Rebel Squadrons

(44:6:8) Order from Chaos

By FA Michael Raven
Unit: The Rebel Squadrons
Narrative, Dec 23, 2007
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Note: This has been modified from the ORW III competition-end narrative. Enjoy

-=Bridge of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, high orbit over Azemin, Azemin system, 44:5:35:05:17=-

"Full damage report!"

Commodore Harley Quinn's voice broke the eerie silence on the bridge of the Redemption. The crew had been silent since the gargantuan warship barely escaped an ambush by three others of her kind only minutes ago. The blood red insignia emblazoned on their hulls having burned its way into their minds. Officers and enlisted men alike pick themselves out of the rubble and debris surrounding them. The bridge was in shambles, having sustained multiple direct hits by the opposing Star Destroyers, bulkheads litter the crew pit area some having smashed entire consoles, others landing dangerously close to the exposed crew below. By some grace of the Force, or whatever deity the crew believed in, most of the bridge crew had escaped without injury.

"The bow shield grid is shot, completely shot... Damage control teams are grabbing some of the spare matrix relays but I'd say without a trip to a full repair yard we aren't going to get more than sixty percent out of them. Aft shields are at twelve percent and fluctuating, port and starboard shields are down but I can take care of those from here. Generator two is fluctuating and I'm going to have to take her offline... give me two days." The shield officer reports first, the other assorted bridge officers lacking the raw courage to report bad news to the commodore.

"...Eighty percent and you have one day." The commodore responds emotionlessly, looking out of his cracked prow viewport.

"...Yes sir..." He responds reluctantly, before turning to his console to attempt to re-establish the shields.

"Sir, weapons are running at about thirty-two percent, two of the deck guns are damaged, and the power grid is completely fried to most of the prow and starboard weapon systems. Ion cannons are shot; turbolaser batteries twenty-two through thirty-nine are completely out of commission at the moment." This time it was the gunnery station, the officer standing there having just removed enough debris from his console so that he could read the streaming reports coming in.

One by one the various stations reported in:

"Lateral sensor grid is shot, we can see about eighty kilometers ahead of ourselves but past that we're running with our own eyes. Dorsal sensor grid is shot, ventral sensor grid is offline, COMSCAN is completely fried, but I'll have that up soon. Internal chronometers are completely fried, and we have no reference to reset them with."

"Long range communications offline, holographic communications offline, we're deaf and mute, sir. We're going to start using Mon Calamari blink code with whatever turbolasers are still online."

"Hangar doors are sealed shut; we're lucky they didn't breach. My crews will have them open again within the hour. Hangar tractor beams are out, and will be out for at least a day, everything will have to be done manually."

"Hull integrity at sixty-two percent, we've got minor breaching across decks five through seven, eleven and twelve, and a minor breach just outside of engineering. Looks like there's an active torpedo lodged in the hull, just below the command tower. I've dispatched a team to disarm and remove it."

"Maneuvering ion thrusters are offline, two of the Destroyer-I ion engines overloaded from the emergency power boost. All four Gemon-4s are out… Primary hyperdrive blew right after we exited hyperspace. Backup hyperdrive is shot... We're looking at a maximum speed of about twelve MGLT."

"Main reactor core is down; we took her offline to prevent a catastrophic breach. Secondary generators are offline, and we used most of the back-up cells in that hyperspace jump and to shunt power to the engines, but… we should be fine until the main reactor is operational."

With each station report, the scowl on Jester's face seemed to increase exponentially in magnitude. Once the last report was rattled off, a silence set across the bridge again. Jester rises from his command chair, and as he rises, a dull snap resonates through the bridge as it breaks loose from its base, falling to the hard durasteel floor in a crash of metal-on-metal. The commodore visibly twitches as he turns toward the crew pit area, his blood red cybernetic eye piercing even the sturdiest of hearts. The bridge falls completely silent as every pair of eyes turns to look at the commodore, a deck officer is frozen in mid-stride, her head craned to watch as he pauses just above the crew pit; folding his hands behind his back. He closes his one biological eye for a moment, breathing in deeply before it snaps open again; he speaks slowly, but powerfully.

"I want all stations back online in forty-eight hours. Any officer that does not have their men in line and their systems functional will feel the full fury of my unbridled rage. Deck officer, I want Raven in the conference room twenty minutes ago. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?" He bellows, his cybernetic and organic eyes both nearly shuddering with pent up anger.

"YES SIR." The entire bridge nearly resounds in unison. The deck officer unfreezes from her mid-stride stance, nearly plowing into a bulkhead.

Jester nods to nobody in particular before striding toward the conference room, leaving the bridge crew to ponder what he had in store for the Subterrel Strike Force leader...

-=Primary conference room, Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, high orbit over Azemin, Azemin system, 44:5:35:05:35=-

"If you knew how to command a strike force, we wouldn't be in this situation you kriffing bean counter!" Jester screams at Raven, standing in front of the conference room table with his palms flattened on top of it. Assorted insults had flown back and forth between the two men since Raven had arrived at his summon, nearly ten minutes prior. They only seemed to fuel the shared rage by the two commanders, one leading the entire strike force in what seemed to be a hopeless battle against two far superior forces; the other leading his single starship at the behest of the former. Raven's stance was similar to Jester's, though on the opposite end of the table.

"If you were to get off your kriffing ass and actually do something instead of drinking and taking root in that damned chair of yours, maybe some of these engagements would have gone our way!"

"YOU are the one in charge of this strike force; it's YOUR flawed tactics that have gotten us into these losing engagements in the first place!"

"Do you expect me to be responsible for the actions of every man here?! Each ship is their captain's responsibility; read: YOURS. I am just here to maintain overall command and control of the situation!"

"You clearly fail at your job, and at life."


"Yes, go on, realize that you completely fail, in fact, why don't you go kill yourself and save us all the trouble?"

"Listen you pompous ass. Why don't you do something constructive like leaping into one of the fires scattered around the ship? I'm sure we can find a nice one for you to take a walk into!"

"Cry more. And congratulations on attempting to use an insult I just used on you, clearly... Fail."

"You aren't even half of the commander that Kaz is! ...And you even use his insults instead of your own! Yet, you saunter around like you actually know what you're doing. How about you take those piles of refuse you call cybernetics and go try to pleasure some Twi'lek whore with their vibration functions or whatever the kriff they do. It's all you're good for!"

"...At least I CAN pleasure a female!"

Just as it seemed that Raven was going to leap across the table in one motion and throttle him, the two of them are interrupted by the conference room doors sliding open. Their two heads snap over toward the disturbance, both voices booming out.


"S...S...Sirs?" It was the bridge deck officer, a young Lieutenant by the name of Janet Melody. She stands in the open door arch, trembling slightly. "O...One of the recon flight officers just returned… he wants to speak with the two of you... he says it is urgent."

The officer's statement seemed to confuse Jester for a moment, his rage transforming into a furrowed brow. "Wait, what? I thought the hangar doors were sealed shut."

"They are, sir. He ejected from his craft and entered through one of the hull breaches to get inside, sir." She responds, slowly regaining her composure.

Both Raven and Jester glance at each other with the same half-shocked half-enraged look on their faces.

"Business first?"

"Business first."

The two take their seats, before Jester nods to the deck officer. "Send him in."

She nods, stepping out of the conference room. After a moment, Phil Darkfire bursts into the conference room; his flight suit dishevelled on his body. Without a moment's hesitation he walks to the conference table, slipping a data card into the room's holoprojector. A planetary system appears before the three men, a lush blue-green world materializing with small pinprick-sized stations orbiting it. Phil taps a few additional commands into the projector, having not said a single word up to this point. The projector's display magnifies, focussing on a clustering of stations, ranging from repair yards to a half-constructed planetary shipyard. Surrounding these installations are dozens, perhaps hundreds of ships of every shape and size; from corvettes, gunships and carracks, to a small clustering of four Imperial II-class Star Destroyers.

"Sirs, they're coming for us. I was running recon in grid nine-seven-alpha after a few of our transports were reported lost near there; and stumbled upon a small flotilla of starships. They didn't detect my fighter so I decided to remain at a distance and follow them; they made their way here, to the Pyaimm system. They joined up with another formation of ships here..." He points to a grouping of ships on the display, near the shipyard. "...and started taking on shuttles and transports from the repair yards. I was running virtually no systems, just passive sensors, and thought it'd be best to stay around… After about ten minutes of little action, three Star Destroyers entered the system, followed by another dozen or so capital ships. A fourth Star Destroyer and her escorts arrived a short time later; and began forming up into attack squadrons. Sirs, I can only imagine that they're amassing their entire fleet to take us out while we're on the ropes." Phil says, exasperated.

"Did you get any data on their ships?" Raven asks as he inches closer to the projector, his eyes surveying the ships and their formations.

"Nothing close... but... I don't know if it's much but the four Star Destroyers have taken up a central position in their formations, and were taking on quite a few shuttles, but very few transports and assault transports." Phil replies, regaining his composure from having run through half the ship to get to the conference room.

"Officers, probably." Jester says, shrugging, having taken a swig of the flask that was his regular companion. "Does it really matter? This just means we're going to pack our bags and leave before the landlord comes to collect rent."

And, that only proves me right. He ponders to himself, his mis-matched eyes glancing over at Raven.

"Wait..." Raven says, staring at the fleet formation and the holographic starships from mere inches away; his face distorted by the image being projected. "...There might be another option..."

Jester almost chokes on his drink. "...Oh no you don't."

"Phil, thank you for this information, I'll be sure to add another nice shiny object to your medal case if we make it back." Raven says, a grin forming across his face as a plan formulates in his mind.

"If? Sir?" Phil asks with a quirked eyebrow and slightly worried tone.

"Well, if not... We can always make it a posthumous award."

-=Primary Conference Room, Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, high orbit over Azemin, Azemin system, 44:5:35:08:42=-

"...and essentially, that's the plan." Raven finishes his pitch with a simple statement before taking his seat again. Arrayed around him was a group of officers from the Subterrel Strike Force, consisting of men from both the Starship and Starfighter corps. With the strike force now on the verge of annihilation, Raven had dispatched couriers to summon them to the Redemption to pitch a daring plan to turn the tides on their foes.

"You've either gone completely mad, or you're finally letting your insanity through." The commanding officer of the Vigilance Starfighter Group, Brigadier General Kirghy Lommax, speaks first, staring at Raven in mild disbelief at the plan he had just heard. "There's absolutely no way that will work, no way in hell."

"It can work. We'll have the element of surprise on our side, and we know their fleet positioning and layout… What alternatives do we have?" Raven replies, knowing that the Subterrel Strike Force had been sustaining heavy losses in the last few conflicts, including a good portion of their fighter group.

"We get in our ships and go home." This time it was Lieutenant Colonel Galic Mars, executive officer of the VSG, who spoke up.

"Sure, and run right into the interdictors and assault ships they are sure to have waiting for us at every hyperlane out of here. They are amassing their entire fleet to wipe us out in one swift stroke. If we don't break out of the cage and take the fight to them, we will sign the death warrants for every man and woman under our command." His tone increasing in intensity, Raven glares daggers at the officers arrayed around him. "This is your call. Our men are ready and ABLE to do what we ask of them; we CAN pull this off. Are you willing to take the chance or should we sit back and watch the light show of a thousand turbolasers hitting our ships?"

"...Assuming your crazy ass survives walking around my pilots… The VSG will be ready to do our part." The Brigadier General says, nodding slightly.

"Then I believe we're done here... thank you." Raven says, closing his eyes momentarily, letting a breath out.

After a few moments, the officers of Subterrel Strike Force leave the Redemption's briefing room for the shuttles that had ferried them from their assorted starships. Jester and Raven sit silently in the conference room, both men reflecting on what was about to occur.

"I can't believe you talked me into this." Jester breaks the silence, glancing over at Raven.

"I can't believe you agreed to it."

"Momentary lapse of judgment. When I regain my senses I'll kill you."

"Fair enough."

"You know, even if this does work... has there been any word from Zealot?"

"No, not since the Unforgiven lost contact with them. They're presumed MIA, possibly KIA... but I don't think that's the case."

"Oh? Why?"

"Simple... Qel-Droma, Falcion, Klivan. Nothing short of a supernova could kill those three."

"...You're crazy, you know that?"


"Good, just so long as we're on the same page..."

"Quinn, we're not even in the same book."

"...Oh shut the kriff up."

-=Bridge of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, on approach to the Pyaimm system, 44:6:3:02:24=-

"Calculations for in-sector microjump nearly complete sir."

"Excellent, all stations, report!" Jester bellows after acknowledging the engine officer.

"Power generators running at maximum."

"Sensors online."

"Communications online."

"Engines online."

"Shields are up, sir!"

"Weapons at full charge."

"All ships ready for launch."

"All strike force craft report full battle readiness."

Jester grins to himself, there was a certain euphoric rush that always hit him right before a battle; particularly a large battle. He knew what while out-gunned and out-numbered, his crew was perhaps the most well-tuned machine in this part of the galaxy. He glances over at Raven, who took up a position near the prow viewport, a communications console in front of him to coordinate the battle. He glances to his officers, all looking up at him awaiting their next orders. His gaze turns back toward space, his red mechanical and brown organic eyes locking forward as he gazes out at the stars…

"Microjump calculations completed, we've transferred them to the strike group. Hyperspace in five, four, three, two, one..."

The Redemption lurches forward as she rockets into the chaotic blue-white void known as hyperspace, but only for a moment, not a second later she reverts into real space... three kilometers off the bow of a red-emblazoned Star Destroyer, the Ravenous.

"ALL BATTERIES! TARGET THEIR BRIDGE AND FIRE AT WILL!" Jester screams, his eyes locked upon the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer directly ahead.

Immediately, streams of turbolaser fire of all shapes and sizes lance out from the Redemption's primary guns, secondary blasts appearing from her port and starboard side as flanking starships unload their entire prow weapon arrays into the massive prow hull laid out before them. The first turbolaser blasts rip into armor plating, hot globs of liquefied metal erupting out of the Ravenous's dorsal flank, floating aimlessly in front of the ship. Other blasts slam into the command tower of the Star Destroyer, tearing into its reinforced hull plating, each blast peeling away centimeters of armor. The volley sustains for several long seconds, the hull of the Ravenous withstanding blast after blast as its crew scrambles for their battle stations, having been caught completely unawares.

With a groan that fills the entire vessel, the Redemption's main batteries finally fire, enormous blasts of green energy searing from her hull, reaching out to slam into the enemy Star Destroyer. Entire chunks of hull are blown clear out of the starship, secondary eruptions bristling its hull as key systems are utterly annihilated under the barrage of gigajoules of energy. The behemoth vessel lists forward, before its entire command tower is engulfed in a ball of white plasma which expanding for a few hundred meters before dissipating; a crater bored into the ventral hull of the once proud starship. The ship once known as the Ravenous shudders for a moment before going completely dark, its lifeless carcass listing toward the planetary surface; quickly accelerating.

"Sir! The destroyers are rotating to attack and are trying to establish their shields! All fighters and support ships have been launched from our hangar and are starting proton bomb runs on the nearest vessel, we're reading dozens of ships starting to power up!" The sensor officer yells from his station as the Redemption begins to take return fire, her shields easily withstanding the sporadic but intensifying fire.

"Target the nearest Star Destroyer and fire! I don't care if the weapons boil right off our own hull, keep them firing!"

The Redemption's entire array of turbolasers, anti-starfighter laser cannons, and massive deck guns, combined with the firepower of the entire remainder of the Subterrel Strike Force comes to full fruition as a monsoon of green and blue bolts traverse space, slamming into the hulls of the now three Star Destroyers that made up the core of the massive fleet arrayed around them. Defensive fire quickly begins to intensify as more and more crewmen reach their stations and swivel their guns to bear upon the nearest New Republic starship, but the seemingly endless downpour from the ships of the Subterrel Strike Force does not halt. Two squadrons of Y-wings burst from the rear of the Star Destroyer Kunark, searing up the rear of the command tower, their pilots launching torpedo after torpedo into the unshielded aft of the Destroyer.

As if hitting the back of a person's head with a baseball bat, the rear of the command tower explodes forward, a plume of fire blasting out of the front of the tower and into space. The Y-wings continue their run, traversing down the Destroyer's dorsal hull, now expunging spherical proton bombs onto its hull. The small but powerful charges lance into the hull, miniature thermal detonations prickle the hull before secondary charges detonate on the damaged sections, ripping apart entire decks under their explosive might.

The Y-wings loop around; both squadrons initiating strafing runs against the Star Destroyer Thunderous as a mixed wing of X-wings and A-wings descend on the starship the Y-wings just finished with. The X-wings open up with a volley of proton torpedos, blasting apart entire sections of hull that had been damaged by the Y-wings, and critically damaging key systems. The turbolaser fire from the Kundark quickly becomes disorganized as the gunners attempt to keep track of the smaller targets swooping over the starship's hull, and even more sporadic as the torpedoes tear into power relays and conduits, severing connections and sending powerful surges across others.

The A-wings rocket along the length of the Kunark, their dual laser cannons strafing the hull as fast as the pilots could possibly pull their triggers. Concussion missiles suddenly rocket from their dual launchers, ripping into the superstructure of the command tower as the X-wings swoop down toward it, unleashing another volley of proton torpedoes into the command tower. An internal explosion shakes the entire starship as the torpedoes find their marks, and the entire starship seems to shudder for a moment. Rippling explosions rock the entire hull of the Destroyer, hull plating erupting from the inside out, propelling durasteel and quadanium steel armor into space. The entire starship seems to rip apart as an orange fireball engulfs the entire hull; the ship exploding in a brilliant fireball that illuminates sensors for light years.

"Second Star Destroyer down sir!" The Redemption's sensor officer reports as the ship shakes again from the impact of fire from both remaining Star Destroyers.

"Status of the fleet?"

"Taking hits but alright, their interdictors are charging gravity wells; fifteen minutes until deployment."

"Is phase two of the operation ready?"

"Yes sir, everything is set!"


The Redemption shudders again as its shields take a tremendous beating from the two Imperial II-class Star Destroyers while the Wyrm, flagship of the Rogue faction, had finally established its shields. The Thunderous, under precision targeting by the other ships of the Subterrel Strike Force, had lost its ability to establish its shields after having ion blasts litter the hull at critical locations. Every capital ship remaining in the strike force, save the Redemption, was encircling the battered starship like vultures, pouring turbolaser fire and laser fire into its exposed hull. Transport craft and shuttles alike dance around it as well, dropping proton bombs onto its hull, their turreted weapons continuously firing into its red-hot hull.

Enemy starfighters, having been quickly scrambled, begin descending on the Subterrel Strike Force, the full might of the enemy fleet finally being brought to bear. Dozens of capital ships rocket toward them at maximum velocity, unleashing long range turbolaser fire into the fray. Torpedos and missiles from enemy fighters begin streaking toward Rebel Squadrons starships as they frantically attempt to bring down the third gargantuan destroyer. Impacts rock the smaller but more nimble ships of the Strike Force, but as the enemy forces close on a pair of shield-less ships… they quickly rotate toward open space and blast into hyperspace along predetermined vectors.

The Star Destroyer Thunderous, not as fortunate or as well-prepared as the Subterrel Strike Force, begins listing to the side as three starships rocket along its ventral hull, concentrating their entire armaments on the carbonite-reinforced dome on the underside of the Destroyer. Blast after blast chips away at armor plating, with each subsequent jolt to the hull causing more critical damage. The three ships blast out from the rear of the Destroyer… and leap into hyperspace as the Solar Ionization Reactor on the Destroyer gives out under the tremendous strain, the entire ship living up to its namesake as it detonates into an expanding white ball of hypermatter before dissipating into nothing but constituent atoms.

"Destroyer three is down! Sir, we're taking heavy damage!"

"I can't keep the shields established, we're going to lose them!"

"Order the rest of the fleet into hyperspace, shunt all power from weapons into the shield array and engines... Evacuate all exterior areas of the ship!"

The officers down in the crew pit balk at the order, looking up at the Commodore...


Rushing to complete his orders, they are carried through to the letter, the offensive fire from the Redemption ceases almost immediately; and the remaining ships of the Subterrel Strike Force leap into hyperspace, each escaping ship enraging their attackers more.

"Signal Vigilance!"

"But sir, if we signal them with that command ship still op..."

"ARE YOU QUESTIONING ME?!" Jester screams, his mind racing as his new plan formulates.

"NO SIR! Vigilance signal sent!"

"HELM! Bring us about to four five mark three two!"

The starship lurches as the helmsman brings the ship around, every ship within range pounding on the Redemption's now-reinforced shielding with their weaponry. Even with the entirety of the weapons grid on the Destroyer devoted to feeding the shield generators more power, hits begin leaking through to impact against the hull, causing explosions all across the outer hull of the ship. Jester watches as the Destroyer finishes its rotation… finding his impossibly mis-matched eyes staring straight at the last enemy Star Destroyer, the flagship of the Rogue Imperial operations in the Subterrel Sector, known as the Wyrm. The enemy admiral was surely on board; the most dangerous man to the SSF probably staring back at Jester from within the enemy Star Destroyer's bridge.

"...Reroute all power that isn't going to the shields to the engines! FLANK SPEED!" He screams.

Eyes widening with realization... the bridge crew grabs onto anything near their stations as the Redemption rockets forward with its seven engines glowing bright blue with the amount of power being fed into them. The commander of the Wyrm, realizing what the Redemption was doing, orders his ship to pitch downward... but the maneuver comes too late. The Redemption's armored prow tears into the Star Destroyer as the force of the impact overloads the shield generators on both ships instantly, causing explosions across multiple decks. The Redemption's nose section rips into the enemy destroyer, the entire starship raking up the dorsal hull toward the command tower.

Every officer on the bridge is thrown from their chairs, sparks and small console explosions ripping across the bridge. Bulkheads, recently patched up, erupt out of their places yet again, littering the floor with debris. The Redemption continues moving forward, ripping into the enemy Destroyer until she comes in contact with the base of the opposing Star Destroyer's command tower. With a sickening crunch that shakes the entire ship, the Redemption slices the command tower clear off the opposing Star Destroyer. Explosions rip across the hull of the enemy Destroyer as power regulators fail, other systems overloading due to stress, as the Redemption rips clean through it.

A loud groan rips across the Redemption as the Wyrm explodes directly under it, tearing large gashes and holes in the already battered hull. The entire nose section of the starship, nearly a full hundred meters, looks like it had been bitten off by some space creature, smashed and mangled beyond recognition. The Redemption shudders as it continues forward, the hull threatening to give way under the stresses of the combat she had just endured.

"HELM! GET US OUT OF HERE!" Jester screams, scrambling back to his feet as a console erupts into flames far too close to his body.

With a lurch, the Redemption blasts into hyperspace as the helmsman slams his fist on his control board; having pre-calculated their escape vector.

Commodore Harley Quinn raises his eyes just before the Redemption hypers out... laughing maniacally like some kind of demented jester as he watches the second wave of the strike, the entire remainder of the Vigilance Starfighter Group, exit hyperspace on top of the leaderless, disarrayed Imperial forces...

-=Primary Hangar of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Redemption, high orbit over Azemin, Azemin system, 44:6:5:22:34=-

"Thank you for coming on such short notice, General." Raven extended his right hand toward the man whom had just disembarked the Lambda shuttle Mediator, General David Vaughan.

"I'm not sure if 'thanks' is the right word, from what I hear I've got a bit of work to do." Vaughan takes the offered hand slightly awkwardly, shaking it for a quick moment before stepping up beside the Admiral. It had been three months since Vaughan had seen Raven, and wasn't sure if he should salute or something. The Admiral merely nods, taking Vaughan's awkwardness into his stride, walking toward a nearby turbolift.

"How is the Redemption?" Vaughan had noticed the repair teams floating along the exterior of the craft whom were working on repairing the hull; still damaged after days of repair.

"About sixty-three percent operational status, though it wasn't the worst of our losses." Raven steps into the turbolift, holding the door for Vaughan to enter before the lift rockets toward the command tower.

"...What happened, exactly?"

"Our losses amount to forty-three starfighters, twenty-seven assorted support craft, mainly ATR-6s and DX-9s, eight thousand two hundred fifty-two injured, one thousand three hundred and five killed. The Redemption took massive damage to all systems, the Unforgiven and Ad Astra both sustained extreme damage that we're still working on. The rest of the fleet sustained minor to moderate damage in some way, but we're still here."

"...BARELY!" The General's eyes were wide with shocked horror at the thought. This was the worst post-battle mess he'd seen since Blerthmore, and even in that case they'd had the New Republic willing to ship supplies to the Greeop Sector. But out this far, on the front lines far from major trade routes, there was not much chance of that happening this time. "How have you been communicating between craft and back to the Fleet Commander with the level of damage you've sustained? And what about the supply situation? If the strike force is in such disarray how are we supposed to get supplies out here without having convoys wiped out en route!?"

Raven turned to skewer his guest with a look of annoyance. "Calm down. I have had a long day and am not above backhanding pencil-pushers." Raven glares at Vaughan, though his steely gaze did nothing to the frantically pondering logistics officer.

"We've been using what operational weapons we have to communicate via Mon Calamari Blink Code. And while damaged, we've been able to bounce our long-range communications off of Rouge and Loyalist comm-sats to route the signal through. As to our supply situation, I'm not worried."

"You're not worried?! What about the operational status of all of the vessels? Starfighters? How much damage HAVE the Ad Astra and Unforgiven sustained?" The General was getting frustrated already, his hands gesticulating madly, communicating how much his mind was boggling at the thought of trying to orchestrate the resupply and repair efforts he was being asked to.

Raven, for his part, responded coyly and diplomatically. "Perhaps we should get you settled first."

He'd last about three seconds here... and doesn't know when to take a hint. Raven glowers down at Vaughan, who, ignoring his previous statement, continues.

"Settled?! I don't have time to get settled! I have to get around all to your ships immediately. Gather reports, take notes, work out how the hell I'm going to get this all done before leaving day after tomorrow, so I need to get started NOW."

That set Raven off. As they emerge from the turbolift, Vaughan can see Raven's fists clench and unclench at his sides.

"...We should get you set up in your new room."

This was a disagreement Vaughan had with the Prometheus's captain two weeks ago. And now it was happening on another Star Destroyer. "I don't think that's necessary, Admiral. I'm used to using the Mediator as my quarters; it's convenient because I can work there withou---"

Without another word, the Vice Admiral shoved Vaughan through an open hatchway, quickly following behind him and shutting the door.

"Shut the kriff up and listen. I didn't call you here for reports, or for you to have a mental breakdown, or to do anything of the sort. It was just convenient to call you here under the guise of a logistics check-up on the fleet while we prepare for further operations. Now sit the kriff down, shut the kriff up, and let me talk before you work yourself up enough for me to actually get angry with you."

Vaughan blinked. In all his New Republic service he had never encountered something quite like that, so he did the only logical thing he could do: he sat down, and closed his mouth, and waited.

"We have a guest on board. Brigadier General William Vaughn. I summoned you here to meet him, appraise him, and to satiate my own personal curiosity as to your level of relation with him. He has been cooperating with us, and has given us some critical information that has allowed us to remain here. YOU are here to ascertain the continued validity of his information, and to give me logistical assistance about a plan relating to the good General. If you'll kindly remain quiet..." Raven glowered down at him. "...I'll continue."

Raising his hands in mock surrender, Vaughan sat on the uncomfortable chair and waited for Raven's grand plan regarding the Imperial general. This was bound to be interesting.

-=Primary Conference Room of the MC80 Star Cruiser Ad Astra, high orbit over Azemin, Azemin system, 44:6:8:14:56=-

"Sit down and listen up. I'm only going to say this once. General David Vaughan has arranged for a special supply convoy that we have to hunker down and get here intact. What I'm hearing from upstairs is telling me that this convoy is critical to what we're doing here, and it needs to get here alive. I'm sure you're all used to hearing that sort of crap, but something tells me they actually mean it in a very real sense this time." Brigadier General Kirghy Lommax looks across his pilots, gaging their reactions to his statement.

"And for the bad news: you'll be flying B-wings. Everything else is shot."

That brought a fresh wave of groans and random exclamations from his pilots.

"We're escorting a convoy THIS important in B-wings?!" Kirghy didn't quite recognize the voice, but responded in kind.

"Yes. Yes, we are. And we're going to get it here... Mainly because any pilot not assigned to an escort fighter will be flying the convoy craft themselves."

Another wave of groans.

"We'll be meeting with the convoy in deep space beyond the Subterrel Sector boundary to transfer our pilots over. Once you've assumed control of the smaller convoy vessels, make your best speed back to the staging area at Azemin. The B-wings will run cover for you as you move, so stay sharp... they're not exactly superiority fighters. Also, our heavier ships will remain behind in the staging area so as to not attract undue enemy attention to what we're doing here. So while the Ad Astra will be our operational mothership, it will not be leaving the sector to meet us unless absolutely necessary"

"And if we meet enemy opposition?" That voice he recognized as Galic's. Turning his head toward his executive officer, Kirghy couldn't help but shrug.

"We run like hell while bombers try to tangle with advanced Imperial superiority fighters."

"...Sounds fun."

"Isn't this job great?"

-=Primary Conference Room of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Honour, edge of the Carvena Nebula, beyond the Subterrel Sector, 44:6:8:15:22=-

Traitors. That was the word on everyone's mind as they went about their duties on board the Honour, every move they had made had been expertly countered by their traitorous Imperial counterparts, and what little progress they had made, countermanded by the Rebel insurgents. It was because of this, that their fleet was in tatters, on the verge of defeat, with few supplies and no logistical assistance from their primary bases; it was only a matter of time before either of the other two warring fleets finally gained the upper hand and turned their attention to what remained. Their preemptive assault on Blerthmore, to eliminate the Rebels before the conflict even began, had failed. Months of planning and work had been overthrown by the happenstance relocation of most of their fleet for a bit of shore leave, and since then everything had gone downhill.

"...And it is because of this that capturing the incoming Rebel convoy is imperative to our survival here." Colonel Mae Narat continued his briefing; having just explained their dire situation to the remainder of their battered and beaten starfighter corps.

"If we do not secure the supplies, sixty percent of our remaining vessels will no longer have Tibanna gas for their weapons, half will be without foodstuffs, and our major destroyers will be without vital components to repair damaged systems. If we do not succeed, we have lost, and will be forced to withdraw; if we even can at this point. COMSCAN has extrapolated the Rebel convoy's flight path, and we have chosen the best place to attempt to interdict them and assault the convoy here near the Carvena Nebula, before they reach the Azemin Corridor. Yes?" he nodded at a black-clad pilot in the second row who had raised his hand.

"Why don't we just hit them in the corridor itself, sir? Seems to me they'd have less room to maneuver."

The briefing officer nodded sagely. "That would be correct, lieutenant, except our records indicate that the Traitors already hit the Rebels there when they first entered the sector, so they're not likely to fall for that a second time. Now as I said, we will be hitting them near the Carvena Nebula, and have enlisted the Rapier and Entangler to assist us in keeping the Rebels where we want them. And remember: we need their cargo intact, so refrain from blowing up targets of opportunity amongst the convoy that aren't fighters. Finally, you should know the best of their starfighter corps are going to be escorting these convoy craft... we have to be better."

He continued, watching the steely-eyed gazes that penetrated the sickening calm of the room to fall upon him.

"I know that all of you are tired, that you want to go home... and we're going to make that happen. Your families, loved ones, and all those you care about are on the other side, waiting for you to get the key to open the door that blocks you from them. That convoy is the key. We must prevail but not just for us, or for our ships, or for the New Order; but for our loved ones and our very lives. Good luck... Let's show them how true Imperial warriors fight. Dismissed."

With that, the fate of their entire faction and fleet lay on the balance of a single skirmish, a skirmish that would decide whether or not the majority of the pilots here would live to see another day. The Rebels had scored one major victory that brought them back from the brink... one that had amazingly resulted in the destruction of the Traitor's flagship. Surely such luck had limits, and they couldn't manage another?

...Could they?


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