik ignored this for the moment and instead focused on his duties, diligently maintaining supply schedules and fighter transfers. He might have languished in this post, were it not for an offer from one of the very officers who had condemned him over his insubordination. The Rebellion was seeking to establish a number of bolt holes and secondary outposts along with a world worthy of establishing a headquarters. Knowing that he would need effective officers, he had petitioned Rebel command to return Essik to a frontline position.
Essik was eventually placed in the far end of the Ison Corridor along with a garrison of thirty soldiers. Using a derelict star cruiser as a base of operations, the group hid within the nebula, establishing a listening post and sensor suite to cover ship movements throughout the area. Reconstructing a large damaged section of the station into a makeshift hanger and refuelling station, Essik was soon able to maintain it as a watchpoint. With some liberal "misunderstandings" of his orders, he was even able to launch minor raids on singular Imperial cargo shipments and liberate replacement parts for ships visiting the station.Nebulon-B frigate which served as the group's command vessel.
The act both demoralized Imperial forces and secured the corridor from other threats for a time, along with granting the Alliance a new capital ship. Unfortunately, Essik's prior actions worked against him. While they were jubilant in his success Alliance Command did not wish to encourage such reckless behaviour in its subordinates. As a result, news of this victory was stifled and his competence was used as an excuse to keep Essik garrisoning this position. He would remain there for several years, working as best he could and learning only of several major galactic events through second-hand sources. These included Garm Bel Iblis' decision to break away from the Alliance, the existence and then the destruction of the Death Star, and annihilation of Alderaan. It was only with the loss of Yavin Base that he was granted a more active role.
Rebel PrivateerTarkin had predicted, it only encouraged further insurrections. The Rebellion needed to capitalize on this even as it reeled from the loss of its major headquarters, both to train and further bolster such efforts before they could be crushed. Essik was one of a multitude of officers selected for this task as, his insubordination aside, no one could deny that he had proven himself to be an effective leader in this capacity. To this end, Essik was given command of the Skyfire, a bulk freighter refitted into a light carrier. With a list of systems to support and several contacts, he was told to act as he saw fit.
Essik would spend much of the continued war focusing on his own efforts of building a larger attack force and assisting resistance cells wherever they emerged. This was much to their benefit and many of the tactics he had utilized in the Noonian sector served him well, but as the conflict drew on he began to reinvent them. Along with harassing supply routes and weakening enemy garrisons, Essik began to build a network of spies throughout production facilities and decommissioning centres. This helped to allow the odd crate of blaster rifles or even entire starfighters to end up in Rebel hands, along with replacing enemy freighters when required. The Empire ran like a well-oiled machine, set to timetables and standard schedules. Yet those same inflexible routines made them often easy to exploit and target for supply raids.
Using the ship in a manner akin to that of the Yastobaal, Essik took full advantage of the Skyfire's ability to bypass Imperial patrols to repeatedly deploy units in seemingly impossible locations. Following a successful Y-Wing assault on a military parade which killed several prominent Imperial officials and decimated the Stormtrooper garrison of a system, he began even using the reputation of his victories as a weapon. To divert Imperial attention away from actual resistance cells and maintain their freedom of movement, he fabricated rumours of a legendary Rebel force striking at will throughout the sector. Often pinning his own victories on this group via informants and double agents, he continually made falsified sensor readings of larger ships moving in and out of Imperial space, and even established abandoned bases via leftover equipment to solidify this ruse. These acts ensured that a number of prominent Imperial patrols were often dispatched to hunt down this phantom force, and his own efforts were written off simply as a lesser threat to be dealt with at a later date. Dubbing them Phoenix Squadron, Essik even went so far as to spread rumours that a famed military commander had once even been dispatched to personally hunt them down.Battle of Hoth, yet he was often responsible for a number of secondary battles and essential minor victories. This only changed during the Assault on the Second Death Star, where his force was recalled along with other groups to reinforce the main Rebel fleet during its assault. Essik personally argued against committing such a substantial force to an engagement, but he nevertheless complied with his orders nor would he deny the effect their victory had in destabilizing the Empire for years to come.
The battle proved to be a costly one to all Rebel groups involved, and Essik found that many pilots under his command had lost their lives engaging TIE squadrons. Over two-thirds of the force he had spent years leading had been killed in a single conflict and many more remained missing in action. As the Alliance celebrated its victory on the forest moon Essik remained with his ship, recording and remembering those lost. For many, this proved to be turning point long promised by the Rebellion. Yet for Essik this was one loss too many. While many saw little difference, those who had served him for long years began to note that he had become oddly distant and even colder than before; as if unwilling to associate himself with others.
Rather than being dispatched to take advantage of the Empire's growing disunity, Essik was instead kept with the main Rebel fleet to assist with its rebuilding. He was briefly considered to lead the small force dispatched to combat an enemy incursion at Bakura and later Kashyyyk, it was ultimately decided that he would best serve the fleet in speeding its recovery. He was eventually pushed back into service in time for the Battle of Glom Tho, where he assisted with the capture of several foundries during an airborne drop. This was to be his final battle as a member of the Rebellion, as the Alliance formally renamed itself the New Republic. The name had been bandied about almost since the night of their victory of Endor, and the fleet had undergone a steady reorganization, this cemented their status as a true government over a resistance movement.
After being transferred officially to the New Republic First Fleet, Essik accepted the position of a flag officer serving on board the flagship. He often actively sought out reasons to serve on its escorts thanks largely his preference for smaller ships, but he nevertheless proved to be a skilled leader. Essik's approach was often one of diligence tempered with caution, and displayed an unwillingness to simply throw his vessels headlong into a conflict. Realising that a multitude of the tactics the Rebellion had developed to fight the Empire would not effectively serve an official state of government, many of his methods became far more conservative in nature and developed a habitual point of explaining himself to subordinates. Following the loss of his crew at Endor, this led to the widespread belief that the Gand had lost confidence in his own abilities. Instead, it was borne of the simple desire to pass on the few viable lessons he retained from his time in the Republic Navy. Unfortunately, this was rarely taken seriously and only served to fuel hearsay surrounding both his nerves and capabilities. Those who did take such words to heart were among the few he made a point of retaining during crew rotations, gradually formulating a small cadre of subordinates that he could rely upon to know when and when not to risk their lives in the name of a cause.Sate Pestage, the highest-ranking surviving member of the Imperial Court, was a certainly tenuous one but he still commanded loyalty within many of the Emperor's followers. Whatever victory was accomplished could have easily been turned against them had he been given time to consolidate his forces. Because of this Essik typically utilized his skills in battles to minimize casualties among fleets he was a part of while emphasizing inflicting lasting damage on Imperial capital ships over outright destruction. With the Empire's limited resources and their crews relying on inexperienced Commanders as a result of defections or dereliction of duty, forcing a ship to withdraw from frontline engagements for extensive refitting was more harmful than a total loss. The tactic proved to be a viable one in many conflicts, forcing the Empire to withdraw orbital support from minor systems they viewed as unnecessary as they regrouped their power. It proved to be especially effective against Warlords or lone Captains who had sought to claim a planet for themselves, as the smaller groups typically lacked the infrastructure to support full refittings of their ships. Nevertheless, the gains made through such tactics were still minor. It would take both external pressure and multiple betrayals among his command staff to see Pestage removed from power, and for Ysanne Isard to usurp him.
Most of the gains made in the final months leading to the capture of Coruscant were attributed to Rogue Squadron's efforts. Conflicts such as the capture of Balmorra and the infiltration efforts to take the Imperial Center were left to far more talented commanders by far. However, Essik was held in reserve during the Liberation of Coruscant, and saw action as part of General Tantor's in breaching the defences surrounding the Imperial Palace. Essik expected that this would be his final role in the conflict but soon found himself corrected. Coruscant had been a poisoned chalice, and Isard had left a biological weapon known as the Krytos virus to hinder Republic efforts to hold the planet.
Humans were immune to the Krytos' effects, but the virus was a virulent and extremely dangerous airborne contagion which targeted a wide variety of other species. Prominent races which had assisted the Rebellion such as the Bothans, Mon Calamari and Sullestians were among these groups, along with Twi'leks, Trandoshans and Shistavanens. This both weakened the New Republic's fragile internal economy and quickly fanned the flames of anti-Humanism among the more extreme elements of the populace, a matter hardly helped by the actions of Provisional Councilor Borsk Fey'lya. Essik proved to be extremely resistant to the virus' worst effects. Whether this was thanks to a lack of familiarity with his species' bizarre physiology on the part of the virus' creator or a lack of lungs was unknown, but it provided the New Republic with a non-human face on the surface. Essik continued to keep the peace and root out possible Imperial sympathizers, but he was typically deployed to locations where anti-human sentiment was greatest. The sight of a Gand commanding human troops and Essik's own natural skills as a diplomat proved to be enough to diffuse several potential riots.
Even following the creation of a cure to the Krytos Virus, Essik remained stationed on Coruscant to help maintain security on the planet. He typically served as an advisor and a local naysmith. He was one of a multitude of officers tasked with devising plans to exploit security weaknesses and then suggest ways to correct them. For a time he believed that this was to be his final role in service to the New Republic. With only quarrelling warlords left and the New Republic gaining ground on all fronts, the threats he fought against were coming to an end, and with that, he would be able to retire from the military. He was soon to be proven wrong.
The Unsung Wars (7 ABY - 29 ABY)
Sins of a Galactic Empire
For a time the New Republic was granted a short reprieve from true threats, and yet the wars never ended. No sooner did one fall than another would rise, consolidating power for themselves and attempted to crown themselves as a new Imperial ruler. Victory after victory was attained, with the Republic advancing on every front, and yet total annihilation of their old enemy was never a guarantee. There was no swift end, no abrupt final battle which would turn the tide in their favour, and many within the New Republic counted their blessings that the Imperials were just as prone to turn on one another as their old enemies.
Essik himself was part of a task force which took advantage of one such war between Imperial bandit kingdoms, as he came to call them. Following the deaths of Grand Admirals Danetta Pitta and Josef Grunger during the Battle of Tralus in late 6 ABY, the New Republic found itself with an unexpected advantage. The conflict ad not only seen the removal of two governing officers of the Imperial elite, but both a Torpedo Sphere and Super Star Destroyer along with the bulk of their military might. Infighting, conflicts and rivalries in the months which followed had disrupted unity between the remaining Imperials, but that was quickly dying down. With the New Republic desperate to reclaim and quickly shut down as much of their military infrastructure as possible, Essik was one of a small task force whose mission it was to capture or destroy as many enemy installations as possible before a new hierarchy could be established and another warlord might rise. Essik, as per usual, went with the simplest approach possible.
Unfortunately, few victories proved to be so easy. After Issard's apparent death, Zsinj came to power with the backing of a Super Star Destroyer and a substantial portion of the Empire's military might. Even after he met his end over Dathomir, other remnants such as the Pentastar Alignment and Ciutric Hegemony staunchly resisted efforts to oust themselves from their holdings. Matters were only made infinitely more complicated when a living legend returned to unify the scattered remnants of the Empire and restore them to a single unified power.
Tyrants and Legends
For a brief period, Imperial activities lessened in their conflicts with the New Republic. While the odd skirmish or operation would be launched between the two territories, the near constant warring slowed until the two fleets barely met on the field. When news of this reached Essik, he believed that this was an indication that the Empire had been united under a single leader. He had hoped that whoever replaced them might be willing to negotiate an end to the war. He only proved to be partially correct when the Imperial forces launched a massive counter-offensive into Republic space, with their efforts guided by Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Thrawn himself had only been a half-known figure typically left in the shadows of the Empire. His acts had been recognized and news of this one non-human Palpatine permitted among his elite were hardly closely guarded secrets, yet research had rarely offered anything of true substance. There was little information available to help gauge the Grand Admiral’s actions or commanding style until the two sides met in battle. Thrawn himself turned multiple opening battles into a complete rout, utilizing tactics and command methods which re-wrote the way battles were waged overnight. Thrawn was far from infalible, but his ability to mitigate his losses and remain one step ahead of his enemies made him an extraordinarily difficult opponent to combat.
Essik’s role in the war against Thrawn’s unified Empire was initially one of internal security. First, he was tasked with ensuring that the Imperials who had joined the New Republic stayed loyal to their cause, or were prevented from aligning with Thrawn. Essik found himself forced to investigate the same men he had so recently convinced to turn against their masters and was forced to imprison a multitude of them as a precautionary measure. Then, as the campaign continued, he was placed on planets recently inducted into the Republic and tasked with reworking their defensive measures. Those initiated or drawn up by the Imperial governments were too uninformed and easily countered by the Empire, forcing a complete reworking of their strategies. This at least slowed the Imperial advance into several planets, and forced them to redirect more substantial forces to claim large regions.Katana fleet were added to the Empire's armada, Essik was pushed toward defending a number of secondary objectives. With the New Republic constantly regrouping, assembling fleets and initiating delaying tactics, he was offered only a meagre force of escort vessels and fighter squadrons to accomplish this goal. The worlds themselves did not directly support the war effort, but boasted a high food production output. Any shortfall would result in starvation across several systems, weakening the morale of the Republic and giving the impression that they could not defend their own territories. Drilling his men and improving each world's defences as best he could, and waiting for the Empire to strike. When it did, it moved on his position with overwhelming force. The Republic fleet was outnumbered almost eight to one, with three enemy Star Destroyers among the enemy armada. Any open conflict would have been seemingly hopeless, but Essik had two advantages: Subterfuge and the heavy defensive shielding of each world. This led to him gambling victory on initiating an open battle before his hand was forced.
Traditional tactical doctrines decreed that once a superior enemy fleet had been sighted ships should remain in close orbit to the worlds they defended, but Essik opted to go on the offensive. Splitting his fleet into six individual squadrons, he sent them off to major defensive locations and vital areas across the nearby sector. Seeing an opportunity to wipe them out in a single attack, the enemy commander mirrored this action, breaking up the armada to confront each one in turn. Yet the locations had been specifically chosen for more than one reason. Some were distant enough that a secure scan was difficult at the best of times. Others were hidden by the shadow of background energy anomalies, and some even activated IFF transponders fixed to probes in order to disguise their true positions. As such, once the enemy force had broken apart to confront them, Essik recalled the majority of his ships to his position and initiated a full attack on the largest group of warships. Detecting that Essik's flag vessel was among one particular group, two of the enemy Star Destroyers had been dispatched in a single force. When Essik's group fell upon them, they found themselves complete outnumbered and heavily outgunned. By the end of the conflict, Essik had lost three frigates but the entire enemy force at this position had been eradicated.
Essik's battles on this front would continue this pattern of deceptively repositioning his fleets and feeding the enemy false information. It allowed him to gradually whittle them down, but the action did come at a cost. In the final days of these battles, the Imperials ignored his group entirely and initiated a full-scale assault on a single planet under his protection. Essik was able to dispatch the last of their ships in a furious battle directly above the world, but not before almost thirty thousand troops were deployed planetside. With only a small number of voluntary companies under his command and few trained soldiers among them, Essik was tied up for months attempting to prevent the enemy legions from completely taking hold of the planet. For all his successes in orbit, all he was able to accomplish was a stalemate until New Republic reinforcements could be dispatched to his position.
It was only during the final days of the war that Essik joined the conflict in earnest, commanding the Tyrant’s Bane assault frigate as a New Republic armada made its attack on the Bilbringi Shipyards. The battle itself proved to be surprisingly brief. Though the Imperials saw through the feint which might have predicted them an easy victory, the two sides were evenly matched. Yet, as the battle reached a critical moment, the Imperials abruptly retreated without any true warning. For a time many believed that this was some part of a grander strategy until it was learned that Thrawn had been assassinated by his own bodyguard. It was an abrupt end to the campaign, but after so many losses and false victories the conclusion was welcome. The forces under Thrawn withdrew to a multitude of locations, with many seemingly disappearing entirely from known star charts. As the New Republic licked its wounds and reclaimed the territories lost during Thrawn's battles, Essik was one of the many officers given the duty of uncovering their fate. While he was given no definitive answers for his efforts, he was not left waiting long before he uncovered their fate.a vast Imperial armada emerged from the Deep Core and initiated a devastating series of battles against the New Republic. Thrawn had fought with genius and conservative estimations, but these new fleets opted to utilize total war. Where they travelled worlds burned, cities were reduced to ash and ships were scattered. With the vast bulk of the New Republic Defense Force engaging and destroying the fleets of Admiral Krennel, they were caught flat-footed. A strong rearguard had been stationed in defense of the Core, but no one could have predicted the firepower arrayed against them. With four Executor-class dreadnoughts, five Mandator III-class dreadnoughts, and three Vengeance-class dreadnoughts backed by countless smaller Star Destroyer and escort classes, the New Republic had come face to face with more firepower than much of the Imperial warlords combined. Worse still, as many of the Executor-class dreadnoughts were thought to have been captured or destroyed in the following years - and suspected to be small in number - the New Republic fleets were left with no effective counter against the titanic warships.
World after world was lost to this renewed onslaught. Kaikielius, Corellia, and Alsakan were among the first to fall. While the New Republic scraped together an assembled fleet to make a stand at Metellos, it was utterly annihilated when several vital support ships were caught out of position. Anaxes and Borleias were reclaimed by the Imperials soon after this, leaving the way open to Coruscant itself. As the entire enemy navy closed on the world and bombarded it from orbit, Mon Mothma ordered a total evacuation. Essik was one of those present at the time, and followed the lead of Garm Bel Iblis as they made multiple attempts to run the blockade. Most ships were destroyed, with only a few escaping and many major governmental figures within the New Republic found themselves trapped on the capital world. The New Republic resorted to guerrilla fighting amid Galactic City, and for three days they held against growing numbers of Imperial drop troops and armoured divisions. On the fourth, the Empire completely smashed all opposition; overruning the city and claiming the world for themselves. The fighting would continue for some time, with Coruscant reduced to a depopulated ruin, but it was clear that the planet was once more in Imperial hands. After so many long victories, after so many strides to solidifying their new government and beating back the vestiges of the Empire, everything was falling apart. In the face of this, Essik's usual pragmatism carried an undercurrent of bitterness, a stubborn desire to deny the Empire any true triumph.
Essik's private war on the planet carried on for the first several weeks of what would become known as Operation Shadow Hand. During this time, his efforts focused upon breaking the impression of total Imperial victory, targeting propaganda centres and monuments as much as vital enemy facilities. The galaxy needed to see that the New Republic still opposed the Empire, even in its darkest hour. No less than three assassination attempts were made against Alix Balan, the General who had led the reconquest of Coruscant, but none succeeded. The New Republic regrouped in Hutt Space about the world of Da Soocha V even as Essik kept fighting. It was only once Lando Calrissian and Wedge Antilles' reinforcements arrived to buy time for those left to fully disengage from the battle that Essik departed the world. He was the last to board their awaiting transport, gazing out at the ruined skyline and vowed to return and drive the Empire from its surface for good.World Devastators. Mon Calamari itself had been a prominent member of the Rebellion and remained a steadfast element of the New Republic. Its ships were identified as those of the Republic's main fleet, and the annihilation of its people would have broken what faith remained in the Republic's government. Essik was among the first commanders to volunteer for its defence, reinforcing the fleets attempting to hold back the Devastators.
Barely arriving in time to assist with the planet's defence, Essik took command of the shattered remnants of several battle groups. They were able to inflict severe damage to the enemy fleet's rearguard on arrival but the New Republic forces soon became embroiled in a bitterly one-sided conflict against the Empire's new weapons. For every ship they destroyed the World Devastators could easily replace them, churning out wave upon wave of highly advanced droid TIE fighters or even new Devastators in their rampage. Ripping apart both the Republic fleet and local cities as fuel for these monstrous factories of war, it was evident that without a major breakthrough Mon Calamari would be lost. Essik was able to draw away enough forces for Rogue Squadron to initiate a series of attacks on smaller Devastators in new V-Wing fighters, crippling them and giving time for civilian evacuations across a heavily populated archipelago. The arrival of new E-Wing attack squadrons also allowed Essik to turn the tide against others, finally drive back the droid TIE fighters screening the Devastators and was able to bring down another with the use of robot ram ships. Yet these were only superficial victories and had little impact on the flow of battle. It was only when a coded signal shut down the Devastators that the Republic was able to overcome the enemy fleet. The cost had been high in both military and civilian casualties, but they had held the line.
Having barely survived the battle after the bridge of his ship was raked by turbolaser volleys, costing him an arm in the process, most expected Essik to wait out the conflict in recovery. Instead, he accepted only a Bacta cast before returning to work, stating that he was not about to watch defeat from a hospital bed. After spending days hunting down and mopping up damaged ships which had attempted to flee Mon Calamari back to safer harbours, Essik returned to Da Soocha V just in time to board a new ship and participate the pyrrhic Battle of Pinnacle Base. With his loss, Palpatine had taken matters into his own hands. Arriving with his new command ship, the Eclipse, the Emperor began to lay waste to the New Republic military, even as Luke Skywalker turned on him and engaged the Sith Lord in a duel. Essik was only able to save a number of crews by ordering them to turn tail and simply flee from the battle as Palpatine summoned a Force Storm of titanic proportions. Hundreds upon thousands of naval crewmen died in that inferno before it consumed the one which summoned it. While the Empire's leadership had been beheaded, the cost had been staggering and any hope of facing the Imperial military on even terms quickly died out.
Seeking to take advantage of Palpatine's apparent end, and weaken the authority of its new leader Executor Sedriss QL, Essik proposed an operation to make the various factions of the Empire turn on one another. Such strategies had served them well in the past and without a uniting figure several strategists felt that they could be provoked into another civil war with the correct targets. Driven by a sense of unyielding hatred for the Empire, Essik immediately volunteered to see the riskiest of these operations to fruition. His main targets were the organizations which helped to secure the Empire's internal stability and counter infiltration efforts - the Inquisitorius, COMPNOR, and the Imperial Security Bureau. Each had well-defined jurisdictions and entirely different goals of countering Force users, supporting the new order through propaganda and Humanocentric rhetoric, and espionage respectively, but it had not prevented rivalries from arising between them. Each hungered for greater power and control, and Essik's acts only heightened that envy. To some he would hand seemingly easy victories or essential information which humiliated the other two, even encouraging them to infringe upon their duties. In other cases he would initiate industrial sabotage, leaving just enough hints to allow paranoia and envy to make them act against the others. Essik left most of the real fighting to the Imperials, and his strikes were always carefully planned and their targets were well chosen.
Amazingly, Essik's actions and those of others proved to be enough to make the Empire turn on itself, triggering a series of skirmishes and infighting which destabilised their hold on the galaxy. Soon, not only was the Empire's internal affairs departments rounding on one another but even the Ruling Council, the Moffs, and the Fleet commanders had begun to participate in a barely disguised six-sided war. While united against the external threat of the New Republic's remaining ships, each saw their supposed comrades as the greater threat, often overlooking their hated foe as the lesser opponent and giving them much needed time to regroup and heal from the costly battles prior to then. Palpatine's return did little to stem the flow of blood, seemingly deeming it an essential part of culling the weak from his new order. So long as each pledged overall loyalty to him, he was unconcerned with just who they chose to kill. It was a typical practice which the Empire and Sith dynasties had encouraged, but it also permitted the New Republic to exploit these rivalries for its own ends.
Essik would not return to any major New Republic outpost until the end of the war. He had vowed to hurt the Empire, to drive them back and prevent history repeating itself, no matter the cost. He would disappear for weeks if not months on end, deep within enemy territory with only a few reports of surprising battles or raids hinting at his presence, before briefly returning to one outpost or another. The small flotilla he commanded would only wait until they had been repaired and rearmed, before leaving once again to continue their war. His crews protested continually against this practice, and some were driven to the brink of despair by relentless fighting, but it proved to be a blessing in disguise. Essik constantly made sure to pick and choose his battles carefully, and famously lost only eight crewmen for the rest of the war. They were not present for the costly losses at the hands of the Galaxy Gun, nor the uprisings which turned world after world against the New Republic. Furthermore, his actions constantly weakened the Empire's hold on its outlying territories, targeting munitions plants, shipyards, and support facilities over directly engaging their military. As such, when Byss was destroyed along with a substantial portion of the Empire's newfound strength and infrastructure, the Imperials had nothing left to support their ships in many regions. Due to his actions and the loss of so many essential figures among their chain of command Essik was promoted twice during the conflict, first to Commodore and then Rear Admiral.
Hard Lessons and Lesser Evils
The aftermath of the Galactic Empire's resurgence had been a harrowing experience for all factions involved. The Empire fragmented, with various warlords returning to their previous territories or even attempting to offset the shift in power. Much of their newfound strength had been spent or had been lost at Byss, and they could not call upon the supreme naval might they had once relied on. Even the most powerful remaining warlord, Admiral Teradoc, only commanded a total of seventy Victory-class Star Destroyers, and the Pentastar Alignment had been reduced to relying heavily on its fortress worlds for protection. Yet planets did not flock to the banner of the New Republic. Palpatine's actions had both driven the government far from the Galactic Core and worlds now feared association with the New Republic thanks to the Empire's onslaught. A few opted to return but the Republic's membership had been reduced to barely ten thousand worlds, and its most secure bases of operations were located in neutral self-governed territories such as Hutt Space and the Corporate Sector Authority. Even taking Coruscant only offered limited benefit thanks to its ruined state.New Republic Defense Fleet months to clear a path through it to allow ships to come and go on a regular basis. Essik, for his own actions, opted to cut out the middleman and began using it as a resource to supplement reconstruction efforts. Unfortunately, while a number of key areas were restored within a year of work, many lower levels of the city remained largely unaffected by the operations and only benefitted from limited support. Essik did all he could for them, but he was unable to gain the authority or manpower to truly make a difference.
Admiral Daala and new superweapons such as the Sun Crusher. However, he felt he could do far more good in a position of teaching rather than standing on the bridge of a warship. This proved to be highly beneficial both to himself and those who learned from him, as he continually examined previous losses by the New Republic and the successes of the Empire. It soon became clear that neither their technology or the skill of their officers were at fault, but the classes of ships they fielded were inadequate to combatting the vast star dreadnoughts which had been arrayed against them. Mon Calamari cruisers were a reliable backbone to their navy, but a substantial number were still refitted civilian vessels or retained design concepts which benefitted star liners over true battleships. Because of this, Essik became a major proponent of the New Class Modernization Program and military development over the course of the next several years. He did not wish for the New Republic to fall prey to the same failings which had led to the Empire's rise but, without a strong military, they simply could not survive.
The year of rebuilding was enough to offer Essik time for self-reflection, but it did little to truly change him for the better. Essik had repeatedly considered leaving the military on multiple occasions, and yet this brought home one fact to him: There really was nothing left for him beyond his service to the New Republic. He had not stepped foot on Gand in decades and was as much a stranger to his family as any outsider. Coruscant was the closest thing he had to a home now, and yet it meant little to him. He was devoted to its reconstruction out of a sense of obligation but he had no real love for the world. As a result, he elected to find greater purpose within his life and to accomplish more than simply fighting in its name. Because of this, Essik returned for a time to Chandrila, where he was offered a post at the military academy in training new officers to replace the tens of thousands lost during the last two major campaigns. Essik did all he could to encourage each student to learn of both the Rebellion's hit-and-fade tactics along with the strategies of foreign powers. He prioritised a traditional baseline understanding of the naval methods utilized by the New Republic navy, but he was ever ready to reward ingenuity over someone pigeonholing themselves into a single way of thinking, or simply mimicking others in an effort to imply skill over actually having it.
MC80B Star Cruiser, the Nomad, and ordered to support the newly refitted Lusankya and the first of their new Endurance-class fleet carriers. With this might, the New Republic hoped to turn back the advances into their space, but the battle ended in disaster. The battle proved to be a trap, with multiple Immobilizer 418 cruisers and enemy reinforcements arriving soon after the battle had been joined. To make matters worse the Endurance's commander, Admiral Areta Bell, refused to launch her E-Wing fighters until they were given a true opening, which resulted in their destruction while the ship was blown apart under a heavy assault. Realising that the battle was a loss, Essik directed the Nomad to assist Rogue Squadron with breaking through the enemy blockade and overwhelming the Immobilizers, allowing them to eventually escape. This would be the first of several painful losses during this period, with the Battle of Barison following it later that year, allowing the Imperials to regain a foothold within their territory. It would take both the Battle of Nam Chorios and a series of successes which led to the Battle of Celanon to turn the tide back in their favor. Essik was personally present for the latter conflict and assisted with the destruction of the Star Dreadnought Reaper in the closing hours of the battle. He was able to flank the huge vessel and directly attack its main engines. The New Republic did little to regain its lost territories, yet it did blunt the Imperial Remnant's advance and triggered an undeclared truce between the powers for the next four years.
Essik himself was allowed to participate in the Program following the Senate greenlighting the ambitious effort. Although he was neither an engineer or designer, his experience was seen as a major asset. He was one of several officers who offered feedback on key warship designs and even pushed for the inclusion of carrier classes among then. These ships had fallen out of favour thanks to the CIS' limited successes during the Clone Wars, but he argued that the Republic's vastly superior quality of pilots and ships would be enough to overcome these problems. Essik would remain in these roles even following Daala's unification of the warlords into the Imperial Remnant, and several victories against the New Republic. In his mind, he had to be certain that the government would not be dependant on ageing soldiers such as himself, and that the next generation could be relied upon to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. It would eventually take Gilad Pellaeon's promotion to Fleet Admiral and the Orinda campaign for Essik to return to active duty. Pellaeon's skills as a Commander backed by three previously unknown Super Star Destroyers were simply too great a threat for anyone to ignore, as were his successes along the Republic's border worlds.
Many of the major threats which followed in this period consisted of terrorist groups or extremists, such as the Empire Reborn and the Disciples of Ragnos. Skirmishes would continue for some time, but there were no major battles of note between the two powers and it allowed for a time of peace. Essik once more returned to Coruscant, largely to assist with the mass production and testing of new ship designs. The Endurance's loss had been attributed to a poor decision under Admiral Bell who, despite her fine record and long service, had been pushed into a scenario where there was little chance of a true victory. As such, it did little to hinder the upgrades to the New Republic Navy. This proved to be a fortunate turn of affairs, as a new crisis emerged in the form of an unknown threat.
Every government eventually faced its rebellions, and the New Republic was no exception. While its rule had been a just one and the ideals of its founders had earned it a strong group of supporters, there were those who would seek it deposed for their own ends. The first among these new threats emerged in 16 ABY, shortly after an astounding discovery had been made by scavenger groups. The wreck of an Imperial vessel held an intact data core listing a full Order of Battle for the Empire prior to the Battle of Endor, the contents of which highlighted a number of missing vessels. Chief among these was the mysterious Black Fleet, a massive force of Star Destroyers which had been constructed and yet has never been used in any battle. While a few groups put this down to possible destruction in the wake of so many conflicts, the Fifth Fleet was dispatched to chart a number of territories the New Republic was unfamiliar with - Largely areas where it was thought the illusive fleet might be. At the same time, a new power of isolationists made contact with the New Republic, calling themselves the Duskhan League. Dominated by the Yevetha species, they initially made overtures of peace, pushing to forge an alliance against the major Imperial strongholds along the Core.
The true mission of the Yevetha was eventually revealed to be an effort to judge the New Republic's capabilities. The species was ruthless, hateful, and regarded all other life as little more than vermin. With an uncanny ability to process new information and withstand far more punishment than the average human, to them the New Republic was seen as little more than an unworthy power. The Fifth Fleet was wiped out by the Yevetha forces when it approached their territories, and the act was used to accuse Chief of State Leia Organa Solo of warmongering. Weary of the continual wars and with a multitude of powers vying for control, the Republic's senate fractured and underwent turmoil as arguments and powerplays broke out among various groups. This worked to the Yevethans' advantage, and while the Republic's attention was focused inward they initiated a massive expansion into new territories. In what would become known as the Yevethan Purge, they began wiping all other life from the Koornacht Cluster, using the missing Black Fleet as the basis of their power. The fleet had apparently been stationed and constructed over their world, only for the Yevethans to take control of it following the Emperor's fall.
While the Yevethans attempted to spin the act into one of self-defence, the New Republic prepared itself for war and deployed a full fleet to the colony world of Doornik-319 just beyond the League's new borders. Commanding one of the new Republic-class Star Destroyers, the Reptavian, Essik assisted in attempting to form a blockade about the League to halt its advance. The act proved to be a disaster when the League revealed that it had access to their communications systems, and began broadcasting the pleas of captured prisoners within the holds of ships to the enemy vessels. It was enough to give many crews pause and the blockade failed, forcing the Republic fleet into retreat. Matters were only made worse when it was revealed that a Super Star Destroyer was among the captured ships, and Commodore Han Solo was captured performing a deep range reconnaissance mission to confirm this information. Several senators pushed for a Vote of No Confidence against the Chief of State, even as scouts uncovered vital information relating to the enemy war effort. Hidden by the dense start clusters nearby, the system of ILC-905 was being used by the League as a staging area and jump point for new attacks. In a brief but bitter fight, the patrol group of Commodore Brand engaged and destroyed the shipyard along with multiple thrustships. This both gave the Republic a morale-boosting victory it desperately needed and information on how to combat Yevethan designs.
Open war was declared soon after the skirmish, and Essik was dispatched once again as part of a larger group to engage the enemy fleets. With many of his own fighters seconded to the depleted squadrons of other vessels and reinforcements still hours away, Essik opted to accept a multitude of mercenaries into his service. Among these was a mysterious figure named Ka Tarvitz. As the two fleets engaged one another in the Battle of N'zoth, Essik used his ship in a flanking manoeuvre during the opening volleys. Keeping his distance from the enemy Thrustships which moved to attack him, Essik used his vessels' powerful forward guns to disable and slow approaching ships, leaving them open to strafing runs by allied squadrons. Nevertheless, the Reptavian was struck multiple times as more vessels moved to engage it, even using their fighters to initiate kamikaze runs on Essik's group. The Rear Admiral was able to engage and destroy ship after ship even as they closed in, but sheer attrition was rapidly taking its toll on his forces. The tide only turned when a group of Imperial prisoners used override codes to retake the Black Fleet and jump away from the battle, removing the backbone of the League's navy. Hell-bent on ensuring that the New Republic's victory would be as bitter as any defeat, the Yevethans began using suicide attacks in an attempt to inflict mutual annihilation on their enemies. The Republic won the day, but it was only with a massive loss of life.
During the final minutes of the battle, the mercenary Tarvitz was driven to use his previously hidden Force powers to save a crewman's life from falling debris. Although most missed this spectacle in the heat of the conflict, Essik witnessed it on the security feed broadcast to the bridge. Tarvitz proved to be unwilling to divulge any further information on the subject, only clarifying that he was neither a Jedi nor Sith to the confused Rear Admiral. Essik was eventually swayed into omitting any details of Tarvitz's presence from his final reports and even proved to be willing to pass on details of the Jedi Order when Tarvitz spoke of them. Tarvitz confirmed that there was little he could divulge on any matter for the moment, but thanked Essik nevertheless.
When the following Almanian Uprising further exploited the more regimented thinking of the New Republic navy and the fleet's growing reliance on droids, Essik began taking notes of possible failings under the new structure. While he played no part in the conflict itself, its impact was undeniable and the reports of General Antilles following the Battle of Almania confirmed that the Republic had lost the experienced edge the Rebellion had always taken for granted. The fact that Kueller, the uprising's leader, had threatened to defeat the Republic with little more than a paper tiger of a fleet, made it clear that change was needed. He was almost ready to return to the Chandrilan Academy and put new regimens into practice when the Empire initiated another series of attacks against the Republic. With much of the Black Fleet having reinforced their failing numbers, and Admiral Natasi Daala returning from the Deep Core with the so-called replacement warlords at her command, they were in a far stronger position than they had been in years. As such, when an overture of peace was mistaken as a prelude to invasion, the Empire opted to launch another major offensive against their old enemy.
For all the years of conflict, for all the battles, strife and worlds annihilated, the Empire's final conflict was barely worthy of being remarked on. Rather than any true pitched conflict worthy of a saga, the entire campaign was an unmitigated disaster for the Imperial forces. Daala's new fleets struck out of the Deep Core, hoping to force the New Republic to split their forces and wage a battle on two fronts. Yet the tenuous authority she held over the warlords gave way as each allowed greed to govern their efforts and they quickly overextended their reach. They were counted by the Forth fleet under bel Iblis during the Battle of Columus which initiated a series of perimeter campaigns and counterstrikes against each individual battlegroup. They were rapidly pushed back, eventually drawing Daala herself into a direct engagement before being quickly overwhelmed. Daala herself was almost captured, only forher to escape in a blind jump and leaving her troops to die.
Comparatively, the ships under the command of Pellaeon accomplished a series of victories against previous Imperial targets. After two failed efforts he was able to invade and conquer Adumar, before doing the same to Taris and Champala in attacks across the Hydian Way. Pellaeon had thrown every ship the Imperials had left to this engagement, and through this he was able to push all the way to the Core Worlds. Yet, with Daala's failure, the New Republic was free to send the bulk of their own Defense Force to counter them. Essik was among those answering and took command of the Reptavian once again at the Second Battle of Champala. Essik's assigned group spearheaded a surprise attack on the massed Imperial fleet as it entered engagement range of the combined groups of Ackbar and Bel Iblis, forcing them to split their fire between major targets. Surrounded and at risk of being overwhelmed, Pellaeon attempted to withdraw only for a multitude of his ships to be caught in the gravity well projectors of New Republic ships and destroyed.Pellaeon made his stand at Anx Minor. The battle was furious as the Imperials utilized the heavy guns of their larger warships to bombard the New Republic fleets as they came within range, and bogged down their snubfighter squadrons with wave upon wave of TIE fighters. Essik's own ship was crippled partway through the conflict, as a torpedo barrage struck the main engineering deck and crippled its manoeuvring capability. Unable to directly bring all of his cannons to bear against effective targets he resorted to hitting multiple smaller escort ships, thus opening the way for allied vessels to target main warships. Drawing as much fire as he could from the nearby enemy capital ships, the Reptavian successfully destroyed three enemy Nebulon-B frigates and gave the rest of its battlegroup time to punch through the Imperial battle lines on their right flank.
For a time it seemed as if both sides would be trapped in a bloody stalemate with neither able to gain the upper hand, before Ackbar was able to exploit a flaw in the Rakehell's design. Concentrating fire on its main engine assembly, the ship was torn apart in a vast anti-matter explosion which inflicted heavy damage to all surrounding vessels, including the Megador. With the core of his main force wiped out, Pellaeon withdrew once more back into Imperial space with what remained of his ships and began fortifying them about the planet Bastion.
This was to be the last major engagement against the Imperials Essik was to participate in. Aside from playing a minor role as part of Ackbar's reinforcements during the final minutes of the Starbuster Plot, and remaining on alert during the Caamas Document Crisis two years later, he played no part in any other battle against the Empire. The later threats of the Second Imperium and Diversity Alliance were settled with far less fanfare and required military might. With a peace treaty signed with the Imperial Remnant, no further indications of rebellions and the last of Palpatine's loyal followers finally put to the sword, Essik believed that this was the end. He finally returned to Chandrila ready to retire at long last.
In 23 ABY, Essik resigned from his post and used it to purchase a small apartment in Hanna City. While he busied himself mostly writing down his exploits for personal records, he mainly served as a contact to Tarvitz, offering information on the Jedi when asked and updating him on galactic affairs. He had little else to do now, and in stepping aside to allow the younger generation to take their place in history, he was just glad to have something to occupy his time. He was still suspicious of Tarvitz for quite some time, but he eventually earned enough trust to learn that his guest was a Jensaarai - a member of a minor Force sect which had escaped Palpatine's purge - and was attempting to rebuild their knowledge of the old Order. Essik's personal experiences were undeniably limited, but he did all that he could to answer the man's questions and correct him on any seemingly inaccurate information.
On a few rare occasions Essik returned to the academy on Chandrila to serve as a supplementary instructor or offer feedback on future plans, but for the most part he maintained little contact with the military until early 25 ABY. For the first several years it seemed as if they were entering a new age of peace, but storm clouds were gathering over the New Republic and it was clear that the fleets would need skilled officers once more. At the request of Admiral Traest Kre'fey, Essik took command of the Reptavian once more and was told to prepare for war. One not against the Imperial Remnant or any other power they were familiar, but a vast battlefleet of warships from beyond the galactic rim.
A War to End All Wars
Despite Kre'fey's actions, Essik found that he was given little in the way of true information at first. The few reports that he was given access to specified that the enemy they faced was a previously unknown foreign power. Combat simulations depicted them as having an overwhelming advantage in numbers, but anything further was unavailable to him. There was no point of origin for the species, no psychological profile on its leaders, nor even a list of possible territories to strike in order to blunt their advance. It seemed he was expected to fight ghosts, and that was on the few occasions New Republic intelligence operatives would even admit to their existence. It seemed that most figures of substantial influence within the Senate wished to downplay their possible threat or even refused to acknowledge them entirely. Eventually, Essik was able to at least prize a name from a few figures he remained on positive terms with: The Yuuzhan Vong.
With little else to go on, Essik was tasked with taking a small flotilla to patrol the far end of the Myto's Arrow trade route, both to combat possible pirate attacks and keep watch for actions by the invading force. For the first two weeks, he saw no activity, not even a scouting effort by this elusive new enemy until he received a message from Admiral Bylsma ordering all ships to converge on the Shramar system. Bylsma cited the willing blindness of the New Republic's current Chief of State, Borsk Fey'lya, and his unwillingness to directly protect the peoples of the Outer Rim. Essik agreed to this if only to gain further information on the events playing out. Bylsma was a leader unfamiliar to him, and the fact that he spoke out against those Essik was sworn to serve immediately made Essik suspicious of his intentions. The fact that he was encouraging all ships to break with the chain of command and gather above a world within the Imperial Remnant hardly helped. Nevertheless, he cited the presence of Vong ships within the system, and that offered an opportunity to gain some much-needed information on the capabilities of these foes.Battle of Shramar, taking the Reptavian into a defensive position over the evacuating forces. Meeting the Vong forces in battle, Essik mistook them as vast asteroid formations at first before realizing that they were bio-organically engineered creations. Favouring close-range assaults, these ships could withstand a staggering amount of punishment and utilized technologies wholly unlike their own. Utilising miniature black holes in place of shields and powerful plasma-based weaponry, the Vong were natural brawlers which excelled in broadside engagements. Essik's ship was only saved thanks to its heavily reinforced armour plating as is shields were quickly stripped away during the engagement, and he soon found that utilizing strike craft in close range attack runs against them was both a costly and futile venture.
Essik managed to initiate a series of delaying tactics, stalling their advance until a captured slave ship was used to ferry those trapped on the surface into orbit and allowed them to withdraw. As the ships regrouped on the fringes of Wild Space, the leaders of each major faction formed the Outer Rim Alliance, seeking to protect and defend other planets beyond the New Republic's borders. During this Queen Nina Galfridian, leader of the Artorias refugees, revealed herself to be a Vong defector who opposed her people's will. This triggered a split among the factions there, and some immediately swore off any participation in future actions with the group. Ironically, this had the opposite effect on Essik, as it encouraged him to remain a part of the Alliance for as long as was needed. The battle had proven that conventional tactics would not be effective against this invading force, and Galfridian was a unique asset whose inside knowledge of the Vong could offset their lack of viable intel. While he made it clear that he would be passing on their movements and any useful data to New Republic commanders, he would remain with the Alliance for as long as he possibly could.
Over the next two years Essik fought under the Alliance's banner, falling back on hit-and-fade tactics in an attempt to keep the Vong off balance. His capacity to make full use of practically anything on hand served the group well, but they lacked many of the weaknesses in the Empire that he had taken for granted. Glory hungry generals could be tricked but lacked the typical capacity for infighting he would have expected, and their biotechnology proved to be far more adaptable than he would have predicted. Ships healed from battles at an astounding speed, while the telepathic link forged between warriors thanks to Yammosk controllers meant that they could answer threats far more effectively than typical naval crews. Essik was given the unenviable task to developing tactics to counter their influences, while also assisting in organizing the varied groups into a more cohesive fighting force. The information Galfridian offered him was often sparse, and occasionally vague when it came to specific weaknesses, but she proved to be invaluable in more than one battle. Essik continually relayed any possible breakthroughs back to the New Republic, but he never learned how much if any of it was used by them.Ithor and devastating losses incurred at Fondor, the New Republic seemed to be retreating on all fronts. Half of the Senate seemed to downplay the threat posed by the Vong, and those few who did recognize it were more concerned with the fate of their worlds over the greater galaxy. Worse still, the leaders of the Republic's Defense Force sought only for a single decisive victory over their enemy. Every time the Vong advanced, the New Republic would conserve and consolidate its forces in the hopes of engaging a foe exhausted from their relentless advance. The flaws to such a plan were obvious to Essik, as in doing so the Republic was sacrificing every advantage which had allowed the Rebellion to overcome the Empire. There were no concentrated raids against facilities, no assaults against supply lines, no feints to draw off enemy units into other sectors. Only a few independent forces, the Alliance among them, were poised to take advantage of such openings and their impact had been minimal at best. Worse still was that the Jedi, the New Republic's greatest asset in the conflict, were being all but openly hunted down by the very galaxy they were fighting to defend.
Perhaps the only debatably positive news was that, in their desire to eventually reach Coruscant, many secondary powers had been ignored. Through this, the Alliance was able to find safe harbour in the likes of the CSA, Hapes Consortium and even the Imperial Remnant. This gave them locations needed to rearm, repair their vessels, and to find replacements for the casualties they had taken. In order to keep them in fighting condition, Essik called upon a number of the contacts who had previously assisted them against the Black Fleet, with Tarvitz among them. One of the few truly effective soldiers who had fought the Vong on even footing had been the Jedi, and Essik hoped that having a Force user with their fleet might go some way to evening the odds against their more talented warriors. He was unable to utilize Tarvitz to single out infiltrators or perform covert strikes as the Jedi had, and yet the presence of anyone carrying a lightsaber was enough to boost morale. A further asset came in the form of several disassembly yards which had been overlooked by the Vong. The Alliance stumbled upon them by sheer fortune rather than planning, but many retained material and Clone Wars era ships to augment their fleet, with droid starfighters and CIS light cruisers among them. These proved to be effective as both self-guided kamikaze attackers and decoys to draw the technophobic Vong away from their more valuable organic pilots.
Realising that the Vong themselves often fell into a similar pattern of direct charges, relying on Yammosks to permit their soldiers a tactical edge, Essik continually reworked his tactics to turn his enemy's strengths against them. Tracking the movement of smaller attack groups, Essik would shadow them until they descended into low orbit to sack a world. Then, using several of the droid ships they had managed to refit for combat, he would have them move in and withdraw, thus using the Vong's hatred to ensure that they would follow. The moment that they exited the planet's gravity well, the remainder of Essik's force would jump in from hyperspace, bombarding them at long range and crippling the fleet before they could enter a true combat formation. Essik used variations time and time again, often with homing beacons allowing his fleet an unparalleled level of precision when making its jump. It eventually proved to be so effective that Essik developed a version he nicknamed The Hunter's Net, where ships would jump in from multiple vectors and surround the enemy fleet in a half-sphere and prevent their defences from blocking all but a single angle of attack. This was typically executed while a second group targeted and destroyed the Yammosk in question, destroying their capacity to coordinate attacks and never with larger attack groups. There was always far too much of a chance that a keener strategist would exploit one of several weaknesses in its use.
Essik finally parted ways with the Alliance once word reached him of the massed engagement in the Black Bantha Nebula. The New Republic had deployed a massed group of nine hundred vessels, scoring a seemingly significant victory against a Vong fleet of comparable size. More importantly, a Jedi group had even succeeded in capturing a Yammosk, allowing them to research a countermeasure to their enemy's greatest asset. With much of the fighting now concentrated on the Core worlds, Essik made it clear to the other leaders of the Alliance that his oath of service bound him to return and assist the Republic with the conflict. He knew that his actions, and the more liberal interpretations of his orders in order to remain with the Alliance, would likely see him court-martialed but he had still given his word. Taking the Reptavian and the few remaining ships of his battlegroup which had survived the past two years of combat, he raced for Coruscant with all haste. He expected to find a massed group of New Republic ships ready for war. Instead, he was greeted by the sight of a planet under siege. The Battle of the Black Bantha had been a ruse, and now the heart of the Republic was under attack by tens of thousands of warships.
To Essik this sight was akin to a recurring nightmare. He had seen Coruscant fall twice before to the Empire, first by infiltration and then by strength of arms. Neither compared to this conflict and, even with over half of the New Republic Defense Fleet engaging it on multiple fronts, the Vong armada was simply too large to overcome. They had mimicked the League's tactic of using refugee filled vessels as shields to taking avoid damage, and as they plunged through the atmosphere the invaders began to level everything. Hovering platforms plummeted from the air, kilometre tall buildings were ripped in half by titanic monsters and the skies burned orange with the sheer carnage at work. With no alternative, Essik's ships followed one of the planetary fleet groups as they led a fighting retreat back to Borleias. While confirmation of it would not reach him until weeks later, Essik knew that this was effectively the end of the New Republic.Antilles' authority in the weeks that followed, Essik did little more than follow orders and relay commands from above. For so many decades, the New Republic's foundation and then securing its future had been his only goal. Bound entirely by his sense of duty to it, the government's annihilation had all but broken him and there was little more than a deeply ingrained sense to obey his superiors which kept him active. Even the heavy losses inflicted as they pulled back from the world barely seemed to register with him. A number of voices suggested his removal on seeing this weakness, as even crewmen who had supported his actions with the Outer Rim Alliance could see that the sheer resolve which had kept him fighting for so many decades was gone. He was seconded to defensive duties over Mon Calamari as the fleets were gathered and reorganised, but it would take both news of the Victory at Ebaq and the formation of the Galactic Alliance for him to regain his previously indomitable resolve. Nevertheless, he still found himself held in reserve, and would only face the Vong again during the Defense of Mon Calamari.
Essik's contributions in the final days of the war proved to be relatively minor. While he participated in the remaining three battles which led to the Recapture of Coruscant, he largely deferred to the decisions of his superiors, and their battle plans. Save for downing a score of Vong capital vessels through his precision tactics and the skill of his crew, and a later role in hunting down rogue elements who refused to surrender, his role in the conflict ended without fanfare. Yet despite both this and his advancing age, he opted to remain active as part of the Galactic Alliance's naval forces. Finding satisfaction in his service while others retired and passed on the baton, he remained in order to see what the dawn of the next age would bring.
Many of Essik's actions were typically focused toward the Outer Rim, as he assisted the Outer Rim Alliance with retaking their planets and recolonization projects. With the galaxy in a state of renewal and recovery, many of his missions typically amounted to relief efforts and anti-piracy operations against opportunists. Essik considered it a welcome change from the relentless battles against warmongers, and did all that he could to ensure planets that the Galactic Alliance would not repeat the New Republic's mistakes. This may in part explain why there are few records of his involvement in the Swarm War and Second Galactic Civil War, or his operations in the ten years between the two conflicts. A more likely reason is thanks to the purges which followed.
The Death of Hope (30 ABY - 35 ABY)
Murdering the Past
Save for the conflict between Corellia and the Galactic Alliance, for the first time in living memory the galaxy was granted a period of true peace. Wars would continue between smaller factions, and crises would rock the foundations of the new regime more than once, but never to the degree as before. Planets were not sundered by vast superweapons, nor were vast legions of fanatics invading worlds and seeking to enslave their populations. Through this, figures were able to come into power who had been shielded from the experiences of past decades and missed the developments made in that time. They had seen nothing of the New Republic's struggles nor the efforts made to take back all that had been lost to the Empire, and many had been raised only on rose-tinted tales of the Rebellion's war against Palpatine's Empire. As a result of this, as more and more of those who remembered the prior conflicts moved on, those who took their place in positions of power viewed the galaxy with suspicion. Their narrow definition of reality did not fit with all that came before them, and as such, they fought to correct the galaxy's supposed error.
By this point, Essik had largely isolated himself from galactic affairs and wished to merely focus on his duties. As such, he was unaware of many changes taking place within the Triumvirate until word reached him of a near-unanimous vote to reform the New Republic, doing away with the Alliance's changes. Essik himself was baffled at this, but as the past Republic had stood for ten thousand years on the same basic systems, he did not openly voice his opinions against the decision. Any opportunity to redeem the name of the government he served would be a welcome one, and yet as he took note of this stranger news began to arrive. For seemingly no reason, the galactic calendar was to be reset from 44 ABY to 30 ABY, reversing and restarting all over again. The supposed reason was to correct an error, bringing the timeline to a status better recognized by the wider masses and their histories. With the events of the past two wars, it would not have been surprising to think this some effort to correct a widescale administrative error caused by the last two major conflicts. Yet, as he returned to Coruscant, Essik found that far more than the date alone had been reset. Entire events, eras, and battles were being purged from galactic databases, with datapads containing such information being put to the torch en mass. Wars, developments, revolutions, even planets, and whole sentient species were destroyed in concentrated efforts.
Essik cited confusion at this act more than once, but was only greeted with nebulous messages of "Let the past die, kill it if you have to" and "Unlearn all that you have learned". More than once he was openly threatened with violence when he attempted to continue his investigation, and on one occasion due to being part of a sub-species which officially no longer existed. Worse still was that many allies he would have previously turned to had abruptly disappeared, not merely purged from records but quietly erased from existence. He attempted to track down Kre'fey, and even members of the older guard such as Bel Iblis and even Drayson. Yet, for all intents and purposes, the New Republic itself had deemed them unpersons and quietly removed them. Even those who remained were notably changed. The histories of major figures who had fought for the Rebellion were radically altered, with whole decades of service omitted and then rewritten. In their efforts to supposedly correct the galaxy, those in power had opted to re-write its entire history. Nostalgia for the Galactic Civil War dominated this fabrication of past events, altering it until it was the only defining conflict of the Republic's history. While it was offered a few brief mentions, the Clone Wars itself was regulated to being a mere prelude and little to nothing of the Old Republic was preserved. The government's thousand-year history, its battles, revolutions, and victories were snuffed out in a moment, until it was a mere footnote barely worthy of mention. Many of those who opposed this were dismissed as fools too mired in the past or were quietly taken away, never to be seen from again. For a time Essik hoped that this would be it, and that in time preserved records might permit them to restore all that had been lost in this act of insanity. Sadly, it was not to be so.
As the New Republic's sweeping alterations were passed through the Senate one after another, they began to issue radical alterations to the very structure of power. History, it seemed, was not merely being altered to suit a limited worldview but to support previously unpopular acts, especially in regards to their military. In one night almost the entire Defense Force was scrapped, selling off its ships to the private fleets of the worlds that held sway in the Senate, typically focusing on the most advanced of their kind. When others objected, not only were they removed but history was re-written to show that the late Mon Mothma had pushed for a near-universal demilitarization, and attempted to claim that it had been in effect for decades. When the New Republic found itself stuck with failed designs such as the Starhawk and severely undergunned creations such as the MC85 Star Cruiser, victories were invented which grossly exaggerated their capabilities to ludicrous degrees. The former especially was all but credited as defeating the Empire in a poorly penned account of something called the Battle of Jakku. It was a story of logical errors and extremely questionable tactics over a world which until that day had never existed, treating the Empire as if it had been defeated in a single battle, not decades of bloodshed and war. Even as every ship constructed under the New Class Modernization Program was sold off, and the program itself erased from history, what had once been a strong military had been effectively gutted in one night.
Knowing that this would get him nowhere, Essik eventually opted to return to Chandrila and its military academy. Even if he could not improve the New Republic through words, his hope was that he could at least ensure that those who crewed its ships were still talented and capable individuals. In training new recruits he maintained the same rigorous, diligent and incorruptible attitude which had served in well in the past. Yet this was a new age, and these qualities were deemed as problematic. The military academy itself was no longer there to effectively train soldiers. Instead, it now served as little more than a means to allow the sons and daughters of senators to jump up the ranks quickly or push favoured individuals into the most desirable positions. Even were this not the case, the same historical revisionism worked against him once again. Cadets had been taught only to know of the Battle of Yavin IV, the Escape from Hoth and the Battle of Endor as events worthy of memory, until those in power invented some new addition to their new history. Many seemed incapable of comprehending three-dimensional combat when engaging other ships, and any time he attempted to pass on a tactic used in his battles, it was laughed off as a simple work of fiction. As a result of this, Essik himself was granted only a short stay, and was eventually removed for attempting to teach students about the strategies used in the Thrawn Campaign. Because, as with most things, that conflict had been deemed unworthy of existing along with any knowledge others might benefit from it. Essik would later learn that New Republic archivists were attempting to claim that Thrawn had simply disappeared during the early years of the Galactic Civil War, carried away by space whales. Essik never did find out if that was a joke or not.
Old Mistakes, New Faces
As the years stretched on, Essik did all he could to try and hold the New Republic together. Time and time again he attempted to change things for the better, even as the Senate slowly slit its own throat. Propagandists began demonizing most other powers and gradually isolating itself. With its role in assisting the end of the Vong threat gone, Imperial Remnant was treated by Republican propagandists as the Republic's great enemy, a singularly repulsive entity which all but openly worshipped Palpatine in its streets, and was ever ready to support acts of terrorism. Others, previously erased from all records, were added back to star charts but were treated as little more than a minor group unworthy of mention and holding little relevance in galactic affairs. Those who did attempt to correct this were once again quietly removed, and the few too valuable or well protected to erase were subjected to smear campaigns. Deemed overgrown children, they were depicted as simply opposing the new rule out of humanocentrism, misogyny or, most ironically, a view entirely detached from reality. Loyalty to the regime was decreed as paramount, and even questioning a decree from the Senate was viewed as sedition. Even the most insane actions, such as the economically catastrophic act of changing the New Republic's capital world on a year by year basis were not to be opposed in any way. As it continued to try and support itself by inventing or forging outside enemies, it even turned on the Jedi Order, succeeding in forcing the group to sever ties with the Republic entirely. They were soon written off as extinct as a result, creating a new villain by adapting elements of various figures the New Republic had opposed over the decades by the name of Kylo Ren.
As the world about them continued to regress back to eras past, Essik fought to prevent skirmishes between New Republic units under his command and Imperial forces. As one had been taught only to view them as tyrants worthy of slaughter while the other had been given every excuse to seek open war, it took every ounce of skill he had as a diplomat to avoid battles. Yet, it was only a matter of time before one went too far. Following an alleged exchange of fire between two patrol groups, a large number of Imperial naval commanders and Stormtrooper brigades broke away from the Remnant, declaring themselves to be the First Order. The group was ill-equipped for isolated operations, and were openly decried by the Council of Moffs even as they announced themselves, but this was what the New Republic had desired all along. It continually portrayed the First Order as a titanic power, a new Empire capable of seizing the galaxy for themselves and enemies of freedom. Using fear of them to solidify its hold of various member worlds, the Senate began using them as a weapon of propaganda to keep civilians in line. Groups it was forced to eventually recognize such as the Corporate Sector Authority were treated as thugs supplying the First Order with finances and armaments, while companies which had once supported the Empire such as Kuat Drive Yards were accused of secretly supplying them with new warships. Eventually, matters became so bad that Essik suspected that many groups had begun to do just this, perhaps out of spite or perhaps out of the simple desire to see a saner group in power. Out of little more than base nostalgia, the New Republic had weakened itself to the point of collapse and forged a new foe possibly capable of doing just that.
On several occasions, Essik petitioned his superiors to send a task force to hunt down and end the First Order's threat. He was convinced that a single decisive strike could end the conflict before it began, or perhaps even end this without bloodshed, but he was instead stonewalled at every turn. The New Republic needed its villain, and it couldn't allow someone to possibly ruin that dynamic. Yet, Essik's actions were noticed. Upon returning to his home one day, he found a message waiting for him stating that other groups believed that he was right. It outlined that the First Order was a threat and it needed to be opposed by any means. If he sought to accomplish that, then he was encouraged to meet with a contact on the outskirts of Hanna City.
While naturally suspicious, Essik felt he had few other choices and that any ally who opposed the Senate's decrees was worth at least listening to. Hoping for the best and expecting the worst, he arrived at the meeting point late at night and was greeted by a ghost. A Mon Calamari stepped out of the shadows dressed in a uniform he did not recognise, claiming to be Admiral Ackbar and that he needed Essik's help. Essik, for his part, almost ended the conversation there and then. He had seen Admiral Ackbar's corpse, watched news of his death and even served under him during two major engagements. Whoever this was, their features had been modified to resemble the dead man, but he was certainly not him. "Ackbar" nevertheless continued that elements of the New Republic opposed the Senate, and that they were completely out of control. Blind to the threat they posed, a number of older officers had opted to move against them. Most were leaders who had fought during the Rebellion or others who had claimed their names, and cited that they needed to split from the New Republic in order to save it.
Essik's disgust mounted with every passing word as he outlined the role of this Resistance, before finally snapping. The normally cordial Gand raged against this new arrival, citing again and again how they had failed in their duties. So many of those involved were ones who could have helped keep the New Republic in line, to offset the blindness of this new generation and allowed them to truly build toward something new. Instead, they had resorted to the easiest and least effective option of mimicking the Rebellion in a new age. He accused them of taking the easiest option, the simplest method, regardless of the damage it would inflict and failed to even consider what better alternatives that there might have been. Their path was one without a future, bound to repeating history over and over again with no hope to break from it. The Mon Calamari attempted to convince them that their way was right, simply ignoring most of the points brought up against him, but Essik turned and left, unwilling to waste another minute on those as blind as the Senate.
The Second Empire
For the next several years, Essik continued, fighting to somehow restore the New Republic any way he could. The cause was a lost one, and he ultimately knew it. Yet, what else was there to do? He had spent decades in service to the Republic in one form or another and to have those years simply erased out of a shortsighted need for control galled him. It was ultimately better to fight against such a thing rather than surrender to it. Yet, it was not to be his last campaign. Instead, suddenly and terribly, the New Republic was struck by a weapon of unimagined power, lancing out across countless light years and erasing its capital system in the blink of an eye. Fuelled by those the New Republic had shunned but failed to declaw, the First Order had constructed a vast superweapon mimicking the capabilities of the Death Star. Within hours, First Order ships were racing across space, attacking key Republic installations and overwhelming its already weakened military. Promoted out of loyalty to the Senate's doctrines over skill, many Republic military leaders were unable to effectively respond to this threat, often simply retreating time and time again. In one case at Thyferra, a fleet Admiral refused to accept that First Order ships were approaching them on attack vectors until they had entered orbit. Then, as they had begun to land troops, he had destroyed his own ships rather than allow them to possibly fall into enemy hands.
Knowing that the First Order was likely calling for reinforcements to take the position, Essik withdrew so would not be caught in an ambush. Yet, as he readied to jump to hyperspace, long-range sensors caught sight of another enemy group of five enemy transports heading for the opposite jump point. Essik's vessels did not even consider sparing them, unleashing salvo after salvo into the squadron before they could react. Only one managed to escape the battle, heavily damaged and barely operational. For the next eighteen hours, Essik repeated the action over and over again, targeting and destroying groups as they tried to sack Republic worlds. While they had firepower on their side, Essik soon realized that the First Order had done little more than mimic the Empire's war machine. They were able to field vast groups of new Star Destroyers, but without frigates or true escort vessels, they were vulnerable to both high-speed bombing raids and smaller ships which could remain outside of their firing arcs. Their tactics were the same, emphasizing a single rushing attack against a focused target and doing little to guard themselves against strikes from other vectors. All that they had was power, and when fielded against someone who had fought the true Galactic Empire at its zenith, that made them easy prey for Essik.
As a number of First Order commanders took notice of his efforts and deployed their ships against him, Essik was able to liberate several Majestic-class heavy cruisers and Nebula-class Star Destroyers from where they had been mothballed. With these, he was able to launch strikes against First Order installations which were being rapidly established in their new territories, demolishing orbital command posts even as they were brought online. This was finally too much for the First Order to ignore, and Essik soon found himself pursued by a force of eighty enemy Star Destroyers. Outnumbered almost two to one, Essik did all he could to stall them as he desperately considered his options. The two fleets chased one another across the hyperspace lanes, playing cat and mouse as Essik examined every star chart he had before finally deciding on an action. He ordered them to set course for Onderon to make a stand there. Arriving with hours to spare, Essik arrayed his ships in orbit of the planet, facing outward, carefully arranging each of them and counting the hours. Caught within the planet's gravity well, they were not far enough to race for hyperspace if needed and the fleet would be easily trapped if caught there. That was exactly what Essik needed the First Order to think.
As the enemy armada closed on them, he ordered his ships to begin a fighting retreat back across the fringes of its atmosphere and to keep their fighters docked within their hangers. For half of an hour, they weathered multiple attacks, drawing the Star Destroyers in and relying on nothing but armour plating and anti-fighter guns to repel swarms of TIE variants. The second wave of ships Essik held in reserve jumped out of hyperspace, falling toward the back of the massed group, targeting its lead most ships and forcing them to turn against them. The First Order fleet began to break up, turning in against itself as some ships tried to counter the new arrivals while others pressed ahead. It was then, at this moment, that Dxun began to pass over the First Order fleet. At the height of each summer on Onderon, the moon passed close enough for the planets to share an atmosphere, and Essik had so very carefully drawn the enemy battlegroup into exactly where he needed them to be. For the next four hours, TIES were ripped apart as they were caught in the gravitational flux of the two worlds, smashed against one another or dragged into uncontrolled reentries. Star Destroyer slammed into Star Destroyer as the First Order crews attempted to maintain control of their ships, while the Republic fleet crippled and finished off key targets from a safe range. By the time the enemy fleet escaped the effect, Essik's group was long gone. He had lost five ships to enemy attacks, but the conflict had cost the First Order a full thirty-seven Star Destroyers with many others being damaged beyond repair.
Even after he had achieved the impossible, even after he had saved so many of their lives, none objected to the Senator's commands. Essik was escorted to a single escape pod and fired toward Onderon. Landing on the outskirts of the capital city, Iziz, he looked up in time to see his fleet departing under its new leadership. The New Republic he had given everything to defend had been slaughtered out of greed, and then had abandoned him without a second thought. Essik awaited on Onderon for further news of the galaxy for a year following the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order, gradually earning his way off planet.
The White Lotus Resistance (36-37 ABY)
With nothing left to him, Essik prepared to return to Gand. He knew he would be a stranger there, likely ostracised for his lack of contact, but he had no other home. Any former New Republic world would likely be soon subjected to First Order attacks, or their leaders would exile him the moment he was found. Yet, as he prepared to make the journey, he was given an unexpected message by Tarvitz. The younger man had learned of Essik's fate, and after confirming that he wished to remain in service, offered him a position of service within Clan Odan-Urr. Essik knew nothing of the Brotherhood he spoke of, nor the leaders involved. Yet upon learning that it would be a chance to follow the Jedi into battle once again, and of the foe they faced, Essik agreed, hoping to find leaders worthy of his loyalty at last.Nar Shaddaa as a rendezvous point, Essik was able to bribe and convince a small group of thugs to serve as a personal bodyguard until Tarvitz arrived. Watching and waiting for the Jensaarai, Essik caught sight of a number of mysterious figures departing quickly for the undercity. Although the moon was a haven to all those who did not wish to be found, they were clearly not smugglers. Most were clearly heavily augmented, and moved with a measured regimented discipline that he could immediately equate to soldiers.
When Tarvitz arrived, Essik learned that he was not simply here to recruit him, but also to show him the foe they faced. He spoke of The Collective, a fanatical power seeking to annihilate all Force-sensitives, which had seemingly built its power up from nothing. The Jedi had recently learned that the moon's undercity might have housed a recruitment ground for their troops, using the desperate and the dispossessed as fodder for their armies. Upon learning of their nature, Essik spoke of those who had passed him by and indicated the direction they had moved in. Even with the benefit of local knowledge, two were ambushed as they attempted to descend deeper into the planet by a substantial portion of the enemy detachment. Refusing to listen to reason or offers of surrender, Tarvitz swiftly culled their numbers, until only a few survivors remained, either fleeing or unconscious.
After using a captive to gain a better understanding of who they faced, the two agreed to split up. Tarvitz would move further into the undercity, while Essik drew away as many soldiers as possible. Using a mixture of mocking comm. messages and explosive traps, Essik managed to thin their numbers and slow their advance to the surface. This bought him enough time to pick out the armed freighter that the Collective had arrived in and trick the pilot into abandoning his post, stunning him as he left the ship. Locking him in the cargo hold, he waited until the remaining Collective soldiers arrived on the surface, before turning the ship's guns on them.
Shortly after this victory, Tarvitz arrived back to the surface with an urchin child. Badly wounded and on the verge of collapse, he remained upright long enough to pass on a brief outline of what had happened below, before falling into a healing trance. The Collective had been beaten, and they had been hunting the child due to his telepathic abilities. Offering up the weapons and equipment of the Collective to his hired thugs as full payment, Essik piloted the ship into orbit before making the jump to the Kiast System. The child, seemingly with no name or means to communicate beyond telepathic images, was distrustful of them both. Essik decided to offer images of the Jedi from the Clone Wars, showing them as figures who served others and upheld peace, with each using their powers to end wars and save lives.
Only In Death
Essik's arrival at Clan Odan-Urr's stronghold was far from the welcome he would have expected. Tarvitz spoke in his favour and his assistance in ending the threat on the Smuggler's Moon was recognised, but it quickly became clear that Tarvitz had acted ahead of orders. He had informed the clan's ruling body of Essik's worth and had even been granted permission to interview the Gand, but they had not greenlit his recruitment into their organisation. By right, Essik should not have even been permitted to know that the Jedi still existed in the galaxy. Essik spoke several times with their leaders personally, but in the end, no definitive verdict could be reached. Even here the historical revisionism of the New Republic caused him trouble, as his victories and the enemies he fought were deemed mere myths or urban legends rather than a true part of history. Essik was permitted to travel about Solyiat as he wished, and would not be detained if he opted to permanently depart the planet, but he was denied an official position within their ranks.
Burned out, tired by the proceedings and quite disgruntled, Essik spent several days in Baime, trying to use the city's bustling tourist attractions to distract himself. Unable to find solace in this and uncomfortable with the entertainment these locations offered, Essik eventually opted to visit the quieter historical locations of the city and used the opportunity to think. It was during this time that he received a message from his family, announcing that his descendant (the closest a Gand equivalent a great-granddaughter) had been deemed worthy of speaking with her foremost name. He had been invited back to his home for her ceremony, but the language used made it clear that he was an outsider to them. It was less of an effort to reach out than it was a mere formality. Nevertheless, Essik seriously considered the offer. The mistakes of his superiors overshadowed his every action, and he was feeling age finally catching up to him. As he considered this in the shadow of a ruined theatre, armed guards swiftly entered the courtyard.
As Essik had been pondering the future, a family of nobles had been standing some distance away, seemingly considering renovation plans for the location. As he watched, the guards surrounded them, each holding positions as they encircled the other group. The figure at the head of the guards, a Sephi clad in durasteel armour plating confronted the matriarch of the group, and quietly began to address her. To most this would have seemed like an urgent matter, perhaps an arriving escort ready to bring the nobles elsewhere. Essik, however, still remembered the actions of the Inquisition and COMPNOR agents as they quietly removed the populace from street corners and hid them from the public eye. Deciding to damn the consequences, Essik intervened.
Loudly making a fool of himself and barring their path, Essik made as much commotion as possible, drawing attention from passers-by and disrupting the quiet abduction that the guards had sought to perform. Stalling them, he began to play upon the nerves of the Sephi leading the guards, undermining his authority and then using the few scraps of information he was granted to make his subordinates question their motives. While risky, the move ultimately worked, and Essik was able to gradually sway the majority of the guards into switching sides. After stunning their leader and those who remained loyal to him, Essik asked the others to escort the nobles - those of House Keldra - to escort them out of the city and ensure their safety. With his sense of purpose renewed and feeling young for the first time in decades, Essik spent the next several days using ever more creative ways to disrupt similar efforts from across the city. It would be a full two weeks before he learned of the motives behind them - or their identity as turncoats of the Vauzem Dominion - and similar events which had played out across the entire system.
In light of Essik's successes, and with enemy troops initiating false flag operations while disguised as Odanite troops, Essik was sworn into the Clan's military as an advisor, and given the rank of Commander. Rather than commanding troops in battle, Essik's duty was to analyse enemy actions and predict possible actions, events and weaknesses on both sides. With little information on offer to them relating to the Dominion short of a name, Essik was instead tasked with evaluating the capabilities of the Collective and how the war with the Brotherhood would play out. Using any and all information available to them, Essik examined reports, statistics and combat logs to examine their overall threat. In a relatively short period of time, Essik was able to identify crucial failings within the Collective structure and confirm the likelihood that their victory would ultimately be a pyrrhic one at best.
Presenting his findings before Alethia Archenksova, Aura Ta'var and Len Iode, Essik cited his belief that Clan Odan-Urr should remain outside of the war. With the bulk of the Brotherhood's military intact, the Iron Navy was a considerable threat to the Collective and far from helpless. Instead, he voiced the idea of having the two wage a constant war against one another, bleeding one another dry and slowly sapping their strength. Odan-Urr could work to limit collateral damage, and to weaken any side which appeared to be gaining the upper hand. His reasoning for this was simple - The Collective could not sustain itself. The sizable military it had amassed would have bankrupted any corporation, or even most galactic powers, before going onto a war footing. Rather than conserving their strength, the Collective was pouring constant men, money and material into their war efforts to win through sheer numbers or superweapons. The fanaticism they inspired prevented them from withdrawing or even calling a ceasefire, as doing so would likely trigger revolts, desertions and insubordination among their troops now that they had been driven through sheer hatred for Force users. He also doubted that the shareholders for Capital Enterprises would turn a blind eye to such a financial drain for long, and would seek to counter the actions of their CEO. Every detail added up to one simple fact - The Collective was powerful, but it was living on borrowed time.
The Brotherhood was in an equally precarious position, as the foolhardy and arrogant actions of Darth Pravus had only succeeded in weakening the government as a whole. Internally it might have seemed stable, but all it had taken was one minor outside source to threaten his entire regime. The new Grand Master was now desperately attempting to repair the damage inflicted now that Pravus had fled his throne in the face of an enemy who could fight back, if only to avoid fighting a war on two fronts. That left them open to disruptive efforts and raids by Odan-Urr; all the more so if they could prolong the war.
Essik's words were taken into consideration, but they were given little to act upon them before the war took a new turn.
The Meridian Conflict
Events in the surrounding war led to the Collective capturing Vance Kodrall, and Archenksova regarded this as an opportunity. In another meeting Essik was asked for his opinion of the current situation, and voiced that they should focus on the war at home first and foremost. Archenksova accepted this, but after citing Kodrall's value for his knowledge of the Inquisition and their possible involvement in the conflict, Odan-Urr joined efforts to recapture him. The outcome of their rescue efforts soon proved beneficial to the Brotherhood as a whole, as Kodrall's information led to them discovering Meridian Prime space station. A major hub in the Collective's power network, it served as a command centre, prison, harbour and place of commerce all in one. It was a vital component that the Collective would find difficult to operate without, and this made it a vital target.
Devising a means to use the Meridian's very mass against itself, Essik was able to put forward a battle plan in which the fleet jumped into close proximity of the station and used its mass to draw them out of hyperspace. Assisting with commanding efforts from the Solari, Essik guided Odan-Urr's portion of naval support as they quickly overwhelmed the station's defences.
While used to wearing the uniform of the previous government he served, Essik more often than not favours clothing with formality and finery. Much of this was influenced by his years spent living on Chandrila and Coruscant, most notably in the form of a bowler hat which frequently adorns his head.
Along with his appearance, Essik's personality is hardly one that could ever be associated with a typical military commander. Often exaggerating the habitual Gand politeness to the point of near absurdity, he will remain unfailingly civil to enemy and subordinate alike. He will treat the order to initiate a torpedo strike on an enemy cruiser with the same tone and reverence he would ordering dianogan tea, and when combined with his seemingly more buffoonish qualities, he appears to be the quintessential example of a poor leader. However, this is a mask to ensure that others underestimate his abilities, and to judge new recruits before they are taken into battle. Playing towards the stereotype of an officer and a gentleman, he creates the impression of someone who will put honour before pragmatism; only to subvert it when the time is right. In these moments Essik displays a sheer ruthlessness and lack of mercy which is completely at odds with his usual attitude, and he will offer his foe no quarter until they surrender or are driven back in a rout. This applies as much to personal meetings with enemies as it does any battle that he might command, either by talking his enemy into surrendering or making a rash action which undermines their position entirely.
Essik's calculating nature and drive to carry out his appointed duty has affected every part of his life, and he has confessed that he has little life beyond his career. Despite having a family on Gand, he has only retained a few distant communications with his blood relatives and contact with him is treated as a mere formality. Many of those he knew in his youth are now long dead, and those who have taken his place have never met Essik in person. To Essik, defending the New Republic and restoring what had been lost always came first. Neither group feels any true kinship with the other, and he has largely been left to make his own way in the universe. Even then, there are few individuals indeed that Essik could even consider friends. His habit of judging anyone and everyone as a possible threat ensures that few relations ever pass beyond being mere acquaintances, and even those few exceptions are kept at arm's length. Having seen and known so many people killed under his command, beneath his openly polite and expressive mannerisms he automatically keeps himself emotionally distant from others.
Now in his twilight years and long past the point where he should have retired, Essik remains thankful that others have found a use for him. Having repeatedly attempted to retire from active service only to fail, he has a pathological drive to remain active, and a hunger to be useful to others. Although happy to serve in any capacity Odan-Urr's superiors deem worthy of him, he is effectively incapable of being left without a task to complete. This may help to answer just why he continually analyses and re-examines situations, both on a personal and large scale level.
Views on the First Order
Essik regards the First Order as little more than a bad joke being played on the galaxy's populace. Only sheer fortune, an almost inhuman level of incompetence by its rivals, and fate itself seemingly shielding them from countless threats, has allowed it to stand for as long as it has. Its victories are laughable, its policies nonexistent and the ineptitude of its leaders would not allow them to last a day against a skillfully led power of half its size. To Essik, the very idea that they plan to rule everything is laughable.
The First Order's attempt to remain in power by pressing a gun against the head of every person living under their banner will only incite chaos. Rather than rebuilding, any resources it might have will be spent attempting to put down rebellions until it runs out of soldiers to carry outs its will or ships to command. Essik simply regards them as a horde at best, knowing only how to kill and without the slightest concept of what could amount to long-term stability. Instead, it merely has a nebulous concept that the galaxy will be better because it will belong to them.
In his studies of their doctrines, ideologies, and imagery, Essik has come to believe that they are a mere cargo cult. A power which believes it can attain the Empire's might by mimicking its outward imagery and methods without ever truly understanding them. If they do truly come into power, annihilating all of their opponents, he would not be surprised if they fragment into a system of feuding warlords like the Empire before him.
Views on the Resistance
To Essik, the Resistance is the ultimate failure of the Alliance to Restore the Republic and the New Republic that followed it. Its existence was not only unnecessary but actively harmed the very government it sought to defend and was a monument to the greatest mistakes of the veterans who defeated the Empire. Rather than protecting and reinforcing it from within, the Resistance's formation bled the New Republic of its greatest individuals, pulling them away from positions which could have allowed them to correct the mistakes which brought the New Republic to an end. In their place, the witness, the narrow-minded and the unsuited took power and drove the galaxy into the ground for their own satisfaction. It would have been a harder path, a difficult task requiring skill and exceptionally hard work to achieve. Yet, rather than doing just this, those who founded the Resistance fled from their duties and chose to try and relive their glory days.
The Resistance itself was little more than a recreation of the Rebel Alliance, founded in an age where it was no longer needed. In Essik's mind, its leaders were motivated more by nostalgia for the time they had helped topple a vast enemy power, and were more concerned in reliving that moment than truly maintaining a newly restored democracy. Those who joined them were of a similar mindset, but at least had the excuse of being fed lies and rose-tinted visions of the past. Each taught to treat galactic history as irrelevant save for the victories at Yavin IV and Endor, along with the occasional mention of Hoth. As a result, they never learned from the mistakes, lessons, and victories of past decades. To them, each has been learned anew from another event often accompanied with unnecessary bloodshed, strife, and deaths. They are attributed to only these events, and a blind glorification of a heavily censored past leads them to shun any contradiction to this.
Essik's worst fear is that, should they win their war against the First Order, it will only cement this mentality. It will trap the universe in a continual cycle of repeating the past, emulating the Galactic Civil War and glorifying it even as any inconvenient contradictions to this view are quietly erased.
Due to his role as a commander over a frontline soldier, Essik rarely carries weapons or dons armour. Outside of a ELG-3A blaster pistol intended for personal protection under the worst of circumstances, he his attire and equipment are those more suited to commanding battles from a vehicle than leading frontal assaults. Besides a code cylinder signifying his rank and a set of electrobinoculars, he is frequently accompanied by a series of datapads and comlinks programmed to scan and update for information on the nearby area. These are either done through holonet updates or being slaved to the sensor suites of orbiting ships, and are used to gather details on everything from weather patterns to orbital traffic. This is further assisted by an SP-4 Analysis Droid, programmed to pick out for anomalies and irregularities within streams of data.
A number of items are a small handful of items Essik was able to retain after being forcibly discharged from his position, including a New Republic Admiral's uniform, which he has refused to part from despite his new role.
Powers and Abilities
Essik's mind remains his greatest asset above all others. Between his proven capabilities as a battlefield commander and the lessons learned over a long career in service to the Republic and its successors, he has fought countless foes of varying origins and methods. As a result of this, he is not nearly so hidebound to conventional tactics or simple numbers as many typical commanders, and his true talent lies in breaking down a battlefield to a series of predictions, moves, and estimates. The longer he is given to analyse, dissect and categorize an environment, foe or opposing army, the more flaws he will piece together to exploit; allowing him to quickly establish countermeasures and a means to a rapid victory. Even without this, Essik is more than capable of thinking on his feet, and will typically always leave himself in a position to rapidly devise new plans even while under heavy fire. Sometimes this can even be from the very ashes of his original plans, and the sheer volume of countermeasures always allows him to fall back on some additional scheme. Essik will often subject his own plans, units and himself to such rapid analysis to pick out potential flaws, allowing him to cover for them if not overcome them.
As almost every war Essik has fought in has been against a far superior foe, Essik rarely relies on sheer strength of arms for his victories. Instead, he has become a veteran of utilising hit-and-fade tactics, rapid strikes and attrition based engagements to wear down his foes. Even then, these will rarely favour conventional approaches, and his capacity to turn almost anything into a personal advantage has led to him overcoming seemingly unwinnable battles. However, Essik's greatest strength is his lack of ego. So long as is fighting for a cause he deems worthy, that is enough for him, and he is more than willing to forsake personal glory in the name of ultimate victory. While he is experienced enough to comprehend when his soldiers require a victory or offset strategy against basic morale, he will not risk the lives of his troops in the name of personal glory. This has frequently allowed him to succeed where other commanders fail, holding off on singular pitched battles or efforts to win wars in single engagements in favour of ways which weigh the odds of the war in their favour.
Essik also has some experience with espionage thanks to his service to the Rebellion and can typically view events both from the perspective of a military commander and spymaster at once. He previously used this to undermine efforts by enemy agents to infiltrate his command structure and to close off potential weaknesses before they could be exploited. This skill also allows him to predict and understand just how dedicated guerilla fighters and fanatics will approach combatting him, and the mindsets of fanatics fuelled by propaganda.