The display in front of Lt. Zenith Khambatta bristled with starships, here in the capital system of the Republic. Three fleets of the Republic Navy were here. It wasn't too unusual, that. Capital fleet only left Anaxes under the most dire need. Admiral Serrano's 3rd Fleet returned home to the capital at the end of any campaign. And new fleets had been assembled here more often than not, so with 12th Fleet almost -- but not quite -- ready to be activated, it was here as well. Add in the Corellian Expeditionary Force attached to 3rd Fleet -- only a Navy as massive as the Republic's or the Empire's would call it a task force, rather than a fleet in its own right -- and the military might assembled here ought to overawe anyone. Thus far, the Imperials had declined to be overawed.

She and eight others were flying E-Wings to form the lighter 3/4ths of a frigate's starfighter wing. The Republic Navy emphasized starfighters less now than they had before the New Republic had been proclaimed -- and even in the first decade or so after. Weapons and tactics had changed, and those changes meant combat favored capital ships. So the relatively small -- though absolutely quite large -- number of fighters the Republic Navy built were the best the Incom design team behind the X-Wing had been able to manage in a mass producible fighter.

At least, that had been the theory before the the P-Wing bombers that completed the wing had entered the Republic's weapons mix. They were almost too big for a frigate's fighter bays, and the slowest starfighter any major navy kept in service. But the P-Wing's proton missile launchers made it the most heavily armed starfighter in the galaxy, and a wing of them was a threat to almost any capital ship. Squadrons of them, with E-Wing escorts, had destroyed even Imperial III Star Destroyers before.

So the maneuvers she and the other pilots of the Taelros' fighter wing needed to be practiced, and this was her first run with them.

* * * *

Lt. (senior grade) Rosa Merridon didn't know Cmdr. Adriav Cyn, or even much about him. What she knew was that she was on the capital, and time in grade regulations were closing in on her fast. If she didn't make Lt. Cmdr. soon, the Republic Navy's strict 'up or out' policies were going to leave her seeking new employment. It was, of course, theoretically possible to waive those rules as a 'wartime emergency'. But since the time in grade rules had been put in place while there was a war going on, and routinely enforced while that war showed no signs of stopping, Rosa didn't think she'd be getting an exception. And was meeting with a mid-ranking officer who she'd never met before; hopefully it wasn't to give her some make-work assignment before drumming her out.

"There's been a chance of plans, ma'am." A young enlisted man told her when she arrived. "You'll be meeting Commander Cyn on his frigate, instead. There's a shuttle waiting; some of his new crew will be coming up with you."

That sounded promising.

* * * *

Inside RNS Taelros, the chief engineer tried to concentrate on one thing at a time. It was difficult. She was responsible for keeping the ship running now that it had formally left the yards. There were still yard workers on board; they wanted to keep close tabs on the first few of the new Sacheen-B frigates. They weren't all that different than the originals, but ten years of combat experience and new developments had produced some incremental changes, and the first of the new frigates were going out to 3rd Fleet and 12th Fleet. And all those little changes had caused some problems. Problems Lt. (senior grade) Saricia Targon and her subordinates had to fix.

Going from a department head on a cruiser to chief engineer on a frigate should not have been as much more work -- and less interesting work, at that -- as it seemed to be so far. She was beginning to wonder if she could have left her tools back on the Chandrila; she was spending far more time filling out forms than doing anything she considered actual engineering.

* * * *

"But Admiral Serrano says..." Lt. Ariel Karan began, and Storm began to tune out the Taelros' tactical officer, even though they were supposed to be working out gunnery drills together. The Cathar knew better. But he'd met officers like her before. They weren't always human, or women, or from the wealthiest families in the galaxy, but they usually were. And they'd decided they were going to turn themselves into the second coming of the woman who, according to most of the media in the Republic, single-handedly held the line against the Empire for the last fifteen years. He hadn't ever met the Fleet Admiral, but he rather suspected she disapproved.

It wasn't that Ariel lacked intelligence or education -- a family fortune that rivaled the Kandorians ensured the later, and the Republic Navy did not grant commissioned rank to anyone who lacked the former. And if she hadn't shown ability under fire, she would never have been promoted even once. But she seemed to have memorized anything Admiral Serrano had ever put in the public record. Jedi meditation techniques weren't invented for dealing with people like her, but they served.