Summary: Months after "Solo Command," Wraith Squadron is called to defeat the remnants of Zsinj's forces…
Timeline: New Republic (action/adventure)
Disclaimer: Most of the characters depicted here are not mine. Kyle, Kaya, Sheikkell, Trigger, and a few of the secondary characters are however, and I'd like to keep it that way. All the rest belong to George Lucas, Michael A. Stakepole, and Aaron Aston, (And some, like the Katarns, I think belong to Timothy Zahn) with their incredible Rogue Squadron and Wraith Squadron series of stories. Maybe they could let me help with the next book in the series…I would like to see more books in the series…Anyway, and also, don't forget, I wrote this LONG fic and I'm not getting paid for it. (I should be, but I'm not.)
Captain Garik "Face" Loran (Wraith One) (human male from Pantolomin)
Flight Officer Kyle Maloy (Wraith Two) (human male from Chandrila)
Lieutenant Sheikkell (Wraith Three) (Wookiee female from Kashyyyk)
Flight Officer Tyria Sarkin (Wraith Four) (human female from Toprawa)
Lieutenant Kell Tainer (Wraith Five, XO) (human male from Sluis Van)
Flight Officer Hohass "Runt" Ekwesh (Wraith Six) (Thakwaash male from Thakwaa)
Flight Officer Dia Passik (Wraith Seven) (Twi'lek female from Ryloth)
Lieutenant Voort "Piggy" saBinring (Wraith Eight) (Gamorrean male from Gamorr)
Lieutenant Shalla Nelprin (Wraith Nine) (human female from Ingo)
Flight Officer Kaya LaTonme (Wraith Ten) (human female from Bakura)
Flight Officer Elassar Targon (Wraith Eleven) (Devaronian male from Devaron)
Flight Officer Toin "Trigger" Ryylek (Wraith Twelve) (Sullustain male from Sullust)
Commander Wedge Antilles (Rogue Leader, Rogue One) (human male from Corellia)
Captain Tycho Celchu (Rogue Two) (human male from Alderaan)
Lieutenant Pedna Scotain (Rogue Three) (Chev female from Vinsoth)
Lieutenant Derek "Hobbie" Klivian (Rogue Four) (human male from Ralltiir)
Lieutenant Wes Janson (Rogue Five) (human male from Taanab)
Lieutenant Gavin Darklighter (Rogue Six) (human male from Tatooine)
Flight Officer Ran Kether (Rogue Seven) (human male form Chandrila)
Flight Officer Koobis "Target" Nu (Rogue Eight) (Rodian male from Rodia)
Lieutenant Corran Horn (Rogue Nine) (human male form Corellia)
Lieutenant Ooryl Qyrgg (Rogue Ten) (Gand male from Gand)
Lieutenant Asyr Sei'lar (Rogue Eleven) (Bothan female from Bothawui)
Flight Officer Inyri Forge (Rogue Twelve) (human female from Kessel)
Lieutenant Myn Donos (Rogue Thirteen) (human male from Corellia)
Lieutenant Nawara Ven (XO) (Twi'lek male from Ryloth)
The Katarn Commandos
Lieutenant Page (human male from Corulag, Commanding officer)
Lilla Dade (human female, Pathfinder)
Gottu (human male, Urban Combat Specialist)
Idow (human male, Urban Combat Specialist)
Frorral (Wookiee female, Wilderness Specialist)
Mian Hoob (Sullustian male, Technician)
Korren (human male, Technician)
Kasck (Bothan male, Infiltrator)
Vandor (human male, Heavy Weapons Specialist)
Syla Tors (human female, pilot and communications expert)
Jortan (human male, medic)
Bri'vin (human male, scrounger)
Clink (Donos's R2 unit)
Gate (Wedge's R5 unit)
Whistler (Corran's R2 unit)
Cubber Daine (human male from Corellia, Wraith mechanic)
Koyi Komad (Twi'lek female from Ryloth, Rogue mechanic)
Vape (Face's R2 unit)
Blast (Kyle's R2 unit)
Triad (Kaya's R2 unit)
Squeaky (3P0 unit, Wraith quartermaster)
Emtrey (3P0 unit, Rogue quartermaster)
New Republic Military
Lieutenant Dorset Konnair (Polearm Seven) (human female from Courscant)
Captain Quyin Stonnic (human male from Sluis Van)
Major Syle "Siren" Tomake (human female from Bespin)
Luke Skywalker (human male from Tatooine, Jedi Knight)
Captain Onoma (Mon Calamari male from Mon Calamari)
Captain Pash Cracken (Ace Leader) (human male from Contruum)
General Airen Cracken (human male from Contruum)
Iella Wessiri (human female from Corellia)
Crew of the Pulsar Skate
Mirax Terrik-Horn (human female from Corellia)
Liat Tsayv (Sullustian male from Sullust)
Zsinj's Remaining forces/Imperial forces
Crew of the Interrogator
Captain Jerah Kamenzi (human male from Courscant)
Commander Ty Sakuddaa (human male from Bakura)
Lieutenant Sora Padch (human female from Carida, Leader of the 182nd TIE Interceptor squadron)
High Inquisitor Tremayne (human male)
Crew of the Mayday
Captain Dolph Ceahura (human male from Ralltiir)
Commander Sharona Acamey (human female from Chandrila)
Inquisitor Shelar (human male from Yaga Minor)
Members of the Ma'kun enclave
Ma'kun Toz (Twi'lek male from Ryloth, enclave creator)
Sha'cok Iav (Twi'lek male from Ryloth, enclave head of security)
Ti'arka Litt (Twi'lek female from Ryloth, enclave manager)
"Two, break off now!" Corran's voice yelled.
Tycho didn't hesitate. He pulled back on the flight stick and brought himself upwards just as the green of a TIE Interceptor's guns shot past. Tycho arced back to where the rest of the squadron had gathered.
Corran turned back to his own controls and adjusted his shields. He and Ooryl then pulled a 40 degree-turn to get into a position to cover Tycho. Ooryl fired at an area behind Tycho's fleeing fighter and hit pay dirt as one hit the solar arrays of a TIE Interceptor. Tycho pulled back into formation.
Tycho's voice came over the comm. "Thanks Nine, Ten. Next time someone else gets to pull scout duty."
"Where did that TIE come from, Nine?" Wedge asked over the comm. "I didn't see it on sensors."
"Hyperspace sir, I think that was hyperdrive equipped."
Janson's voice was next to chime in. "I got incoming bogies at two-o-clock. I think our little TIE friend alerted some nearby buddies."
The Rogues looked up to see a Victory-class Star Destroyer jump out of hyperspace, a few klicks out. It immediately began scrambling fighters.
"Rogue Group, lock S-foils in attack position and gear up to attack speed. We aren't in any shape to take on a Star Destroyer. Break back to position 4-1 and micro-jump back to the Mon Remonda." Wedge sounded reluctant to say it, but it was true. An hour ago they had made it past a Carack-class cruiser and a minefield to get to this position, a few parsecs into Zsinj territory.
X-Wings began to break formation. Gavin Darklighter moaned, obviously annoyed to turn tail to a fight.
Just as they were within range to micro-jump, Hobbie barked out "Imperial Strike Cruiser de-cloaking!"
The heavily armed vessel appeared out of nowhere and began shooting as soon as it had fully materialized.
The Rogues had to break formation again to get clear of the new ship's guns.
"Three is hit!" Gavin called over the distorted comm system.
Pedna Scotain, Rogue Three, was drifting off starboard of the attacking ship.
"More ships incoming!" Janson, Rogue 5 called.
Wedge, maneuvering towards Hobbie and Scotain's position, cursed. "How many?"
"Fourteen…wait, I'm reading Friend-or-Foe acknowledgement. It’s the Wraiths incoming with the Titan's Dream and Surefire!"
Wraith Squadron, followed by a Republic Star Destroyer and a Corellian Gunship blasted out of hyperspace and began pummeling the Strike-Class cruiser.
"Wraith Leader to Rogue Leader," Garik 'Face' Loran's voice said over the comm. "Get your people out of here. We'll cover."
Wedge halfway grinned as he heard the familiar voice. "Acknowledged. Rogues, get out of the Strike's range. Hyper back to Mon Remonda. The Wraiths will pick up Rogue 3."
The Rogues began to split off into pairs as they jetted past the Strike Cruiser and out of range. The cruiser itself was turning towards the Victory Star Destroyer, trying to avoid the incoming barrage of Proton Torpedoes from the Wraiths.
"Wraiths, I want everything there is to know about that Strike Cruiser. Five, Six, pass it by and scan everything you can about it. Three, Four, cover the Rogues. Rest, I want you to keep that Strike Cruiser running." Face himself pulled in for another strafing run, followed by Wraith two, his wingman.
Kell and Runt did their pass-by scan of the cruiser, then regrouped back near the Gunship Surefire, which was slowly approaching the Cruiser.
Just as soon as Kell and Runt were out of range, the other Wraiths began strafing runs, torpedoes blasting the ventral shields and hull of the cruiser.
"Wraith Leader, Rogue Group has jumped. We have also tractored in Rogue three and are prepared to jump as well."
"Acknowledged, Titan's Dream. Wraiths, finish your run, then set up for the jump back to the fleet."
"Drinks on me!" Janson called. A chorus of hoots followed.
The Wraiths were invited back onto the Mon Remonda. Face had to make a report regarding his rescue, and why he was in the system. Then he had invited the rest of the Squadron onto the ship for a small celebration.
The Wraiths and Rogues hadn't seen each other for five months. The Rogues were busy tracking Zsinj and the Wraiths had been sent into Imperial space to track the development of a new starship type. But now they had been reunited.
Looking around at his fellow pilots, Face smiled. Dia Passik sat across from him, grinning slightly as well. Kell Tainer, his XO, sat past her, saying something to Tyria Sarkin and Hohass 'Runt' Ekwesh. Runt was making a wheezing noise at something that Kell had just said, and Tyria was smiling.
Face looked a bit over his shoulder to where he heard more talking. The newest Lieutenant of the squadron, Voort 'Piggy' saBinring, was talking in his mechanical tone, while Elassar Targon and Shalla Nelprin listened, both laughing hysterically.
Face then looked to his left. These where his newer pilots, one of which had only been in the Squadron for three days.
Kaya LaTonme, from Bakura, was the newest of the rookies. She looked like someone her age should, small and slightly shapely, and easily looked the most innocent of any of the Wraiths. Thought probably if Ton Phanan were still around, she'd be bothered by his lecherous attitude. She was the groups new code slicer. She didn't act like one, but that was mostly because she hadn't had time to really get in trouble with what her skills could really do.
Kaya had been booted out of her first squadron for insubordination. She said that her superior officer was giving orders that were dangerous to the squadron. A week after her leaving the squadron, it suffered four casualties and the pilots claimed their leader sent them on a suicide mission.
Face smiled. She reminded him of Lara too much.
Kyle Maloy, from Chandrila, was also a newer member. He had Kell's commando skills, but was more tactical then Kell, and less uptight. Possibly because he was much like Tyria, a force sensitive; His mother had been a Jedi Knight, and he held her Lightsaber in his possession. But unlike any Jedi Face had heard or knew of, he was a jokester, and reminded Face of himself when he had just joined the Wraiths. He was also a medic corpsman. If the Wraiths have to split up in a group, Targon would go with one, Kyle with the other.
Kyle had been in another squadron for a whole month. His quick thinking and tactical savvy should have gotten him a promotion to lieutenant, but his XO didn't like him. As soon as Kyle messed up once; he crash landed his fighter because his fighter had battle damage, that was it for him in that squadron. His XO tried to get him court-martialed and filed in his personal profile that he was 'a hot dogging maniac not fit to fly.'
The only Sullustain of the group, Toin Ryylek the one to replace Janson, as a gunner and sharpshooter. Toin had been nicknamed 'Trigger' because he was such a great shot. He spoke basic, but it was a little hard to understand. He was related to Nein Numb somehow, but not in a close way like Aril Numb was. He was describing a mission to the others, making them laugh.
Trigger had been flying with a squadron of B-Wings when his wingmate got shot down. His commanding officer transferred him to a Y-Wing squadron as a gunner, but there he ended up accidentally shooting down his XO when he pulled an illegal maneuver and got in Trigger's line of fire.
The last person, Sheikkell, was also an Alien. She was a member of the Wookiee species, and could barely fit into the X-Wing cockpit. She was the new sniper of the Wraiths, using a modified Bowcaster that fired a bit faster and had a greater range. She was also over two hundred-fifty years old, so she had experience that the rest of the rookies lacked.
From what Face read, Sheikkell mostly had problems only because of her oversized body. She was only slightly short for a Wookiee, and had crashed two of her fighters because of controls she couldn't get to. The X-Wing she now flew in had a bigger cockpit, that Face himself requested. Face had a look at the rest of her record, which stated she flew over Endor, flew over Bakura, and multiple other big dogfights. He had said that she was worth the cost of the modification.
Sheikkell had replaced Donos on the Wraiths. Face turned back to where the Rogues had gathered, and saw Donos among them. He had transferred to the Rogues when the Wraiths had become an intelligence unit. And he was right now smiling at something Asyr Sei'lar was saying. Face also smiled. Donos hadn't exactly been happy like that when he was with the Wraiths, but he was glad he was making up for lost time.
Wedge stood up, and made gestures for everyone to quiet. "I have new orders from Fleet Command."
Most of the Rogues moaned and the Wraiths turned their attention. "This also will affect the Wraiths, for they will be joining the Rogues in this new assignment."
Now it was the Wraiths turn to moan and grumble.
Wedge mostly kept a grin off his face. "You may like this assignment. Fleet Command has just learned that Warlord Zsinj has been killed by General Solo over the planet Dathimor."
Everyone in the room cheered. Both the Rogues and the Wraiths had been fighting Zsinj for months, and hadn't had any success at stopping him permanently.
"Aww, but now I can't kill him," Gavin said over the cheers.
"And I also have news that the Hapan Cluster, which has been neutral in the war lately, has jumped in and joined the New Republic."
More cheers followed. The Hapans had a strong fleet, and were better off as allies than enemies.
"Fleet Command is sending us to Corellia, for a week of R&R."
And even more cheers erupted. Nobody in the room had had any sort of leave since they started chasing Zsinj.
Wedge motioned for everyone to quiet back down. "We'll be arriving there tomorrow at 0800. I do want everyone to report into your respective home base every day, but beside that, have fun." Wedge then left the room, followed by Janson and Hobbie.
Nawara Ven, the Twi'lek executive officer of the Rogues, raised a glass. "To the death of Warlord Zsinj!"
Face lifted his own drink. "To General Solo, it was his kill."
Gavin also raised a drink. "And to a week of R&R on Corellia!"
Everyone drank to that.
The CorSec officers began dragging the men out of the bar. Kyle made sure they were all taken before turning back to the others. Janson was on the ground, Elassar leaning on a chair, and Ran Kether was sitting up. Shalla and Ooryl were trying to help them up.
"Janson, this is the last time we let you try a prank on a bunch of Corellian bar patrons," Elassar said. "Not only are you unlucky, but those patrons had luck on their side this time."
"Shut up, just shut up."
Corran Horn leaned back on his chair, kicking his feet up onto the table. "Good thing I know the CorSec officer in charge of this area of patrol, or you'd be the one being hauled off to jail."
Janson sat up. "Hey, all I did was try to get Kettch into their card game and they thought that an Ewok trying sabacc was offensive. Not my problem." He grabbed the stuffed toy and stood up.
Kyle, who was the secondary medic, began patching Kether and Janson up. Kether said from the floor "Next time, I sit behind Janson," he said from the floor.
Kaya from the Wraiths and Pedna from the Rogues walked back into the room. "Well, we got that cleared up with those CorSec guys. Toin is ok, but he went back to his hotel room," Kaya explained.
Janson and Kether both were able to get up to a chair and sat down. Janson picked at the patch that Kyle had just put over his forehead. "I vote that next time we go strait for the fist fighting and skip the prank part."
Corran picked something up from the floor beside him. "Looks like those guys were a part of the Bounty Hunters Guild. Good job five, we now have bounty hunters angry at us."
Janson laughed. "Don’t tell me you're afraid, Corran."
Corran thought that one over. He shrugged.
Elassar checked to make sure his necklace was still on. "Today was unlucky, but tomorrow won't be."
Shalla sat down and brushed herself off. "Oh, by the way, Janson. Good punch. That guy's chin really gave your fist a beating."
Everyone laughed. Janson mumbled. "I'll get you for that one."
"Yub yub Lieutenant."
The others were just leaving the bar when Face and Dia approached. Janson and Kether were being helped out of the place supported by Corran and Pedna. Face quickly got behind them. "What happened here?"
Kyle threw his medkit over his shoulder. "Lieutenant Janson, Kettch the Ewok, bar full of drunken patrons. You do the math." Kyle then remembered whom he was talking to. "Er, uh, sir."
Face laughed. "No rank during R&R. And I understand." Dia smiled slightly.
As they made their way back to the hotel both Squadrons were staying at, a few people began to follow them. Face noticed, but decided not to alert anybody yet. No need to scare anyone if nothing will happen.
A few blocks up the road, they were stopped by a group of men, all wearing patches from the Bounty Hunter's Guild. "Stop right there," one said.
The group slowed down. Face saw Janson and Elassar's hands drift down to where their blasters were holstered.
"We need you to come with us," another said.
"And if we refuse?" Corran Horn asked.
"We do not ask. We tell." More people bunched up where the talkers were and the ones following Face and Dia were now drawing blasters.
Corran glanced over at where Kyle was. Face thought they must be able to somehow know each other's reaction, because Corran made his way to the front of the group and Kyle got behind everyone, facing backwards.
The talking men drew force pikes and the men around them started drawing blasters.
Face knew that was it.
Janson and Elassar's blasters both cleared their holsters and fired. One man went down, another rolled to the side.
Face heard a snap-hiss behind him and saw the immediate area illuminate blue as Kyle's Lightsaber ignited. A blaster bolt fired towards him and the bolt intersected with the blade, shooting it into the air.
Face drew his own blaster, spun, and fired. He saw Dia roll towards a building, blaster in hand.
Face fired twice. Both shots connected with flesh, and two men went down. The other men began to duck for cover.
Face heard another Lightsaber, and knew it was Horn's. He risked a glance back, and saw that most of the other Wraiths and Rogues were diving for cover, and Horn's blade deflecting some incoming fire. But he himself was now diving for cover, for he couldn't hold off too many shots fired at him.
Face grabbed Kyle and pulled him behind some crates. Kyle was good with a Lightsaber, but not good enough to keep it up forever.
"What do we do, leader?" Kyle asked, yelling over the blaster fire. His blade was off and he had drawn a blaster.
Face looked over the crates. The Rogues and Wraiths had found cover, but the Bounty Hunters, if that’s what they were, had them boxed in. He cringed when he saw Pedna Scotain take a blaster graze across the arm.
Face thought about it. They weren't exactly equipped for a big fight, like the one they were facing now. Everyone carried blasters, and Corran and Kyle carried Lightsabers. There was Elassar's medkit, Kyle's smaller medkit, Kaya's datapad…
"Kaya, alert CorSec Authority about this fight over your datapad. Tell them that Republic pilots on leave are being attacked," Face ordered over his comlink.
Kyle was doing something with his medkit. "Gimme a sec and I may have a grenade for you."
Face didn't ask how he could make a grenade out of medical supplies. He didn't want to know.
Kyle handed him a case that would have carried a pill prescription. He didn't think twice and threw it at the majority of the attackers. It exploded, and threw flames all over the place.
"How did you do that?" Face asked.
"Don’t ask, sir."
All of a sudden, Face heard a sonic boom heading towards the battlefield. He looked up, and saw an X-Wing pass by, and it had the Rogue Squadron emblem on it. It passed close enough to send some of the attackers looking for cover and a few of them even on the run.
A few seconds later, another passed by, and another. Finally, the attackers made retreat.
Face, blaster still drawn, got up and out into the open. Nobody fired on him.
"Secure," he said over the comlink.
Everyone gathered in the middle of the street. "Was that Rogue Squadron?" Face asked Corran.
Corran, looking just as surprised, said, "No. It was my imagination."
Face starred at him, confused. "What?"
"I was thinking, 'boy, I wish the other Rogues were in their X-Wings and came here.' I think I used some sort of force power that projected that onto everybody else."
"Affect mind, Corran," Kyle said. "I can do it, just, well, not very well. Actually, I've succeeded only three times doing it," he said, putting up three fingers.
Corran thought about it. "Maybe I should talk to Luke about it later."
Face crouched over the body of one of their attackers. "Same guys that you guys picked a fight with in the bar?"
"Same suits. Different guys," came Janson's reply.
"I wonder why they're so angry at us," Face said aloud.
"So they just attacked you?" The CorSec interrogator asked.
"Yes sir," Face answered. "For no reason whatsoever."
"Who fired first?"
"Lieutenant Janson and Flight Officer Targon."
"Then you provoked them to fire?"
"No sir. They were drawing weapons on us, so we did as well."
The interrogator looked around the table. "And which one of you had the grenade?"
Kyle raised his hand.
"And how did you purchase a grenade on Corellia?"
"I didn't purchase it, sir. I made it out of materials in my medkit."
Kyle thought for a moment. "I took an empty container, filling it with bacta gel. I then put active acid compounds into it, added a certain sedative, and closed the container. Captain Loran then threw it."
"And how, may I ask, did it explode?"
"The sedative was flammable. The bacta and the sedative are compounds that stuck to each other. The acid combusted the sedative, and threw all the ingredients into the air. Anyone hit by a piece would start to burn. It is, essentially, a mix between a shrapnel grenade and fire grenade."
"Thank you for the explanation." The interrogator motioned at Kyle's Lightsaber. "I thought the guards said no weapons."
Kyle waved his hand. "It isn't a weapon. It's a tool. It's ok in here," he said in a monotone voice.
The interrogator repeated. "It isn't a weapon anyway. It’s a tool. It's ok in here."
Kyle smiled and looked over at Corran, and held up four fingers.
"We captured three of the men alive. One is complaining about a broken nose. Another is complaining about a broken leg. A third isn't complaining, but he is missing an arm. Can anyone explain?"
Shalla raised a hand. "I punched one man in the nose, and I kicked another in the leg. Does that help?"
Corran also held up a hand. "I took a man's arm off with my Lightsaber. If he sues, he fired first."
The interrogator shook his head. "I thought you weren't violent, Horn."
"If I were violent, he'd also be missing his head."
The interrogator sighed. "As far as we can tell, you didn't provoke the fight, and you tried as best you could to keep it from becoming a full fledged war. The investigation will continue though, and you aren't all out of the woods. You are free to go, but I do want to talk to your superior officer."
At that moment, Wedge, followed by Nawara Ven and Hobbie, walked into the room. "I am their superior officer," Wedge said.
Everyone walked out of the room and Wedge walked in. Ven and Hobbie followed, and Janson, Corran, and Face stayed inside.
Kell, Tyria, Toin, Sheikkell, Piggy, and Runt were waiting outside. The Rogues made their way past and said something about finding Tycho.
The Wraiths all sat down in a waiting area. Dia sighed. "Is anyone as tired as I am?"
All those that had just gotten out of the interrogation room raised their hands. Kell and Tyria laughed.
Runt looked at them. "We think the Wraiths that got into a fight without the rest of us deserve a good beating, so they remember to take us with them next time."
Kell laughed even more. "Runt, you should be a comedian."
Sheikkell made a series of grunts and growls.
"Yes, if we become a comedian, you can come along," Runt said. Everyone in the squadron had been made to learn Wookiee so they could understand Sheikkell.
"Hey Trigger, how come you weren't with us? Had to go back to your room and cry because someone punched you in the bar?" Kyle asked, sounding like a baby.
Toin shrugged. "I can imagine you were crying like a baby during the fight," he countered.
"Ooh, I'll get you for that one."
They waited for Face to get out of the interrogation room. He looked more tired then someone who had been awake for three days strait.
"How did it go?" Kell asked.
Face didn't even stop walking, and everyone got up to follow him. "About as terrible as possible. They're releasing the ones that were alive and they ordered Commander Antilles to order us to avoid bars."
Trigger looked shocked. "Avoid bars?! No way!"
Vape, Face's R2 unit, rolled in. He made the chirping noises generally associated with R2 units.
"No Vape, we can't smuggle one to everyone. But I'll have a cold one."
Vape's domed head opened a small compartment and a chiff of compressed air sounded and shot a container into the air. Face grabbed it.
"So what is there to do on leave if we can't go to bars?" Kell asked, in an annoyed tone.
"Shoot at some annoying Bounty Hunters for payback?" Kyle asked. A few laughed.
Face frowned. "No, Two. But maybe Runt has an idea. He is, after all, moral officer."
Everyone turned to look at Runt. He shrugged. "Maybe we do have an idea or two. But we need more time to think about it. We have already done a formal dance. Perhaps another kind of party?"
"Have the party inside the Bounty Hunter's home base?" Kyle suggested. "Oh, c'mon, then we'll have floor decorations."
Runt thought for a second, then grinned. "Perhaps, if we could speak with the leader and Commander Antilles, we might have an idea."
Face smiled. "Sure. I'll relay it to the Commander."
He and Runt walked off, leaving the other Wraiths in wonder. "I have a bad feeling about this," Tyria said.
Kell and Kyle both moved through the forest. Blasters drawn, they sprinted from tree to tree, using them for cover.
Face had said this was a practice mission. They were to make it to a clearing in the middle of the forest, and had to take out any traps or ambushes they encountered. Holograms and non-harming traps had been placed throughout the forest.
Kell had been partnered with Kyle, because Runt and Face both didn't have to do the training, because they invented it, and partners were assigned wingmates. Kell couldn't believe that this was Runt's idea of a party.
Though he did like being partnered with Kyle. Both had been commandos, and they both thought similar, though Kyle also partially moved like a Jedi. Stopping to sense things, predict, and the move swiftly and silently. He moved in a similar fashion that Tyria did, but not quite the same.
They had already taken four hologram Scout troopers, a fake monofilament wire, three laser traps, and an attacking pack of holographic Nerfs. They were about three hundred meters from the clearing when they heard music.
"Um, either I'm going crazy, or Imperial's are using odd tactics," Kyle whispered.
Kell listened, and smiled. "It's dancing music. I think they have a dance set up in the clearing."
Kyle shrugged. "If not, then I get dibs on shooting the music player."
They finally made it to the clearing, after taking out more traps and holograms. They were the first team there. Face, Runt, and Wedge were standing there. There were picnic tables spread out around the clearing, a makeshift area of grass as a dance floor, and an area where the droids were gathering food.
Kyle holstered his blaster. "Aww, I wanted fight, not dance."
Runt walked up. "If you wish, you could try to win a fight against us."
Kyle looked up at Runt, who stood a good five or six inches taller then he. "I know I'm good at martial arts, but, uh, I lack your strength. I'll pass."
Face tossed them both more comfortable suits, some of their dressier civilian clothing. "We had Squeaky look for things in your lockers up on the Titan's Dream. There are small cubicles over there where you can dress," Face explained, pointing over to a group of makeshift walls.
Kyle rolled his eyes and followed Kell to go change. They emerged a few minutes later.
Slowly, people began to make their way to the clearing. The Rogues Ven and Celchu came a few seconds after Kyle and Kell emerged from the cubicles. A minute after that, Sheikkell and Tyria were in the clearing. Wedge and Face recorded the times, scoring points for the teams but also making sure they weren't uptight about it. It was a training exercise, but it was also suppose to be a day of R&R.
By the time Janson and Gavin made it to the clearing, half the Wraiths and Rogues were already there, some eating, and a few, including Kell and Tyria, were dancing.
Wedge noted that Donos was not among the Rogues right now, but he could guess why. He thought about telling Face, but he would see first if Lara or Donos wanted to tell anybody.
Trigger and Targon were the last to emerge from the forest, and got the applause of everybody else. Face motioned them over, and explained they were tagged 'the slowest team ever' to make it through the exercise. Targon kept complaining how unlucky that tag was, but Trigger didn't seem to mind, because he had the most 'kills' of anybody, taking out twenty-three holograms.
Everybody ate, then Face and Wedge made an announcement.
Wedge started. "Rogues. First place goes to Nine and Ten, Corran and Ooryl, for they got here second fastest in the Rogues with a time of 14 minutes, 34 seconds. Between them, they scored seventeen kills and disabled six traps. Congratulations."
Ooryl spoke. "Ooryl, er, I am pleased with the scores."
Corran gave a thumbs-up. "Next time, Rogues."
Wedge grinned. "Now, worst of you would be Captain Celchu and Lieutenant Ven. You had the fastest time of the Rogues with 12 minutes, 49 seconds, but scored only two kills and disabled no traps."
Everyone booed at them. Tycho shrugged. "That’s only because Ven here is afraid of Nerfs."
Nawara mumbled. "Oh, thanks a lot Tycho."
Face stood and motioned for everyone to calm down. "Wraiths, you're the record holders. Two and Five, you did the best. Between you, twenty-one kills and nine disabled traps. You also have first place in time, at 10 minutes, 13 seconds."
Kell raised his glass and then drank to that. Kyle stood and took a bow.
Face motioned for him to sit. "As for the worst, it actually isn't Targon and Trigger."
Everyone looked surprised. Trigger just smiled.
"They between them had thirty-nine kills and ten disabled traps. They have the record for kills."
"As for the worst, that would belong to myself and Runt, who tested this exercise out. I myself had one kill, but managed to get killed in the process. Runt had four kills and one disabled trap, but also got killed, he fell into a trap. Odd, considering we set the traps ourselves." That brought laughter.
Runt gave a human-style grin. "We would have done better if we would have not placed the trap in such a well hidden area for ourselves to find." More laughter followed.
Wedge stood again. "Now, there's dessert and we have music on for dancing. Have a good time. When you're done, there's a few speeders over across the clearing for your transport back to the city, but make sure that whoever is flying isn't drunk." That brought some aww's and boo's. Wedge just laughed.
Face and Dia jumped out onto the dance floor, followed by Tyria and Kell. Gavin raised an eyebrow and pulled Asyr onto the floor. Shalla forced Piggy out onto the floor, and Ran Kether pushed Inyri Forge out onto the grass.
A shuttle could be heard off in the distance, and it made its way to the clearing and landed. Wedge smiled. "Ah, that would be my surprise." He turned over to Corran. "Corran, surprise, I was able to drag your wife out here."
Corran raised an eyebrow and got up, heading over to the shuttle. Civilian technicians and workers from the Mon Remonda and Titan's Dream. Donos was also among them, pulling someone with him.
Finally, he saw Mirax bound down the shuttle's ramp. Her expression was that of 'I surprised you huh.' Corran himself grinned. They embraced, then moved towards the dance floor.
The dancing lasted well into the night. But everyone was still energetic by the time it hit 2300 hours. There was still dancing, talking, and laughter.
But the fun would stop abruptly.
A blaster shot flew through the air. Nobody saw it coming, and it struck Face across the shoulder. Dia yelled as he fell to the ground unconscious.
The music abruptly stopped as more shots came. People dove for cover, some going for weapons.
Tyria and Kell, closest to Face, ran and grabbed a table, heaved it up, and dragged Face behind it. Tyria rolled across the field to grab her backpack, then got back, getting out her blaster rifle. Kell's pistol had already cleared his holster. Dia took a medpac out of Tyria's things and began applying bacta gel to Face's shoulder.
Sheikkell, Bowcaster in hand, was ducked behind a table and was returning fire. She roared a challenge call that echoed throughout the clearing.
Targon crouched beside Asyr, who had been shot across the leg and had a ricochet hit her in the gut. She had her pistol out, but wasn't firing. Gavin stood over her, a blaster drawn, returning fire that shot towards them.
Corran was yelling into a comlink, trying to alert anybody, CorSec or New Republic, of their trouble. Mirax was right beside him, shooting away with Corran's blaster.
Some of the attackers, obviously now bounty hunters, shot out of the trees and towards the clearing.
One neared Face's position, and Kell tagged him in the leg. Kyle slid in behind him, medkit already open and he began adding more padding to Face's wound and made him swallow something. He was forced to duck when more shots came in, but Tyria returned fire with her rifle.
Another shot soared in and this time connected with Nawara Ven. It hit his mechanical leg, and forced him to the ground. Inyri Forge rushed up to help him, but she two was also shot at. She fell to the ground unconscious.
Kaya had ducked behind another table, had her backpack in hand. She grabbed a concussion grenade out of it, pulled the pin, and then threw it over her shoulder. It flashed, and threw back a few of the attackers.
Ooryl had commandeered a blaster carbine, and had shot down a grouping of bounty hunters.
Wedge himself had a blaster out and was firing away. He nailed one, two, three attackers.
Finally, Corran's help came. Two A-wings, Polearm Nine and Ten flew past the battlefield. But unlike Corran's X-Wing trick, these ships fired. Laser cannons blasted a tree to smithereens, and took with it a few of the attacking bounty hunters.
Finally, the hunters retreated.
"Thanks Polearm Nine," Corran said.
"No problem sir. Medics are on the way."
"Definitely an unlucky day," Targon said.
Wedge sat in the debriefing room, awaiting Admiral Akbar's arrival. Because Face was not present, Kell was also there, as well as Nawara Ven and Captain Quyin Stonnic of the Titan's Dream. Captain Onoma of the Mon Remonda would be listening in over comlink.
Admiral Akbar finally arrived, and everyone stood, saluting. The admiral motioned for them to seat.
"We have discovered that these bounty hunters from the Bounty Hunter's Guild have also attacked General Solo in some incidents. New Republic Intelligence believes they were hired by the remains of Warlord Zsinj's fleet."
Kell raised his hand. "Does this mean we don’t get anymore leave, sir?"
The admiral shook his head. "No, but there are precautions that your units need to follow. One, civilian dress without rank insignia. Two, the more recognizable of you, especially those like Ekwesh and saBinring, need to avoid greatly populated areas, or at least disguise yourselves somehow. That does go with humans too, Commander Antilles."
Wedge nodded. "Not surprising."
"Three, I would like to cut the leave short, but we will not be leaving the Corellia system. The Bounty Hunter's Guild is based on Corellia, so to find any clue as to who hired them; we will need to investigate. Your people have three more days of leave left, but we want you back up on your respected ships at 0700 the next day. Dismissed."
"This is payback, isn't it?" Face asked. Asyr also shifted uncomfortably, but she had a smile on her face.
Runt and Janson both nodded. Janson grinned. "For intercepting great quantities of damage so the rest of us didn't have to, your crowns, o mighty ones." They placed crowns made of paper-like material on both their heads. Asyr giggled, but Face didn't look at all happy.
"Sounds familiar, doesn't it?" Janson said. "For enduring medical treatments without whining, for surviving days of bacta bath without crying, for emerging from your treatment without asking for extra cake and sweetening, your royal scepters." They placed cylinders of metal with different shiny materials plastered onto the end, connected to tassels of string.
Face sighed. "I think next time we should actually go through with the fight to the death, so I'd only have to deal with one of you."
The others laughed. They let Face and Asyr get out of the chairs and turned back to their drinks. They had all gathered in a big common-room that the hotel they were staying at had.
Face sat down beside Dia. "I wish you were still under my command Janson, so I could give you kitchen duty."
"Yub yub Captain."
Face smiled. "But of course, I can just give Runt double duty."
"Then would we have permission to beat Lieutenant Janson up, sir?" Runt asked. That brought laughter.
Targon and Kyle walked into the room. "Good news and bad news," Kyle said.
"Good news. Inyri Forge will be fine!" Targon exclaimed. The Rogues all clapped.
"Bad news, she's as mad as a hornet and will be out of sickbay within the next three hours." Some of the Rogues shuddered and some outright groaned. Elassar and Kyle both laughed and found seats.
Face looked around. "Where's Kell and Shalla?"
Piggy made a squealing noise, which was his version of a laugh. "I just remembered to tell you, forgive me, but they told me to tell everyone. They said they were going to be in the hotel gym and were sparring with each other."
Tyria laughed. "Oh, this I have to see." She stood up and started off towards the gym. The Wraiths all followed, and some of the Rogues after that.
Shalla and Kell were already at it, but it didn't look too good for Kell. He looked bruised and tired, while Shalla didn't look at all tired, or injured. Kell was moving at a shaggy pace; Shalla was jumping like her legs were springs.
"I got thirty creds on Shalla!" Trigger said. "Who's in?"
Face moved in closer. "I don’t think anybody here is. We all know that Shalla is the superior."
Trigger frowned. "Hey, I got a good idea. Besides Kell, who's the best brawler of the Wraiths? And Rogues, who's the best fighter among you?"
Kyle raised his hand. "I think either its me or piggy for the Wraiths."
Corran also raised his hand. "Inyri and I are the best among the Rogues. But I wouldn't let Inyri at anyone, especially after she's already mad."
They turned their attention back to the match, where now Kell was on the ground, Shalla standing over him, one foot planted over his stomach. Tyria laughed.
Trigger continued. "Maybe someday we should have a tournament or something. And the people watching can bet." His features lightened up from the prospect of more money.
As everyone began commenting, Corran stood military-strait all of a sudden and looked around. Something in the force had just told him…
That was it! He turned and sprinted off after someone he saw, who had a comlink to his mouth and was watching the backs of the Wraiths and Rogues. The man also spun and sprinted off to the door.
Piggy was the first to see Horn and he motioned to the others. He then himself began running after them.
Shalla and Kell even noticed, and ran out of the gym, running after the others.
Corran caught up with the potential spy outside. He tackled him, and rolled to the side and got up. The man, who was wearing armor underneath a robe, drew a vibroblade. He thumbed the weapon on, and the hum it made caused Corran to shiver.
The spy jabbed at Corran, who sidestepped and grabbed his arm. He knocked the weapon out of his hand, but the assailant had something else in his other hand. He put it up to Corran's arm, and pulled a trigger. Corran felt his arm numb before his vision began to blur. He fell to the ground, dizzy and unable to keep standing.
The spy tried to run, but Kyle, one of the faster runners, caught up with him. Kyle jumped against a building wall, then catapulted himself over the running man, and had his fist connect with the man's jaw. The man backed up, but was then shoved forward by Piggy. Piggy punched once, hitting the man in the sternum, and he hit the ground unconscious.
The spy blinked open his eyes. They were met with an attack on his vision because of the lighting in the room he was in.
He was lying on a bed commonly used in military sickbays. He saw a man with his back turned.
He didn't think twice. He sat up and went for the blaster that was strapped on the man's thigh, but couldn't quite reach it. The man spun, and the spy found his eyes were now starring at the sharp end of something.
"Move, and I stick this throwing star strait into your eye, and I won't pull it out."
Kyle, once he was sure the man would comply, took the throwing star away from his eye and put it back into his wrist holster. "What's your name?"
"No, my name. It's Quick."
Kyle frowned. "Well, you weren't quick enough to escape." He turned his head to motion for some nearby people to come over.
Four people surrounded him. One was a human female with dark skin. Another was a human male that he recognized as Face Loran. The third was also a human male, and he also was recognizable as Wedge Antilles. The fourth was not human, but Gamorrean.
"How is he?" Wedge asked.
"About as good as possible after being hit in the gut by Piggy."
"What about his jaw?" Face asked, a curious and amused look on his face. Shalla caught on and began to laugh.
Kyle glared. "Dislocated, but I was rushed, so I hit him wrong. It should have hit him so it would stun him and not dislocate anything." Kyle crossed his arms.
"So, Quick, I assume you are with the Bounty Hunter's Guild," Wedge said.
Quick didn't do anything. "I want out of here. You can't force me to say anything. The Guild is a legit business." He started to sit up, but Shalla forced him to keep lying down.
Kyle laughed. Face tried to keep a grin from forming. "Legit business my foot," Face said.
"You do know, your condition isn't that good," Kyle said.
"What are you talking about?" Quick asked.
"You aren't healthy. You've been out cold for nearly two hours. You're still partially in shock. Piggy's blow broke three of your ribs. You can't walk, and might not be able to for a few days. Heck, you can't even see strait."
Quick laid back down, realizing what Kyle was saying was true.
Piggy spoke up. "So should we just jettison his body out the airlock?"
"Maybe we should let Squeaky harass him first," Shalla answered.
"I should probably give him the needle so I can put him out of his misery," Kyle said.
Wedge and Face both still tried to keep from laughing. "Tell us what we want to know, and we'll release you," Wedge said.
Quick sighed. "What is it you want to know?"
"The captive gave information as to who hired them to get us. The person that hired them was a Captain Kamenzi, one of Zsinj's men. The Bounty Hunter's Guild was contacted by Holonet, from the planet Argovia. It's an Imperial held world, but barely inside Imperial held space," Wedge explained.
Wedge had assembled the Wraiths and Rogues in the Mon Remonda's debriefing room. Even Donos was among them, and he had, at Wedge's permission, brought Lara aboard. She would be on as a civilian, and nobody would know it was her.
"The city Argovia is moderately populated, around 300,000 right now. The Imperial base that the message originated from is a few klicks away from the main city. To get our snubfighters into Argovia, we're going to do the same thing we did with Saffalore. There's an asteroid belt nearby, and we'll insert our starfighters in a 'natural' meteor shower. We'll terrain follow, then land here, 40 klicks away from the city," Wedge explained, pointing to a valley north of Argovia City.
Gavin raised his hand. "Are we babysitting again?"
Wedge managed a small grin. "No. Because the base is outside of the city, we're going to insert ourselves inside the city. Some of us will be civilians. A few of us will have different identities, because of the racial problems that the Imperials have. We do have two freighters registered to traders, and some of you will be acting as their crew. The Rogues will also be inserted into the city."
Wedge then pointed at the base. "The Rogues will gather information about the city. Then they will somehow cause a distraction, but lets make sure it's one that won't kill any civilians. They will divert the Imperial base's attention to the city, and once they send support, the Wraiths will infiltrate the base. They will gather information, then get out and retreat back to the city. X-Wings won't be used as a priority, but they will be there if we need them."
"What, exactly are we going to look for?" Shalla asked.
"Information on Captain Kamenzi, and his connections to Zsinj. Information on Imperial fleets. Information on the strengths the Imperials have on Argovia. Argovian citizens are Republic allied, but the Imperials are holding the planet, so we're going to free the planet."
Forge also asked a question. "What kind of distraction were you planning on, Commander?"
"I don’t know yet. But Rogues, sleep on it. We need an Idea tomorrow. Mon Remonda and Titan's Dream will be arriving near Argovia tomorrow at 1100 hours. I want all people in the docking bay at 0900 for the last debriefing. Also, everyone see Face and Corran, who are in charge of their respected Squadron's ID's and duties. Dismissed."
Face gathered the Wraiths in the docking bay so they could do any touch-ups on their fighters while he explained their part in the mission.
"First, We'll be using our own names, but with fake backgrounds. I do, however, hope we won't need the ID's. Second, when we arrive at the Imperial base, Lieutenant Tainer and Nelprin are in charge."
Kell, leaning against his X-Wing, said, "And if anybody calls me Demolitions Boy, they get a punch in the gut."
Face continued. "Some of us are going to be civilians. However, we have to make a few different ID's for some of you. This planet is culturally diverse, but Gamorreans and Twi'leks aren't exactly that common. While in the public eye, Kyle is a Trader who owns the freighter Seahawk. Runt and Piggy, you're his bodyguards. Sheikkell, his first mate. As for you, Dia, you get to be my mistress."
Kell frowned at him. "And whose bright idea was that?"
Face gave him an innocent look. "Not me. Anyway, the rest of us will be a civilian. Kaya is going to slice into the city's main computer and gain us identities."
Kyle, from atop his X-Wing said, "Make sure to double check her information, or she may give you some sort of disease in your medical background."
Kaya glared at him. "And I'll also dig up information on the Imperial base. If anything is flagged, I'm sure I can find a way around it."
"How are we going to get transport to the city?" Shalla asked.
"Republic infiltrators on the planet that have been there for a while will meet us there with transport," Face answered. "They're also going to help the Rogues with the distraction."
Blast, Kyle's R2 unit whistled something. "Is anyone staying with the fighters when we leave?" Kyle translated.
Face nodded. "Two of the Rogues will be at the base at all times, and a couple of the Republic operators on the planet will also stay." Face then looked around to see if there were anymore questions. There weren't.
Over two dozen starfighters and one shuttle flew over the green wastelands of Argovia. They flew a mere five hundred meters above the land, keeping low to avoid sensor net detection.
Face looked to his port, then starboard. Kyle and Sheikkell were right behind him, Kyle's X-Wing more noticeable with a blue trim, the color of his Lightsaber, instead of the Wraith's Grey. Sheikkell's was also more noticeable, an X-Wing that was a mix between the common one seated, and the newer two seated. It had only one seat, but to accommodate her bigger build, took up most of the second seat's space.
Face started assessing his team and what he would do with each of them when they reached the base. He knew Kell and Shalla must be thinking the same thing, but Face found it comforting to do it, especially since he was bored.
Obviously, if the team split up, Kell would be in one group and Shalla in the other. They both were good commandos. Kell was their demolitions expert, and Shalla their intelligence expert. They also both had great skill in unarmed combat and the use of infiltration devices.
Tyria was a silent mover who could scout locations or do a recon of the terrain. She wasn't exactly the best at combat, but she could hold her own, and her minor force powers helped her do things the others weren't able to do.
Runt was especially good at forward assaults. His superior strength made him more resistant to damage, and he could easily push or pull things that normal humans couldn't achieve. He also was very alert; his sense of site and smell quite stronger then humans. He was usually given the task of carrying things the others might need also, because what might be heavy to humans wasn't to him. He also carried the team's communications equipment.
Dia was in charge of transport. She was good with all sorts of starships and repulsorlift vehicles, and could learn how to use a new one in a matter of seconds. She was in charge of getting them out if they needed a quick escape. She also was proficient with vehicle weapons and could man any sort of blaster turret.
Sheikkell wouldn't actually go inside the base. She would stay outside, at the edge of the forest area surrounding the base and snipe at any trouble leaving or entering the building.
Targon and Kyle would also go to one team or the other if they split up. Both were great medics.
Targon was very perceptive, noticing very hard to see, smell, or hear things that might compromise their situation. He could detect these pretty accurately.
Kyle was also a commando like Kell. He was a good fighter, and he had force powers that Tyria did not. He wasn't very offensive, but he could slow or stop incoming fire with his Lightsaber. He was also proficient in unarmed combat, and as some people say, was extremely lucky at things he tried that were new to him.
Piggy was their tactical leader. He could plan out a way to defeat a superior enemy within a few seconds of seeing the layout or problem. He used mathematics to his advantage, but also sometimes would go against odds, and would succeed.
Kaya was their computer expert. She cracked codes, broke into secure information, and could also program defensive systems to be used against the people they're defending.
That left Trigger. He was their combat specialist. A sharpshooter. A strategist. He knew the insides-out of most weaponry and devices, and could exploit weaknesses in their design. He was proficient at using almost any type of gunnery system, and could tag a one-inch target with an AT-ST cannon at 20 meters away.
Then there was himself, Face thought. He could create disguises, and bluff his way through security. He could pretend to be someone originally from Corellia, or Courscant, or Alderaan, just by the way he walked and talked.
Face heard a beep, and looked down at his radar. They were only a few more minutes away from the landing zone. Better focus back onto flying.
Wedge motioned for Face and Tycho to come with him. They walked into the tent that was set up as the 'office.'
"Squadron status?" Wedge asked.
Face spoke first. "All Twelve starfighters in the green. Shalla is having some problems with her forward stabilizer, but nothing major. Teams debriefed on their jobs, and everyone equipped and prepared."
Tycho nodded. "Identical status. All fighters are A-OK and accounted for. Teams also debriefed and ready. Support crew in Nawara's shuttle are already refilling the fighters with fuel."
Wedge nodded. "Any injuries bothering the pilots?"
Face rubbed his shoulder. "Still a bit cramped, but it won't get in the way."
Tycho shrugged. "Asyr is back to normal. Nawara has his leg fixed. Forge is still mad, but mostly just because she's frustrated all the time anyway."
"Good. Our contacts will be here in six hours. Get some sleep. I want Shalla, Tyria, Gavin, and Janson on first watch."
They both nodded then retreated back to the landing site.
Triad, Kaya's R2, beeped from below Kaya's X-Wing. Kaya jumped down and listened.
"That's odd. Would Imperials do that daily?"
Triad whistled a negative. "Then why would they be tracking the incoming and outgoing ships like that?"
Triad didn't know. Kaya walked towards Face to tell him.
"Sir, my R2 unit said that he did a sensor's check of the city and base while we were terrain following. He said that they were tracking all incoming and outgoing starship traffic using laser-comm systems, a way to have direct observation of the ship. Would you know why?"
Face shook his head. "No, but I may have an idea. Get Dia and Shalla over here."
"What is it?" Kell asked.
Sheikkell growled something. She gave him the macrobinoculars and pointed at something.
"A cargo skiff with proton torpedoes entering the base. So?" Kell replied.
Sheikkell mumbled something.
"Yes I know there aren't TIE bombers at the base. Only a squadron of Interceptors. So?"
Kyle crawled up to them. "So that means either the torpedoes are going to be equipped onto the Interceptors, they're going to be used for something that we don't know about, or intelligence was wrong and there are TIE bombers there. Our Intelligence hasn't been perfect so far."
Kell handed the macrobinoculars back to Sheikkell. "Let's get back to the city and report this to the Commander."
"Ok, you made your recon of the base. Now I want all Rogues to split into teams of seven. The Wraiths split into teams of six. I want you to go around, gather all information you can about the base, and anything that might be able to be turned into a distraction," Wedge ordered.
"Tycho and myself are in charge of Rogue teams. Face and Kell, you're in charge of Wraith teams. Each team, pick an area of the city to gather info. Dismissed."
Four hours later, all the Wraiths had returned from the two teams and gathered in a café on the northern part of the city. It was mostly metropolis, shopping and office work.
"What did we get on the base?" Face asked.
Kaya consulted her datapad. "Seven level base. Hexagonal shape. Roughly one square mile big. Civilian and military workers both have jobs inside. Civilian workers mostly act as technicians and recreational management. Barracks with roughly a legion of mixed stormtroopers and army troopers. Big vehicle bay with speeders, speeder bikes, AT-ST's, and one AT-AT. Starfighter bay with one squadron of TIE Interceptors."
Face nodded, absorbing the information. "Defensive system?"
"Unknown," Shalla said. "Hopefully the Rogues got more information on that then we did."
"What about the distraction?" Face asked.
"Three ideas, sir," Kyle answered.
"One: the Rogues pretend to be construction workers. They close off a major street. Cause traffic build up. The Imperials come to crowd control and ask why the construction workers didn't notify the local garrison."
Face thought. "Pretty good idea, but it wouldn't divert too much attention.
"Two: we have the Rogues crash one of the freighters outside of the city, near the construction of the new office buildings on the east side of the city. The crash will be near enough to the construction to slow its production, and get complaints, but not close enough to injure anyone."
"Also good, but it wouldn't divert too many troops."
"Three: we crash a pair of the X-Wings outside of the city after flying near the base. It does have turbolaser to defend it, and we pass the X-Wings close enough to it's outer perimeter to be detected. The shoot at us, and we purposely damage our own X-Wings. They crash outside of the city, then they send troops out to investigate for spies."
Face raised an eyebrow. "And the X-Wing's would be remote-controlled, right?"
Kyle shrugged. "Unless the Rogue's are crazy enough to actually want to fly in them."
"Well, that's a good plan. The Rogues that lost their fighters would just use the freighter that's assigned to them and use that to get back to the Mon Remonda. And we could try to steal a couple TIE Interceptors from the base for them to use until we get replacement X-Wings. I like it."
Kyle leaned back into his chair, satisfied.
Face stood. "I'll present the idea to the Commander. We'll move out tonight. Head back home to get a few hours of sleep and we'll all meet near the command tent."
"From now on, use numbers, not names," Face ordered. He looked at the group he'd assembled. "Five, demolitions?"
"Ready to go, one."
Face looked at Kyle and Targon. "Medical equipment?"
"Ready for any sort of emergency," Targon answered.
"Primed and ready, one," Kaya answered.
"Two speeders ready and willing," Dia responded.
Sheikkell roared an affirmative.
"We are ready, one," Runt affirmed.
They hopped into the speeders. One was an old XP-38 that had been modified to carry four. The second was a small cargo skiff that carried the other Wraiths and any extra gear that might be handy.
On the way, Face assessed their equipment.
He himself carried a Blastech DL-22 blaster pistol. He had it modified for more punch, but it kept the range. He also carried a spare medpac, his datapad, and a pair of macrobinoculars.
Runt had the communications backpack on him. It would be used to contact the Rogues if they needed support. He also carried infra red goggles, and a T-321 blaster carbine.
Targon had his field medkit slung over his shoulder. It had all the latest medical supplies; bacta gel, bacta bandages, fast-hardening paste, field medicine, disinfectant spray, laser scalpel, stimulants, tranquilizers, and a medical scanner. He used a Merr-Sonn 44 blaster for offense and defense, and wore a blast vest.
Kyle also had his field medkit, but it was a smaller model then Targons'. He also carried a Merr-Sonn Power 5 heavy blaster pistol, modified for better range, infra red goggles, and his all important Lightsaber. He carried multiple concealed weapons, but nobody knew where and what every single one was.
Shalla had a Sorosuub Stormtrooper One blaster rifle. It was great for any situation. She also carried a small toolkit, infra red goggles, spare medpac, and macrobinoculars.
Piggy didn't carry much. He had brought along on this mission a Prax 'Blast and Smash' rifle that had a normal blaster and a micro-grenade launcher put in one.
Kaya carried a heavily modified datapad she used for code slicing and information downloading. For offensive and defensive, she had a Blastech DL-18 pistol. She also carried a lock pick tool kit, a spare medpac, some rations, and wore a blast vest.
Trigger was the heavily armed one of the group. He didn't carry anything that wasn't a weapon. He had a Blastech A-280 blaster rifle, a DL-44 heavy pistol, three fragmentation grenades, and a spare Q2 holdout.
Contrary to Trigger, Dia didn't carry much weaponry. She had a small sporting blaster that was modified for greater range and a bit more damage. She also carried a datapad for vehicle controls, macrobinoculars, and wore a blast vest.
Tyria also traveled light. She had a Sorosuub Stormtrooper one carbine and a pair of macrobinoculars.
Sheikkell didn't have anything but a spare medpac and her Bowcaster. Her weapon had been extensively modified, with a longer barrel and extended ammo housing. It shot faster, shot farther, and shot more then a typical Bowcaster.
Kell carried relatively low on weaponry, he only had a Merr-Sonn Flash 4 pistol, but carried enough explosives to blow a good-sized crater into the planet. He also had macrobinoculars, and a tool kit.
Everyone of course, also had comlinks, but they would avoid using them at all possible.
It took the Wraiths about forty minutes to get into position. Clicking his comlink three times over the Rogue's channel told them they were ready and in position.
Sheikkell set up herself beside the vehicles, covered by sensor nets and trees. She laid down on the top of a small hill to get a better view of the area. The other Wraiths waited below her, at the base of the hill, behind a small stream.
Kell, Tyria, Face, and Shalla all looked through macrobinoculars. Kyle just wore night vision. He had assured the others he could see everything fine, even thought they were almost six hundred meters away from the outer perimeter of the base.
Sheikkell grunted from her position.
"We see it, an AT-ST is leaving the base," Face said.
"Looks like two speeder bikes, three speeders, and a flying fortress is also leaving. They plan on bringing any survivors back with them if they find any," Tyria said.
"Flying Fortress, we didn't know they had one of those in there," Kell said.
Face frowned. "For now, that looks like all they're sending. We'll have to move in."
All the Wraiths got up from their position, except Sheikkell.
"One, how are we going to get inside? They have a shock gate around the perimeter, and the main gate is heavily guarded." That was Dia.
"Five has equipment that will get us past the gate, then we're heading through the back door. It has less guards, which we can avoid."
"How?" Dia asked.
"Four and two both say they can do something to keep the guards from noticing."
"What if they mess up?" Dia looked at the horror stricken face Kyle gave her. "Uh, no offense."
"Do or do not, there is no try," Kyle whispered. "We'll handle it. Don't worry."
They made their way up to the shock fence, and avoided the spotlights that passed by. They didn't get too close, or they would be hit by electricity that could take out an X-Wing. They hid close to the sentry tower, so close that the guards wouldn't see them.
Kell moved up to the gate, then placed something over it. He hit a few switches, then moved away. The thing made noises like it was being shocked by electricity, then nothing.
Kell motioned for Kyle to move closer. Kyle understood immediately, and powered up his Lightsaber. The blue light it emanated immediately dimmed as he hit a switch. It's light illuminated only its close surroundings. He then sliced bit by bit through the fence, until there was a big enough hole for people to get through.
He powered down his weapon, drew a blaster, and then went through first. As soon as he was through, he ran up to the side of the building, crouched, blaster ready, in case they encountered guards.
Kell went through next, mimicking his movement but faced the opposite side. Face went through next, followed by Targon. Shalla was the last through, and the others were already quietly moving up the side of the building, Kell in the lead.
They made their way to the back door. Two stormtroopers stood watch, but they were looking outward, not noticing Kell peak around the corner of the building.
Kell motioned for Tyria and Kyle to come up to the front of the line. They both nodded at each other, then peaked around the corner. Kyle waved his hand for a second, and Tyria looked like she was there more for support, holding onto Kyle's shoulders. They both retreated back behind the corner.
Kyle peaked around again and threw a small rock across the stormtroopers field of vision. They didn't react.
He motioned for the others and crossed a trooper to the door. The other Wraiths followed, and Dia stopped for a fraction of a second to wave her hand over the stormtrooper's eyes. He didn't move.
Kaya connected her datapad into the door terminal and began hitting buttons. A few long, tense seconds later, she was able to open it.
They got inside and closed the doors behind them. Nobody was inside the doors, and there was a long hallway with places for the Wraiths to hide for a while. Kyle took a deep inhale of breath.
"How did you do that two?" Dia asked.
"Something like affect mind. I take what they're looking at, and basically put that picture on repeat. They only see the boring old landscape while we move past." Kyle was now breathing heavily. "But that takes a lot of concentration, and unfortunately, I forgot to breathe during that time."
Kell scanned the area. "No sign of sensors or traps."
"Good work five. Also good work two and four. Let's move out."
They moved up the corridor and came to a T split off. Two stormtroopers walked past them up ahead, but didn't see them.
Kell and Shalla moved up behind them and hit them both over the head with the butt of their blasters. Both troopers fell unconscious.
The Wraiths all moved up to the intersection. Kaya said, "Security is to the left, near the barracks, and the computer core and offices are to the right. There are turbolifts both places."
Face nodded. "Nine, you take eight, eleven, and twelve with you. Take out the security systems and disable communications. Also see if you can maybe lock the door to the barracks to keep those off duty from going on duty. Once you're done, make it back to three's position. I'll take the rest to the computer core, then to the docking bay."
Shalla nodded, accepting her task. She, Targon, Piggy, and Trigger made their way down the left path.
Face and his group took off up the right path. They encountered two stormtroopers patrolling, but were quickly taken out by Kell and Kyle.
They arrived at the computer core, ten minutes later. They hid in a small repair shed nearby, keeping low to avoid the guard's attention.
"There are eight guards, and nine technicians. The guards of course are armed, but the techs aren't. We also have security recorders, but if nine does her job, they won't matter," Kell assessed.
Tyria checked the charge on her blaster. "We closed the door, and the room is soundproof. So they won't hear blaster fire. But how long should we wait for nine to get her position secure?"
"We'll give them ten minutes. But no longer. If the on-light on the recorders don't go out, just make sure to take them out first," Face answered.
Shalla made her way up the corridor. They passed a refresher room, a couple of unoccupied offices, and took out a couple of sentries.
Finally, within fifteen minutes, made it to the security control room. She drew her blaster rifle, and saw Piggy and Targon do the same. She glanced inside, and saw there were only four people inside: two guards, one tech, and one officer.
She risked another glance inside. The tech was unarmed. The others were, but they would be dealt with. She motioned to the room, put up three fingers, made a motion like she was firing a gun, then held up one finger and mouthed 'innocent.' Targon and Piggy both caught on quickly. Trigger nodded a few seconds after that.
They all counted to three, then bounced up and began firing.
Face saw the on-light from the recorders go off first.
"Nine got it done. Let's move!"
They all counted to three before jumping out from inside the repair shed. Face rolled, came up, and fired multiple times. He saw one trooper go down, and another forced back when grazed. Face followed through with his roll and got behind a computer console.
He saw Kyle also roll out, Lightsaber ignited. He deflected incoming fire as the other Wraiths ran or rolled out of the shed.
Kell jumped out of the room and slid forward. He fired once, twice, three times, shooting down two troopers and injuring one. The third aimed at Kell, but a ricochet shot that Kyle deflected shot into him.
Tyria rolled out behind Kell and took down one troop. She rolled behind Kyle's protection and set her blaster to stun, then fired on the techs.
Dia ran out of the shed, crossing the pathway, shooting down one trooper in the process. She then backed up behind an area of the wall where she couldn't get hit.
Kaya ran a fraction of a second behind Dia, and got of three shots. One took a trooper right in the forehead, but before she could take out the last trooper, a blaster shot hit her in the leg and one grazed her under her left arm. She fell.
Runt was the last out of the shed, and he charged the last remaining trooper. He fired, and hit the enemy in the gut, then rammed him to the ground.
Some of the techs ran at Kell and Kyle, some with improvised clubs made of tools. Kyle backed up as one swung at him and tasoed the man in the forehead. He fell just as another attacked. Kyle blocked the man's wrench with his own arm, grabbed the attacker's own arm. He roundkicked the man in the gut, then brought his leg down and under the man's arm, and in one fluid motion crossed over his arm and kicked him across the chin.
Another tech rushed Kell, who backed up once, then threw one punch. The tech, not expecting this, basically ran strait into Kell's fist, taking it in the collarbone. He fell back stunned.
Face fired once into the air. "You'd better give up, you can't win."
The remaining techs backed up and dropped whatever was in their hands.
Kyle made his way back to where Kaya was laying. She was crying a bit in pain. He began patching up her leg and side.
Once she was feeling good enough to get up, she limped over to the computer terminal. She connected her datapad and got to work. "This'll take about five minutes," she said. "I'm downloading ALL information about this base, this planet, and this system. That should help, one?"
Face nodded. "Do it."
Tyria and Runt gathered the techs into a corner beside the computer terminal. They didn't at all look happy.
Face looked around. "Just in case, we might want to take out the security recorders." Kell and Dia nodded, then began shooting at the ones they could find.
A few minutes later Kaya stood. "Finished." She turned to the techs. "Quite a mess you call a computer core. Next time, try arranging the information in some sort of orderly fashion."
One of the techs got angry and kicked her in the leg. She fell back, but a thwack over the head from Tyria silenced him.
Kaya cried slightly. "Never been shot before," she mumbled.
"Neither have I," Kyle joked. He and Runt helped her up.
"I don’t think I'll be able to walk," she moaned.
Tyria motioned at the techs. "What should we do with them?"
Kyle picked Kaya up. "Kick them all in the legs. Then we'll lock them in here."
Kell shook his head, grinning. "Well, close. Stun them and lock the door."
Tyria didn't think twice as she turned around, set her rifle to stun, then shot all nine of the techs.
"That was mean," Face said. But he couldn't help but laugh.
"Fighterbay?" Kell asked.
"Yes. Move out."
They found the turbolift and took it to the top level.
"That was easy," Targon said. He kicked the imperial officer's body out of the chair.
Shalla nodded. "He didn't even have time to get up. Slow." She stepped over the fallen stormtrooper's bodies and over the tech's stunned body.
Piggy grunted, then his voice box kicked in. "I have wielded the barracks doors shut. The troopers inside do not have the appropriate equipment to escape."
Trigger nodded. "I also destroyed the computers here. This base now has no way of knowing we're inside, or any way of tracking anyone outside. It'll take the guards a while to figure out that they don't have coordination."
Shalla absorbed all the information. "Ok, let's get back out to three's position."
Once they exited the turbolift, they found themselves face to face with a closed blast door.
"Gimme a second," Kaya said. Kyle stood her by the control terminal.
She connected her datapad into the terminal and began to decode the controls. But just as soon as she got the green light to open the door, the floor gave way beneath them.
They all hit the ground three meters below. Face heard Kaya cry out again as she obviously landed on her hurt leg.
"Not again," Face moaned.
"Again?" Kyle asked.
"Same thing happened on Saffalore. Except we fell into an incinerator. This is something different," Kell explained.
Kaya sat up and leaned against the wall. "Sithspit. The controls were made so that if someone tried to slice into the controls, this little trap would activate."
Face looked around at his surroundings and made sure all the Wraiths were on their feet. They were. He looked around and heard Kell swear.
"This is like a trash compactor. Except there's no trash in here, and no door. It's also magnetically sealed."
Face looked up. The ceiling had closed on them. "I don't think there is suppose to be a side exit here. It's a trap with no escape."
The walls began to creak and Face knew what was next. The walls slowly began to move in on them. But they were moving faster then he had suspected. Within thirty seconds, they'd be crushed.
Kyle held out his arms and squeezed his eyes shut. "I can slow them, but someone else is going to have to get us out of here."
Kell pulled the Lightsaber off Kyle's belt. "It's magnetically sealed, but a Lightsaber will get through." He powered it on and thumbed the switch that kept the blade on when released by the user. "Stand clear."
Kell threw it up, and managed to slice a line through the ceiling. He then grabbed the still-on weapon and positioned himself 90 degrees to the right. He threw it, and the blade chopped another line in the material, now making an L in the ceiling.
Kyle began sweating and breathing heavily. "Hurry," he said. The walls, a few feet away from his outstretched arms were making an effort to close, but were being held back by some invisible force.
Kell finally made a square in the ceiling and a piece of the transpasteel fell to the ground.
Kell made a hoist with his arms and hands and Face climbed up and out of the trap. Dia went next, then Tyria.
Runt helped Kell up the hole then they all pulled Runt up next.
Kyle let his grip on the walls go and they began closing in on him. He picked Kaya up, and had the others hoist her up.
Five seconds. Kyle grabbed Kell and Runt's arms and they pulled him up. He got out to his knees and rolled back, pulling his legs up quicker and heard the walls cling together moments after.
Kyle didn't get up. He still breathed heavily. "Next time, I'll just slice the thing open and try to stop the walls using the computer terminal."
Face looked around. "The door is still closed."
Kyle, after a few seconds, stood and took his Lightsaber. "Not a problem." He hit the on switch and was rewarded with the snap-hiss noise that followed. The blue blade then disappeared into the thick material of the blast door, and the door slowly turned an orange color where his blade was. He carved a line from the bottom of the door, up, past his head, around, and down again.
Kell kicked in the door and the part Kyle had carved fell. Kell unholstered his blaster, then stepped through.
The others followed, Face being last. "Looks like they are installing the torpedoes in the interceptors," Kell said.
They looked up and saw that the twelve TIE Interceptors had empty racks of proton torpedoes beside them.
Dia looked, and squinted. "I think these have hyperdrives and shields installed too," she observed. "Like the one the Rogues encountered just before we arrived."
Face smiled. "All the better. Hyperdrive equipped, shield protected, proton torpedo firing ships faster and slightly more maneuverable then X-Wings. All for us to steal and destroy."
Kell turned back. "Is everyone fit to fly?"
Tyria nodded. Runt grinned. Dia shrugged. "I can fly, but I can't walk," Kaya said. Kyle nodded.
Face looked around. "Kyle, get her strapped into the closest fighter, then get in the next one over yourself. Everyone else, shoot at anything that moves. Take off, avoid being shot down, and blow up the hanger once everyone's out. Then we'll regroup back at base."
Kell looked everything over. "Lets set up some sort of position, then have Kyle get out here. Stay here, and get your butt into one of those fighters when we start shooting." Kyle nodded.
They all moved out, except Kyle and Kaya.
Kaya mumbled something and put her arms around Kyle's neck. He shrugged, figuring she was getting prepared for a run.
The other Wraiths set up, then on the count of three, began firing.
Shalla and the others began running. Four stormtroopers were in pursuit of them.
Targon snapped a shot back at them, but missed. "How much further?"
Shalla looked ahead and grinned. "Not any further."
A very sharp sound, something between a blaster rifle and an X-Wing laser cannon, came from in front of them. A red and yellow bolt, an explosive quarrel, blasted over their heads and into the lead stormtrooper. He fell back, a smoldering black hole the size of a fist now in his chest.
A second shot fired and struck another stormtrooper, this time in the shoulder. The other two began firing wildly at Shalla and her team, or up in the general area the enemy fire was coming from. Two more shots whizzed past, and struck the troopers down.
More stormtroopers were coming this way, but either Shiekkell's bowcaster took them down, or the other Wraiths and their smaller weapons. Piggy fired a grenade from his rifle, and blasted a landspeeder to the ground.
They finally made it up to Shiekkell's position and jumped into the cargo skiff and the landspeeder. The base was quickly far off in the distance.
Ooryl spotted the Interceptors first. "Commander, Ooryl sees the other Wraiths."
Wedge, followed by Nawara and Shalla, jogged up to where they were settled in.
Seven starfighters, TIE Interceptors, circled around the makeshift landing area and began to start landing procedures.
Face was the first to land and the first to get out. He immediately found Wedge and the others. "Captain Loran reports success. Seven hyperdrive equipped, shield protected, torpedo armed Interceptors primed and ready."
Wedge looked at him quizzically. "Hyperdrive? Shields? Torpedoes? What kind of Interceptors are they?"
Face shrugged. "They installed a small hyperdrive unit in the fighters. A shield system worthy of an X-Wing, and one proton torpedo launcher loaded with four torpedoes. And they're still almost as maneuverable as they were before."
Wedge frowned. "And how are we going to get all seven of these ships up to the Mon Remonda? We only have so many pilots."
Face shrugged again. "We used them for escape. I didn't expect we'd try to get them all back up to the Mon Remonda. Just two to replace the Rogue's lost X-Wings, and maybe connect one to the docking clamps on the shuttle, so we can research on that one."
Nawara grinned. "The clamps are perfect for just such a transference. We're ready to head back up."
Wedge himself shrugged. "Ok, fine with me. Get your people two hours rest, then we head back up to the Mon Remonda and Titan's Dream."
"Rogue two to leader, we have incoming."
Wedge took a glance at his radar. Sure enough, a Corellian Corvette was trying to block their escape from the planet, and a squadron of Assault Gunboats broke from their formation around the Corvette and headed towards the escaping Rogues and Wraiths."
"Wraith Nine to Rogue leader, we also have a squadron of TIE Interceptors coming up from the planet for us. Looks like they launched from the secondary base."
"Rogue group, I just received word on the surface before we launched that the Mon Remonda's position was compromised. But they don't have enough of a fleet nearby to avert the Remonda from its task. They are launching Polearm and Nova squadrons to help us, including one X-Wing with a specific pilot some of you might have heard of," Wedge said, grinning to himself.
"Wraith Squadron," Face said. "We're flying ahead of Rogue group. I want a cone to break the Gunboat's formation, then split off into wing pairs and take them on. The Rogue's will handle the Corvette and we'll split the Interceptors. Lock S-Foil's in attack position."
All X-Wing's wings unlocked to an X position. The Wraiths throttled up to attack speed and shot strait for the Gunboats.
"Form up, six, you're my wing," Kell said.
"We are your wing," Runt replied.
Kell shot after a Gunboat pair. He throttled down slightly, just barely faster then they were flying. He fired once, twice, and hit the Left Gunboat. It took damage and began to spark.
"Torpedoes away!" Runt said.
Two torpedoes impacted the Gunboats, then they were no more.
"Good shot six. Speed up, we have an Interceptor following us."
"Wraith one, Eight. Engines disabled by ion cannon fire. Requesting pickup."
"Eight, are your shields or weapons still operable?"
"Shields at 35% and weapons still at full. I can keep them at bay for a little while."
"I just sent word to Mon Remonda."
"More TIEs incoming from the planet, and two more gunboats are launching from the Corvette," Tycho observed. "Looks like four more flights of TIEs."
Face pulled a U-turn as a pair of Interceptors came at him head on. Kyle followed suit, pulling in nicely behind him. "Wraith leader, requesting backup! Got two TIEs on my tail."
Face pulled zigzag maneuvers to avoid incoming fire. Kyle followed closely, but not as close to crash into each other.
"Leader, keep going, I have a trick up my sleeve," Kyle said. "Blast," he said, talking to his R2 unit. "Disengage stabilizers and put shields up double front."
Face's diagnostics all of a sudden read that Kyle's stabilizers were turned off. Kyle then cut his engines, and using inertia, spun his fighter upside down, now facing the incoming TIEs. He fired two laser canon shots before shooting a pair of torpedoes, detonating them seconds before the TIEs flew past them. Three spun out of control, and one was destroyed on the spot."
Kyle turned the stabilizers back on and throttled up, spinning around and forming up on Face's wing.
"Sweet move, two."
"You do realize you're now an Ace."
"Yes, leader. Let's see if I can get two ace's in a row," Kyle said with a grin. He and Face turned to pursue a lone TIE.
More laser fire poured into the area. "Polearm group incoming!" Janson said over the comm.
"Followed by my surprise X-Wing," Wedge added.
The one X-Wing in their formation didn't have any shields on, and had all the power from the shields juiced into lasers and engines. He flew out of formation, then dove strait into the crowd of Interceptors. The ship fired, and all shots tagged TIEs. Four shots, two sunken TIEs.
Wedge grinned, watching the radar. "Rogue group, I am turning command over to Rogue leader, Luke Skywalker."
The Rogues all cheered when they heard the order. Luke Skywalker, founder of Rogue Squadron, was the one in the new X-Wing.
"Polearm leader, dive your squadron into the incoming TIEs. Use your concussion missiles from a long range, then switch to lasers. Wraith group, skim the surface of that Corvette. Take out its turbolasers if you can. Rogue group, follow the Wraiths in and aim for the Corvette's engines. Nova group, wait for the shields and engines to go before strafing the Corvette." Everyone recognized Luke's voice giving the orders.
"Wraith leader acknowledges."
"Polearm leader says go."
"Rogue one says green."
"Nova leader standing by."
Luke, privately, smiled. He liked being back in the cockpit.
They all rejoined back on Mon Remonda. No fighters were lost in the battle, and the enemy defensive force had been all but wiped out. The Corvette was now limping back to it's fleet, unable to defend Argovia.
The Rogues, Wraiths, and some of Polearm and Nova group gathered in the main pilots lounge to celebrate their success. Luke was among them, but wearing the same as everybody else; the normal orange pilots suit signifying an X-Wing pilot.
"To the return of Luke Skywalker, founder of the Rogues!" Janson said, standing up. Most of the Rogues drank something down to signify the toast.
Luke laughed. "I won't be flying with you Rogues forever, but I'll be happy to until my business here on the Mon Remonda is done."
The aww's that followed sobered the group. Wedge stood. "Hey, hey, Luke's a busy man. Saving the galaxy every day is a pretty big job, especially for a farm boy." Laughter followed.
Luke smiled and finished drinking before motioning to Wedge and Corran to follow him outside of the lounge.
"So, changed your mind yet about training?" Luke asked Corran.
Corran shrugged. "Next time I have leave, I'll be sure to hunt you down."
Luke turned to Wedge. "Tyria's with the Wraiths, right?"
"How is she progressing…as far as you can tell?"
Wedge thought about it. "She's not the best pilot the Wraiths have, but she does seem to make up for it in intuition. She's saved most of the members at least once from death because of 'a bad feeling' she would have a few moments before something would happen. She hasn't exactly been levitating rocks with her mind though."
Corran snorted. "I can't even do that yet. Heck, I can't even lift a pebble, though I've tried," he looked at Luke. "Er, uh, practiced a few times."
Luke waved it off. "What about this Kyle? His mother was a Jedi?"
Wedge shrugged. "His mother was recorded as a Jedi that never was exterminated by Vader. She hid her powers, not revealing them to anyone, save her husband. They had a child, and somehow found Kyle to be force sensitive. She trained him, and he joined the commandos just after she died."
"Are you sure about him?"
"Yeah. His history was checked out. He grew up on Chandrila with his mother and father until he was thirteen. They then lived on Sluis Van for a while, and his mother died there, when he was sixteen I think. He joined the New Republic at seventeen. He's now twenty."
Corran raised an eyebrow. "You should see this kid deflect blaster fire. I've only seen you do it better. And he has healing skills, but said that I probably couldn't learn them."
Luke smiled. "Corellian Jedi aren't exactly know for their healing powers. On the other hand, those that originate from Chandrila actually are more common." He thought for a second. "Wedge, I'd like it if I could arrange to meet him tomorrow in the Mon Remonda's gym. I'd like to see what he's made of, and what I can learn from him."
Wedge raised an eyebrow. "What you can learn from him? I think you got that backwards."
Luke just smiled.
Luke waited with his pack of things for Kyle to arrive.
He got there a few minutes after 0800. He was wearing something Luke had never seen before.
"What is that?" Luke asked. He looked at Kyle from shoulders to feet.
His shoulders were covered by some sort of pads that could be connected to a cloak if he wanted to wear one. He wore a black shirt over his torso that looked more like black stormtrooper armor then a black shirt. Similar material was used as arms, and hung loosely. His belt had a holster for a Lightsaber, not a place to clip it to. There was a loincloth, hanging from underneath the belt, and the same black material for pants. His boots were military-style, but not issued. It looked like a black version of what Obi-Wan had worn on Tatooine.
"My mom said it's similar to what she wore sometimes, during training. Its some sort of outfit made out of materials good for training. That is, what I assume, we're going to do here."
Luke shrugged. "I would like to see some things you can do. I wasn't taught everything I could have been."
"So what's first?"
"I would like to see your healing powers, but we don't have anybody that's hurt. So I would like to start with your Lightsaber. Did you train with remotes?"
Kyle nodded. "How many do you have?"
"I trained with four."
Luke looked stunned. "Corran can barely manage two. You can take four?"
Kyle nodded. "I haven't done it in a while, but I use to be able to."
"Let's see then."
Luke took the controls of the remotes and sat down on a bench against the wall. Kyle ignited his blade, and waited for the remotes.
Luke launched four at Kyle, all spinning and moving at different speeds. Kyle didn't watch every one, he starred forward, Lightsaber covering him from waist to head.
One from behind him fired. His Lightsaber swung over his head and behind him, deflecting the shot at another angle away from him. Another fired from low and to his left, a he spun away from it, deflecting the shot with the blade from behind him as he turned.
Luke watched as Kyle moved. Unlike how Yoda had taught him, Kyle didn't look alert, but more impassive, similar to someone in a trance. He deflected fire, but using flowy spins and turns, not turning to face each shot as they came at him.
Within half an hour, Kyle was still at it, and had deflected one shot back at the remote. That remote lay on the ground, charred from the shot.
Luke stood and turned the other remotes off. They hovered back to his bag.
"Impressive. I've never seen someone deflect fire like that."
Kyle turned the blade off and rubbed sweat off his forehead. "Now what do you want me to do?"
Luke thought about it for a minute. Kyle sat down to rest. "Wedge said he once saw you with a throwing star. How accurately can you throw it?"
Before Luke totally turned around to see his reaction, a throwing star whooshed past his right ear, across the room, and hit a button near the door to lock the gym.
Luke turned to see where it had landed, then turned back to Kyle. "Was that on purpose, to throw it that close to my ear?"
Kyle shrugged. "Least I could do after half an hour of avoiding painful bolts zapping at me."
Luke measured the distance from Kyle to the place his star had connected. "Fifty meters?"
"I'm accurate within an inch of the target for seventy meters. A force power my mom taught me enhances my strength, then I use the power you used at the Death Star to enhance eye and hand coordination."
Luke raised an eyebrow. "Any other powers that you know that I might not know of?"
"Teras Kasi, but that's not exactly a power. My mom was a Jedi. Can you guess what my dad was?"
"Master at Teras Kasi."
Kyle nodded. "Teras Kasi is usually the best when someone has force powers. It is a force based system of martial arts."
Kyle thought about it. "No, except the healing powers. Three of them: relieve the tired, heal the injured, and curing poisons. I never got around to learning the curing disease before my mom died."
"How did your mother die?"
Kyle sighed. "Imperial's were trying to crowd control during a riot. My mom tried to defend the civilians, but she didn't have her Lightsaber with her. The stormtroopers didn't set for stun."
"I'm sorry. What about your father?"
"He's out there, somewhere. I would guess somewhere near Sluis Van."
"Are there any sort of archives, or recordings, or anything that your mother had that might contain information on the Jedi?"
Kyle thought about that for a few seconds. "A few artifacts, which I carry, instructions to build a Lightsaber, and a journal where she kept the progress of my training."
"Do you have the journal?'
"Yeah, it's in my room."
"May I see it?"
"Just go find my room. It's unlocked. You'll find it in the top drawer of my nightstand. I have flight duty to attend to."
Luke nodded. "Thank you."
Kyle shrugged and left.
When Kyle and Face got done with their patrol, Targon had them called to sickbay.
"I examined Kaya's injuries and she's already had a dunk in the bacta tank. I sent her to her room, and then she's fit to fly tomorrow," Targon explained.
Face nodded. "We have a mission tomorrow. Glad she'll be able to attend."
Targon shrugged. "Anyway, Kyle, she wants to see you."
Kyle walked towards her room. Once he was out of hearing range, Face asked Targon "Do you think there's anything going on between them?"
Targon snorted. "Who knows. By the way, did Kyle's promotion come through?"
Face frowned at him. "How did you know about that?"
"It's on his profile that he was denied a promotion three times. I kinda expected after that moved he pulled last night that he would get one."
Face still frowned. "Yes it did. But you tell anyone, you know how unlucky that will be."
Targon laughed all the way back to his room.
Kyle sat down on a chair beside Kaya's bed. "What?"
"Thank you," she said, brushing a lock of her black hair out of her face. She took his hand and kept it in a firm grip.
He sat up on her bed. "For what?"
"Saving my hide back on Argovia."
Kyle frowned. "I didn't save your hide back on Argovia."
"Yes you did. Quit the humble Jedi crap."
"What 'humble Jedi crap?'"
Before he could resist, she pulled him in for a kiss. She could feel his surprise, but he didn't resist, and his arms wrapped around her waist. Warmth engulfed him, as he felt her presence in the force flow over him. Her kiss tasted sweeter then anything he'd ever felt before and he shivered at the sensation.
She broke the kiss, and he looked a bit confused. "Uh, I, um…"
She smiled and pulled him in again. This time, they didn't let up for a long, long time. She pulled him down so that her head was back on her pillow, and he followed. Her arms wrapped around his neck, keeping him from escaping. She hit a switch near her bed, and the door into her room closed and locked.
He broke from her, looking back at the door. "I, uh, don’t think this is such a good idea," he said.
She pulled his lips back to hers, but this time his sense of control was lost and he didn't look back.
"Our next mission involved mostly starfighter combat," Wedge began.
"We will be taking on the one major starship they have in the system, an Imperial-Class Star Destroyer named the Mayday. We have the pleasure of knowing that four of its turbolasers are inoperable, and is missing four TIE fighters. The captain of the ship is in direct contact with the captain that tried to kill us, Captain Kamenzi. We are to disable the Star Destroyer, and capture the captain and first officer."
Gavin raised a hand. "What kind of support does she have, sir?"
"One Lancer-Class starship, a Corellian Corvette, which we have already incapacitated, and two patrol craft."
Gavin almost laughed. "Against the Mon Remonda, Titan's Dream, Surefire, and Rogue Squadron? They have no chance."
"Hey, don't forget Wraith, Polearm, and Nova Squadrons. As well as Talon, Blizzard, and Terror Squadrons from the Titan's Dream," Face said. Donos perked up at the mention of Talon Squadron, which had just recently been re-commissioned.
Wedge cleared his throat to quiet Face. "So all we have to do is take out its support craft and TIEs, and then have Nova and Terror Squadron disable the destroyer. Anything else? No? Dismissed."
"Attention!" Face said.
The Wraiths all stood at attention. They were in the docking bay, performing preflight checks on their ships.
"Flight Officer Maloy," Face ordered. Kyle was before him within seconds, a bit unsure at what was going on.
"Since joining the Wraiths, you have demonstrated tactics that have saved the lives of other members, and have shown great leadership skills. For this, I present you the rank of Lieutenant, fresh from starfighter command." Face tossed him the rank insignia.
Kyle saluted, then went back to his work as if nothing had happened. Face just laughed. The others clapped before returning to their business.
Kaya jumped down from her X-Wing and found Kyle behind his. They kissed, a long, lingering one.
Kaya backed up and hugged him. "So, Lieutenant, what are you going to do now?"
"Turn myself in. You do realize, that what we did last night is illegal. You're still only seventeen."
She smiled. "Does it count if I say I love you?"
He thought about it. "Darn, I was hoping to court-martial myself."
Kaya kissed him again before turning back to her ship.
"Wraith leader to Wraith eleven, secure channel."
"Wraith eleven here. What's up?"
Face sighed. "Sure glad I didn't bet you about Kyle and Kaya. They do seem to be together."
He heard Targon laugh over the comm system. "Not my business."
Face then switched it to a secure channel to Dia. "What do you think?"
"Who? Me? About what?"
"Kaya and Kyle."
"Oh, oh. They're sleeping together."
"How did you come to that conclusion, o observant one?"
Dia laughed. "I heard them. My X-Wing was right next to Kyle's in the docking bay, and they were talking about it."
"Who exactly makes the rules?"
"Uh, I'll have to get back to you on that one." Face hit the off switch.
"Rogue leader to Wraith one."
"Wraith one here."
"I would like to accompany the boarding party."
Face remembered that Rogue leader wasn't Wedge, but Luke. "We'd be happy to have you, Commander."
Face turned the comm back to the Wraiths channel. "Wraiths, we'll be having one more person on the boarding party with us."
"Rogue one to all squadrons. Three minutes from the Mayday's outer perimeter forces. Be prepared."
"Wraiths, check in."
"Wraith two, primed and ready."
"Wraith four has four engines green."
"Wraith five has go."
"Wraith six is ready"
"Wraith seven is in the green."
"Wraith eight is prepared for combat."
"Wraith nine, ready."
"Wraith ten is set."
"Wraith eleven is good to go."
"Wraith twelve, ready to fire."
Face grinned. "Lock S-foils in attack position and break into flights. Two flight, engage outer perimeter mines. Three flight, engage incoming TIEs. One flight, we're going to fall back and cover Nova Squadron."
Face saw the flights break off and head for their objectives. He also saw Rogue Squadron breaking formation and doing the same. Polearm's A-Wings were already engaging the TIEs. Blizzard, Nova, and Terror Squadrons were starting bombing runs.
Face broke right to form up above and slightly ahead of Nova Squadron's position.
"Torpedoes away!" Face said. He saw his two torpedoes fly towards the Star Destroyer, followed by the torpedoes from Wraith two, three, and four.
"Switching to lasers." Face fired, strafing the destroyer's shields. "Nova Squadron, you have the go."
"Nova Squadron commencing run."
"Rogue seven here, I see the patrol craft turning their position towards the battlefield. Estimated ETA, two minutes."
"Wraith nine here, I've been grazed by a turbolaser. I need cover to get out of the destroyer's fire arc."
"Wraith ten, eleven, twelve, fire at the destroyer and give nine cover," Face ordered.
"Lancer frigate destroyed," Wedge reported.
"Blizzard Squadron has destroyed the remaining mines."
"Rogue seven, the patrol craft are now within firing range."
"Rogue leader here. Nova, Polearm, engage the patrol craft. Get them out of the picture," Luke ordered.
"Wraith Squadron, commence another strafing run," Wedge said.
Face acknowledged and broke left to get into formation. He waited for his targeting computer to get a lock on the destroyer before firing. "Wraiths, fire at will."
More torpedoes followed Face's, and impacted the destroyer. It retaliated by firing turbolasers at the squad. "Break back into wing pairs. Terror squadron is going to take out the destroyer's shields, then we can board."
"Titan's Dream commando team standing by, Wraith Squadron."
Terror Squadron's B-Wings moved in, and fired at the bridge of the destroyer. The torpedoes connected with the shield generators and an explosion followed.
"Mayday's shields are gone. Terror leader to group, break back to stand by position. Wraiths, you have the go."
"Wraiths, back to cruise position and fall back to beside the commando team. Rogue and Talon squadron will cover us."
Face prepared his equipment, but he wasn't too worried. Luke Skywalker, the one that had destroyed the original Death Star, and had survived at the hands of the Emperor and Darth Vader, would be joining his team.
"Docking bay secured," Major Tomake said.
"No problem sir. Commandos, we're heading to the main engine room. Move out!"
Face watched as the commandos made their way out of the room.
Piggy, from atop a catwalk, said, "Should we go strait to the bridge? Or try for someplace else?"
Face snorted. "I would have thought you would know more then I would, after all, you did capture a Corellian Corvette single handedly."
The Wraiths all gathered into a huddle, except Piggy and Shalla, who were guarding the entrances. The Wraith had worn dark gray flight suits for this mission, so they weren't as easy to spot with the bright orange clothing.
Face checked the charge on his blaster. "We'll go to the bridge. I don’t think we'll have too much trouble."
Luke, who was at a computer terminal, shook his head. His black flight suit made him look more like a Wraith then the others. "This isn't good."
"This ship, I remember encountering it before. It was registered under Captain Ceahura, but it's really Inquisitor Shelar's flagship."
"Who is Inquisitor Shelar?"
Luke frowned. "Inquisitors were dark Jedi trained interrogators and torturers."
Face shook his head. "Let's not worry about that right now. We should be going, Commander."
Luke nodded, unclipped his Lightsaber from his belt, and then rejoined the others.
They made their way to the turbolift. It wouldn't take them directly to the bridge, but close to it.
The doors to the turbolift opened, and the stormtroopers waiting right outside of the door shot inside, finding an empty turbolift.
One stormtrooper walked inside, to be kicked by something hanging from the roof. He fell back into the arms of the other two troopers.
Kell jumped down from atop the turbolift and fired. It caught the stunned trooper right in the chest.
The other two troopers fired, but the flash of a green light in front of them deflected their fire. Then they felt no more.
Luke levitated the blade back to his hand. The other Wraiths made their way out of the other turbolift, and Kell helped a few of the Wraiths from atop the first turbolift down.
"So, two, lets see how strong these blast doors are," Face said.
Kyle grinned. "With pleasure, one."
Lightsaber turned on, Kyle stuck the blade strait into the blast door, and moved it from above his head down in a semi-circular pattern. The blade sliced through as if he was cutting through butter. Luke joined him, green blade into the door.
As soon as the door fell, blaster fire poured into the area by the door. Luke and Kyle deflected the fire while the other Wraiths followed.
Kell tossed a grenade into an area full of controls and armed troopers. Bodies went flying as the grenade exploded. Kyle made his way up to the top, overlooking place where the captain's chair and main controls were.
Dia fired at the pilots, then jumped into the pit where the pilot controls were and started to look for engine controls.
Face fired, blaster set on stun, and blasted at the captain and other officers near where Kyle was heading. Luke deflected fire beside him.
Trigger blasted two more troops, then took cover as blaster fire came from the door they had just used to get into the bride. Shalla and Piggy began returning fire.
Kyle backfisted one trooper as he got up to the captains chair, then swung his Lightsaber upside down, and thrust it into the communications system, so the bridge wouldn't contact the rest of the ship for help.
But then Kyle felt something hit him in the side. He fell back, and turned to see his assailant. A man, clad in all black, stood before him, holding a pulsating Lightsaber of violet color. He stood almost as tall as Kell, had dark hair, and green eyes.
The man sliced at Kyle, who rolled backwards. He swung horizontally, and Kyle ducked, then jumped over the dark attacker's shoulders. Kyle's Lightsaber had turned off, and was now in the jumble of wires inside the comm unit. He couldn't risk trying to reach his hand in there or risk being killed by the dark man.
Face was about to take off up to Kyle's position, but Luke stopped him. "I want to see this," Luke said. "I'll stop it if it gets too out of hand. But it won't."
Another swing and Kyle ducked under it again. He spun, and flexed his wrists in an odd way. Two metal cylinders both only meant to be held by one hand flashed into his hands. He pressed a button on the top of them, and the other end of the cylinders shot something, unfolding more metal. They unfolded to become batons. He held them as if to protect his arms.
The attacker swung his blade, but Kyle parried it with the batons. When the blade connected with the batons, the blade 'broke' into multiple pieces, shattering the blade color and sending energy every which way.
Kyle took a step back, then crescent kicked the man across the face. He fell. That gave Kyle enough time to pull his Lightsaber free from the controls.
The dark man stood, and ignited his blade again. He swung, but this time was met by Kyle's blue blade.
Shalla and Piggy jogged back into the room. "We finished barring the turbolifts and…what the…?" They walked up beside Face. "Are we just watching?"
Face shrugged. "He's doing fine. It doesn't look like he's going to loose."
The dark man was now grunting in frustration. "Are…you a…Jedi?" He spat.
Kyle shook his head. "No…not…yet." He jumped back and deflected a thrust. Their blades made a sizzling noise whenever they met.
"Why…aren't your…friends…helping you? Some…friends."
"They know…I'm going to…win." Another slash, and another feint.
Finally, the dark man tired enough that he got sloppy. Kyle didn't swing or thrust, but he just kicked him in the chin with a sidekick. The attacker became the attacked, and fell to the ground, unconscious.
Luke was up there within seconds. He waved his hand in front of the man's face, then disarmed him.
Kyle fell to his knees. "Thanks for all the help," he mumbled.
Luke smiled. "No problem. Knew you could handle it."
Dia spoke up for the first time since the battle. "I have it. The Mon Remonda is now sending crews over here to take over the ship."
The others began to disarm the stunned members of the crew.
Kyle motioned to a person nearby. "That's the captain, and over there is his first officer," he said, pointing to a middle-aged man and a twenty-or-so woman. "And I assume the guy I just fought was the Inquisitor."
Luke nodded. "I've encountered him before. He is pretty strong, but I knew you would be able to win."
"Whatever. Ten, did you get the information we needed from the computer?"
Kaya gave a thumbs-up from her seat. "Looks like there's another fleet nearby. Pretty big and it was the origin of where Captain Kamenzi came from. He's the one that hired the bounty hunters."
Face absorbed the information. "Looks like we should fuel up here, then take off again."
Runt, who was taking to the commandos by comlink, then spoke. "Yes, Commander Antilles wants us to be ready for combat within an hour. Then he wants us back with the fleet ready to strike."
"Figures," Kyle sighed.
"Wraiths, fall into formation. We're heading out." Face adjusted his own controls.
The fleet was jumping out of the Argovia system. They were now heading for Tloust IV, which was in imperial held space, near Yaga Minor.
This was pretty deep into Imperial space, but most of the planets along the way had meager forces. This was the biggest fleet in their space, housing two capitol ships that were bigger then Dreadnoughts.
According to the base on Argovia, the fleet had an Imperial II Star Destroyer, a Victory-Class Star Destroyer, two Carack-Class cruisers, two custom system-patrollers, and four patrol craft.
The Tloust system had two planets that had humans on them, Tloust IV and V, plus near the system's sun, had an Imperial shipyard. Tloust IV was pro-imperial, but Tloust V was neutral.
The Wraiths had all refueled, and were ready for combat. The fleet would jump in-system, have the Wraiths do a recon fly-by, then jump just outside of the system.
They entered hyperspace, and Face took a small nap along the way.
Vape awoke him sometime later. He looked at his screen and found that they were one minute due to exit hyperspace.
Three, two, one, disengage.
The Wraith's X-Wings exited hyperspace. Face saw before him a blue world, mostly ocean, and in the distance, an Imperial fleet.
"Wraiths, comm silence. Use the laser-link system that they just installed. Three, four, get in just outside of their sensor range and scan the area."
Sometime later, Sheikkell and Tyria returned into formation. "Scan complete. There is one more ship here then thought. We'll download the information to everyone else," Tyria said.
"Good. Wraiths, jump back to the Titan's Dream."
One more ship, an Imperial Strike Cruiser, with the same markings as the one they had encountered earlier, with a cloaking device.
Face presented this information to Luke and Wedge. "Just wondering, sir, but how long are you still planning on staying?" Face asked Luke.
Wedge laughed. "Don't tell me you're worried, Captain Loran."
"I'll stay for the duration of this mission, then I plan on asking one of your men to leave the squadron with me," Luke said.
"I wish you wouldn't sir."
Luke smiled. "It's his decision. Corran still hasn't left Rogue Squadron, though I gave him the same option."
Face nodded. "Though there might be a problem with him leaving the squadron," he said.
Most of the Wraiths, Rogues, and a few from Polearm, Nova, and Talon Squadrons all occupied the Mon Remonda's pilots lounge, filling it almost to maximum capacity. Donos was among them, and had brought a civilian with him, but nobody really cared.
"Cloaking device," Inyri Forge repeated. "On a Strike-Class Cruiser."
Dorset Konnair, from Polearm Squadron, had her jaw dropped. "That can't be good."
Face shook his head. "It isn't. Fortunately, because of the cloaking device, it can't carry starfighters, and has a few less turbolasers."
"So why do we want to capture it? We should just blow it up if it's that much a risk to the New Republic," Trigger said.
"It isn't that easy," Tycho replied. "Do you know how much of an asset a cloak-capable ship would be to our fleet?"
Trigger shook his head. "Just as much as one to the Imperials, which is why we should just blow it up."
Corran Horn nodded. "I think he's right. And that's probably what the New Republic is going to send us to do. But they will order us to gain as much information on it as possible."
Kaya, who was lying across Kyle more as a seat then anything else, spoke from the couch they shared. "Well, then how do we do that?"
Corran snorted. "You're the slicer, you figure it out."
Mirax, who was considered almost like a Rogue member, frowned. "I doubt the Imperials would allow anyone to capture the ship alive, or download anything from their computer." She elbowed Corran in the gut right below his sternum.
"Funny, how smugglers tend to point out the obvious," Kyle said, smirking. Mirax shrugged.
Sheikkell rumbled something, a long line of growling and barking.
"Keep the Strike Cruiser from escaping to hyperspace? Using what? We don't have an Interdictor Cruiser," Inyri replied.
Sheikkell barked something that would translate close to "dammit" in basic.
Then the idea hit Kyle. "But the Hapans do!"
Everyone looked around as they realized that as well.
"Doesn't Commander Skywalker know the leaders of the Hapan government?" Shalla asked.
Face and Tycho both nodded. "I read the reports. Seems that the prince of their government has some connection to the Commander because of some stuff with the force and his sister," Tycho said.
"Then let's ask to see if he can arrange something," Kyle said.
Face laughed. "I'll ask, but only if you, o smart one, goes with me."
Kyle frowned and nodded reluctantly.
"I'll do it," Luke said.
Face and Kyle both privately celebrated.
"I would though, like to make a request."
Face nodded. "I get where this is going."
Luke nodded. "Kyle, I would like you to come with me and train as a Jedi Knight."
Kyle took an involuntary step back. "Me train as a Jedi?"
Face privately laughed to himself. Luke nodded. "You show even more potential then Corran, though don't tell him that. Come with me, and we can keep the Republic safe and help bring the defeat of the Empire."
Kyle frowned. "I'll have to think about it."
Luke shrugged. "Take as much time as you want."
He and Face left. They re-entered the pilots lounge and reported their success.
"So, for now, we aren't on duty. Not until the Commander contacts the Hapans, anyway. Get some sleep Wraiths." With that, Face and Dia left.
Tycho also began to leave. "Rogues, you should get some rest too. Report to the amphitheater at 0900." Then he left.
Slowly, people began to leave. Kyle slipped out of the room and made it to his quarters. He sat down on his bed and looked at his Lightsaber.
A Jedi Knight…A real Jedi Knight. He wants me to be his apprentice. How come I didn't say 'yes' right away?
Kaya walked through the door and locked it behind her. "What's wrong?"
Kyle frowned. "I don't know if you'd understand."
She sat down beside him on the bed and put her chin up on his shoulder. "Try me."
"Commander Skywalker wants me to leave the squadron to train as a Jedi."
Her eyes went wide and she hugged him. "That’s great!"
He frowned. "You don't understand. That means I would leave the squadron for good. I'd devote myself to the Jedi, and we wouldn't be able to be together, at least, not with you still here."
She shrugged. "I'll resign. It doesn't matter to me."
He looked at her, a stare that made her feel vulnerable. "Don't lie. I know when someone lies."
She backed up a bit. "Yeah I would miss the squadron, but I would miss you even more. I could find something else to do."
He shook his head. "Like what?"
She draped her arms around his shoulders. "I don’t know. I'll find something. I could probably convince Mirax that she needs a code slicer."
He still looked at her, gauze not wavering. "You'd be giving up a perfectly good career."
She snorted. "In which sooner or later some imp pilot would vape me."
"Having a Jedi trainee as company would make it twice as worse."
She slowly shook her head and pulled him down so they were lying side by side. "And I care? I love you, and that's all that I really care about."
He didn’t say anything and she leaned up against him. "Don't worry about me."
He sighed as she pulled his lips to meet hers. His thoughts were lost as he began unzipping the back of her flight suit, feeling smooth skin underneath as they kissed.
Kaya awoke slowly, rubbing at her eyes. She shifted a bit to look over her shoulder, and saw that Kyle was already awake.
"Good morning," He said.
She turned around and snuggled up closer to him. "Yes it is a good morning," she said, grinning.
"I don't think I'll leave the Wraiths, at least, not for a while."
She giggled. "I thought you'd say that."
He kissed her on the tip of the nose. "Maybe we share a brain."
"Among other things."
He laughed and put his arms around her and traced circles in her back. She giggled even more at the sensation. "When do we have to report to duty?"
Kyle looked at the chronometer on the nightstand. "In about an hour."
She sighed. "Can we just stay here for a little while longer?"
He smiled. "Sure," and their lips met again.
"Enter," Face said.
Kyle walked in and saluted.
Face raised an eyebrow. "Resigning?"
Kyle shook his head. "No sir. I would like to stay with the Wraiths for a while longer." He sat down on one of the chairs in front of Face's desk.
"Have you told the Commander yet?"
"No sir. I haven't had time to."
Face laughed. "How long do you think you will stay in the squadron?"
"At least until we finish this mission."
Face was about to open his mouth to say something when the alarm went. "All pilots scramble! All pilots scramble! Imperial fleet approaching our position!"
Face and Kyle both jumped from their seats and ran towards the hangar.
They were the first ones there, and they saw technicians scrambling around, disengaging fuel pipes and repair controls.
Runt, Trigger, and Shalla were right behind them.
Face clambered up the ladder to get into his X-Wing. Vape was already in his position behind the cockpit.
"Wraith leader is good to go. Alert the others to form wings when they exit, and forget the normal pairings." Face's preflight systems began going green.
Face was the first to launch, catapulting his X-Wing out into space. Immediately he saw what was happening: an Imperial fleet, not from this system, had just exited hyperspace and had found them nearby. It consisted of three Imperial II Star Destroyers, two Dreadnoughts, a Strike-Class Cruiser, and multiple smaller picket ships.
Shalla exited the Titan's Dream fighterbay next. "Lead, I'm on your wing."
Kyle was right on her heals, followed by Runt. "Two to six, you're on my wing."
"Six here, we're ready."
"Leader here. We have incoming eyeballs and dupes. Break to port and engage. We need to keep the bombers away from the fleet. S-Foils in attack mode."
They did so as two more X-Wings left the Titan's Dream. Trigger followed by Tyria, exited, with a B-Wing from Terror Squadron exiting a few moments after them.
Face waited for a laser lock and fired at a pair of incoming bombers. The quad blast tore through the bomber and blasted it into a ball of yellow flame. He pulled to starboard to avoid incoming fire, and saw Shalla do the same.
"Five is away!" Face heard Kell say. A few moments afterwards, he heard Sheikkell's growling indicating she had also just exited.
"Three, Five, I want you to strafe that incoming picket ship."
He then heard over the comm distortion, Wedge's voice. "-Ven, are you sure you can get Tycho out?"
"Yes. He'll be back aboard Mon Remonda long before it takes off into hyper."
"Good. Attention, all fightercraft. The fleet is heading for Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeplanet. It's the closest Republic held world. Jump coordinates to a regrouping area are being transmitted, which will take a few minutes to get to. Then we'll jump to Kashyyyk. Once the fleet is into hyperspace, jump there also. Coordinates are being fed to your Astromechs."
"Wraith leader Acknowledges."
Face then pulled back on his stick to arc up. A TIE bomber was flying past him, and was heading for the Titan's Dream. Shalla followed suit. "Torpedoes locked," she said. "Firing!"
The TIE was quickly engulfed in an explosion.
By now, all the Wraiths, and most of the other squadrons from the Titan's Dream were now out. "Wraiths, form up ahead of Terror Squadron. That Strike Cruiser is our main concern, it'll be the fastest to reach our fleet before it jumps into hyper."
Face pulled a lever and his X-Wing jumped full throttle towards the cruiser. All of the Wraiths that had managed to form up did the same. Terror Squadron's B-Wings followed at a slight distance.
"Torpedo lock. Firing." Face hit the trigger.
Two blue torpedoes streaked towards the Strike Cruiser, quickly followed by over a dozen more.
Blasts ripped into the shields of the cruiser, and Face switched to laser cannons. He began firing, making red pings and explosions over the cruiser's shields.
"Terror leader commencing bombing run."
The B-Wings followed in, all firing pairs of torpedoes at the cruiser. These torpedoes however got through and hit the hull, creating explosions that rippled across the cruiser. They then switched to Ion cannons, which shot past the weakened shields and hit the cruiser.
Kyle's voice: "Wraiths, Terrors, break starboard!"
On impulse or reflexes, all of the squadron broke right, just as turbolaser fire shot past them. The following Terror Squadron did the same, but being slower, two got engulfed in the death beams.
Face looked back and saw the picket ship, an Imperial Gunship, was pursuing the squadron.
But just as he broke right again to avoid more laser fire, multiple laser shots cut through the gunship and shredded it to pieces.
"Wraith leader, good thing I decided the Rogues were a bit safer then the rest of the squadrons." That was Mirax Terrik's voice. He looked up and saw the Pulsar Skate vectoring in to cover the retreating squadron.
"The help is greatly appreciated, Skate."
Face watched as the Mon Remonda and Surefire launched into hyperspace. The Titan's Dream was almost to the same point that they had just been.
"Wraiths, Terrors, prepare for hyperspace jump. Once the Dream launches, cruise into their position and launch." Face hit the switch to lock his S-Foils back into cruise position. No enemy fighters or picket ships were close enough to give them a problem now.
Face watched the Titan's Dream launch into hyper, then found himself in the same area of space. He hit switches so Vape could enter the coordinates, then saw the stars streak by.
The Titan's Dream, Surefire, Mon Remonda, and Pulsar Skate were told to dock on one of the orbital stations over Kashyyyk. The Wraiths and Rogues were directed to land on the surface.
They all bounded out of their snubfighters and looked around.
"This place is awesome!" Tyria said.
They all made their way to where she was standing. They were on a landing field, a large one, but then they realized what the landing field was on: a tall branch.
"What are these trees called again?" Gavin Darklighter asked.
Sheikkell answered with a small grunt that some needed translated and some didn’t. "Wroshyr."
Trigger leaned over the edge to see how far up they were. "Wouldn't want to fall."
Wedge was one of the last out of the cockpit. "Ok, Rogues, Wraiths, check what damage you've taken. Refer it to Emtrey or Squeaky. Then get some rest. From damage assessments, the Mon Remonda and Titan's Dream might not be leaving orbit for a few days. We're far enough from Imperial space or any significant navy fleet to be worried."
Everyone nodded, but took a second to get pried away from the ledge. Face and Tycho followed Wedge into the building.
"Anything major?" Wedge asked.
Tycho shrugged. "We all made it in more or less one piece. Gavin is having problems with one of his laser cannons. Ooryl is also having problems with his internal compensater, but it's only a small glitch. And Nu has one engine down."
"Kell has his shields blown, but they can be replaced. He also ended up with some hull damage, but again, that can be replaced. Targon's laser targeting system was totally blown out, and needs replaced." Face leaned against a wall. "Considering we scrambled, it isn't too bad. No casualties for most of the squadrons, save Terror and Blizzard."
Wedge nodded. "Three lost. We'll have a memorial tomorrow night. I do however, want everyone to get some rest. Fleet command just issued orders for us to 'rest and relax' and the Wookiee's have given us quarters and access to recreation while we're here."
Tycho laughed. "Maybe we should pair two to a room to save them money. Wookiee beds could fit two of us in them, and their dinner plates could feed three."
Wedge grinned. "Anyway, let them finish their reports, and report in to us in the morning. Beside that, we're unofficially officially on leave."
Face raised an eyebrow. "Unofficially officially? I like it."
Sheikkell led the assorted Wraiths and Rogues around that weren't busy. She showed them around the city, then took the few that wanted to go down into the forest underlevels.
Kell jumped down onto a branch after the taller Wookiee. He heard people land behind him and turned to see Ooryl, Corran, Kyle, Kaya, Shalla, and Tyria following him. The others that wanted to go would take a look tomorrow.
Sheikkell grunted something.
"A Katarn? Where?" Kell asked.
She grunted again and started climbing down to another branch. Kell adjusted the small glowrod on his belt and followed.
"What's a Katarn?" Kaya asked.
"It’s a predator creature that lurks in this forest. They're ritually hunted by the Wookiees, and in a few millennia, they will hunt the Wookiees. It's been like that ever since the beginning of time," Kyle answered.
"I didn't know you knew all that," Kell said.
"Well, I was one."
Kell laughed. "You mean the Katarn Commandos."
"You know what I meant."
Corran looked back at him. "You were in the Katarn Commandos?"
Kyle shrugged, something barely noticeable in the dimly lighted forest. "Kell and I both."
"I know he was demolitions. What were you?"
Corran chuckled. "A true Wraith."
They landed onto another thick branch, but Sheikkell didn't move any farther. She pointed off in the distance, and mumbled quietly.
Kell squinted, but Corran handed him macrobinoculars. They adjusted to compensate for the lack of lighting, and he saw it. It was a Katarn.
The creature looked like a cousin to a wolf or similar, but had a smaller build but more muscular lines. It was across from them about forty meters away, laying down, trying not to be noticeable.
"No wonder Lieutenant Page liked the name," Kell said.
Sheikkell grunted something more.
"An hour? I didn't realize it had been that long! Time flies!" Kell exclaimed silently.
"Time to go," Tyria said.
Sheikkell was about to make her way to the head of the group, but Ooryl stopped her. "Ooryl, er, I am a findsman. I will find our way back." He took the lead. Sheikkell shrugged.
As they made it up through the hatch in the walkway, they bumped into Dia and Face, who were milling around.
"Hey, Sheikkell…your family just contacted the Commander. They want you to have dinner with them, and they invited all of us too," Dia said.
Sheikkell barked a reply.
"You haven't seen them for how long?" Face asked, a bit wide eyed.
More grunts and growls.
"Sixty years?!" Everyone's jaw was agape.
"I think we should accept the invitation, if its been that long," Face said.
Sheikkell nodded, and said something close to "Thank you."
The Wraiths and a few of the Rogues gathered in the hut that belonged to Sheikkell's family. And they were amazed at the dining room.
The table was made so it could accommodate other species, and lots of them. All twelve Wraiths, plus two of the Rogues were easily accommodated. Not to mention Sheikkell's family, which consisted of six other Wookiees. Her father, two older brothers, a younger sister, and two family friends were at the table. Her mother would be serving the food.
The Wraiths assembled around the table. Runt and Piggy took two of the bigger chairs. The others found chairs more suited for smaller-built humans.
They waited for the food to be set. The Wookiees laid out an assortment of fruits, vegetables, meats, and drinks. They said something that was the equivalent to a prayer in their language, then began to dig in.
The others also began to gather food.
"Freshly grown instead of freshly processed," Janson said.
"I like it," Wedge said, already chewing on a piece of fruit.
Sheikkell and the other Wookiees were now conversing to each other, and going fast enough that the Wraiths couldn't keep up.
"Sheikkell must talk very slowly to us in comparison to her normal speed of talking," Kell said.
"I can keep track just fine," Kyle said.
Kell just glared. Tyria and Face though found that funny.
They ate for another hour, to the point that they felt full enough to last a whole week.
"Haven't ate that good since…well, ever," Targon said.
The others laughed.
Shalla looked out of the window. "Boy, time flies." It was already darkening outside.
The other Wookiees were still conversing. Sheikkell told them that she would be staying there for the night, visiting with her family, so the others left discretely.
As they walked off, Hobbie and Tycho from the Rogues caught up with Wedge and Janson. "Wookiee feast?" Tycho asked.
Wedge nodded, rubbing his stomach. "Too bad only the Wraiths were invited."
"Heh heh, funny. Anyway, they just delivered the replacement parts, and the technicians are installing them now. Oh, and a shuttle just arrived in system, with General Cracken."
Wedge looked at him quizzically. "General Cracken? Why is he here?"
Tycho shrugged. "He wants to see you tomorrow morning at 1100 hours."
Wedge sighed. "Ah, duty calls."
The other Wraiths milled around the city.
"I wonder where exactly the real ground to the planet is," Kell said.
"Inevitably, I don’t want to find out the hard way," Targon said.
They looked around when they heard whispers from other Wookiees. They were looking at one Wookiee in specific who was also looking around. He was different from the others, he had some sort of vest over his body and a belt with equipment.
"What's that all about?" Kaya asked.
Kyle listened, and tried to translate. "Dishonored. I think he's one of those outcast Wookiees that used their claws in a fight."
Before anyone could respond, both Tyria and Kyle flinched, as if something had just shot them, then they both dove for the others, tackling them. Just as that happened, a blaster spray shot over their heads. The Wookiee was firing on them with a light repeater.
Kyle dove forward, Lightsaber ignited. He deflected the shots incoming from the automatic weapon, and once he was close enough, sliced the weapon's barrel off. But the Wookiee was already prepared, and he swept Kyle from behind the leg, and as he tripped, the Wookiee pounded a fist into his midsection, knocking the wind out of him.
Shalla produced a vibroblade and was next to the Wookiee. She swung precisely at the Wookiee's arm, connecting and drawing blood. He backstepped, and drew a stun grenade. He threw it right in front of Shalla, but Kyle dove for it, covering it with his own body, absorbing the shockwave. Oddly, he stood up moments after it exploded.
A blaster shot grazed the Wookiee, and he turned to see Tyria and Kell behind him. Tyria had a holdout drawn, and it was smoking. Kell rushed the alien, grabbing it by the arm. Shalla leaped for its other arm, then they heard Piggy and Runt both tackle him.
The Wookiee, overpowered, could barely move. Targon and Kyle both took out medpacs and injected him with tranquilizers to knock him out.
The other Wraiths now reached the scene. "Everyone ok?" Face asked.
Kyle tiredly plopped down to the ground and rubbed at his stomach. "A rib broken," he said.
Face nodded. "See our medic about it."
Kyle looked around. "I don’t think he's present. Maybe I don’t like myself enough to care about my own injuries and fights where I get them," he joked.
Soon, some of the Rogues, accompanied by local police, arrived.
Face pointed at the Wookiee. "Bounty hunter, he attacked some of my men."
The others then noticed the Wookiee had a patch on his blast vest, one that had the Bounty Hunter's Guild marking on it.
Gavin and Asyr of the Rogues both frowned. "Even here we aren't safe," Asyr said.
Face sighed. "Get him locked up. I'll report to the Commander."
"So they even have Wookiee bounty hunters after us," Face said.
Wedge listened, nodding. "Obviously this Captain Kamenzi has money to burn."
"Anyway, that's it."
Wedge stood. "I just got done talking with General Cracken. He and Luke agreed on sending one of your men on an intelligence mission."
Face raised an eyebrow. "And what exactly is he or she going to do?"
Wedge sighed. "It's pretty important, so you can't tell anyone."
Face nodded and moved closer so he could hear.
After a few minutes of listening, he took his comlink. "Lieutenant Maloy, report to the landing control station."
About five minutes later, Kyle walked into the room. He saluted and they motioned for him to sit down beside Face. Wedge began talking.
Kyle nodded, taking it all in, and agreed.
The others watched as Shalla and Kyle sparred
"Why is he all of a sudden asking for some trivial training in different areas?" Dia asked. "He earlier asked me to show him how to pilot an imperial shuttle."
Everyone shrugged. "He asked me about security measures and how to get past some of them," Corran Horn said.
"He asked us about what type of communications package to use in certain terrain," Runt said.
"He asked me what type of sniper rifle I use on the field," Donos said.
Face shrugged. "Must be trying to catch up to the rest of us. He's a good fighter and medic, but not exactly proficient in everything. He asked me a few tips in acting."
Kell laughed. "Maybe he's been asked to star in a holodrama as a commando."
They turned their attention back to the fight. So far, all Kyle had been doing was defending, letting Shalla attack. She had gotten in a few good hits, as shown by the bruises all over Kyle's body, but she hadn't knocked him out or pinned him yet.
Shalla looked though, as if she was having fun. Sweating only slightly, she bounced back and forth, almost like on a sugar high.
But then it changed all at once.
Kyle finally threw an offensive attack, outside crescent kicking Shalla, so his right leg connected with her right cheek. She didn't see it coming, and it hit her. Though it wasn't a powerful attack, Kyle's novice training in Teras Kasi helped make it a bit uncomfortable.
Shalla then backed up and threw a left punch. When he parried it, he spun around and elbowed her in the sternum, knocking her back. But she was barely phased and kicked at his knee, meaning to knock it down to the mat. She succeeded, but he spun around, using her own momentum against her, and wheel kicked her in the buttocks. She fell forward, allowing him to roll away from her to a safe distance.
Frustrated, she waited for him to come to her this time.
He did, jumping at her with a flying roundhouse kick, which she easily ducked under. But unlike a typical roundhouse, his right leg, normally vertical, was also up, and it surprised her, kicking her across the left cheek with the balls of his right foot. She flinched and moved back.
She prepared another kick, then snapped her right foot at him, aiming a side kick to his jaw.
But he was already on the ground. He threw his legs down, into a stance for a scissors kick. His right leg caught behind her knees, and his left leg tripped her up. She fell.
But then instead of hitting her across the back of the neck or head that was a common finishing move to the attack, he kept his left leg wrapped around her left leg. He snaked his arms behind her back and through her arms, pinning them with his left arm. His right arm caught around her neck. He leaned right, so he was sitting comfortably, but she was balanced on her right hip, keeping her right leg strait forward. He had her effectively pinned.
Kell's jaw dropped. "No way."
Shalla struggled to try to break Kyle's grapple on her, but found that he must have been drawing on the force to keep his strength higher then hers, for he wasn't as strong or nimble as she was normally. She twisted, tugged, tried throwing herself back into him, but found it no use. She was stuck.
Kyle heard Kell yell, "Keep her pinned their so we can drive her crazy!"
He now saw them, entering the gym the Wookiee's had allowed them to use. Tyria, Ooryl, Corran, and Kaya were gathering credits from everyone, obviously who bet on Kyle winning.
"How much, exactly, did you guys win," Kyle asked.
"Each of us, I'd say, around three hundred credits," Tyria said, smiling. Kell didn't at all look happy, except for when he looked at how Shalla was pinned, and he laughed. He crouched in front of her and began waving his hands in front of her. "You lost, you actually lost!"
Shalla glared at him, almost slyly. "Oh, you just wait, you'll get yours."
Kyle laughed. "You do realize, Kell, that I could let go at any time."
Kell backed off, still chuckling to himself.
"So, you going to let go of me or what?" Shalla asked.
"Na, I thought I'd see how long you last before you tried to pull your hair out with your teeth." He finally let go.
Piggy helped them up. "What kind of kick was that that you just did? The flying kick that had the surprise under kick?"
Kyle grinned, and whipped at his forehead with a towel. "Actually, my father called it the Wraith kick, ironically. He explained that it was 'a hidden attack, hiding for those that ran in the shadow of the main attack.' It was kinda his signature move."
The others listened in. "Maybe we need to teach the whole squad the kick. It sounds appropriate," Kell said.
Some more of the Rogues entered, followed by Wedge and Luke. "We have new orders," Wedge said.
The others moaned.
"We just got replacement X-Wings for the Rogues. Which means we can use the upgraded Interceptors for this mission. To do this, we're going to fake actual TIE pilots that are being chased by Republic X-Wings. More details will come later, during the debriefing. But that isn't until tomorrow morning at 0730. Everyone report to the landing site then, but until then, you're still on leave." Wedge and Luke left.
They made their way back to the boardwalk. "Are you sure he can do it?" Wedge asked.
Luke nodded. "He will handle it. Though I don’t approve of him using a dark side power to accomplish the mission."
Wedge sighed. "He said he could handle it. That's all I can really ask of him."
Kyle jumped into bed, and didn't move for a few minutes after that. Kaya sat down beside him, laughing.
"You really wore yourself out sparring with Shalla, huh?"
He rolled over and moaned. "Oh, just let me die in peace."
She laughed even more and laid on top of him. "Can't. I have to make sure you get bothered enough to make up for how much you annoy the others."
"Oh, yeah, thanks. That really makes me feel better."
"Aww," she said, kissing him on the forehead.
He pulled her down and rolled, so they were laying side by side. They waited for sleep.
Kyle and Face both boarded the TIE Interceptors. They turned to see that Targon, Piggy, Tycho, and Hobbie do the same with their X-Wings.
They would fly their X-Wings after the Interceptors piloted by Kyle and Face. They would fire using non-lethal laser blasts, and the Interceptors would be 'shot down' on the planet Tloust V. The X-Wings would land to look for survivors, then leave the planet.
"Knight one is in," Face said.
"Knight two has green. Ready to go," Kyle said. They had decided on the designation 'Knight' because of the markings on the Interceptor's fuselage, a man riding a beast, carrying a lance. Probably the original TIE squadron was a Lancer squadron, but they liked Knight better.
"Rogue one has four lit."
"Rogue two is ready to go."
"Rogue three has engines already up."
"Rogue four, identical status."
The X-Wings would be using the Rogue identification, in case the Imperials actually monitor the crash. They want the Imperials to know that the best of the best squadron shot down their TIEs.
"Launch," Face said.
The two TIE Interceptors began to hover above the landing pad, and started to ascend up through the sky. The Rogue's X-Wings followed.
The Knights exited hyperspace over Tloust V, followed closely by the Rogue's X-Wings.
"Rogues, S-Foils in attack position," Tycho ordered. "Shoot 'em down."
The wings made an X format before beginning to fire on the running TIEs.
"Rogue three to leader, I have a patrol of Assault Gunboats near our position. They're turning to 'assist the running TIEs.' What should we do?"
"Keep pursuit into atmosphere. Keep on non lethal blasts."
The TIEs, followed by the X-Wings, slowly entered Tloust V's atmosphere, slowly pursued by the Gunboats. The Gunboats began firing on the X-Wings.
"Knight two is hit!" Kyle said over the comm.
"Knight two, by what?" Face asked.
"Those stupid Imperials that took up pursuit, they missed Targon and hit me!" Kyle said. "Main engines down, shields down, repulsorlifts down! I'm about thirty seconds from crashing!"
"Knight one, secure link to Rogue one. Switch to normal settings and fire on those Gunboats. Get them destroyed!" Face said, almost desperately.
The Rogues began circling around, leaving Face to deal with Kyle and his damaged fighter.
"Controls not responding," Kyle said, frustration behind his voice. He was obviously trying to pull the flight yolk up to try to land more horizontally.
"Knight one to Knight two, aim for that clearing there," Face said, angling his fighter to point a few degrees to port. Kyle's fighter moved to that angle, but just barely. His fighter was only a few hundred meters off the ground now.
"Should I eject?" Kyle said.
"No, the TIE ejection flies you forward. Keep your nose up as high as possible and try to land."
Kyle's TIE hit the top of a tree before hitting land and slowly skidding to a stop. His right wing array tore strait off, and his fighter turned to the left, now with the fighter sideways. It finally stopped.
"Rogues report the pursuit Gunboats are destroyed."
Face began emergency landing procedures. "Get Targon down here, I need him to get Kyle stable."
They all landed, except Piggy, who hovered nearby, watching for more ships. They ran to the crashed vehicle. Targon and Face jumped on top of the vehicle and pried the hatch open. They pulled Kyle up, or, at least what they thought was Kyle. His legs looked crushed by the now in pieces control panel. His face had a deep cut in it, a piece of shrapnel cutting at his scull.
They pulled his body out and to the ground. Targon took out his medscanner.
He looked the body over. "He's alive, but barely. I'm sorry, but there isn't anything I can do," Targon said. His face was glum.
The others then watched as his body faded away, consumed by blue and gray smoke. Then all that was left was his clothing and equipment.
Face fell back into a sitting position. He picked Kyle's Lightsaber up, and sighed.
Tycho crouched down. "Abort the mission?"
Face nodded. "We needed him to do this."
Targon and Hobbie both hovered over them, both looking ghostly. "Who's going to tell Kaya?" Targon asked.
Face winced as if he was just punched in the gut. "I forgot about that. We'll handle it when we get back."
The others sighed.
Face jumped down to the fighter deck of the Mon Remonda. He took his TIE pilot helmet off, and bounded towards the exit. Targon, Piggy, Tycho, and Hobbie followed behind him, slower.
Face didn't want to encounter Kaya, so he hurried towards his quarters. He wanted to make sure he wouldn't bump into her, but luck, or the force, was not on his side today.
He rounded a corner, only a few meters from his quarters, when Kaya almost walked into him. She jumped back a bit surprised.
"Oh, a, sir!" She threw a salute. "I thought you were on the insertion mission!"
"It was aborted," Face said, trying to hide the fear and sadness in his voice.
She looked over his shoulder at where the others were making their way to their quarters. "Where's Kyle?"
Face looked around, trying to avoid her eyes. She looked at him curiously. He couldn’t find words, any sort of words. They choked up inside his throat. He slowly handed her the Lightsaber hilt. "I'm sorry," he managed.
She slowly took it, and realization dawned on her. "He…didn't…" she couldn’t finish the sentence.
Face shook his head and pushed past her, walking into his quarters. He locked the door behind him. But even the thick walls couldn’t keep him from hearing her begin to cry outside his door.
"So you had to abort the mission," Wedge repeated.
Face and Tycho both nodded. Piggy, Targon, and Hobbie were slower to answer, but then they finally did.
Wedge sat back down in his chair. "Report to the debriefing at 1700 hours later today. Until then, get some rest. Face, stay here."
Tycho and the others saluted and left.
Wedge waited for them to leave, and Luke to enter. "How are you doing?"
Face's expression was still glum. "After having to tell Kaya, horrible."
Wedge nodded, understanding. "He evaporated into nothing, you said?" Luke asked.
Luke sighed. "True Jedi," he said.
They both nodded, and knew what he meant. "I wish I didn't have to do that to her," Face said. "She's now walking around like she's being pulled inside out, her heart being the first target. It's a lot like how Donos acted after he shot at Lara."
Face leaned back on the chair he was in. "I wish I could tell her."
"You can't. I'm sorry." Wedge looked at his datapad. "I'm going to transfer over to the Wraiths for now to fill up your roster. I'll be Wraith one, you be two. Luke is going to take over command of the Rogues for the time being."
Face saluted and left.
Face walked into the debriefing amphitheater, and looked around. All the Rogues and Wraiths were present, even Kaya. But she looked distant from the others, and her eyes looked red and tired. Probably from crying. She was hugging herself tightly, as if to keep herself from exploding. Tyria and Shalla sat on either side of her, trying to comfort her, but not pushing hard enough to make her mad.
Face noticed she had the Lightsaber clipped to her belt, as if it was now her own. He guessed it was the only part of Kyle she had left physically.
Targon was sitting to their left, expression blank and ghostly. He and Kyle had been closer to friends then either of them separately was to any of the other Wraiths. He looked tired and lost, almost passive.
All the other Wraiths were doing ok, some with partially happy expressions, but only because they were trying to cheer the others up. The Rogues were quiet, in respect for the Wraith's feelings.
Wedge and Luke walked in and Face took his seat.
"Many of you may have noticed that I just transferred back to the Wraiths," Wedge said. "This will be until another pilot can fill your roster. I'll be designated Wraith one, and Face two. Commander Skywalker is now in charge of the Rogues."
"Now, Fleet Command is awaiting the arrival of a promised Hapan Battledragon here to Kashyyyk, to assist us in our next mission. Until it's arrival, you all are on duty, but we aren't on alert status. During off-duty hours you may go to the surface to explore or such, but watch out for more bounty hunters."
Wedge looked over his datapad. "That reminds me. The Wookiee bounty hunter that attacked you Wraiths is now in jail. He will not talk though, about anything relating to why he attacked or who hired him. Though it’s the same group of bounty hunters, he has a nickname, Shield. That’s the only thing we could get out of him. Wookiees are hard to crack."
"We also now have the right equipment for an insertion to Tloust V. Once the Battledragon arrives, the Wraiths will insert themselves into the Tloust V population. We'll gather information on the Tloust IV government and fleet."
Everyone nodded. Well, everyone except Kaya, who wasn't acknowledging anything.
"The Battledragon's ETA is two days, so in two days, report here at 0800. Dismissed."
Everyone headed for the pilots lounge except Kaya. She headed for her room.
They all sat down around the assorted tables and couches. Mirax Terrik later entered and sat down beside Corran.
"So now we're working with Hapans. This is just dandy," Targon said.
"At least they're on our sides, not opposing us," Shalla countered.
While they began debating about the Hapans, Face saw Tycho and Hobbie motion for him to follow them. Piggy also got up and headed for them.
When they were out of the lounge, Tycho said, "How do you think those Gunboats got to be so close to where we exited hyperspace? They weren't even suppose to be in Tloust V space."
Face's eyes went wide. "I didn't realize that until now. But now that it's there, I don’t know."
"Maybe there's a spy here," Hobbie suggested. Tycho glared at him and he just shrugged. "It's happened before, with Erisi Dlarit."
Face nodded. "Happened with the Wraiths too, but it was a bit different."
"I'm sure of all the Rogues," Tycho said. "We've all been together for months."
"I'm sure of all the Wraiths too. Some of the newer ones I don’t know too much about, but Kaya obviously couldn't be a spy, and nonhuman spies are very unlikely." Face sighed.
Piggy's mechanical tone broke in. "Perhaps it isn't one of the pilots. Maybe someone higher on the chain of command."
Tycho shook his head. "Not Captain Onoma. I'm just as sure of him as with the Rogues. Plus Mon Calamari aren't exactly favored by Imperials."
Face thought for a moment. "Siren, er, Major Tomake is an old friend of mine. I've known her ever since I joined the fleet. Captain Stonnic I don’t know too much about, but he's been with the New Republic ever since the Alliance formed. He commanded a ship at the Battle of Endor. I seriously doubt he would be a spy."
"Maybe Wedge is the spy," Hobbie joked.
Face and Tycho both snorted. "About as likely as Warlord Zsinj providing the New Republic with information on the Imperials," Tycho said.
Face sighed. "I may have an idea on how to find out, but it might endanger one of my people."
A voice said from behind him, "I would like to hear it." They turned and saw Wedge standing there.
"Maybe we should go talk in your office, sir," Face said.
Once they had assembled in Wedge's office, Face began. "By saying what my plan is, it would give away General Cracken's mission."
Wedge thought for a second. "I think I already know what you're thinking."
"So do I," a voice said over the comm.
Wedge pointed to a comm unit on his desk. "I had the same idea, Face. I told General Cracken about it, and we decided that it outweighs the original mission. Face, Tycho, might as well assemble the other Wraiths and Rogues."
They assembled back in the pilots lounge, just because this would be unofficial business.
Wedge stood. "We now have a new mission. We must find the spy amongst us. I doubt that it's any of you pilots, but if it is, speak now or forever hold your peace." Some laughed.
"Seriously now, I do believe there is a spy either on the Mon Remonda or Titan's Dream. But the only way we're going to know is by endangering one of you." The Wraiths and Rogues looked around at each other.
"Not anyone here though. We originally were sent to do a mission to insert Face and Lieutenant Maloy onto Tloust V, which was aborted because the Lieutenant was killed." Kaya looked like she was about to cry again.
"This was also a ploy. Originally, we had a plan to where if the X-Wings scored enough low powered hits, it would slightly damage one component in the TIE and crash it. But this was interrupted by the untimely arrival of a flight of Gunboats. But we still followed through with the plan. Kyle Maloy was not killed in the crash."
Some of the Wraiths registered shock. Kaya's jaw dropped, and she did begin to cry then.
"He used a force power to create a doppelganger of himself, which was pulled out of the TIE crash. He, however, had already escaped the vehicle and was waiting nearby for the others to leave. He was then to insert himself into the Tloust V population."
"Originally, we didn't plan on telling any of you, because we had a suspicion that there was a spy. But the Gunboats confirmed it. So now, we're going to alert everyone that he is alive. We'll draw the spy out, because he will have to tell his men that one of us is in their midst."
"How, exactly, are we going to do that?" Dia asked.
Wedge grinned. "Between the two ships, we're going to alert everyone that NRI has recovered word that Kyle is alive and now in the Tloust V population. We will then launch a shuttle between here and the route to the hyperspace and it will intercept any subspace or other transmissions coming its way. We're also picking Kyle up as we speak."
Kaya sniffled and spoke up. "So what are we suppose to do?"
"Go around and start scuttlebutt that Kyle is still alive. I'm sure you know how to do that. Kyle will be here within another two days, so work fast."
They all left the lounge, in way better spirits then before.
"I've never had starting rumors as a mission profile before," Inyri Forge said.
"Oh? I do it all the time," Janson said.
"That’s because your life is based around rumors, jokes, and pranks," Hobbie countered.
"Hey, did you hear about Pedna Scotain's resignation?" Nawara said, catching up with the others.
"No, what's going on?" Inyri said.
Nawara shrugged. "She just accepted her own squadron of fighters, uh, Diamond Squadron I think it was."
Donos, who was silently following, smiled. "Guess this means I get to actually go on all of the missions."
The Rogues made their way towards their quarters and the Wraiths to the flight hangar.
"So he's not really dead," Kaya mumbled. She rubbed at her eyes.
"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you," Face said. "But now I feel a lot better, knowing you know the truth."
He turned back to the other Wraiths. "Targon, Trigger, you guys have flight duty. Start talking over the comm about this 'rumor' you heard. Everybody else, work on your fighters, and talk amongst yourselves. I'm pretty sure that whoever is the spy is some sort of comm expert, so the fighters talking about it might attract the spy to talk to us."
Targon and Trigger both made their way into their fighters while the other Wraiths milled around. Face was glad that Kaya's expression now was calm. She acted almost cheerful now. He made his way to his own fighter, where Vape and Kyle's R2 unit Blast were talking about something in their own language of chirps and whistles.
Face then made his way past the X-Wings to where the lone TIE Interceptor was. It still gleamed a chrome color, but now blaster scorching and damage was littering its hull. He looked back at the other Wraiths, and saw them talking amongst themselves. And then it hit him.
Tycho and Janson were the first to the hangar bay the Wraiths used in the Mon Remonda. They looked around and quickly made their way towards the back of the hangar. There stood parts of the TIE Interceptor, blasted into smaller pieces, and the Wraiths all huddled together, some with medpacs.
"What happened?" Tycho asked. He looked into the huddle.
Face and Shalla, the closer of the two to the Interceptor, were both on the floor, unconscious. The other Wraiths were applying bandages and Bacta gel to their wounds. Face looked as if his whole back had the skin torn off.
"Bomb," Kell mumbled. "Looks like sabotage to the Interceptor."
Medics were now rushing to the scene, and techs were busy setting the blue fires on parts of the Interceptor's hull.
A few moments later, the medics had Face and Shalla off on backboards. They carried them towards sickbay. Wedge, Nawara, and Corran pushed their way past the techs to the other Rogues and Wraiths.
Kell explained. "Fission bomb, very low technology. It could be made out of parts in this docking bay, though not with this kind of punch. Looks to have been about as strong as a grade-three thermal detonator. Enough to blast apart an Interceptor, and take out nearby people. Face was lucky to be on that side of the Interceptor, or he would have been killed instantly."
"Whoever got that past security would have to be an expert on demolitions," Corran said. "Who on this ship worked with demolitions, or at least techs that have worked with engine drives?"
Wedge thought about it. "I don’t know anybody offhand, but I'll look into it."
Another day passed. Face and Shalla both were still undergoing Bacta treatment, but would be out soon.
The Wraiths were in the Titan's Dream lounge when the alarm sounded.
"Captain Stonnic is the traitor! Security team to the hangar bay!"
The Wraiths were all up and out the door within seconds. They quickly made it to the flight hangar, and instantly saw Captain Stonnic making his way to a shuttle that had just landed.
Kell and Trigger were the first to reach him. He had two armed escorts, which turned and fired on them. Trigger produced his blaster and fired once, striking the right man's arm, making him drop the blaster in his hand. The second armed man shot at Kell, who dodged two shots before drawing his own blaster. Kell fired just as the other man did, and both of them were hit.
Captain Stonnic turned around, but not with a blaster in his hand, but a datapad.
"If I hit this button, the whole ship blows up and takes the Mon Remonda with her." He hit a switch on the underside of the shuttle and the ramp began to descend. The other Wraiths stopped dead in their tracks, Runt the closest to the traitor.
But as he began to walk up the shuttle ramp, the datapad in his hand flew out of his grip, and into one of the men descending the ramp. Kyle grinned and hit the off switch to the datapad.
Captain Stonnic began drawing his blaster, but Runt got up behind him and got him into a head lock. Kyle rushed the Captain and hit him once across the face, and he fell unconscious.
Kyle turned to the second man. "You could have helped out, Lieutenant."
The other person chuckled. "You seemed to do fine."
The other Wraiths gathered around, and Kaya threw herself at Kyle, making him fall. She kissed him as if she was going to die tomorrow.
"Maybe living in the forest for a couple days paid off after all," he said. Kaya smiled and kissed him again.
Kell, limping slightly, made his way up to the group with Tyria and Runt's help. "So why are you here Lieutenant Page?"
The other Wraiths looked at him, now realizing who he was. Lieutenant Page of the Katarn Commandos, their commanding officer. The Katarn Commandos have a reputation for ground combat equal to what the Rogues have for space dogfights.
He shrugged. "I was in the neighborhood and ended up picking Lieutenant Maloy here up on our way back from a mission. Had to rescue him from a patrol of scout troopers."
Kyle, who had been too busy to say anything, stood up and his jaw dropped. "I had to be rescued? I was the one that had to take control of the shuttle because your pilot couldn't handle the TIE patrols."
The other Katarns, who had made it down the ramp while the others were talking, all chuckled. All except the pilot, Syla Tors. "I had no such problem. You just all of a sudden appeared and forced me out of the pilot seat. I didn't even get a chance to fly out, you nitwit."
Kell laughed. "Corellian, right?"
Syla frowned. "All you navy pilot jocks think your better then army pilots."
That made Kell and the other Wraiths laugh even more.
Security teams began dragging Captain Stonnic out of the hangar bay. The Wraith's comlinks beeped.
"Wraiths," Wedge's voice said over the comm. "Report to the planet surface at the same landing field. Bring the Katarns with you. Don't worry about the bomb system on the ship, Major Tomake has it covered."
"Well, duty calls," came a voice from the entrance to the hangar. They turned and saw Face and Shalla walk in. They both had their flight suits on and were walking normally. Face though, looked a bit tired.
Kyle laughed. "So one of the team medics leaves for just a few days and two of his comrades in that time get blown to pieces. What would you guys do without me?"
"Terrorist attack, meant to get our attention," Wedge explained.
"They got it alright," Page said.
Everyone looked around at the destroyed building and carnage. Wookiee medics were helping injured technicians away from buildings, and more were dragging the dead to a skiff.
"Fourteen dead, another thirty-seven injured," Hobbie said, expression glum.
Wedge turned to the assembled Rogues, Wraiths, and Katarns. "They retreated into the forest where they think their ship is. We should try to find them before they escape the planet."
"But what about our fleet and the planet's patrols?" Kell asked.
"Not large enough to cover the whole planet. They could terrain follow and blast away from the planet at a gape in the patrols." Wedge looked around at the group. "To find them better, we need to split into groups, but not small enough to be killed finding them. Between all of us, there's 37 people."
Luke looked at each person, then took charge. "Six teams of six, with one more a team. I'll take Hobbie, Kether, Inyri, Nu, Tycho, and Asyr. Ooryl, you'll take Janson, Gavin, Corran, Donos, and Wedge."
Luke then turned to the Wraiths. "Kyle takes Kell, Face, Runt, Kaya, and Trigger. Sheikkell, you'll take Tyria, Shalla, Targon, Piggy, and Dia."
Page saw where this was going. "I'll take Lilla, Gottu, Mian, Kasck, and Bri'vin. Frorral, you take Idow, Vandro, Syla, Jortan, and Korren. We all split up, with each of us having either a scout, a person that knows the area, or a Jedi." Luke smiled at how perceptive Page was.
Everyone nodded, accepting their assignments and split off into groups.
"I think I see something," Targon said.
"Where?" Shalla asked.
"Over there, to your left and go down a few feet. On that branch, I think it’s a pair of macrobinoculars."
Sheikkell bellowed something then began to make her way down, easing her Bowcaster off from around her shoulders. Shalla, right behind her, drew her blaster and followed. "No need for too many of us to go if it’s a trap," she said.
Piggy, Dia, and Tyria both drew blasters, just in case. They waited as the others got to the macrobinoculars.
Before they could pick it up however, Sheikkell bellowed something and pushed Shalla back. A blaster bolt shot their way, striking Sheikkell in the left shoulder. She roared, and returned fire with her Bowcaster.
Almost humanly impossible, Tyria propelled herself off the branch she was on and landed meters away, on a branch that was parallel to the one Sheikkell and Shalla were on. She shot without thinking, and struck something mechanical.
A seeker droid fell to the branch, a smoking hole in its engine system.
But then everyone heard the sound of repulsorlifts coming their way.
"We got company," Shalla said, aiming her blaster in the darkness.
Three miles away and four 'levels' down, a team of six Rogues were making their way from one branch down to a lower one.
"I have found something," Ooryl said.
"Sorry, but that's just another animal," Donos said, looking through his macrobinoculars.
Janson was the last one down, and he slipped slightly before getting a good position. "Does anyone think we're actually going to find something?"
Nobody said anything as they walked along the branch. But before Ooryl could walk between two smaller trees, Corran jumped in front of him. His silvery Lightsaber ignited and sliced through the air. But everyone could easily hear it strike something, and hear something move against the air and fall.
"Ooryl does not see anything."
"Monofilament wire. Had you walked into it, you would have been cut in half."
"Ooryl, er, I thank you."
Corran looked around, and Wedge spotted something. "I think that’s a holocam," he said, pointing way up, looking through his macrobinoculars.
Donos brought his laser rifle up to look through the scope. "Yep, pretty small. Destroy it?"
Wedge nodded. The zap of the rifle sounded as the red beam shot through the air and struck something mechanical, then it blew up.
"Now Ooryl is sure he sees something," Ooryl said, pointing off in the distance.
They all looked, but couldn’t look long as blaster fire came in towards them.
Landing quietly onto the ship's hull, Kyle ducked behind a hatch to avoid being spotted by the top laser turret gunner. He then saw Kell's Ion mine land right on top of the turret. It sparked a blue and white blast, shooting into the gunnery station, and disabling the top weapon system.
Kyle moved up closer to the station, now that the gunner's computerized view of his surroundings was obscured. Once he knew that they were safe, he motioned for the others to drop from their branch and move closer.
The others began to climb down or jump down from the branch onto the starship. It was a heavy transport, big enough that if the cargo bay was a flight deck, they could hold three X-Wings. But it was lightly armed, and that top laser turret was one of only eight quad cannons the ship had.
Face looked down into the cannon. The gunner was lying with his back against his seat, unconscious. Obviously the ion blast also gave him enough of a jolt to knock him out.
Runt was the last to look down. He had the long-range comlink out, and was trying to contact the others.
"We are having problems with interference. These trees are keeping us from contacting the others."
Face frowned. He didn’t know how many people were on this ship, so he couldn’t just have them barge in blindly without help.
But that was quickly decided when someone opened the top hatch. A man in a brown jumpsuit emerged and with one quick glance, ducked back into the hatch, closing it.
"Keep that from locking!" Face said, scrambling to the hatch. But he heard the click of the lock being put on.
Runt and Kell positioned themselves to be ready to pull the hatch as Kyle ignited his Lightsaber. The eerie blue color looked out of place in the dense green undergrowth surrounding them. He sliced horizontally once, shearing the lock on the hatch, then Kell and Runt pulled. The airlock seal depressurized and the hatch swung open.
Trigger and Face both had blasters trained down the tube in case someone was there, but nobody was. Trigger took a stun grenade, then chucked it down the shaft. Three seconds later, a flash was seen and heard, and blue energy flared somewhere inside. Trigger then brought his blaster rifle back to his hands, and began to descend the ladder.
As soon as he hit the bottom of the ladder, blaster fire erupted and he dove for cover. Face slid the rest of the way down then dove for cover also. Kyle didn't even use the ladder and jumped down the four meter gape and landed in a crouch, facing the incoming fire. His Lightsaber began to deflect the red and gold beams back away from the ladder.
Runt and Kaya went next, Runt standing in front of Kaya to protect her, for she would be the least resistant to a blaster shot. Kell came last, landing in a crouch and snapshooting in the general direction of the incoming fire.
Screams of pain began to sound.
From another end of the ship, Page and his team hid behind a big Wroshyr tree. Two men in brown jumpsuits, obviously guards by their helmets and blaster rifles, were standing about twenty meters away from them, in front of a side hatch to the brown ship. The looked left and right, checking for trouble.
Besides Page himself, three others stood near him. Lilla, Mian, and Bri'vin were beside him, all armed with blasters. But Kasck and Gottu were on a high hanging branch, hovering over the two guard's positions. A three-meter jump and they could take the guards out without firing a weapon.
Page clicked his comlink with a burst of static twice. That signified to go. Kasck was the first to jump, landing atop the guard, baton already out and hitting the guard to the ground.
Gottu landed on the second only a millisecond later, landing behind the man and grabbing him around the neck. Gottu used a grappling technique that began to knock the guard unconscious, from lack of air. He let go, and the man fell face first into the ground.
Page unholstered his blaster and made his way to the downed guards. Kasck was brushing himself off, and Gottu was disarming the unconscious guards. He chucked their rifles over the edge of the giant branch the ship was perched on, making them fall, never to be found again.
But everyone jumped against the hull of the ship when the side entrance hatch began to open. Voices could be heard inside, followed by the click of safeties going off weapons.
Page struck the first emerging person across the neck with a chop. He then spun and began firing his blaster into the ship.
"Prisoners, sir," the guard said.
The six prisoners were shoved to the ground. Binders held their hands behind them, and two of them couldn't even stand on their own power.
Two were human, both female. One had blond hair and was taller then the second. The other was dark skinned and had a blaster wound across her left shoulder.
One was a Wookiee. She didn't at all sound happy. Grunts and growls not ever meant to be pleasant were emerging from her mouth.
One was a Gamorrean. He was the quietest of the group.
Another was a Twi'lek female. She fell to the ground because of a blaster wound across her ankle.
The last was a Devaronian. He was looking around, trying to figure out a plan of escape.
"So, you might belong to the New Republic Wraith Squadron, would you not?" one of the bounty hunters asked. He held the dark skinned woman up by the hair. The others tried to stop him, but his guards kept them quiet by pointing their rifles at them.
She spat into his face.
He whipped his face clean with a rag. "My name is Blazzer. I lead this ship and its crew. I've been hired to wipe out or capture all of your squadron and Rogue Squadron. So far, it's been pretty easy. Shield was only a diversion."
"Shield?" Targon asked.
"One of my Wookiee bounty hunters," Blazzer explained.
"Boss, what should we do with them?" A human female asked.
"Our ship has been breached. More of them are on the way. We can collect part of the bounty by just shooting the ones we have here. Dispose of them and then have the remaining crew load onto the shuttle."
The Wraiths struggled to get out of their binders, but didn't have any luck. The guards backed up and readied their weapons.
"Can I do it?" the female asked.
Blazzer shrugged. "Go ahead Bantha."
She walked closer to the group and drew a blaster. "So, which of you do I kill first?" Her blaster passed over each of them a couple of times.
"You," she said, pointing at Tyria. "You have looks I could envy. I think you'll start the show."
Before she could shoot however, a noise caught her attention. She turned to see a young man falling upside-down, held by a length of synthirope. It slid him down the space between the hatch from the level up to the ground. Midway through the controlled fall, he drew a heavy blaster and didn’t bother to aim.
The shot caught Bantha's blaster square in the power pack. The weapon made a small explosion and caught on fire, making her drop it. Tyria didn’t think twice and got up from her position and rammed her shoulder into her would-be assassin.
Before Kyle hit the floor head first, he ignited his Lightsaber and sliced the rope off. He spun and flipped to land crouched on his feet and readied his blade. One guard rushed him with a force pike, which he sliced in half using an blur of motion with his blade, then impaled the guard with his blue blade.
A few moments after Kyle ran forward, Kell and Runt slid down the synthirope. Kell immediately rolled forward and fired a snap shot at a guard, catching him in the shin and forcing him to the ground. Runt spun as he hit the ground, hitting an attacking guard across the forehead.
Blaster fire from Trigger's rifle covered Kaya and Face's decent down the rope. Kaya landed and sprinted to help Tyria with Bantha. Face landed and shot at one of the doors, where guards were emerging.
A guard came to shoot Shalla in the back of the head, but she reacted quickly and spun around, sweeping the man's legs out from underneath him. As he fell, he looked as if an invisible hand pushed him and fell forward. Kyle ran up seconds later and swung his Lightsaber at Shalla's back. Trusting him, she didn't move and the blade sheered the binders in half. He went to free the others.
Bantha had knocked Tyria down, and was drawing a vibroblade on the dazed Wraith, but Kaya was already there, and shot twice. Both shots hit, one hit her in the shoulder, the second in the gut. She fell back, and didn’t move again.
The last remaining guards in the room began to leave, but Runt shot the controls to that door. The device malfunctioned and closed, locking the guards in the room. The second door had already been locked to keep more guards from coming in.
The cover fire from Trigger stopped and Kell noticed first. He pointed at the hanging rope, because he couldn’t get there in time. Targon and Kyle were closer, and they both noticed. Kyle helped Targon begin to climb, then once he was a body higher, Kyle began to climb.
They reached the top, both drawing their blasters. Trigger was being held by Blazzer, who had ignited a Lightsaber and was holding it in front of Trigger's throat.
"Don’t move!" Blazzer ordered. "Or he looses his head. Drop your weapons."
After a second of doing nothing, Blazzer dug the blade slightly into Trigger's throat. It began to draw blood.
"Ok!" They both dropped their blasters. "That obviously isn't a Jedi Lightsaber, it just drew blood," Targon said.
"It isn't. Nobles in Tanapi use them for honorable duels. I picked it up off of some rich person's dead body."
Kyle almost grinned at Targon's distraction. Kyle focused on the hilt of the blade…
…And the blade flew out of the bounty hunter's hands. He gaped in surprise.
Trigger then took one step forward, threw his left elbow into the man's gut. He spun, open hand striking the man in the forehead, then grabbing him by the neck and kneeing him in the gut as he brought his torso down on his leg. Blazzer fell back, unconscious.
Trigger recovered his dropped blaster rifle, then accepted the Bacta bandage from Targon to put around his neck. They then began to descend down the rope.
Everything was secure in the room. Targon and Kyle immediately began to patch Shalla and Dia up. Kell had picked Tyria up because she was too dazed to walk.
Face's comlink buzzed. "Katarn team one has the bridge," Page's voice said.
"Wraith team one and two has secured the captain and what appears to be the second officer," Face replied.
"Rogue team two has a launch of a shuttle," came Wedge's voice. "But we have word from Rogue team one that they have made their way back to the landing field and have already launched their starfighters. Intercept will be inevitable."
"Katarn team two here, we report engines disabled and secondary bridge inoperable."
All teams sighed relief. "Let's get back home," Wedge said.
"We have two possible places to go and find Zsinj's remaining fleet and allies. Mysiitt, a planet near Ssi-ruuk space and near Republic-allied Bakura," Wedge explained. "Or Ryloth, near Wild Space."
Wedge pointed at the two systems. "Mysiitt is about a seven hour trip from Bakura, and is very close to the Unknown Regions. Ryloth is on the outer rim of Wild Space, a portion of the galaxy sparsely mapped by the Imperials."
Wes Janson raised a hand. "Either site, where would we base operations? We can't exactly go running in blindly."
Wedge held back a grin. "Seems to me, Wes, that you do that anyway." That brought a few chuckles.
"Bakura would be our site of operation to Mysiitt, and Tatooine would be our safehouse from Ryloth. Remember, both planets are unallied, so anything could happen. But we do know that both places have been where Captain Stonnic has been communicating with the Zsinj fleet and both places have been places where bounties were transmitted from via Holonet to the Bounty Hunter's Guild. Also, we've lost the position of the Tloust fleet, so we assume it was recalled by its leaders."
"So is this a pick at random thing?" Gavin asked.
Wedge sighed. "Pretty much."
Gavin grinned. "Then I say Tatooine. I know people there!"
Wedge frowned. "It wouldn't exactly hurt to send you guys through Beggars Canyon once or twice."
Luke spoke up. "I would agree with Gavin. There are people here that know Tatooine, myself included. There are Twi'leks among us, which wouldn't hurt when we're at Ryloth. There's only one Bakuran here, and the Bakuran's don’t exactly like the presence of us force sensitives."
Everyone agreed, save Dia from the Wraiths, who didn't look too happy.
"Maybe we should also bring something to the Twi'leks to give them something as say, maybe a good will gesture," Face said.
Nawara chuckled. "Like what? A set of your holodramas?"
Face raised an eyebrow, and stroked his chin as if thinking. "Never thought about that, but maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea." The other Wraiths groaned.
Wedge motioned for them to quiet. "Seems that by popular vote, Ryloth is our target. The Hapan ships have arrived, a Battledragon with a few starfighters. We also are going to meet up with the rest of the fleet assigned to the Mon Remonda. The fleet this remaining Zsinj ally has is pretty substantial according to our NRI agent that was just assigned here, so we'll need the support."
Dia raised her hand. "Are we actually going to contact the Ryloth government and meet with them?"
Wedge nodded. "Hopefully. If you wish, I won't make a need for all of us to go."
Dia nodded and quieted down again.
"It will take about five days to meet with the rest of the fleet, then another day to get to Tatooine. Everyone, we're on stand by, so keep sober. Dismissed."
They all after that assembled in the pilots lounge on the Titan's Dream. The Wraiths had insisted the Rogues join them on their ship for the duration to Tatooine. The ship was bigger then the Mon Remonda, and the Rogues had probably seen enough of the ship to last a lifetime.
The lounge was different from the Mon Remonda's. Since no Mon Calamari ran the Dream, the lounge was cooler. It was also bigger. Easily, four or five squadron's of people could occupy it without any problem. The New Republic had outfitted the ship with more equipment and computer automation, so the crew was smaller, therefore giving everyone more space then on a typical Star Destroyer.
They gathered around the different chairs, tables, and couches.
"So, how big are we talking about Iella?" Corran asked.
Iella Wessiri sat down in one of the chairs. "Big, as in ten or more ships bigger then a Lancer-Class Frigate."
The others either gaped or frowned. Gavin laughed. "A day in the life of Rogue Squadron," he said.
Iella continued. "We counted maybe five Star Destroyers, unknown class. Two Strike-Class cruisers, and multiple other smaller ships. He's the only ally of Zsinj that's so far survived that we know of."
"Pretty powerful fleet for only a Captain," Shalla said.
Iella shook her head. "He isn't the only person behind this. We know someone higher up on the chain has to be in charge."
"Like who?" Inyri Forge asked.
Iella frowned. "We know of about four possibilities. One is a high Admiral, like a fleet Admiral. Two, a Grand Admiral. So far, only one has been accounted for as dead. Three, another warlord or moff that isn't accounted for. Four, and possibly the second worse to a Grand Admiral, is High Inquisitor Tremayne."
The others fell silent. Targon though grinned and patted Kyle on the back. "Kyle here could take him," he said. Kyle glared and shook his head.
The doors rose and admitted Wedge in. "Gavin," he said, tossing the youngster a datapad. "You're gonna make an exercise for us to run through Beggars Canyon."
Gavin's eyes went wide. "Me?"
Wedge nodded. "You. Luke could have done it, but he hasn't been to the canyon for a while. You've been there more recently. You devise an exercise." Wedge then left to avoid more protest.
As soon as the doors closed, most of the Rogues began chuckling. "Now we'll see how good of a pilot you really are through there," Janson said.
"Yeah, I'm sure you won't make it past the first leg of the course," Gavin said.
Before Janson could reply, Face said, "Yub yub Lieutenant."
"No, Commander, do we have to?" Corran's voice was a plea.
Luke chuckled. "Can't stand the heat Lieutenant Horn?"
Mirax's voice cut in. "He can't stand the dust," she said from the Pulsar Skate.
"Oh, no sense of spirit," Kyle's voice said.
Luke, Kyle, and Corran, the only three that actually owned their X-Wing and had different markings then that of the New Republic, followed by the Pulsar Skate landed outside of Ancorhead.
"Arrg," Corran grumbled as he emerged from his fighter.
"At least it isn't a sandstorm," Gavin said, emerging from the Skate. "But we need to rent at least three Skyhoppers."
"I don't see why we can't just use our X-Wings."
"Because," Luke said, "We don't want to scare the people on this planet. They would like to avoid military problems."
"Scare the people on this planet…what like all…60 of them?" Corran tugged on his brown jumpsuit. He looked everyone over.
Gavin had dressed up as he did when they had come here for supplies when the Rogues had resigned. More of a farmer's outfit, but also showing he had been out and about.
Mirax was wearing something suitable for a trader or smuggler. If Han Solo were a woman, he'd look like her. Brown pants with a blaster strapped to the side, a white shirt and a black vest over it. She put goggles on too, but they were over her forehead, not her eyes for the time being.
For some strange reason, Luke all of a sudden looked younger. Not shorter or less weathered, but as if he had just changed his presence from a Jedi to a young pilot or something. He wore similar clothing that Gavin did.
Kyle looked similar to what Corran had on. Someone that maybe was a regular at Mos Eisley, and he carried himself like a pilot. He even had the smug grin on his face that would be a usual sight.
They made their way into Ancorhead. It wasn't a big town, not nearly as big as Mos Eisley, but more of a farmers community. A few people waved at Gavin and Luke even. Corran felt that between the two of them, they knew everybody on this planet, Jawas and Tuskin Raiders included.
They both headed strait for a building that had an open archway for an entrance.
Once inside, he found it was a dimly lit place, similar to the DownTime bar at Folor Base. The adobe walls were pretty clean, and the tables were cheap metal things that could be discarded with tomorrows trash.
Mirax, like a true smuggler, darted her eyes around the room, as if checking for a threat. He knew she wasn't really worried, but it was just for show.
A woman, maybe a year or two younger then Corran, was sitting behind the bar. As soon as she saw Luke, she dashed around it and jumped at him for a hug.
"Luke!" She cried. They embraced, then turned back to face the bar. "Hey! Luke's back!"
Corran made sure his blaster was still strapped to his hip. They seemed friendly, but you never know…
A man, also maybe Corran's age or younger, wearing dirty overalls came through the bar door. He took one glance at Luke, then brought him into an embrace. "Wormie! You're home!"
Corran and Mirax both raised an eyebrow. Kyle suppressed a laugh. "Wormie?" Corran asked.
Luke frowned. "Long story."
The man also tossed Gavin's hair. "Hey Darklighter, how's it going?"
Gavin frowned and backed up from being picked on more. "Pretty well, Fixer."
Luke backed up to give them a view of Kyle, Corran, and Mirax. "Lieutenant Kyle Maloy of Chandrila, Lieutenant Corran Horn of Corellia, and Captain Mirax Terrik of Corellia."
Fixer and Cammie both nodded. "So, a couple of lieutenants and a Captain. What would Darklighter here be? And you?"
Gavin stood strait and gave a mock-salute. "Lieutenant Gavin Darklighter, reporting for duty." Corran slapped him in the stomach.
Luke chuckled. "I'm not in the military anymore."
Cammie crocked her head to the left and grinned. "What exactly were you before you retired."
Corran spoke up. "You're looking at the only person to retire just before fully accepting a Generalship."
Fixer raised an eyebrow. "General Skywalker is it?"
Luke put an arm around him. "Anyway, we don’t exactly want everyone to know the New Republic is here, ok?"
"Fine, fine. What you need? You obviously came here for business, not a reunion."
Gavin spoke. "We need to rent at least three skyhoppers to take a few of our friends into Beggars Canyon."
Fixer snorted. "Borrow my three skyhoppers."
Luke looked surprised. "You have three?"
"I have the one I actually bought, then I inherited Gavin's cousin's skyhopper, and Tank's skyhopper. I have three, all in perfect working condition."
"We have three thousand Republic credits to…" Corran began.
Fixer waved him off. "I'm sure you'll bring them back. Besides, the two I inherited I never use anyway. Just give me an hour to listen to wormie's stories here and we'll call it even."
Luke turned back to him. "Now, about this wormie thing…"
The Wraiths and Rogues, accompanied by a few of the Katarns and members from Polearm squadron, watched as the three skyhoppers made their way through the canyon from atop one of the bluffs. Mirax had taken them up and landed the Skate up on the bluff so they could watch the others train.
Gavin was in the lead skyhopper, being serious, but also showing off as much as possible to the other two. Kell from the Wraiths and Asyr from the Rogues were following behind, trying to duplicate his maneuvers. They weren't going at full speed, but at a fair pace.
Hobbie followed them using macrobinoculars. "Gavin is pretty good in that hunk he calls a vehicle."
Sheikkell and Tyria climbed up the side of the bluff. "Target drones set up," Tyria reported. She pointed at the landspeeder they had used to go around. "That thing is faster then I thought it would have had a capacity to be." It did look like a wreck that the Jawas had clamped together again.
"Now if only we had a pair of swoopes," Kyle began.
"You'd be the first to know," Face said. "And the first we'd make sure crashes."
They watched as Gavin shot at one of the drone with the skyhopper blasters. They struck paydirt the first shot, and scored Gavin a kill. Gavin then pulled a turn that spun and pitched him a full 360 degrees.
"Showoff," Inyri said, peering through the macrobinoculars.
They finished the course, and Gavin made sure to 'thread the needle' at the end of the canyon.
They then brought the skyhoppers to the top of the bluff and got out. Gavin looked a little too happy for his own good.
"Long time since I've done that," he said. "The course is set. Go at 2/3 speed using these skyhoppers, because those that don’t know the area or controls will make a nice spot on the landscape if they go too fast."
They all nodded as Tycho, Donos, and Dorset Konnair from Polearm Squadron boarded the vacant vehicles.
Wedge looked around at how people were 'weathering the weather' as Janson had said earlier.
He almost laughed at Face. He looked and acted almost like Gavin and Luke, a local. He stood tall, walked like a farmer, not expending too much energy, or too little. Dia was walking around with him, talking about something trivial.
Runt, Piggy, and Ooryl looked the most uncomfortable. Runt had dirt all caught in his fir, Piggy was sweating heavily, and Ooryl had to carry around a cooler unit to keep his exo-skeleton at appropriate levels.
Tycho, Janson, Hobbie, Gavin, and Luke all acted like they loved the place. They had been the ones taking speeders and the skyhoppers out the most, and had fun with it. Wedge grinned, considering he'd never seen Luke act like a youth since Yavin.
Tyria and Kell looked comfortable. More like they had been here for a vacation, and expected it to be warm. They, after Kell had emerged from piloting, were now sitting near the ledge.
Targon and Kyle both were quiet, which was different, considering they were both the jokesters. They had almost taken Face and Phanan's spot in the Wraiths as the moral keepers and pranksters. But they were quiet, observing the skyhoppers, but also covertly, probably watching how the pilots handled themselves to give them a bad time.
Corran looked a bit more comfortable. He hadn't complained in a while, and was talking to Mirax about something or another. Mirax didn't seem to mind about the heat, and looked comfortable.
Kaya and Shalla were also mostly observing the racing ships. Probably to see what they would do when they got out there.
Asyr, Inyri, and Nawara all stood off to the side, laughing. They weren't at all focused on the racing or having any problems with the heat.
Wedge looked through his macrobinoculars over at Target and Ran. They were on a bluff opposite the rest of the people, controlling the target drones and observing quietly.
What was that? Wedge looked farther up the bluff that Target and Ran were on.
"Target, Kether, you got company," Wedge said into his comlink.
He watched as they spun around just as a person began shooting at them from behind a speederbike. They ducked for cover, jumping into their landspeeder, and taking off, with the person hot in their heels.
"Somebody get over to give them cover!" Wedge ordered.
Mirax and Corran ran up the ramp of the Skate and began to start it.
Sheikkell, Kyle, and Syla from the Katarns jumped into the speeder they had used to put the drones out. Syla took the controls and they shot off towards the problem. Sheikkell sat in the front seat, setting her Bowcaster up.
They took off, a few hundred meters behind the attacker. Sheikkell began to set her sights up, as the ship slowly moved into range. She fired twice, the second shot slowing the speederbike down.
Slowly, the landspeeder gained on the damaged bike. Forty feet, thirty feet, twenty feet, Kyle crouched, making his way to the side of the vehicle. He pulled something out of his boot, a cylinder, and twisted it. It extended into a staff, and he then lunged at the speeder.
The pilot fell to the ground, Kyle following closely behind. It wasn't going as fast as possible, so they both landed and were able to get up to their feet quickly. The bike crashed a few hundred feet away from where they had landed.
The woman reached down for her blaster, but found it wasn't in her holster. She saw it laying a few meters away, near where she had landed after getting hit off the bike.
Kyle retracted the staff, put it back in his boot holster. The woman lunged at him, which he sidestepped, and wheel kicked her over the back. She rolled forward, and tried to sweep his legs. He dodged out of the way, then slid to his side, kicking her across the face. She rolled again, and got up into a crouch.
She lunged at him again, throwing a punch. He blocked it to the side, grabbed her arm, and threw her over his shoulder. Keeping his grip on her arm, he put his right leg around her waist, kept her arm strait, held high above her, and used the leverage to push her forward, front torso now on the ground.
"Aggg! Let me go!"
Kyle let her go, but before she could lunge at him again, she noticed a Wookiee and another human female were standing beside him, weapons pointed at her. Another human male and a Rodian also made their way up to them.
"Who are you?" Kyle asked.
"What, exactly, do you hunt?" Syla asked.
She didn't say anything.
The Pulsar Skate began to descend to the ground, and Corran bounded down the ramp. "Let's get her back up to the others," he said.
Syla switched her weapon to stun, then shot once. Hunter fell to the ground unconscious.
Sheikkell picked her up and carried her aboard the ship. Kyle, Ran, Target, and Syla took the speeders back up to the bluff.
"Another bounty hunter?" Face sighed. The others disembarked from their ships.
"Looks like it. Blastech DL-6H, Merr-Sonn Quick 2 holdout, Macrobinoculars, medpac, three sets of stun binders, a hunting rifle, and a flash grenade," Kyle said, explaining Hunter's equipment. He tossed it all to the ground.
Trigger picked up the hunting rifle. "Whoa, this thing isn't your standard issue 'lets go find something to eat' rifle. This is more like a 'lets go find something to destroy' rifle. Its power pack has forty shots, and the power pack is used on an assault rifle. It looks like the trigger housing and blaster gas function make its output as strong as a Stormtrooper Two carbine."
Targon looked over the woman's injuries. "Good thing you guys weren't going any faster," he said. "Or she'd hit the ground, and might not have woken up again."
Kyle shrugged. "Whatever…hey…Why do I all of a sudden feel faint…?" He began to wobble as if he was drunk. Targon just shook his head.
Wedge turned to Gavin. "Take everyone through the course at least once, then we should leave. Though I would suggest you find someplace with desert survival gear. We may need some."
Face frowned. "Day side of Ryloth?"
Gavin nodded, then motioned for Kaya and Ooryl to get into the skyhoppers.
"Sir, we're getting reports that Ryloth is under attack!" the communications officer said.
Captain Onoma hit the switch to his comlink to contact Wedge. "Commander, we have to go now."
"Copy that. All Squadrons, prepare for a jump to Ryloth. ETA two hours, forty-three minutes."
"Blast, check these sensor reading I'm downloading."
Blast, Kyle's R2 unit, whistled an affirmative.
Kyle gave his droid a few moments before asking, "Anything bother you about that?"
The translation to his talking came up on his HUD.
One ship, smaller then a Star Destroyer, slightly outside of the fleet formation. Possibilities: Damaged engines, disobedient commanding officer, unorthodox tactics.
Kyle frowned. Blast had been uploaded with all sorts of thought patterns of a military pilot. During his time at Sluis Van, one of his friends there had upgraded Blast's computer memory and had downloaded all sorts of things into him.
Then it clicked.
"Blast, is there any way we can contact anyone over the comm through hyperspace?"
The droid beeped a negative.
Kyle sighed. "Guess we'll have to try the force," he mumbled.
He easily found Skywalker's presence, and found he was already thinking the same thing. That something was wrong.
Next, he looked for Corran's presence. Corran wasn't trained to feel telepathic presence's, but he could also have a bad feeling, and if he heard someone confirm it, he might do something about it. He was a bit more difficult to find, but he brushed it, inside of the Pulsar Skate.
Drop out of Hyperspace before entering the system.
Last, the only person he might be able to contact that wasn't force sensitive. Kaya.
He easily found her presence, more easily then Skywalker's. He reached out and brushed her consciousness, and tried to use telepathy, use affect mind, and use her own feelings through the force.
Drop out of hyperspace right now.
He also hit the controls, throttling down. The ship shown into the star filled space, jetting out of the blue of hyperspace. He saw Rogue Leader, Skywalker, also drop out. The Pulsar Skate dropped out about two hundred meters past them, and Kaya another few hundred meters.
"Wraith Two here, I think there's an Interdictor Cruiser in that fleet, and it's going to blast them out of hyper, and they'll have malfunctions. We have to defend them until the fleet can either defend itself, or we can escape."
"Rogue Leader approves. Go at 90% on engines. At that speed, It'll take us ten minutes to get there."
Face felt his ship lurch as he exited hyperspace, seven seconds before the decided exit time. The ship lurched again, and he flinched as a spark from the HUD hit his flight suit.
The streaks became single stars and he found himself without control, and without propulsion.
All the control lights were out.
"Sithspit," he cursed. He began to proceed with the startup routine.
Finally, after a few seconds, some of the controls lit up, including the comm system.
"--gue three has three lit."
"Wraith nine here, all systems are working at over 70%, but I don’t see Wraith ten anywhere."
"This is Wraith Leader, I don’t see Wraith two either. I've got all four lit, but shields are still inoperative." Face looked around at everyone's positions.
"Rogue six here, I got a half dozen squints and eyeballs incoming."
"All squadrons, those that have engines and weapons systems, engage those TIEs. Keep them off our backs until we get up and going," Wedge ordered.
Face turned back to see that the Mon Remonda was still working and was turning a broadside to the incoming ships, but the Titan's Dream was still trying to come on line. Surefire, Mon Karren, and the Hapan ship Werewolf were partially operative.
He then turned to see the incoming ships. He aimed his targeting brackets at one, and pulled the trigger.
Sithspit! He pulled his snubfighter up into a loop and headed for the cover from Wraith three and five's cannon fire. He saw the green flashes pursuit of his ship, and felt an impact.
"Wraith Leader is hit!" Dia said.
"Leader, do you copy?" Runt asked.
"Leader here, starboard engine systems are fried. My shields are now responding, but I need cover."
He began to pull up behind the other Wraiths as the Interdictor Cruiser moved into firing range.
"Rogue seven through twelve, you're all operative. Engage the Interdictor, and try to disable its shields. Rogue three and four, engage the bombers. Rest, try to get your systems operating." Wedge himself pulled a U-turn to cover fire for the disabled Rogues. He had no idea where Luke or Corran were, or even the Pulsar Skate. From comm traffic, he heard that two of the Wraiths were also missing.
Wedge lined his sights on a TIE bomber, then fired twice. The first shot missed, but the second caught it in the left solar array and it sent the bomber careering out of control.
Wedge then saw four of the Rogues pull up across the Interdictor's bridge and fire torpedoes at the shield generators. One was destroyed, but the other stayed intact.
"Rogue five here, I've been hit by a turbolaser, at long range I think. My lower starboard laser cannon is totally gone. But I got two engines in the green."
"Rogue five, head back to base. We're going to retreat."
"Negative on that," a voice said. Wedge recognized it to be Luke's, and sighed relief.
"Rogue Leader, where are you?"
"I'm attached to the Skate's hull, with Rogue nine, Wraith two, and Wraith ten. We're going to take care of the interdictor, then the Mon Remonda can handle the dreadnought down by Ryloth."
Wedge looked at his sensor screen. The Pulsar Skate wasn't on his screen, or had it ever been registered.
Then Wedge understood. Luke must have used a force power to navigate the ship through hyperspace right below the hull of the Interdictor. The Gravity wells weren't turned on at the moment, for they already did their job at damaging the fleet.
Then he finally spotted the Skate and the four X-Wings. All of them fired on the Interdictor, decimating the bridge with a surprise attack from behind.
The ships streaked away from the doomed vessel, just as the explosion caught the whole ship and sent debris flying everywhere.
"Rogue Leader to squadron, return to the Mon Remonda."
"Wraith Leader to squadron, return to the Titan's Dream."
"Ryloth has contacted us. They welcome us to their planet and wish for some of us pilots that rescued them to take a visit," Wedge explained.
Luke spoke up first. "I'm sorry, but I can't go. In fact, I have to be going today back to Courscant." That brought some somber expressions.
Wedge motioned for them to quiet. "Hey, hey, hey, restoring peace and justice to the galaxy is pretty hard, you know. Luke has a job to do besides vape some Imperial pilots."
Nawara spoke up next. "So, who are you going to send down there?"
Wedge shrugged. "Actually, I was going to ask you to make up the teams. I don't exactly want the new captain to the Titan's Dream to go, or Captain Onoma, but pick some of the pilots here. Maybe even some of the Katarns might want to go."
Nawara thought about it for a moment. "Captain Loran, I would say you should come."
Face stood, took a bow. "Yet again the need for a master actor has arisen."
"More like master goofball," Gavin mumbled before Nawara continued. "Lieutenant Tainer, Lieutenant Nelphin, Flight Officer Targon, Flight Officer Ryylek, and Lieutenant Sheikkell."
Face turned to the remaining Wraiths, noticing Dia was happy that Nawara didn't say she should go. "Since I assume we might be down there for a while, Lieutenant Maloy, you're in charge. Tyria, you're his wingman, Runt and Dia, Piggy and Kaya. Tyria, make sure to keep this guy in line."
Tyria grinned. "I think he needs less looking after then you."
Nawara then turned to the Rogues. "Wedge, Target, Forge, Ooryl, Asyr, and Hobbie. The rest are staying here."
The Rogues made appreciative notes. "Tycho, you're in charge while we're gone. Janson, you're his wingman. Gavin and Ran, Corran and Donos. Careful everyone, we got two Corellians as a team." Wedge thought a second before continuing. "In case we do need a full squadron, Wraiths and Rogues join teams, with Captain Celchu in charge, Kyle as 2nd in command. Though I hope we won't need these wingpairs."
"We leave at 0700 tomorrow. Any more questions? No? Dismissed."
The Wraiths got up to leave, save Kyle. The Rogues all slapped Luke on the back of his shoulders once or twice before leaving.
Kyle approached him. "I'm sorry, but I won't be joining you. Try in about a year, and then I might be ready to fully devote my time to the Jedi."
Luke nodded, as if expecting this. "I understand. I'll check in on you a few months from now." Then he was gone.
Kyle made his way out the door, and some of the Wraiths were waiting for him.
"Did you hear the rumor?" Tyria asked.
Kyle shook his head. "What rumor?"
She moved closer, Targon, Kaya, and Kell also leaning in. "That NRI is processing a promotion for Face."
Kyle turned to her, surprised. "So, he would be what…Major next?"
Kell laughed. "Scary, huh?"
"Even worse, he'd then have caught up with Commander Antilles," Targon said.
"Which also means, Kell, that you might be promoted too, to keep up with being the XO," Kaya said, grinning slyly.
Kell frowned. "Captain Tainer? Hmm, it does have a nice ring to it."
Kyle sighed. "Which means a lot of the squad might also end up catching up with the rest of us lieutenants. The Rogues are like that, more lieutenants then in all of the other squadrons in the fleet put together." He looked as if his sense of uniqueness had just been taken away from him.
Tyria slapped him in the stomach. "Hey, I've been in this squadron longer then you have, and you're already outranking me, lieutenant."
"Point taken, but it still doesn't make me feel better."
They entered the pilots lounge, and stopped short.
Wedge and Iella sat in the middle of the lounge, sitting together, talking quietly to themselves. Nobody else was in the lounge, and they looked up, surprised, and a bit embarrassed.
"Sorry sir! We'll be going now," Kell pushed the others back out of the room and hit the lock switch on the door.
Tyria kept from laughing. "Oh, I don't think we should tell Janson or Hobbie."
"Ah, obviously, we should check the hangar instead," Targon said.
They exited the turbolift to the hangar bay and found many of the Wraiths and Rogues on deck.
"Found out the hard way did you?" Janson said.
Kyle and Targon both frowned. "We were hoping you didn't know so we could play with your minds," Targon said.
They looked around at the activity in the hangar. Kell noticed first. "Another paint job on your X-Wing Kyle?"
Kyle's X-Wing, gray normally with a blue trim with an inner core of white, to represent a blue Lightsaber, wasn't gone, but on top of the X-Wing fuselage now also had a similar finish, but with a green trim.
"Oh, yeah, forgot. I took my mom's Lightsaber apart and added a second crystal. Now I have a low setting blade of green that usually stuns an opponent, but doesn't slice him to pieces, and a high setting blade of blue that's like a normal Lightsaber." He shrugged.
Nawara approached them. "Kell, Targon, can I have a moment with you?"
Kyle laughed. "Do you know how sick that just sounded?" Tyria slapped him on the back of the head.
They moved off so nobody could hear them talk. Tyria frowned. "Wonder what that's all about."
Kyle climbed onto the top of his fighter and sat on the nose with his feet dangling over the end. "I chose you because you, Mr. Tainer, are the demolitions expert, and you, Mr. Targon, because of your medical skills…"
Tyria glared at him again. "Cheater."
Blast came rolling up, stopping underneath Kyle. He beeped, sounding like he was explaining something.
"You found what fleet the Interdictor was assigned to? Which one?"
He beeped even more.
"The one assigned to the…what number was that again?"
"182nd TIE Interceptor Squadron?!"
Tyria and Kaya both frowned. "The what?" Kaya asked.
"The 182nd TIE Interceptor Squadron. Second best only to the 181st. Basically the equivalent to us in terms of piloting skills, or perhaps even better."
"Maybe we should tell Face," Tyria said.
"Maybe you're right for once."
The shuttle ride down to Ryloth was pretty uneventful. Pretty nice, considering the other options, Face thought.
They exited the shuttle just outside an outcropping of cliffs and hills on the day side of Ryloth. The others started to stand, and gathered their gear.
Face grabbed his pack, and moved to exit the shuttle behind Wedge and Nawara. The door opened and a ramp descended to let them out.
Immediately, a gust of wind flew in. It was dry, but warm, and felt similar to the winds on Tatooine. Everyone began to descend the ramp, and found a pair of Twi'leks waiting for them.
"Welcome to Ryloth. The Ma'kun enclave welcomes you."
Kyle woke up with a start. He sat up, blinking, and rubbing at his eyes. What was that? Something isn't right…
He looked down at where Kaya was sleeping peacefully. Since they had gotten together, she basically lived with him, and he planned on sooner or later asking her to marry him. She stirred a bit, and he moved the covers over her naked flesh, and stroked her dark hair for a minute.
He then got out of bed, making sure not to wake her, and put on some clothes. He took a datapad from off the nightstand, and left his quarters.
He headed for the ship's 'library' where they had computer terminals filled with information from across the galaxy. Considering the late hour, he didn't expect anyone to be inside, but found Corran Horn was already sitting at one of the terminals.
Did he sense it too? Kyle sat down in front of a terminal near Horn's.
"Couldn't sleep?" Corran asked.
"No. I think I need to quit drinking juri juice before I go to bed."
"You felt it too?" Corran asked, a little while later.
Kyle nodded. "Something about Ryloth that doesn't feel right. What part of the planet are they staying in?"
"Ma'kun enclave, I think."
They both pulled up the information, and took the rest of the night to read it all.
Face looked around the cave they had just entered. It was large, large enough for a skiff or airspeeder to fit inside. The Twi'leks that they had just met were leading them through the cave with a couple of glowrods.
After a few hundred meters, they exited the tunnel and found themselves in a huge underground dome.
Buildings were inside, built from metals probably dug up from minerals inside the planet. The dome was big, nearly a square mile, and had dirt trails up the sides of the walls to other caves, heading off to other places.
Face heard Kell whistle. "Big," he said.
Another Twi'lek approached them, but he looked different. He wore dark robes and had his lekku wrapped around his neck, with decorations hanging from them. He walked very powerfully, but in an almost quiet way.
"Welcome. I am the leader of this enclave, which I named after my family name. You can call me Ma'kun. These two are Sha'cok Iav, my head of security, and Ti'arka Litt, the manager of the enclave." The two that had led them in through the caves both nodded. The first, a male, was wearing more combat-worthy clothing, blast vest, combat fatigues, and had a blaster rifle slung over his shoulder. The second, a female, had clothing similar to Ma'kun's, but made for a female's build.
Wedge nodded. "I am Commander Wedge Antilles, New Republic Starfighter corps." He then moved so the others present could introduce themselves.
"Captain Garik Loran."
Sha'cok laughed. "I've seen your holodramas. Pretty…amusing."
"Lieutenant Nawara Ven."
Ma'kun's eyes went slightly wide and his lekku twitched. "Ah, you're pretty famous around here."
Nawara bowed his head and let the others continue.
"Lieutenant Kell Tainer."
"Lieutenant Ooryl Qyrgg."
"Lieutenant Shalla Nelphin."
"Lieutenant Derek Klivian."
"Rakaaa urrrhh saaahhh," Sheikkell bellowed, and Kell translated.
"Lieutenant Asyr Sei'lar."
"Flight Officer Toin Ryylek."
"Nakeko keko ya roas kaa," Nu said in his own language, and Hobbie translated.
"Flight Officer Elassar Targon."
"Flight Officer Inyri Forge."
Ma'kun acknowledged them all. "Let us show you around."
The remaining Wraiths and Rogues, including Mirax and Iella, assembled in the pilot's lounge.
"You said you know of this enclave?" Piggy asked.
Dia nodded slowly. "I was born there." She tried to hide her discomfort.
"Do you know the leader?" Kyle asked.
She nodded again. "He's my uncle."
"The same uncle that helped sell you to slavery?" Tyria asked.
Dia didn't move, but everyone got the picture.
Runt stood, assuming a posture the others hadn't seen before: shoulders back, chest puffed out, making him look dangerous and intimidating. "We think we should go beat in this Ma'kun's head, smash his toes flat, throw him into a blast furnace, shoot him right in the…"
Everyone looked at him quizzically. He reassumed his normal poster and sat down.
"Who was that?" Tyria asked.
"The bully. The one that is angered by anything and everything. He's usually the one who fights unarmed." Runt shrugged.
Gavin shook his head. "You Wraiths have the weirdest squadron…"
"Hey!" Both Tycho and Janson said at the same time. "Don't take that title away from the Rogues, we're the weirdest squadron," Janson said.
"Well, I checked up on this guy's background, and it seems good enough, but he doesn't seem good enough. Does that make any sense?" Corran looked more confused then ever.
"You never make any sense, but yeah, we got you," Tycho said.
"I also checked on the enclave's background, and it's kinda disturbing. Lots of its money was produced by selling slaves, and also selling goods from the planet, including material for different metals, some spices, and smuggling weapons. I'm sure if Corran had looked up this background instead of its esteemed leader, he'd freak. They've also been known to sell to Imperials, especially slaves."
"And, I found that it's partially allied with something called the Diversity Alliance, an anti-human group that's been together for about a year now. They hate the imperials for being pro-human, but don't think too much higher of the New Republic, considering it's leaders are mostly human."
Gavin blinked. "That isn't true. There's Admiral Akbar, Senator Fey'lya…"
Dia cut him short. "But then there are more well known leaders of the Republic like Mon Mothma, Princess Leia, General Solo, General Cracken, General Crespin…"
Tycho cut her short. "This isn't the point. The point is, that the others might end up in trouble if they aren't careful. Which means they might need us to blast them out, and shoot down pursuit."
Kyle snorted. "And they say Alderaanians are suppose to be peaceful pacifists."
"Speak for yourself, 'born-on-chandrila-the-pacifist-former-imperial-held-planet-Kyle.'"
Kyle growled, defeated.
Corran grinned and put his arms around Mirax and Donos, and motioned at Iella. "Fortunately for us, Corellians don't have such a reputation."
Just then the alarm sounded. "Pilots scramble. We have a scout fleet incoming. All pilots scramble."
Everyone save Iella and Mirax sprinted for the flight hangar. They strapped into their snubfighters and began powering up. Fighters began to launch.
"Wraith two here, I have them on my scopes," Kyle said. They had decided to keep with standard numbers to avoid confusion. "Looks like a Corellian Corvette, two Carack-Class cruisers, a half dozen picket ships, and two TIE squadrons. Not a fighting force, seems to be a probe."
"Rogue five here, I got scans on the picket ships. Looks like two Assault Gunships, and four escort shuttles."
"This is Talon Leader, my squad is out and commencing a run on the starboard Carack-Cruiser."
"Wraith group, lets strafe the Corvette," Kyle suggested. "But let's give them a different tactic. Attack pattern Delta."
The six starfighters assumed a strait line, Kyle in the lead. "Shields double front, lock torpedoes on their engines."
The Corvette began firing on the incoming fighters, but could only hit Kyle's ship, and he began diverting laser cannons to his shields.
"Torpedoes away!" Kyle said, firing the streaking blue missiles at the Corvette. They impacted the shields, and he veered hard to port, strafing the ship with his lasers as he went. The Turbolasers tracked him as he veered away, and the other five fighters got free shots off without being fired at.
Kaya reported next, assessing damage to the ship. "Engines at 32%, shields gone on their dorsal and port sides."
The Corvette began to show damage, one side of its armor breached and sparking.
"Blizzard Squadron is commencing disabling run."
The Blizzard's B-Wings, who had followed the Wraiths in, shot in towards the damaged ship and fired their Ion cannons. Blue jolts of electricity shot into the armor of the ship, and it stopped moving and shooting altogether.
Kyle shot out of the battlefield slightly to spin his fighter around, followed by Tyria. He acquired a pair of TIE fighters, and began shooting. One blew into nothingness, and the second flew out of control, and Tyria finished it off.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the dogfight, Gavin pulled a U-turn and switched to torpedoes. "Now you see it, now you don’t." He shot his last pair of torpedoes, followed by Ran Kether's torpedoes, shooting strait for an Assault Gunship. They impacted, and totally destroyed the ship.
"Rogue six, target destroyed," he reported.
"Rogue two here, Rogues, return to ship. We got all the fighters and disabled or destroyed all the cruisers."
"Wraith group, identical status. Return to ship."
"Hey, Rogue three here, I'm kinda dead in space," Donos said. "Requesting pickup."
"Request denied," Tycho joked. "Unless you're paying for the drinks when we get back."
"Sometimes, I wish I never joined the fleet."
Face, Kell, and Shalla made their way up one of the side paths, following Ti'arka. They were now easily a few meters above most of the one-story rooftops, and could see a lot of the establishment.
"Is this a big clan compared to the others?" Kell asked.
Ti'arka nodded. "There's a population of about 7,300 here, and that's moderately big. Most of the clans are smaller then 2,000," she explained in pretty understandable basic.
She led them to one cavern that shot back a few meters, then spilled into a big cave, carved out and used possibly as an ops center.
Equipment and computer terminals lined the area. There were a few desks, and a few Twi'leks milled around the place.
"This is where we contact different establishments and give them trade offers, and watch what is going on outside of the planet."
Face and Shalla looked around curiously, but Kell looked suspicious for a moment. He regained control of his features first, then spoke. "How, exactly, did you get all of this? Through trade?"
Ti'arka nodded. "Mostly we trade raw material, minerals, metals, stuff like that. We use to sell slaves, but we haven't done that since your people defeated much of the empire at Endor."
Slaves? I wonder if Dia knows about this place. Face nodded, and followed her out.
They went down another path to one of the buildings everyone was gathering in front of. "This is where you'll be staying. Tomorrow morning we're having a feast in your honor. We'd be very grateful if you joined us." Ma'kun looked hopeful.
Wedge looked around, then nodded. "We would be honored."
With that, Ma'kun left. Ti'arka followed, but kept looking back in Face's direction.
They entered the building, and looked around. It was much like a dormitory, where there was a big commonroom, then bunches of smaller rooms and such. It was quite big.
Shalla and Kell both looked at Face. "What is it with you and Twi'lek women?" Kell asked.
Face rolled his eyes and followed the others to explore.
Wedge then later gathered everyone in the big commonroom. They found couches, chairs, or soft places on the ground to sit.
"Looks like two to a room, with one odd person to have a room to him or herself."
Hobbie gave him a frown. "And I just bet that you get that extra room."
Wedge grinned. "I'm the commanding officer. I get special privileges. Tell you what though," he started pulling out a deck of sabacc cards. "How about all of you draw a card. Whoever has the highest number wins, or whoever ends up with the idiot." He arranged the deck so that everyone could pick one, and he could pick one without seeing what he chose.
Face chose first. "Nineteen."
Shalla grinned. "Not a lucky day for you is it?" She picked one. "Eighteen."
Kell: "Twenty! Ho ho, looks like I'm going to be the loner."
Inyri: "I'll take that bet, Kell. Twenty."
Hobbie: "Nineteen." He heaved a sigh.
Wedge frowned. "Nineteen. Looks like we'll flip a coin for Kell and Inyri."
Nawara produced a republic credit, one side with the New Republic emblem, the other side featuring a lightsaber. "Saber is heads, Shield is tails. Call it Inyri." He flipped the credit.
"Tails," she said.
The coin fell, twisted, turned, and spun. It finally rested on the ground with the lightsaber on top.
"Ha!" Kell said.
Inyri frowned. "No fair."
Kell winked at her. "We could share if you'd prefer…"
"Thanks. No." Kell laughed.
Wedge motioned at the rooms. "Face and Trigger share a room. Shalla and Sheikkell, Targon and Nawara. You're punishment, Nawara, for acting in charge around here with all of the Twi'leks." Nawara shrugged.
"I'll be with Hobbie, Ooryl and Nu, Inyri and Asyr. Kell gets the loner quarters." Wedge picked up his things. "Let's be up for the feast tomorrow. I've always wanted to try Twi'lek food."
The remaining Wraiths and Rogues gathered around the flight hangar in the Mon Remonda to access damage on their ships. Mirax also went up and down the ramp of the Skate, unloading equipment that she had just gained from a trade down on Ryloth.
Kyle watched as Cubber painted the silhouette of a Carack-Class Cruiser on his X-Wing. "So Kyle, that's what, five-hundred fifty kills from the cruiser, and another eleven starfighter kills? You're catching up," Gavin said.
Kyle looked at the taller man. "I don’t remember seeing any capital ships on your snubfighter."
Gavin looked down at him. "That's because…" he began.
But they were interrupted when a crash came from the Skate. Mirax was standing over a box, glaring at it.
"That's the last time I have Twi'leks do the air pressure seal on the freight." She sat down on top of the box and looked over her datapad.
"Three more boxes?" Corran said, walking down the ramp, carrying another crate.
"What's inside of here?" Tycho asked, patting on the box she was sitting on.
"In this one it's a load of minerals that can be produced into foodstuffs."
"What about the others?"
Mirax gave Tycho an innocent look. "Nothing, especially not things that are illegal on Taanab."
Tycho chuckled. "There's also one box out here that's going to Squeaky and Emtrey. Is it some of the stuff we've requested?"
Mirax shrugged. "Check for yourselves, but risk the wrath of the 3PO units."
At that moment, Emtrey entered the hangar, walking towards the crate. "I have requested items some of you have asked for, and they should be in there. I believe there are things for Captain Celchu, Lieutenant Darklighter, Lieutenant Donos, Flight Officer Passik, Lieutenant Maloy, Lieutenant Sheikkell, and Lieutenant Tainer."
Gavin and Tycho pulled the top of the crate off. Tycho immediately pulled a black box out of the crate. "Ah, finally!"
Gavin examined the box. "What is it?"
"Sensor echo. It'll show my IF code as that from Rogue Squadron, but in certain circumstances, it'll show a ghost echo IF from an Alderaanian starfighter, one from back in the clone wars."
Gavin snorted. "That must have taken a fortune to buy."
Kyle pulled out a smaller container full of things and set it down aside, then sat down beside it. He opened the box.
Tyria and Corran both looked into the box. "If I were still in CorSec, I'd arrest you for possession of an armory."
Inside the box were all sorts of weapons. He pulled down the sleeve of his shirt on his right arm, and took off a small holster between his wrist and elbow. He took throwing stars out of the box, and put them inside of the holster.
"Used a few earlier that I couldn't recover," he explained. He also took another one and put it in a similar holster on his left arm. He took the remaining three, left one in the box, and put the other two in a small pouch on his boot.
He then took a small container, opened it, and took a small marble-shaped object out. He closed the container and stood.
"What's that?" Tyria asked.
"Flash and smoke ball. Watch." He backed up, then threw the small marble to the ground. A flash shot out, causing everyone to flinch and look away. Smoke arose from it, and when they cleared it out, Kyle was gone.
He then jumped from atop his X-Wing's nose. "Pretty cool huh?"
Corran then looked into the box and looked at all the other things. "One shot holdout pistol, Bacta geltabs, vibropick, blaster bold dampener spray, what are you Kyle? Paranoid?"
Kyle shrugged. "Just well prepared."
Dia pulled out a heavy blaster pistol. "Finally saved up enough to get this model," she mumbled.
Gavin found a datapad cartridge and took it. He started to chuckle. "Death Star run simulation."
Tycho shook his head. "Don't go there."
Kyle peered into the rest of the crate. "Looks like more bombs for Kell, and some more quarrels for Sheikkell."
Emtrey waited for everyone to get the things that belonged to them out of the box before asking, "Would someone assist me in carrying it back to the ready room?"
Tycho patted Gavin on the back. "Gavin here would be happy to help out."
Gavin gave him a look that could melt a glacier before picking up one the box.
"Captain Celchu, report to the bridge," the intercom sounded.
"Looks like karma just gave you a kick in the butt," Kyle said.
"Looks like karma just gave you a kick in the butt," Tycho said over the comm system.
"If I may be as so blunt to you sir, shut up," Kyle said.
Tycho turned back to his controls. He looked at his radar and found Janson to his port side, Kyle to starboard, and Tyria forming a diamond, directly behind him.
"I hate recon," Kyle said. "I like blowing stuff up."
"Obviously why you chose an X-Wing over a Y-Wing Longprobe," Janson said. "Unfortunately for me, I wasn't as lucky."
"My R2 unit just said that he's getting comm traffic," Kyle reported.
"Radio silence now. Passive systems only," Tycho ordered.
Kyle switched to passive mode and scanned the immediate vicinity. "ID's?"
Blast began to explain on Kyle's HUD. Possible contact. Three capital ships, one clearly identified as a Nebulon-B2 Frigate.
The Nebulon-B2 Frigate was a modification to the normal -B frigate. It had two sets of front 'wings' instead of just one.
Frigate identified as the Viking. The other two capital ships are now reading as a Victory II Class Star Destroyer, and a Bulk Freighter.
A Bulk Freighter? What would that be doing in an Imperial fleet?
Star Destroyer identified as the Lion's Roar. Bulk Freighter identified as the Tan'ryyh, a merchant ship.
That explains it. It isn't a part of the fleet, it's probably doing a deal with the imperials Kyle thought.
Blast hesitated for a second. The Tan'ryyh is being fired at. Blast hesitated again, then continued. Destroyed by turbolaser fire from the Lion's Roar.
Kyle made another passive scan, and found that only two ships remained.
The Lion's Roar is turning towards a vector to jump into hyperspace. But it looks like the Viking is staying behind as cleanup.
"Recon one here," Tycho's voice came over the comm. "Head back to ship. We don't have what it takes to take on either of those ships."
Kyle pulled a U-turn behind Tycho's fighter and became bored again.
They all crowded into the Pulsar Skate, where Mirax was sitting at a computer terminal.
"The Tan'ryyh you say?" She started typing more. "Bulk Freighter owned by…" She pulled up the information. "The Pit'kasc clan on Ryloth. Anyone know that clan?"
Everyone, including Dia, shook their head.
"Looks like it had just stopped off at Ryloth a few days ago, and was last known heading for Bothawui. I don't have any more information other then that, unless someone can hack past the protected information from Ryloth."
Kaya pushed Mirax out of the seat, and began typing. "No…no…no…no…no…no…yes…there." She hit a key and pulled up the information within a few seconds. "Captained by Skie'nal from the Pit'kasc clan, wanted by the New Republic for helping with the escape of two imperial prisoners. Hmm, this is interesting," she became quiet and read.
After a few moments, she continued. "Looks like they're in rivalry with the Ma'kun enclave. And…they know about our people staying down there."
Tycho frowned. "That's bad. They might send more bounty hunters or just full out attack us if the imperials found out that we're down there."
"Should they just pack up and leave?" Kaya asked.
"No, we should find out more about these two clans before we leave. Fist off because of the imperial activity, and second, if they still sell slaves or spices, to make sure we get a New Republic envoy here to start diplomatic negotiations."
Kyle grinned. "Now that sounds more like an Alderaanian."
They walked out of the Skate and headed for the bridge.
When Face woke up, he found himself starring at the wrong end of a blaster.
"Get up," Sha'cok said. He held the blaster rifle level with Face's sternum.
Trigger was already awake and Sha'cok had another pistol, Trigger's own blaster, pointed at him. Face also noticed that Triger's rifle was slung over Sha'cok's shoulder, and Face's own blaster was in Sha'cok's holster.
"What do you want," Face said, getting up.
"Come with me." He motioned for them to leave the room.
They headed for the commonroom, where all the other Wraiths and Rogues were, watched over by over a dozen or so Twi'lek guards, armed. Their weapons were piled in a corner with two of the guards watching over it.
Ti'arka was among them, blaster pistol in hand. "You New Republic people ruined our plans for an alliance with the Imperials. They were about to slag the Pit'kasc clan to dirt, but you stopped them!" She shot once at a random person, grazing Ooryl's exo-skeleton.
Face looked at Wedge and Nawara, who both looked as dumbfounded as he did. "What are you talking about?" Face asked.
"You stopped us from reaching an alliance with the imperials in orbit. They were firing specifically on the Pit'kasc clan and were about to…"
An explosion rocked the whole town, big enough to throw people around. Nobody hesitated and sprang into action. Face elbowed Sha'cok in the jaw, hearing it crack. He staggered backwards, and Face kicked the blaster rifle out of his hands.
Sheikkell bellowed a war cry, and slammed her fists into two of the guards. Their helmets cracked under the impact, and she pushed them into each other.
Face grabbed the blaster out of Sha'cok's holster and spun, snapping a shot at the nearest guard. He fell, a black crater smoking on his body.
Kell lashed out with a knee and struck a guard in the groin. He cried out, and Kell elbowed him across the cheek.
Shalla also sprang at a guard, eye gouging him, then hitting him on both sides of the neck, knocking him unconscious. She dove for his lost blaster.
Wedge spun around and grabbed a guard by his forearm, and threw him over his shoulder. He grabbed the blaster, fired twice, hitting one guard in the knee.
Ooryl slammed his arm across one guard's helmeted head, smashing the helmet to about half of its original size. He picked up the lost man's blaster and fired at another guard.
All guards were quickly taken care of, and Nawara set his blaster to stun, and shot Ti'arka. He picked up her limp body and slung her over his shoulder like a backpack. "We need answers, and she may have them," he explained.
They exited the building after gathering their equipment and looked around.
At the other end of the cavern, exactly opposite of the entrance, a big hole was now in the rock structure, blasted open by thermal detonators. Twi'leks were streaming in, firing on other Twi'leks, stunning, injuring, killing.
"Seems like clan one is being attacked by clan two," Face said. "Let's just find the exit."
Wedge nodded. "Agreed. Let's get out of here."
"Wait," Shalla said. "That ops center, we can gather information quickly about the imperials, and its pretty close to the exit."
Wedge nodded. "Shalla, Kell, Sheikkell, you head for the ops center. The rest of us will cover you. You have two minutes to gather information."
"I wish Kaya were here," Shalla complained. She typed furiously on her datapad, downloading information. Kell tossed a grenade just outside of the room, stopping incoming fire for a moment.
"Got it!" Shalla said.
She rushed out where Kell and Sheikkell were firing at any attackers, and saw Wedge and the others make their way out the exit. "Lets go!"
They sprinted for the exit, shooting as they went. They ducked at they exited, trying to avoid being spotted.
A few moments after leaving, they exited the tunnel system and out into the day side of the planet.
Right into the face of a pair of AT-PT's.
"Halt!" One said over the intercom.
Everyone dropped their weapons and raised their hands.
The AT-PT's began to fire. Shots streaked towards the smaller people, who dove away from the deadly red blasts.
Then the backup came. A pair of X-Wings shot past the battlefield at full speed, strafing the left AT-PT. It blew up in a huge ball of flames, leaving its legs and main pivot chassis left to fall to the ground.
The second AT-PT turned to fire on the X-Wings, but a pair of A-Wings also shot past, one firing twin concussion missiles. Then the vehicle was no more.
"You guys just can't stay out of trouble without me, huh?" Kyle had the cockpit viewscreen pulled back to talk, and was somehow using the force to make his voice louder. "The Narra will be here in a second to pick you up." He then jetted past the battlefield to escort the shuttle in.
"Then the battle is to be decided at Mysiitt," Wedge explained. "We'll jump to Bakura, then immediately jump to there. A second fleet will be entering their system from a different angle, so we can divide their forces. The Hapan Battledragon Werewolf will keep any ships from exiting hyperspace, so we either win or loose. The new fleet is Admiral Akbar's, consisting of Home One, the Imperial Star Destroyer Liberator, Four more Mon-Calamari cruisers, two Frigates, and a handful of picket ships."
Iella stood and took control of the holotable to show the different ships they would encounter.
"We do know almost exactly what kind of forces they have at the planet. Here's what we're up against." She first brought up a picture of an orbital space station.
"This is the shipyard they have over the planet. It currently is building a Carack-Class cruiser and a pair of TIE bombers." It zoomed in to show the defensive capabilities. "We have ten turbolasers, four ion cannons, and tractor beams to deal with, plus the thing has Novadux Grade-3 military shields, making it defensively as strong as an Imperial Dreadnought."
Iella then brought up information showing that the fleet consisted of 6 Carack-Class Cruisers, 2 Imperial Dreadnoughts, 3 Strike-Class Cruisers, 2 Nebulon B-Frigates, and four Star Destroyers."
She brought up information on the flagship, an Imperial II Star Destroyer. "This ship is heavily modified from the original version. It has forty turbolaser batteries, sixty heavy turbolasers, sixty ion cannons, ten tractor beams, and two proton torpedo launchers. It also carries seven TIE squadrons instead of six, and is much larger then the Imperial II. The thing will be harder to defeat then some Super Star Destroyers I'm sure you've heard of." That brought some snickers.
Tycho shrugged. "If it wasn't hard, I'd never have joined this squadron."
Wedge stood again. "Even if we do beat the fleet, or at least split it so they are driven away, we have to go to the planet and liberate it. It's Republic-allied, but was taken by the imps shortly after the Battle of Endor. So what does this mean to us? Wraiths, stay alive, so we can insert you on the planet." Some of the Rogues chuckled. "The Katarns will also accompany you to the surface once we're done in space."
Face nodded. "Been a long time since we've liberated a planet. It'll be nice."
"We'll arrive at Mysiitt within four days. Make sure all ships are at 110% and you're fully rested. Dismissed."
Trigger and Tyria pulled themselves out of the simulators.
"How'd it go?" Face asked.
"Trigger 3, Tyria 4," Tyria said, grinning. "Torpedoed him twice, shot him once, and the last time I outfoxed him by diving strait for an asteroid, pulled up at the last second, and he crashed into the ground."
Face and Dia both laughed. Both Kyle and Targon poked their heads into Tyria's simulator. "Plan on paying the Republic back for drenching their machinery in sweat?" Kyle asked.
Kell put his arm around Tyria's shoulders, then withdrew. "Whoa, did you just take a sonic shower?"
She frowned. "Well, Trigger did shoot me down three times. I barely beat him, so I got my share of tense moments."
Targon moved a mechanical fan and pointed it into the simulator and started it. "More then 'a share of tense moments' I think."
The intercom rang. "We just exited hyperspace outside of Bakura. ETA to Mysiitt is 21 hours, 4 minutes."
"And seventeen seconds," Piggy said aloud.
Face looked at his datapad, which just got a transmission. "Ah, our esteemed commander just sent us the battle-plan and our entry vector to the planet. Looks like to help liberate the planet, we're going to have to take out all of the defensive fleet or at least chase it away. We can't strike on the ground until the system is secure."
"Aww, I wanted to skip the boring part," Kell said.
Face turned and got the attention of all the squadron. "Get some sleep, then report to the ready room at 0940 tomorrow morning."
"I'm afraid I have some bad news," Wedge began. He paced around the front of the room. "As you may have noticed, we dropped out of hyperspace early. We received a transmission from the second fleet. They cannot make it here within the next forty-eight hours."
"Does this mean what I think it means?" Gavin asked.
"We're going to have to do this ourselves," Wedge explained. "No second fleet to help. So we hope to send a cone of ships into the middle of their defensive force and split them in half. Drive them away, whatever we can do to keep them at bay. We cannot delay arrival to the system for fear of being spotted by imperial recon, then the fleet would leave the system. We need this fleet destroyed."
"So now it's an 'impossible' mission. 5-to-1 odds." Gavin looked somewhere between scared and happy.
"Get some more rest and prepare for battle. ETA is another nine hours, so report to the flight hangar at 1600. Dismissed."
Everyone made their way to the officer's lounge where the Katarns were.
"Bad?" Page asked.
Face slumped down in a chair. "About normal for our Rogues here."
"Maybe we should put in a call to Thyferra and see if Bror Jace wants to come along for the ride. I'm sure he's found a way to give shields an ego power source," Janson said.
"No," Corran said. "I can't stand any more short jokes."
Both Targon and Kyle smiled. "Hey Corran, hear about the Ewok who once went into the Corellian bar and stood face to face with one of its CorSec patrons…" Kyle began. The Rogues snickered, all but Corran. Even Mirax laughed. Corran gave her a 'traitor' look.
"We also have the cloak ship to deal with," Asyr said.
"Dia, what kind of shields do those Strike-Cruisers have?" Kyle asked.
The Twi'lek frowned. "Military-Grade II, they could easily stop any sort of starfighter shots, and can stop a considerable amount of torpedo fire. But from intel reports, this thing doesn’t have typical shields. They can't be put double over to leave one side open and one side near invincible. Its 100% around the whole ship, with all damage being distributed equally."
Trigger perked up. "So torpedoes wouldn't do much, but concussion missiles would."
Dia nodded. "But the problem is that this thing can cloak and uncloak quickly and not use too much power. It can do it multiple times per battle," Iella said.
"Are its shields up while its cloaked?" Kyle asked.
"Well, no, but there'd be no way of striking it without missile lock. Dumbfires would still even be pretty hard, even if we do know the area they're in."
Kyle grinned. "Do we still have the IF codes from the TIE Interceptors?"
Tycho nodded. "I think I know where this is going."
"Someone in the battle, a pair of starfighters, specifically tracks the cloaked ship. We give that wingpair the IF codes from the Interceptors so the Surefire and any other ships with concussion missiles can lock onto the fighters. They fly on the opposite side of the cloaked ship, allow themselves to be targeted. The cloak ship is toast."
"But who can keep track of the ship? It is a cloak ship," Inyri asked.
"But it doesn't cloak life signs. I can keep track of that," Kyle said. "Piggy, can you also keep count on where the ship has been and what possible strategies the captain will pull?"
The Gammorrean nodded. "It's possible."
Face absorbed the information. "So you two are now wingmates. Quick change, Wraiths. Piggy and Kyle are wingmates, and it seems that me and Dia are also."
Dia looked at him mischievously. "Did you somehow talk them into this without us knowing?"
Face looked mortified. "Me? No way. But it does work out."
Kaya kissed Kyle fully on the lips and smiled. "Great plan, I always knew you were more brains then anything else."
"This is a good thing how…?"
Piggy spoke up. "You do realize though, that this plan will take a long time just to get to. We have to find the cloak ship first, then get to its position. From what I've heard, the captain de-cloaks, attacks, then cloaks again. It'll be a needle in a haystack to get to in the first place."
Kyle's face lit up. "Well no problem. I once did that you know."
"Exiting hyperspace in one minute sir," the comm chief told Captain Onoma.
"Prepare to raise shields and power all weapons. Alert all pilots for launch."
"Yes sir." The chief turned back to the comm system. "All pilots, thirty seconds until hyperspace exit. To your craft."
The call came seconds after most of the pilots were already strapping into their fightercraft.
"Hyperspace exit now. Shields are up. Fighters, launch."
"Wraith two standing by."
"Wraith four standing by."
"Wraith five, ready to cause trouble."
"Wraith six is ready."
"Wraith seven standing by."
"Wraith eight standing by."
"Wraith ten standing by."
"Wraith eleven is ready."
"Wraith twelve, prepped."
"Lock S-foils in attack position." All twelve fighters assumed a flight stance.
"Rogues are launched."
"Polearm is go."
"Terror is up."
"Blizzard is green."
"Nova standing by."
"Talons standing by."
"Squadron leaders, we have incoming. Two squadrons of TIEs and Gunboats. All ships except the cloak ship are on scanners."
Face hit the comm unit on. "Wraiths, we're covering two and eight until they find the cloakship. Lets break those TIEs formations." Face hit full throttle, and found the Wraiths were hot on his tail. "Two and seven, switch formation."
Kyle pulled back on his throttle while Dia speeded up to get onto Face's own wing.
"Incoming squints and eyeballs," Tyria said.
"Firing," Trigger said.
Red and green laser blasts exchanged between the starfighters, and the Wraiths maneuvered to avoid the deadly blasts. They passed the fighters and kept their course towards the main fleet.
"Six, we have a slightly lagging throttle. We think one of the eyeballs clipped our starboard engines."
"Nine here, seven fighters destroyed. I think Trigger and Kaya got most of them."
Face had to cut the chatter short when another wave of fighters passed them by and the came within long range of some of the fleet picket ships. "Two, got anything yet?"
There was a few seconds before he replied. "Too jumbled. They're in formation with the fleet, so it's going to take a minute to even get a general…" he rolled to avoid another blast "…idea of where they are."
"Rogue leader here. We're hot on your tail. Watch out for those Carack-Cruiser's fire."
Face spotted the cruisers, now closing in on the squadron. The Carack-Class Cruisers were just as fast as an X-Wing, and were moving in to box the fighters in.
"Group two and three dive. One flight, pull up." Face pulled up on his stick and felt the internal compensator trying its best to keep him from getting crushed.
They passed the small cruisers and Runts voice cracked through. "Six has comm traffic going into the middle of nowhere. Confirm two?"
"I got it. Life presences are about five klicks away from that smallest Star Destroyer out there. Dorsal and port at twenty-seven degrees."
"Two and Eight, find a safe spot near that hunk, try to alert its attention, and then hide and use passive mode. Let the Surefire and Werewolf home in on you."
"You bet lead. I'm on your wing Eight."
The two X-Wings veered off from the main battle, leaving the other Wraiths moving in on a lone Nebulon-B frigate."
"Nearing the planet's moon sir," Polearm six reported.
"Good. three flight, move in."
The four A-Wings from three flight moved into the moon's light atmosphere…
…to be blasted to smithereens by a turbolaser.
"Polearm Seven here…abort! Repeat, abort! Polearm, move away from the moon! They got more ships down there…"
The A-Wings sped away from the scene, being chased by turbolaser fire and TIE Interceptors.
"Wedge, we got three taskforce cruisers, a pair of dreadnoughts, and a Victory-Class Star Destroyer moving out of the sensor shadow of the planet's biggest moon," Tycho said over the comm. "It's right behind the remaining Polearms."
Wedge turned to scan the area and zoomed in on the moon with his HUD.
A gigantic arrowhead, followed by two box like vessels and three smaller arrowheads loomed out of the shadow of the moon.
"Rogue leader to fleet. We have a backup fleet in the sensor shadow of the moon emerging. Estimated time to firing range, seven minutes, fourteen seconds."
"Acknowledged, but it looks like our intel report was off. That isn't a shipyard over the planet. It’s a space station with pulsemag generators and gravity well miners. The fleet isn't going to be going anywhere anytime soon."
Sithspit! "Rogues, scratch our previous target. That space station is now our problem. Torpedo count."
"One flight has nine overall."
"Two flight has all but two."
"Three flight has ten."
"Nine, have Whistler compute that and give us an estimate on damage. Seven, scan that thing and give us a shield strength."
"Pulsar Skate, can you go bother that patrol craft between us and the station?"
"With great pleasure Rogue leader."
Wedge pulled a steep dive to move in towards the space station, avoiding laser fire as he went.
Kyle and Piggy pulled in to where they thought the cloak ship was.
"I'm going to fire once blind. Get ready to dodge fire," Kyle said.
Kyle closed his eyes, switched to torpedoes, and fired a pair of the blue weapons towards open space. The flew past where he thought the ship was, but struck something only a few hundred meters past that.
The cloak ship moved out of its invisibility, raised shields, and fired on the twin ships. Kyle shot at full speed past the fighter, Piggy only a hair behind him.
"Surefire and Werewolf, target acquired. Lock onto our ships and once you're within range, fire." They pulled into a position that put the now moving cloak ship between them and the two ships. Once they were within range, they fired their torpedoes and missiles, striking the cruiser's shields.
The ship cloaked again and sped away from where it had just been, but between Piggy's mathematical skills and Kyle's force powers, it didn't have a chance.
The capital ships kept firing.
"This is Lieutenant Sora Padch of the 182nd TIE Interceptor Squadron to Wraith Squadron. Surrender now, or my squadron will obliterate yours."
Face resisted the urge to laugh as he tracked the incoming Interceptors. "This is Captain Loran form the Wraiths. Did I just hear right? You want us to surrender?"
"That's right, Captain Loran."
"Why, may I ask?"
A few seconds delay. "Maybe I liked your holodramas."
Face burst out in laugher and heard Kell, Targon, and Shalla do the same.
"Be that way, Captain Loran. I'll remember to mark your grave with 'The Face.' Padch out."
"Wraiths, time to use our new tactics. Let's scare them back to childhood."
The distance between the two squadrons hit three klicks.
Wedge watched as the assault gunship moved in towards the Pulsar Skate. "Mirax, get out of there!"
The Skate turned to speed away when the gunship fired. It didn’t destroy the ship on impact, but two concussion missiles struck its engines, and the ship stopped moving. It fired back, but bounced harmlessly off the gunship's superior shielding.
"Rogues, get that gunship of the Skate's tail."
Wedge pulled his X-Wing up to full speed and targeted the ship with torpedoes. Four klicks, three and a half, three, two and a half. He fired once the targeting computer shot red.
Six blue streaks shot into the gunship, and its forward shields collapsed. Two more torpedoes, and the ship's forward decks vented out into space. The ship stopped firing.
"Skate, are you ok?"
A moments silence before an answer came. "Mind sending one of your med runners out here?" That was Iella.
"Med runner 472 here, we're on our way."
Wedge flew past the two ships, making sure he still had three life signs on the Skate before passing it to head towards the space station.
Green and yellow laser fire shot towards them, but not much of it. "Torpedoes away!" Wedge fired his last two torpedoes at the station, saw another dozen follow. They impacted the station's shields, making them fritz out for just a second before being up again.
This would take longer then they thought.
"Scanning. Scan complete. My R2 unit says the ship is disabled and can't shoot or move," Kyle reported.
"Thanks Wraith two and eight. Your squadmates are engaging the 182nd and you might want to help them," someone said from the Surefire.
"Acknowledged." He and Piggy pulled a U-turn.
They shot past all enemies, rolling and spinning to avoid turbolaser fire. Twenty klicks, nineteen and a half, nineteen…
Face pulled a loop, trying the Talon roll on the pursuing Interceptor, which he took as Lieutenant Padch. He pulled back on the throttle, and was rewarded with the sight of the Interceptor shooting past him.
He pulled up, switched to dual-fire, and shot after the quicker fighter, one hit scorching the lower hull of the fighter.
He turned back to the battle when the Interceptor pulled a long U-turn that brought it a few klicks away from his position. He found Dia had rejoined him to port and followed him in.
"This is four. Get this squint off my six or I swear I will pound on your furry head, three." Tyria's ship was rolling and twisting to avoid the green shots from the Interceptor.
"Raaaahhhhggggghhhrrr!" Sheikkell's fighter flew in, trying to hit the Interceptor, but to no avail.
The squint got a clean shot off, striking Tyria's starfighter right across the front of the fuselage. He ship spun, rolling, spinning uncontrollably. "I'm ballistic, get clear!"
Before the TIE could finish her off though, Sheikkell blasted the ship into a ball of flames. It's wingmate pulled in to attack Tyria, but had a worse angle.
"Ejection system is fried, I can't punch out."
The second TIE shot past her, missing each shot because of her erratic spinning, kept firing, following the ship. It avoided fire from Sheikkell's ship…to be blasted to pieces by an X-Wing that just shot over and past Tyria's ship.
"What do you guys do without me?" Kyle asked. He spun around so he was directly behind Tyria.
"Thanks for the save, but could someone please slow me down? I'm getting dizzy."
Kyle's ship, almost identically, started to spin and twist at the exact same speed and pace of Tyria's, exactly matching its erratic flight. "I'm gonna give you a nudge, don't take this personally."
Kyle's ship flew so the nose was just underneath the back of Tyria's fuselage. Going against the grain, he yawed left, striking the spinning fighter clockwise. The spinning turned the other way around, inertia taking a backseat. The ship after a few seconds stopped spinning at all.
"Thanks two," That was Kell.
"Ah, maybe you aren't the best pilot from the squadron, Loran."
Sora Padch's Interceptor shot into the fray out of nowhere, shooting past Tyria and towards Kyle. His fighter broke left, undershooting the charging Interceptor and breaking its laser lock.
"Maybe Janson was right and we should have called Bror Jace," Kyle said. He pulled up to 110% speed, juicing shields into engines and catching up with the fighter.
"Heh heh, you're obviously asking for death to knock at your door," came the Interceptor's reply.
"I know what I'm doing leader," Kyle said. He sped after the Interceptor, single fire mode.
"Kyle, be careful," Kaya's voice sounded past worried.
"Yeah Kyle, be careful," Sora mocked.
Kyle suddenly pulled back on his throttle and it plummeted to 20%.
The Interceptor shot forward, getting a good five klicks past the battle, spun around, and charged forward, lasers flying.
The other Wraiths watched in amazement as Kyle's fighter spun, twisted, yawed, dove, avoiding most of the incoming fire. The engine power raised the shield protection, so that all shots that did hit him did nothing.
Kyle switched to quad-fire and shot twice. One shot struck the left wing array, the second striking the right. The ship spun forward, now only fuselage. Padch ejected, a small pod shooting forward and coming to a stop only ten meters in front of Kyle. It was close enough that Kyle waved and the pilot could see it.
"Whoa," was all Kell could say. "A non-force believer could have a change of heart if he or she saw this."
"This is Captain Onoma from the Mon Remonda. All squadrons, return to ship. We need cover!"
"You heard the man, Wraiths. Three, stay here and wait for the shuttle to pick four up. Rest, full speed."
The squadron approached the imperial ships. "Torpedo count."
"One flight has two." Face nodded, considering one flight now only consisted of himself and Kyle.
"Two flight has six."
"Three flight has two."
Face cursed. This would be a suicide mission to help the Mon Remonda. Three of the Star Destroyers had moved in on the fleet and one of the Strike-Cruisers was already firing on the ship.
"Wraiths, we need to…"
Another fleet shot out of hyperspace behind the Mon Remonda, consisting of a quintet of Mon Calamari cruisers, three Nebulon-B Frigates, a pair of Corellian Corvettes, and four Corellian Gunships. They all fired at the Strike-Cruiser, destroying it utterly.
"Ace Squadron away!"
A squadron of A-Wings shot into the battle, blasting swarming TIEs around the Mon Remonda out of the water.
Wedges voice: "Pash, where'd you guys come from?"
A few seconds of stalling. "Two members from your Wraith Squadron sent us hyperspace routes that cut the fleet's travel time here so we would only be an hour late."
Piggy: "Are you angry? I could always send them back."
Some of the Rogues laughed. "No way Piggy. Ace Squadron, if you could be as so kind as to take out that space station back there with your concussion missiles, we would be much obliged."
"Ace Leader says go."
"Surefire reports the other TIEs are dealt with, and that the Wraith Eagle just tractored in the Skate," Gavin said. "But it also reports that the Inquisitor blasted to the outer part of the system a few minutes ago."
"We'll get it later. Rogues, Wraiths, lets clean out the rest of these Imperials."
Face was the last of the squadron commanders to make it into the briefing.
Captain Onoma acknowledged him, then picked up a datapad. "We got orders from General Cracken and Admiral Akbar, but first, squadron status?"
Wedge shrugged. "Hobbie and Donos both got some comm problems, and Ooryl got his wing clipped. But we'll be back up to 100% within an hour. Mirax Terrik is also in sickbay for a concussion, but she'll be ok."
"Polearm Squadron has five casualties, and we have two other fighters that are non operational. So we have just over a flight at working capacity."
"Tyria's fighter has to be reconditioned and needs about a dozen replacement parts. Kell has his shields malfunctioning, and Kyle has some engine damage when he put all of his shield power into speed." Face smiled. "Pretty good considering we went head-on against the 182nd. We also captured their squadron leader."
"Talon squadron has one loss, but no damage beside that."
"Nova needs to reload on torpedoes, and one of my pilots is in sickbay, but we're ok."
"Blizzard has one loss and three injuries, and two ships need replacement power plants."
"Terror squadron has two losses and one ship MIA. We think he crashed into the planet, but we aren't sure."
"Ace squadron has no losses, but one ship is currently non-op with shields collapsed." Pash leaned back in his chair. "Why is it my squadron is always saving yours, Commander Antilles?"
Wedge frowned. "Because your men never have a mission first, you always get seconds instead."
"We will have an insertion mission to liberate the planet. But the one problem is that the main base is not a base, but a gigantic building within the planet's biggest city. So the Wraiths and Katarns have their work cut out for them. The Rogues, Talon, Nova, and Ace Squadrons will take out the second base. But we need time to re-supply and get more mission parameters in the works, so your pilots have 16 hours of rest. But we're still on alert status. Dismissed."
"So, have you decided yet?" Face asked.
Kyle frowned, sighed, then waved it off. "I don’t think I'll leave. Not just yet, anyway."
The Wraiths were gathered in the pilots lounge, resting up before they would have to insert on the planet. Tycho, Janson, Hobbie, Donos, and Inyri from the Rogues were also present. The rest of the Rogues were running sims.
"Hey, by the way, where'd Shalla go?" Dia asked.
"I think they sent her along with a few of the Katarns to gather intel on the base we're gonna take down," Face replied. "But they never tell me anything, so I don’t really know."
They sat there, mostly keeping quiet and eating up.
Shalla then walked into the room.
"Hey, where have you been?" Kell called.
"Well, I was just drilling info out of our Twi'lek and pilot captives, and I need a couple of medics to help sedate them." She smiled.
Targon laughed. "They're that bad?"
All got up, followed her through the ship's halls and turbolifts to the interrogation room. There they found the Twi'lek woman sitting in a chair, guarded by two fleet troopers. She didn't look at all happy. The next room over had Lieutenant Padch in it.
"Boy, she's good at hiding her emotions…all I'm getting is literally the 'cold shoulder,'" Kyle said, motioning to the Twi'lek. "But that Lieutenant isn't hard to read. She's saying 'I'm going to be a stubborn ass and you won't get anything out of me.'"
"Get Iella and Corran in here, and if that fails, Sheikkell, you've got dibs on their arms," Shalla said, grinning. "Kyle, Targon, if you'd be as so nice to give the pilot some sort of drug that might make her more open to the world around her?"
"Hmmm, I think I can do it," Targon said. He followed Shalla in.
Face and Tycho's comlinks buzzed. "Captain Loran and Captain Celchu, report to the bridge immediately."
They quietly entered a turbolift to head for the bridge.
Once there, General Solo and Wedge stood there, waiting for them.
"We have mission parameters set. The fleet will jump out of this system, but just barely, while Wraith, Rogue, Nova, Talon, and Ace Squadrons land on the planet. Wraiths will also be accompanied by the Katarns. Get your people together, we leave in three hours."
"Our mission is to enter the base, secure the personnel, then find where each smaller base is and its function. We transmit to the fleet, then get out. We've found that this base might have a self-destruct that will go off unless all personnel leave the base. We don’t want to kill innocents, so we get out at all costs." Face was telling them their mission on the flight deck.
"We'll land South of the city, then infiltrate, along with the Katarns. Once we gather information about the support bases, we then transmit also to the Rogues, and they'll take care of aerial strikes. Suit up."
They all got into their respective fighters, and prepared to launch.
"Team one is in position," Face said into his headset comlink.
"Team two is in position," Kell's voice.
"Team three is ready," Lieutenant Page.
"Team four is stand-by," Vandor from the Katarns.
They had easily landed on the planet and had already during the day had looked over this building through and through. Team one consisted of Face, Kyle, Shalla, Tyria, Kaya, and Piggy. Team two was Kell, Runt, Targon, Trigger, and Dia. Team three was Lieutenant Page and five of his men, Lilla Dade, Korren, Kasck, Jortan, and Syla Tors. Team four was their support, Sheikkell from the Wraiths and the remaining Katarns.
Face and his team were on a smaller building then the base they were trying to infiltrate, but they would be entering via a transpasteel window. Shalla had brought a laser cutter rifle that they would use to get inside.
Team two, led by Kell, was on a rooftop on the other end of the building, and would enter via the roof. Team three would enter at ground level.
Shalla launched the rope cannon that latched onto the metallic wall of the base, just above the window they would use to enter. She slid down the rope with the small cart attached to it, then once against the wall, brought the laser rifle out.
Instead of a short blaster bolt-like shot, it continually shot the laser, as long as Shalla kept her finger on the trigger. She cut a clean circle around the window, big enough so that their biggest party member, Piggy, could enter with ease. Once done, she slung the weapon over her shoulder and jumped through the window.
Tyria mounted next and slid down the rope, vaulted through the window opening, and rolled across the ground, stopping with her back against a wall. Blaster out, she began to observe the area, and went to check the end of the hall.
Piggy next. He slammed into the opposite wall, not trusting his physical ability to let go and enter the room at the right time. He swung into the room, and helped Tyria check the area.
Face himself went next, Kaya and Kyle following last.
"Clear, one. I can't tell though, what we're near that may be of help," Tyria said.
Piggy, at the other end of the hall, observed the same. He came back, then they all gathered near Tyria.
"Nine, your guess?"
"We're in the middle level, so I would guess barracks, offices, mess or recreational, and one of either an armory, a medical bay, or a ready room."
"Same assessment, two?"
"Medical bay, I can feel more injured on this level."
Face frowned. He couldn't go on intuition, as non-force believers put it, but Kyle was generally right. "In that conclusion, nine, where would ops, the brig, the comm center, and the power generator area be in relative to our position?"
Shalla thought for a minute. "Ops would be closer to the top, comm center probably on the level above us, the brig somewhere below, and the power generator underground, closer to team three's position."
"Lets check the level above then for the comm center. Ten?"
They went through the door, and headed right and found a turbolift.
'Closed for repairs'
"Heh, just our luck. Ten, if you please?"
She took only a few seconds before the door opened to reveal an empty chasm. A ladder was to their left. Shalla and Tyria immediately began to climb. The others followed.
Next level. Shalla climbed out of the shaft.
And found herself starring at the wrong end of a pair of blasters.
Kell, blaster pistol in hand, entered the airspeeder hangar. Two stormtroopers milled around, but hadn't noticed him yet.
Trigger produced an old-fashion slugthrower that had a silencer on it. Two quiet shots, two downed troopers.
"Good work twelve."
They ended at the other end of the hangar, by a turbolift, and used it to go to the next level down.
One level above ops.
"I think we're in by personal quarters. Let's lock 'em in their rooms," Kell said.
"On it," Trigger and Dia both moved to start shooting lock systems.
And ran into a black-clad man, with a mechanical upper-left half of the face, and a lightsaber hanging from his belt.
The two stormtroopers shot, hitting Shalla in the shoulder and arm. She cried out and fell from her perch, but was slowed enough by Kyle and telekinesis that Piggy, at the bottom of the assembled could catch her and swing her over his back.
"Hold on," he said.
Tyria ducked to avoid more blaster fire. She was handed a blaster from Face, then returned fire. The troopers backed off into the hallway they were in and took cover. But they would blast the next thing to enter the hall.
But instead, a small canister launched into the room, made a small sharp noise like a blaster whine, and knocked both troopers unconscious.
"Stun grenade, two?"
"Made from things in your medkit?"
They climbed out into the hallway, and Kyle started patching Shalla up.
"Nine, you ok?"
Shalla nodded, a bit subdued from the medicine Kyle just made her swallow.
"She won't go into shock, and she can walk and run and fight. But lets try to avoid her needing to go hand-to-hand."
"You know what I mean."
They looked around, and Shalla assessed where they were. "I think I was wrong for once. This looks like the brig level."
Kyle waggled his eyebrows. "So, jailbreak?"
Face frowned to keep a grin off his face. "What else? Try and comm the Rogues using force-fields?"
They moved along the left wall, following a standard path towards the brig.
Nine troopers, a squad of stormtroopers, were guarding the enormous brig. But unfortunately, there was only one means of entry, and it would channel blaster fire if everyone entered the room.
"Sithspit. Any more stun grenades, two?"
Kyle thought. "No…I used up all the non-essential items in the medkit…" he looked as if he was just struck by a lightning bolt. "Oh, wait a sec. What we do have is a set of stormtrooper armor…"
Face looked at him, eyebrow raised. "Waltz in acting like a prisoner escort?"
Tyria looked a bit puzzled. "Prisoners?"
Kyle laughed outright. "Three, helpless, cute young women…" Shalla joined in the laughter, still though quiet to avoid being detected.
Tyria and Kaya exchanged glances that said something like "Uh-oh."
Piggy spoke. "Then I come in and help mop up?"
Face nodded. "Sorry eight, but a Gamorrean prisoner would turn some heads and blaster-barrels."
Kyle and Shalla both ran back to grab the troopers, then pulled them up to the group. Kyle and Face entered the adjoining office, then emerged sometime later in stormtrooper armor.
"Oh, pretty armor…" Shalla said. "What about that thing about men in uniform…?"
"Nine, shut up." Face pointed the blasters at them, while Kyle handed them binders.
"Uhh, did you slice out the locking mechanisms on these two?" Shalla helped put them on Tyria and Kaya.
"Sir, yes sir!" Came the reply, and he immediately began laughing. He also handed Piggy his lightsaber, then when ready, the quintet entered the room.
The closest stortrooper immediately stopped them. Thankfully, both Face and Kyle were his height, and they looked at each other at eye level.
"What's going on here?"
"Prisoners. Just captured out on the field," Face said, his voice sounding sure but a bit weary, as if he had been on-duty for too long.
"I wasn't notified."
"We reported the capture and transfer to our commanding officer, lieutenant…" Kyle, though the view of his helmet, starred at the trooper, deep into his mind…
"…Oh, Lieutenant Jaarb, the lazy unit leader. You're in his unit?"
Face and Kyle both privately smiled. "Yes sir," Face said. "He obviously didn't notify you."
"No he did not, but I'll let it go." He motioned for three other troopers to relieve them of their prisoners. "Get these three ladies out of here."
As soon as the three troopers were close enough, Shalla and Tyria lashed out, lunging at the troopers with flying fists. All three, surprised, stumbled back, two now without weapons.
Kyle dropped his blaster so Kaya could get it and lunged at the talking trooper. He straitened his hand, and struck just above the trooper's breastplate, right into his neck with the inside of his index finger. He followed through with the attack and spun, back kicking the trooper in the lower-abdomen, and making him fly backwards. His blaster fell out of his grip.
Face fired on the other troopers as he pushed Kaya to cover, who was doing the same. They hid behind the station the original trooper had been at. Kaya immediately hit switches around the console to disable communications from the room.
Tyria and Shalla both blasted the trio of troopers before finding cover themselves.
Kyle climbed up the staircase up to a second level where troopers had cover if there was ever a jailbreak, avoiding blaster fire from the guard on it. He lunged feet first at the guard, scissor-tripping him to his stomach and striking the back of his head. Kyle grabbed his blaster rifle and ducked behind the metal post for cover.
Five troopers down, four to go.
Two had a position underneath the upper-level that Kyle was on. The other two were on the other upper-level on the other side of the room.
Piggy ran in and behind where Shalla and Tyria were. He tossed Kyle's lightsaber up onto the balcony and he grabbed it, returning fire to cover himself.
Kyle assessed how much cover he had from the other two stormtroopers across the room, then looked at the position the two ahead and beneath him were in. He then looked around for something that could help.
This walkway I'm on is connected to the roof by two poles at large intervals, but not to the ground. Between intervals, if I were to cut the thing in half and slice off the posts, it'd fall…
He looked at where the two troopers were that were on ground-level. A set of posts were just above them, and then were to more only a few meters from where Kyle was.
He got up, running across the distance with ease, and just beyond the closer sets of posts. He sliced the walkway in half past the posts with his lightsaber, with himself on the opposite side. He then ran up to a position just above the two troopers, avoiding fire from the troopers across the room. The blue blade made a humming noise as it sliced through the posts.
The walkway, now not supported by anything for a distance, fell down. The angel forced Kyle to roll down the thing, but also it struck the stormtroopers out of their hiding spot and into the line of fire from the others. They were down within seconds.
Two more down. Two to go.
Kyle vaulted over the control console Face and Kaya were hiding behind and pulled off his helmet once he was under cover.
"That thing is helpful for all situations, huh?" Face asked, shooting once at the troopers.
"Pretty much. Especially for cutting butter and cheese. How we going to get the other two?"
Two shots were heard.
The stormtroopers fell from their hiding spots, smoking holes in their backs.
Page and his team jogged up from behind them.
Face and the others got up. "No fair. I didn’t think there was another entrance from the other end of the room."
Page shrugged. "There wasn't. My team cut a hole through the floor."
Face and Kyle shucked the stormtrooper armor off. Everyone began releasing prisoners.
Well, the three prisoners that were still alive.
"What happened to you people?" Page asked.
One prisoner answered, the one that looked the least injured. "Interrogation."
Face asked, "Who are you?"
The man tried to stand as tall as possible and threw a tired salute. "Captain Ry Gartol of the Rand Ecliptic."
That rocked Face back on his heels. "Rand Ecliptic? You know Hobbie Klivian?"
He nodded. "I was their inside help to get them to jump ship without the Imperials getting a hold of them. I was captured and taken here."
Shalla's jaw dropped. "That was…around nine years ago!"
The man tiredly nodded.
"They didn't break you?" Kyle asked.
"No, they broke me. I'm just here to rot in jail now. Part of the punishment."
"Who interrogated you?"
Face heard Kyle swear in three different languages. "Which one?"
Kyle's swearing continued.
Face grabbed his comlink. "Five, are you there?"
Static was the only thing that answered him.
"Five, do you copy?"
Face turned to the others. "Our mission is scrubbed. If team two is out, our mission is now to find out what happened, get them out if possible, and get out of here. I don't want to find out first-hand this Tremayne's interrogation techniques."
Page had Korren and Tors take the three prisoners back to ground level and to team four's position. The rest moved out to the turbolift that the Wraiths used to get onto this level.
This time, Kyle insisted he take point. Tyria and Kasch right behind him.
Kyle took them all the way up to the roof.
"Why here?" Face asked.
"It'll be slower to check each level. If we start from where they did and followed their trail, we'll find them faster."
Blasters ready, they started to descend the stairway the others had used.
Korren nodded. "That’s what happened. I think Commander Antilles should be contacted immediately."
Tors turned to her comm backpack and sped through the contact process. "Tors from team three here contacting strike team. Do not reply and give away your position. Our mission is scrubbed, team two is missing. We encountered information that led us to conclude that an inquisitor was in the instillation, and team one and three went to find team two. Request immediate help or pickup. Tors out."
Sheikkell bellowed something of a mournful tone.
They found Trigger first. Only three floors above where the Wraiths had entered.
At least, what parts of the Sullustain were left alive.
One of his legs were missing from the knee down. But the wound was not bleeding. Then he had a left hand missing, a gouged-out eye, a broken nose, and broken ribs.
"Lightsaber wound," Kyle said. He injected Trigger with multiple pain-killers, patched up bleeding wounds, and set his other leg, which was broken.
Both Kyle and Tyria did not look like they were feeling all that focused. Kyle was sweating heavily, and rubbed at his forehead with his left sleeve every minute or so. Tyria looked a bit better off, but more paranoid. She checked left, right, forward, up, back, down, and went through the cycle again.
About a hundred meters into the next corridor, both Runt and Targon were there. They seemed fine, save Runt having a knife wound in his right arm. Both were awake.
"What happened?!" Face somehow shouted in a whisper.
Runt grunted something in his own language which sounded something close to a curse. A very mean curse.
"Two people, one with cybernetic replacements for one of his arms and the upper-right portion of his face. Another appeared to be a bodyguard, almost feline-like. They found and attacked us." For once, Targon didn't say anything about luck. His whole voice was filled with anger and fear. "Sir, is Trigger…"
"Trigger will be fine. Where's Kell and Dia?" Face asked.
Targon looked as if he had just been shot through the gut. "Sir…I think Dia is fine…but Kell…"
Face managed a quick glance at Tyria. Her facial features betrayed nothing, but tears were starting to come…
"Get back up the hall, Trigger's up there and he's patched up as much as possible. Shalla, give Targon your medpac. Keep there until help arrives."
Targon helped runt up and they moved past the others.
The blast door between them and where Targon had said they had encountered the problem was in pieces within seconds, Kyle's lightsaber destroyed it within a second.
Dia was just inside of the door, unconscious. Face rushed to her side, checking for injuries.
And up ahead, fifty meters ahead, lay Kell.
And he wasn't breathing.
But before Tyria could blindly run for him, Kyle used the force to trip her up and make her fall backwards. Out of the shadows, a tall creature, over two meters tall, came into view, dagger in hand. A tail waved behind it, and a long mane of dark fur surrounded its head.
Instead of blasting or slicing it to pieces with his blade, Kyle said, "I will save you from his evil," to the creature.
He ran past it, Tyria in tow, and let her examine Kell.
Kyle also touched the taller lieutenant for a moment, then dropped his medkit for Tyria to use. Already Kell was breathing again, but was still unconscious obviously from blood-loss. A small pool of it was surrounding the upper-portion of his torso.
Kyle looked around, scanning the room. It was an empty storage room, large enough that a squadron of starfighters could probably fit in it.
The creature that had so far stood there, now attacked Kyle from his backside, but Kyle's blade was already ignited, but in the emerald color instead of sky-blue. He spun and swung once, a slash across the creature's ribcage, and it fell back, too injured already to stand.
And a flash of red swung towards Kyle from behind then.
Kyle ducked and rolled, but not quick enough to miss all of the blade. It struck his knee and he rolled back.
A man, clad in black, stood over him now. One of the man's eyes was mechanical, making him look in this light look like a damaged cyborg.
"So, Shelvay's handywork?" Kyle commented. His blade color shifted from green to blue.
"You obviously heard the stories. I shall give you a slower death so I can tell it from my perspective before you die." The man said.
Lightsaber blazing, Kyle rushed forward, swinging horizontally. The blade met with the red beam, making a sizzling noise suited for someone being electrocuted.
Half-circle. Blue blade spins to the dark man's opposite side and stabs down to shear his shoulder. Tremayne parries to his right to dodge the strike. He brings his blade around horizontally to strike Kyle in the side.
Kyle moves forward to avoid the slash, shoulder striking Tremayne in the side. He spins right, and both their blades connect again.
The others watched, trying to figure out how they could help. First, they pulled Kell back to where Dia was to make sure he didn't get stomped on.
"Sithspit, we can't help risking to shoot and possibly hit two, and if we do this hand-to-hand, we'd become small chopped up pieces," Shalla said.
Face watched the fight closely. "Two is moving him slowly towards the hangar door…stang! Why didn't I think of that!" He jumped up from his crouch and hit the hangar doors open.
The wide door, fit for an airspeeder or skimmer to fly through began to open, revealing the open city and an eleven-story fall.
Face turned to his comlink. "Three, do not acknowledge. Hangar door open on level twelve, east quadrant three. Snipe the target with the red blade!"
They moved closer and closer as Tremayne was slowly maneuvered towards the open door. Kyle didn't force him back, more like he retreated towards it.
Tyria talked from behind him. "Kell and Dia are conscious now."
They all glanced back, where Dia was rubbing her head and Kell's face gave him a look of bliss.
"Am I in heaven? I think I see an angel." Tyria chuckled a bit.
Face turned back to the fight. Kyle wasn't defending, more dodging and feinting away from the attacks, ducking and backing away to avoid the deadly red blade.
As soon as Tremayne was close enough, Sheikkell blasted him. Bowcaster ringing, a quarrel shot out and struck the man true at his left shoulder, and blasting him a meter back. But the second shot did nothing, blew up once it struck the Inquisitor's blade. Third and fourth shots did the same.
"Smart, but not that smart. Now I can do this…"
A component from the wall ripped right out of its hinges and shot for Kyle. So quick he didn't get a chance to see it. It struck him out into the open space.
Kaya cried out, and shot at Tremayne, who was retreating back from the ledge. All shots missed, and she turned her attention to the open air.
The other Wraiths ran up to the side of the open air place, staying away from Tremayne, who was taking the only vehicle from the bay and getting into it. "Next time, you won't have some half-trained kid to protect you," he said, and took off. The airspeeder jetted off.
They looked over the side, and Face burst out laughing.
Three floors down, they saw a rope hanging loosely just beside a shattered window.
Piggy looked at him funny. "I fail to see what is so funny. One of our people just died."
Face pointed at the rope. "No, he didn't. See that rope right there? It was our crawler rope that we used to enter the building with originally. Kyle grabbed it and slid down it into the window we entered from, still alive."
With that, Shalla grinned too. "Let's get back down there."
"It was a ploy. Somehow, Inquisitor Tremayne got off-planet and took his Star Destroyer with him," Wedge reported to General Cracken and Admiral Ackbar. They were on Home One, which was at this time orbiting Bakura.
"I see. He still has prisoners?" the Admiral asked.
"We think so. He's much like Iceheart with the fact that his delight is keeping prisoners."
The Admiral nodded. "That will be a concern. Unfortunately, not all of the fleet can go hunt him down. We are getting reports of Grand Admirals making moves towards our space, and we need to be on the defensive for the time being."
Cracken spoke up. "On the other hand, Intelligence will be going on missions to locate him and once we have him, we will strike as soon as possible."
"That's it, sirs."
"What about the Wraiths?" Cracken asked.
Wedge shrugged. "Tainer and Maloy are in bacta for the next week at the least, especially Kyle. The lightsaber wounds, concussion, internal bleeding, and multiple things that are hard to describe, he said that was something Jedi call 'pain infliction,' are all taking a toll on him. Trigger is officially now a desk jockey, he cannot fly anymore. The rest, Runt and Dia, they'll be out today."
"Seems to me you sound pretty proud for a unit that just accomplished nothing except rescuing a half-dozen prisoners."
"Hey, they did it without killing innocents or themselves."
"When injuries permit, gather your people. Medals and promotions are just catching up with them," Ackbar said.
"Will do sir."
Wedge left the room and Tycho and Janson immediately jumped to his shadow.
"I know something you don't know," Janson said, in a very childlike voice.
"That'd be a first."
Tycho shot him an odd glance. "I always thought…"
"Yub yub Captain," Janson said. "Anywho, seems that the Wraiths have been doing so good as to many of them are getting a promotion. Very many of them."
"Obviously, now we know this and you now don't know something we don't know," Tycho said.
Janson thought that one over. "Uh…anyway, another thing is that I got a sickbay report. Kell's just been taken off of a week and it's now four days. And this one will get you…Kyle's down to five."
They turned the nearest corner to head strait for sickbay. He walked in, and saw some of the Wraiths waiting there too. "What about Kyle being taken out soon?"
The medical droid spoke from beside Kell's bacta tank. "Lieutenant Maloy is showing increased health, faster then bacta treatment normally. It seems his metabolism is working so strong and fast that he is healing at an exponential rate. I downplayed it to five days, but at this rate, he might be done with treatment before Lieutenant Tainer."
Wedge turned to the Wraiths present, mostly Tyria. "You know of any way he could do this?"
She shrugged. "You said yourself that you've seen Commander Skywalker heal faster then normal on Hoth."
Across the room, Runt and Dia both emerged from a door, wearing normal fatigues that pilots tended to wear off-duty.
"We feel much better," Runt said.
Wedge and Tycho both left, Janson staying behind. Janson had a mischievous look on his face.
Tycho kept grinning. "So, what if scuttlebutt is right?"
"Then it's right."
Tycho raised an eyebrow, obviously not impressed.
Five days later, both Kell and Kyle emerged from bacta treatment fully healed. Trigger could even accompany them in a repulsorlift chair until they could get a mechanical replacement for his leg.
They gathered in the pilots lounge. All squadrons that had participated in the battle, including the Katarns.
Everybody was in anticipation. Already, they had heard that Kyle had turned down a promotion to Captain and had with it, turned down the opportunity to command a squadron back on his homeplanet at Chandrila. Another fact was Lieutenant Page turned down his fourth promotion to Captain.
"Why?" Kaya asked. Kell, Tyria, and Targon looked as if they wanted to ask the same thing.
"Hey, I turned down the Jedi Knights for this squadron. Who cares about being a Captain or commanding a squadron that would stay over one planet?" Kyle shrugged, then winced a bit in pain.
A hush fell when Admiral Ackbar and General Cracken entered the room. Everyone snapped to attention.
"At ease, ladies and gentlemen." Admiral Ackbar, if possible, had a hint of amusement in his features. "Commander Antilles."
The Rogue's commanding officer snapped to.
"Will you accept the promotion to General?"
The others eyed him closely. He looked surprised by the question. "I won the Wraith Squadron bet, sir."
"That you did. Will you?"
"I think you know my answer, sir."
"Janson, Klivian, Majors?"
"Unfortunately, I think we'll pass," Janson said, grinning.
"Uh, maybe some other time."
Ackbar sighed, then chuckled. "Perhaps, General Cracken's news will then make you reconsider. General?"
The head of Republic Intelligence moved forward. "I have the pleasure of promoting a lot of this squadron," he said, looking at the Wraiths. "Flight Officer Sarkin, Flight Officer Ekwesh, Flight Officer Passik, and Flight Officer LaTonme, all of you I have the privilege to promote to Lieutenant."
Most of the Wraith's jaws dropped as the others clapped. General Cracken moved along the squadron's line to pin the promotions onto their uniforms.
Despite his discomfort in standing strait, Kell shot strait up. "Your service in this squadron has shown unorthodox tactics and superb leadership skills. You are quickly becoming a better pilot and showing great commando skills. Therefore I am awarding you with the promotion to Captain. Congratulations."
For once, Kell's jaw dropped as the General took the lieutenants insignia off and replaced it with a captain.
Face looked even more surprised, and this time, it wasn't replaced by another expression from the actor.
"This squadron, under your command, has not only hurt Zsinj, but has quickly become New Republic Intelligence's choice for missions. Its service has outmatched any other Intel unit. Likewise, your record of piloting skills and command techniques is now unmatched, in Intel at least. Therefore, I am greatly honored to promote you to the rank of Major."
Face looked like he was about to keel over. The General handed him the rank insignia, a metal rectangle with three dots.
General Cracken backed off.
Admiral Ackbar looked amusedly at the Rogues. "Still going to stay a Commander?"
Wedge glared very fiercely at the Admiral.
Face grinned, bending over a bit to look down the line at the Commander. "Hey, catching up to you! At this rate, you'll be taking my orders!"
Wedge sighed. "Rogues, back me up."
Janson, Hobbie, Corran, and Tycho all shot each other glances. "I think you should eject," Tycho said.
Wedge shot him a betraying look. "Mutiny? Great, just what I need…"
General Cracken saw what they were doing and decided to play along. "Lieutenant Maloy, still going to turn down that Captaincy?"
"Yes sir, unless you could promote Captain Tainer and Major Loran once more so I can set pace…"
"Well, as long as they don't mind…" the General smiled.
Both Kell and Face grinned. "I don’t think we would mind…" Face said.
Wedge now glared at Face and the Wraiths as if they had just betrayed him to the enemy. "Face, you just signed your death warrant…"
"Yub yub, Commander."
Kyle sat out on the balcony of the room he was staying in. The Wraiths had been given three days leave on Bakura before they would return to Courscant, and he decided he would enjoy it. Kaya had introduced him to her family earlier that night, and he was tired.
But he couldn't sleep.
"You out there?"
He turned his head to look at Kaya, who was leaning against the door just inside of the room.
"Just looking at your planet's moon."
She moved to lean beside him. "Is something wrong?"
"And I though I was the force-sensitive here."
She smiled. "Well?"
"Will you marry me?" He asked out of the blue.
She looked at him, very surprised. "Wh…what?"
"Will you marry me?"
He spun around and put a ring on her finger. It had a gold band, but with a small water-like jewel on the top that made it look like a crystal was containing seawater. Kaya recognized it as a Chandrilan water-emerald, and had once read a cost and rarity report on it from Mirax Terrik-Horn's Pulsar Skate. There were only forty made.
"Where did you get…this?"
"Bought it from Mirax."
She stood him up and they embraced. Kyle felt his shoulder get a bit wet from Kaya's tears. "Of course I'll marry you!"