The Titan Conflict
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Background of the Conflict
Following the destruction of the second Death Star over Endor elements of the Empire began carrying out the Emperor's contingency orders upon his death. These orders included Operation Cinder which directly led to the Empire's crushing defeat over Jakku and the formation of the New Republic. Part of these orders included specific commands to the commanding officers of the Imperial Navy's Executor-class Star Dreadnoughts, detailing various plans and operations to be undertaken by them and their supporting fleets. The New Republic was able to thwart most of these plans, destroying five Dreadnoughts and capturing three in the months after Endor, and they believed that only one, the Ravager, remained in Imperial control just prior to the battle of Jakku.
When the Ravager was destroyed over Jakku, the Republic believed that all of these massive warships had been accounted for, either destroyed or safely in their hands. Unfortunately, they were mistaken, and two Dreadnoughts remained in control of Imperial forces. The first was the Eclipse herself, the command ship of the late Emperor Palpatine, which would be discovered in the Unknown Regions by Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and would become the basis of the First Order. The second was the Titan whose construction was completed at Fondor shipyards shortly after the Battle of Endor. As part of the Contingency, Vice Admiral Ardus Khoda oversaw the launching of the Dreadnought and the wiping of its existence from Imperial archives to prevent it from being discovered by the Republic. With a handful of Capital ships, escaped to the Kathol sector to carry out the final orders of the late Emperor.
While most commanders were given orders to enact immediately upon receipt, Vice Admiral Khoda was provided with a more long term plan which included the capture of the Kathol sector and the build-up of forces in his command. To destabilize the galaxy, Vice Admiral Khoda was given the task of destroying the Rimma Trade Route, the lifeline for the entire southern quadrant of the galaxy. Over the course of the next ten years, Vice Admiral Khoda worked to secure the Kathol sector, recruit a new army, and construct a massive naval force centered around the Titan. Re-branding himself as a 'Grand Admiral', in late 14 ABY he and his fleet began a massive invasion of the New Republic's holdings along the Rimma Trade Route, striking out from Kal'Shebbol.
The Opening Salvos
Several months before the primary fleet invasion began, Imperial forces began probing the New Republic's defenses in the adjoining sectors by purchasing the services of privateer forces and utilizing long range TIE Scouts. They encountered Task Force Republic Shield, a specialized group created by Admiral Ackbar shortly after the Battle of Endor to protect the New Republic's southern borders, and specifically safeguard the critical Rimma Trade Route. Due to the overall New Republic's strategy of disarmament after Jakku, the Republic forces in the area were limited to a small cadre of capital ships including the Redemption, Windstorm, and Prometheus II, a large starfighter corps, and a significant battery of static and planetary defensive installations which could keep even his dreadnought at bay. Needing some way to circumvent the dug in Republic Forces, Grand Admiral Khoda ordered the fleet's intelligence division to discover some way around the Republic defenses in the area.
Several Commando squads were dispatched covertly across Republic Shield's holdings to gather additional information and try to find a way to bypass both Republic sensor nets and defenses protecting the primary hyper routes into their space. One of the installations that the commandos managed to infiltrate was a station belonging to 'Division 3', a branch of New Republic Intelligence focused on internal security and the longevity of the New Republic. Division 3 used sleeper agents and conditioning to keep tabs on the Republic's compartmentalized and disarmed military to ensure that individual task forces couldn't compromise the integrity of the New Republic's much smaller navy. The commando squad discovered that a high ranking member of Republic Shield's High Command, Nicolai Ginofev, their Operations Officer, was an unwilling agent of Division 3. Discovering both his 'activation' code phrase, and information behind his conditioning, the Imperials used Nicolai without his knowledge to obtain detailed information on Republic Shield static defenses and normal contingency plans in the event of an assault.
Armed with this information, the Grand Admiral began a massive assault of Republic Shield holdings across both their southern and eastern flanks, focusing on occupying the small Republic fleet and their fighter corps, while striking deeply into the Aurora sector to secure as much space and infrastructure as possible. One of their first targets was the arctic world of Lithra, located deep in the Aurora sector close to its easternmost border. A world that was still occupied by the Imperial Remnant even ten years after the Battle of Endor, Titan's forces quickly ousted the occupiers and took control of both the world and its massive array of orbital shipyards to bolster their lines and allow for the quick replacement of lost vessels. Within weeks, the Titan fleet had secured nearly half of the Aurora sector, and was threatening an invasion of Bethlamore, the lynch pin of the Republic's defenses along the Rimma Trade Route, and the home base of the Allegiance Battle Group. Reeling from the swift and overwhelming force of the Imperial invasion, Republic Shield made a desperate plea to the New Republic Armed forces, while their fighter corps just barely managed to stave off the Imperial invasion by striking at supply lines to slow the inexorable advance of the Titan herself.
The Republic Responds
Understanding the threat poised by an Executor-class Star Dreadnought, the New Republic dispatched the vast majority of their existing capital ships to the aid of Republic Shield, dramatically bolstering their ranks and allowing the defending forces critical time to regroup. The support was timely, as the Imperial forces commenced an invasion of Aurora, the capital of the similarly named Aurora sector. Reinforced by over a hundred capital ships from the Republic, along with supporting fleets from the Allegiance Battle Group and their allies, Republic Shield was able meet Titan head on. While both sides sustained heavy losses in the attack, Titan was forced for the first time to retreat without capturing their prize. Unfortunately, the victory was short lived, as Republic forces learned of Grand Admiral Khoda's plan to launch an almost immediate follow-up attack, this one spearheaded by the Titan herself.
The Republic forces, under the command of Vice Admiral Kirghy Lommax, retreated from Aurora, dismantling and packing up as much of the planet's critical infrastructure as possible to prevent it from falling into Khoda's hands. Vice Admiral Lommax ordered the incoming hyper routes into the system heavily mined, knowing that while it would slow down any attempt to retake the system later, it would buy them time. Titan forces would sustain even more losses running the minefield, and eventually captured the Aurora system several days after their initial attack, but found it stripped of nearly all critical installations and orbital facilities due to the Vice Admiral's defensive strategy. A pyrrhic victory for Khoda's forces, they none-the-less captured the capitol world of the sector and were able to begin using it as a staging ground for strikes deeper into Republic Shield territories.
Working behind the scenes, Director Hawkins; commander of the Republic Shield's intelligence division, had discovered the overall strategy of the Imperial forces revolved around the Republic's own Military Disarmament Act which even during times of conflict severely restricted the construction and deployment of capital ships. While Republic Shield was unable to quickly and efficiently replace their damaged or lost starships, Titan was depending on using overwhelming force and the shipyards both in the Kathol sector and Lithra to replenish any losses to the superior pilots of the Republic. As such, Director Hawkins presented a plan to Republic Shield High Command to retake Lithra and swing the tide of the war back into their favor. Knowing that forces under the Allegiance Battle Group had been supporting a resistance on Lithra to eventually retake the planet, Director Hawkins' plan convinced High Command to dedicate the majority of their reinforced fleet to a massive invasion of what had become a Titan stronghold. He knew it was a hearty gamble, but a necessary one as success would eliminate around fifty percent of Titan's shipyard capacity, while failure would likely end the war in the invader's favor.