Rebel Squadrons

(44:6:11) GDF103: Hunters

By BGN Eric Reagan
Unit: The Rebel Squadrons
Narrative, Jan 16, 2008
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-=Main Bridge, Immobilizer 418 cruiser Chains of Justice, on hyperspace approach to the Catant system, Greeop Sector, 44:6:3,22:36=-

Captain Atril Tabanne fingered the edge of her uniform jacket surreptitiously. The innocent action was her only betrayal of nervousness. Nobody else on the bridge noticed. Captain Tabanne was essentially still a newly minted captain, having achieved her rank only a few years before aboard the corvette Night Caller, while serving with Commander Antilles's Wraith Squadron. The completely unexpected invitation to join the Republic Shield task force here in the Outer Rim had caught her by surprise. She had hesitated at first, but how could she turn down such an unusual offer? Interdictors were special ships, and positions on them difficult to come by. She still was not sure why RS Command had singled her out particularly for the captaincy of the Chains of Justice, but she had been captain of the Interdictor for about a year now.

And now, here she was, leading her precious ship, the only Interdictor in the RS arsenal, directly into a deliberately dangerous engagement. The blue-white swirl of hyperspace still occupied the main viewport, but she knew they would be there soon and ---

"Captain," called out her executive officer, "we are coming out of hyperspace at the coordinates you ordered. Here is the Catant system."

As the enormous ship slammed back into real space, Tabanne could see in front of her a number of freighters, transports and shuttles. An arms exchange in progress. The intelligence had been spot on.

As she settled into her command chair, Tabanne began issuing orders. "Launch Blue Squadron and give them clearance to destroy everything. Power up the gravity wells. Raise shields. All hands to battle stations, please!"

Out the viewport, Tabanne could already see that the TIE Bombers of Blue Squadron were approaching the convoy of supply ships. The blue blossoms of proton torpedoes could be seen streaking in at the ships. The operation was proceeding exactly as planned.


"Blue Leader, this is Blue Eight, it looks like the enemy have reinforcements," Eight reported as he juked his craft to the starboard to avoid a series of laser blasts from a T-wing behind him. As Eight twisted his cumbersome bomber around, he managed to pump another torpedo into the slowly dying freighter ahead.

A new flash of laser fire crossed his viewport and the T-wing suddenly exploded. "Can't let you Blue boys have all the fun," a slow voice drawled over his comm unit. A TIE fighter flashed by his viewport, waggling its wings, and Eight smiled. Hydra Squadron had entered the fight.


Tabanne braced herself against the command chair as the entire Interdictor seemed to shake beneath her. "That last torpedo nearly dropped our shields," screeched her weapons officer.

Tabanne smiled grimly. The militant Z-95s had come loaded to attempt to take down her ship. Just as expected.

"Helm, get us out of here. Comms, pass on a message to Blue and Hydra Squadrons. Wish them luck, and tell them that their ride will be here soon."

As the ship powered down its gravity well and ponderously turned to begin its hyperspace jump, Tabanne hoped that the diversion had given Group Wesk enough time to complete their task. Well, she thought, there's nothing more I can do about it now.

Moments later, the Chains of Justice shot to hyperspace, leaving the pilots of Blue and Hydra Squadron to destroy as many of the enemy as possible.

-=Near Stylek IV, Stylek system, Greeop Sector, 44:6:3:22:44=-

Flashes of blue lightning sprung from the two New Republic Y-wings, hitting various targets surrounding the militant civilian outpost known as Blue Heaven base.

The ion cannons punched through shields and scrambled the electronics on the militant Y-wings defending the outpost zealously. Most of the defences appeared to have been driven off to a confrontation shaping up in the Catant system, where a New Republic Interdictor cruiser had unwisely trapped a militant arms exchange.

Militant forces from many different groups around the region had been called together to try and take down the anti-piracy vessel that had arrogantly bitten off more than it could chew. The destruction of the Interdictor would severely weaken the New Republic's efforts in curbing piracy and marauding behaviour in the Greeop Sector.

Or so the militants thought.

A red burst of lasers from Gold Leader's Y-wing tore through space and turned an automated defensive mine to slag.

Rolling the cumbersome bomber around, Colonel Gavin Starseeker angled in for his next target.

"Lead, this is Five." It was Seeks' XO, Ace Farlander reporting. "I'm reading engines hot on those freighters. They're probably gunning for escape."

With a quick glance at his sensor display, Seeks ran some figures through his head.

"Okay, let's keep it cool. You stop those Y-wings while I gatecrash the big birds. That minefield's no problem for us." Seeks snorted derisively as the automated mines opened up with greenish-yellow bursts, none of which came close to connecting with his fighter.

"Roger that, I got the enemy fighters zeroed." Farlander acknowledged. "Save some of them mines for me, would you? I haven't had breakfast yet!"

Seeks laughed as he twisted his Y-wing around and set a course for the retreating freighters. "Sorry mate, but I haven't either. Let's do this."

The blue trails of proton torpedoes lanced from Starseeker's launch tubes and impacted on the bulk freighters' shields, causing them to overload and collapse. And then he was all over them, stitching ion cannon-fire over the engines of the vessels, sweeping across and knocking out all operational systems, and killing any chance the freighters might have had of escape.

As the defending Y-wings and freighters were knocked out of commission, the pilots of Gold Squadron tore through the area, blasting the minefield apart.

In the distance, space rippled and a gargantuan vessel materialized into real space.

Seeks checked his scopes and grinned. "Heads up, Ace, the Windstorm's just arrived. Let's give the capture craft a hand across the street."

As if on cue, groups of Lambda-class shuttles and Delta-class transports launched from the Windstorm's hangar bay, cruising in to proceed with capture operations on the myriad disabled militant craft drifting through the area.

Two squadrons of fighters, Fireclaw X-wings and Red A-wings launched after them, some taking up escort positions around the capture craft, others moving out to meet Gold’s Y-wings to perform area security.

As the shuttles and transports moved in to capture the militants onboard the disabled Y-wings, freighters and outpost, the sensor board lit up with new contacts.

"Incoming!" Farlander alerted. "I'm reading unidentified shuttles and transports on an intercept course."

"Finally, some real action." Seeks muttered under his breath. "Copy that, Five, looks like those shuttles are heading in to get us. We'll deal with them."

Thumbing his comm from the Gold Squadron channel to a general operational channel, he signalled his counterparts in the X- and A-wings. "Heads up, boys, we've got the incoming ships down pat but if anything gets too close the capture craft, feel free to waste 'em."

"Acknowledged Gold, but I doubt they'll be much trouble."

"True, but those transports seem to be on an intercept course for the Windstorm, so pick them up if we drop them."

"Roger that. Fireclaw Squadron, form up on me, let's torpedo some transports while Red babysit our friendlies."

The two groups closed the distance between each other near the Blue Heaven base, and battle was joined.

-=Catant system, Greeop Sector, 44:6:3,22:58=-

With a shudder that reverberated throughout the double-hulled TIE Bomber, Colonel Muzor sent his final proton torpedo on its short-lived journey into the side of the last militant convoy vessel. The illegal arms deal had gone sour, and the RS TIEs had wreaked havoc on the ill-equipped defenders. Unshielded as TIEs might be, they still outclassed the Z-95 Headhunter and T-wing starfighters the militants had defending the area.

Even before the arrival of the Nebulon-B2 Frigate Angelfire and the addition of Green Squadron's TIE Fighter reinforcements, Blue Squadron's bombers and Hydra Squadron's fighters had managed to fare pretty well on their own, even after their command ship, the Chains of Justice had been forced to withdraw from the combat zone.

The final torpedo exploded against the freight vessel followed by an outward shower of superheated gas, molten hull and probably explosive cargo. With a final combination of linked green laser blasts, Muzor stabbed deeply enough into the reactor of the modular conveyor.

He had only a few moments' warning to get his lumbering bomber clear before the reactor went completely critical, exploding spectacularly. His TIE's transparisteel viewscreens automatically dimmed to cut out the blinding glare.

"All fighters, this is Control. Our shields are out and we require immediate assistance. These bombers are evading our point defences. All fighters, return to the Angelfire's proximity immediately!"

Colonel Muzor checked his sensor screen, supplemented by remote telemetry from the Angelfire. T-wings were performing bombing runs from numerous angles, and were for the most part successfully avoiding the Angelfire's defensive fire.

"All nearby fighters, this is Blue Four. You heard Control. Form up on me, and let's take out those T-wings!"

The twin ion engines of the RS TIEs roared as they sped back to the beleaguered frigate, targeting computers counting down the distance to the T-wings raining a blue rain of torpedoes into the Angelfire's naked hull…

-=Tarsonis orbit, Greeop system, Greeop Sector, 44:6:8,16:53=-

From space, the planet Tarsonis is beautiful. Blues of oceans, greens of jungles, and whites of clouds all swirl together to make an aesthetically appeasing orb. The planet looks peaceful, like the popular vacation resort and center of inter-species cooperation it really is. Above the planet, however, the space around it is busier and more fortified than it has been in years. Numerous Golan III space stations form a solid defensive ring around Tarsonis. The standard civilian space traffic cruises in and around this ring, as if oblivious to the increased military presence. Within the protective range of the ring of stations is a massive, octopus-like structure which is in fact the Eagle's Nest shipyards, the center of all New Republic ship construction and repair in this part of the Outer Rim. Among the many ships sitting in dock around the shipyards, most prominent is a Nebulon-B2 Frigate, apparently in the last stages of battle repair. Circling the shipyards is an ancient dreadnaught, bearing the colors of the Tarsonis Defense Force, owned and operated by the planetary government itself. In high orbit above the planet, a Victory-class Star Destroyer floats noiselessly through space, a stark reminder that this planet is now a military headquarters...

-=Office of the Fleet Commander, Victory-class Star Destroyer Peril, Tarsonis orbit, 44:6:8,16:55=-

Dave Trebonious-Astoris, Fleet Commander of the Republic Shield, sat ramrod straight in his own chair behind his desk. His various guests sat rather more comfortably around his office, depending on their own level of comfort with him. Admiral Rahj Tharen, his deputy in command of the Greeop Defense Force, lounged sideways on the couch at the left of his desk, apparently unconcerned with any sort of military formality. Lieutenant Rebekah Gosling, his communications officer on the Peril, sat perched on the side of Dave's massive desk, datapad in hand but apparently not worried about consulting it. Rear Admiral Joshua Hawkins, chief of intelligence for the Greeop Defense Force, was seated comfortably if not in completely relaxed fashion in one of the guest chairs in front of the desk. Only Brigadier General Eric Reagan, head of the Patriot Starfighter Group, felt it necessary to stand behind the other guest chair, apparently not sure if he should sit or not.

Dave cleared his throat, which caused Rahj to stop chatting up Gosling. He liked to do that sometimes, if only because it seemed to make Dave uncomfortable.

"Thank you all for coming," Dave began. "I asked you all to join me here because we have spent an inordinate amount of time in the Peril's conference room in recent time, and it seems like a change of pace might invigorate the mind. First, some good news. As General Reagan reported to me much earlier, both of our recent operations against militant forces were complete successes." Dave nodded at Reagan. "General, do sit down. And feel free to add anything to my summary of your report."

Eric slipped into the chair he had been standing behind, and Dave continued.

"The Stylek engagement was a complete success. We captured the prisoners we hoped to capture and we destroyed just about everyone that opposed us. Special congratulations and commendations are to be issued to Gold Squadron for valor and heroism in this engagement."

Eric nodded, making a notation on his own datapad.

"The distraction operation at Catant went well also, and the Chains of Justice, Josh will be happy to know, suffered only cosmetic damage," Dave continued.

Josh grinned. "Thank the Force for that."

Dave smiled. "Captain Tabanne is to be congratulated for her work. She made a most tempting target for the hostiles. Congratulations and commendations will also go to Blue Squadron for their almost complete destruction of the ships involved in the arms deal at this location. Josh also deserves credit for the intelligence that led to this operation, which was accurate in every respect."

Rahj piped up from the couch, "What's the status of the Angelfire?"

"The Angelfire," Dave replied, "took the only significant damage of any of these engagements. She suffered thirty-two casualties and significant damage to her weapon emplacements; hull was blasted down to approximately sixty percent integrity. Much more damage than we anticipated. But she is currently under repair at the Eagle's Nest and is expected to be back up to one hundred percent any day now. Now, I would like to hear from Josh on the first fruits of his interrogation of the captured hostiles from Stylek."

Josh cleared his throat and consulted his datapad for a moment.

"Admiral," he began, "I've had varying success with the interrogations. Most of the prisoners are of no particularly strong character and were prepared to sing like birds. They were of middling importance in their organization at most, however, and did not provide much interesting information. Their organization is a band of pirates under the leadership of somebody they call 'Old Scar,' evidently after his age and an old wound mark. The goal is typical of piratical organizations: the accumulation of booty, wealth and the sheer enjoyment of being anti-establishment. The most useful information gleaned is that at least one of them knew or claimed to know where a more substantial base for the group was located. I have coordinates, however reliable they may be. There were also various other hints to possible holding locations scattered throughout the Greeop Sector that we'll have to follow up to confirm or deny."

Through all of this presentation Dave had been listening carefully, his eyes half closed and his fingers steepled together. Gosling had been tapping on the datapad, taking notes, and when she stopped, he looked up at Josh.

"You said that 'most' of the prisoners are not of strong character. What of the others?"

Josh sighed. "I knew you would ask about him. It's just one. He hasn't said a word since he was captured. He's a cool customer, impervious to threats or enticements. Male, Human, perhaps in his mid-forties. No real distinguishing features except a tattoo on the back of his neck. Looks like a red hand."

Dave and Rahj both started. "Josh, I need you to cross-reference this prisoner with the report of the assassination attempt on me on Mercurius one and a half months ago. Then, I want to speak with this prisoner later. He is our only link to the Red Hand organization, which I fear is much more sinister than any band of pirates led by somebody named 'Old Scar.' "

Josh nodded. "Right away."

Dave shook his head to clear the bad taste out of his mouth which had suddenly appeared. "General Reagan," he began again, "you are to work up a recon plan to begin within the next few days that will check out the coordinates of the alleged pirate base which Josh has managed to get for us."

Eric nodded, "General Nels and I will get on that right away, sir."

Dave stood, and all the other officers in the room scrambled to do the same. "You are dismissed then, General. Begin your plans."

As Eric saluted and turned to leave the room, Dave continued, "Rahj and Josh, I'd like you to stay for a moment. Gosling, you can remain as well."

Dave settled back into his chair, slumping a little more this time.

"Gentlemen," Dave began anew. "I would like to remind you of the political situation on the planet Caelum."

Rahj's eyes hardened in anger.

"It has been nearly a month since a coup there placed an anti-New Republic warmongering government in control of the planet. This status quo is absolutely unacceptable." Although the volume of Dave's voice remained level, his tone had become icy.

"We need a long-term solution to the problem which will eliminate the hostile government and bring the planet back under our direct control."

Josh shifted uncomfortably, "I assume you don't mean a diplomatic solution."

Dave shook his head. "I am not interested in coddling them. There will be diplomacy involved at some point, but not until we remove our enemies."

Dave bristled just mentioning the situation. The issue on Caelum, he felt, had been a direct personal affront to himself, although he told himself that his motives in changing the political situation on the planet remained distinctly professional.

"Rahj and Josh, I want you both working on possible solutions to this problem. Consider it secondary to following up the Red Hand lead for now, but do not let this slip off the table. We will continue to meet and discuss the situation over the coming weeks until we come up with an actionable plan."

Heads nodded around the office. Dave finally allowed himself a smile. "Shall we break for lunch?"

-=Somewhere along the Trition Trade Route, Minos Cluster, 44:6:9:13:29=-

The vessel shuddered under the impact of hostile laser blasts, and the crew of the civilian Action V transport Vander's Dream found themselves rocked around at their stations.

"Frak me, we're screwed!" the navigator of the vessel, a greying Human male called out after the most recent barrage. "There's no way we can make it out of the system before these kriffing rodders blow us to cinders!"

"I agree with the old man for a change!" a green-skinned Twi'lek seconded from the co-pilot station. "Face it Vander, we're going to have to heave to and let them board us."

The Human captain of the vessel, Ramren Vander glared at his female co-pilot. "We can't do that. The bastards will kill us and take the cargo . . . not to mention the ship!"

"If we keep this up, we're going to be dead anyway!" she countered, matching his glare as their hands struggled to keep the ship on course.

" < Where in Rana are the New Republic patrols?! > " a skittish blue-skinned Duro called out in Durese from the open access way, where he was attempting to repair some blown-out consoles. " < This hyperlane is in their territory! > "

Vander shook his head from the captain's seat, not taking his eyes off the viewscreen as he gripped the flight controls. "Like I say, the New Republic's all talk, no game. This far out, there's no media presence, so they won't bother wasting their time protecting us. I think we're pretty much karked."

"We're not surrendering, though, right?" the aging navigator sought to confirm from the back of the cockpit, ill at ease. In all his years of flying freighters, he's heard more than his share of tales of the barbarism of pirate groups.

Vander sighed in resignation. "Don't think we have much of a choice, Varn. We're going to be dead if we keep this up. Okay, Selia, get on the horn and tell these bastards we're surrendering. Maybe they'll stop shooting at us for a bit."

For a few moments there was silence in the cockpit of the vessel, save for the decreasing whines of protest from the engines as the captain began to kill their acceleration. Another succession of laser blasts against the weakening shields broke the silence.


"As you say, Captain." the Twi'lek acknowledged humbly, unhappy with the decision despite having argued for the course of action. "This is the civilian freighter Vander's Dream to unidentified attacking force . . ."

She halted momentarily, the reality of the likely aftermath of the situation running through her head. If the pirates didn't kill them outright, as the young Twi'lek woman onboard she'd likely be sold to slavers, her life as a free sentient over.

Pushing aside her revulsion, she carried out her captain's order. "We surrend— < what in the Bright Lands is that?! > "

Everyone on the cockpit looked out to through the right viewscreen as Selia reverted to her native tongue of Ryl in surprise. The bright flash that had stolen her attention was followed by a huge mass sliding past the freighter.

Through the viewport, briefly visible as it rocketed past were the stencilled blocky Aurebesh letters 'Idiot's Array'.

As the object moved further ahead of the freighter, it became clear that this was an escort frigate of sorts. It looked almost like a Nebulon-B Frigate, but it was obvious that a number of major modifications had been made to it.

The comm unit crackled. "Civilian freighter, this is the New Republic warship Idiot's Array; we recommend you heave to port on our mark. Acknowledge."

The crew couldn't believe their break of fortune, even the anarchistic captain Vander feeling something akin to hope at the arrival of this governmental ship. He nodded to his co-pilot vigorously, and she thumbed the comm unit. "New Republic warship, we acknowledge."

The Idiot's Array seemed to pause in space as it began to rotate with something akin to a heavy thrust of etheric rudder of a smaller craft.

Several moments of tense uncertainty were broken by a one-word transmission: "Mark!"

The Vander's Dream groaned in protest as the crew thrust the vessel hard to port, a manoeuvre a freighter like this was never really expected to pull. Seconds later a series of bright broadside turbolaser blasts from the frigate lit up the vacuum just-vacated by the lumbering freighter.

Vander and Selia exchanged a look that communicated 'the hell?' in almost any culture, as the blasts seemed to have been aimed at them, when the sensor reports of numerous contacts blinking out of existence explained what that was all about --- the unexpected manoeuvre had caused the attacking pirates to take a volley of blasts from the New Republic frigate head-on.

"Civilian freighter, we have things under control on this end. We'll cover you, now get the hell out of here. Say hi to Tarsonis Command for us."

"We copy that, New Republic warship. Vander's Dream out." Selia exchanged another look with Vander, to which he nodded in reply before grinning arrogantly.

"Everyone hold on to your asses, this is going to be a rough one." the suddenly cocky Human captain called out as he slammed the engines full ahead. "Varn, get me a bearing now!"

A thump followed by Durese swearing could be heard from the aft of the cockpit in response to the manoeuvre, and the old Human navigator sang out from his station, "Four three mark two four! Two minutes to jump at full speed!"

As the Action V transport rocketed away into the distance, the scattered pirate craft formed up and pulled back from the unexpected New Republic interference. The Idiot's Array moved to eclipse the fleeing civilian freighter from the marauding forces, guns bristling threateningly to put down any of the pirates who might even think about pursuing the Vander's Dream.

The pirates, for their part, had evidently given up on their prey and were unwilling to fight a battle against a target that could fight back, because they turned as one and after a few moments leapt into hyperspace.

-=Bridge of the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser End of Days, somewhere in the Minos Cluster, 44:6:9:13:36=-

The End of Days, an old Dreadnaught that had seen battles since the Clone Wars and had changed hands any number of times, floated quietly in a nameless section of the Minos Cluster that Spokes merely thought of as the "Staging Point." From here, there were six "safe" jump vectors and another dozen or so that could be used for a micro jump. Not entirely safe, but sometimes a short jump to "anywhere but here" was a useful tactic.

"Sirs," the Human lieutenant at the Comms station called to the two ranking officers present. Captain Caris Palaeologus, commander of the End of Days, and Admiral Tyrell "Spokes" Borran, commanding the small RS contingent stationed in the Minos Cluster and who was charged with ensuring the safe passage of shipping throughout the Cluster.

"Speak up, lieutenant." Captain Palaeologus commanded.

"We've received word from the Idiot's Array. They have made contact with hostile forces and driven them off. We have their exit vector data."

"Excellent. Thank you, lieutenant." Spokes smiled grimly. "Navigation, I want a confirmed destination point determined ASAP. There are seventeen that are possible from that exit vector." Spokes quickly pointed them out on the map. "Start with these three. Notify me as soon as you have confirmation. Then, it is time to rain down a little bit of hell on our pirate friends."

The Comm Officer turned and left. "Why those three?" Captain Palaeologas asked. He had been in the Cluster for months, but he could see nothing special about any of the destination points Spokes had indicated.

Spokes looked up from the map with one eyebrow raised. "Well, we've passed through eight of them fairly recently and we picked up no signs of recent activity. I doubt they will retreat to someplace unfamiliar. Another five have a fair amount of steady civilian and military traffic. I don't think our pirates will jump into a crowd unless they have no other choices. We are sitting in this one." Spokes smiled as he pointed at their location on the map. Just the thought of them jumping in on top of the End of Days was entertaining. "That leaves these three. If it were me, I would use this one." Spokes pointed out his choice.

"That's the shortest...ah, I see." Captain Palaeologus said. "Shortest initial jump, but it has the most possible secondary jumps."

"Aye." Spokes affirmed. "If they jump there, we need to catch them as the exit to end this chase."

"Sirs, we have the coordinates."

"Lay them in lieutenant. Prepare to jump."

The gambit had paid off, coordinates were being determined...and soon the End of Days would once again prove its namesake. This time, for a particularly troublesome band of pirates...

-=Patriot Starfighter Group Commander's Quarters, MC80 Star Cruiser Windstorm, 44:6:11:17:22=-

Brigadier General Eric Reagan, commanding officer of the Patriot Starfighter Group, sat behind the large desk in his quarters with his XO, General Anton Nels, seated opposite. They had been going over all the intelligence collected from the interrogation of militant prisoners captured in the previous operation. The Admiral had ordered Eric to follow up on suspected militant holdings divulged by the many militant 'guests' currently enjoying accommodations in the Peril's brig. To this end, Eric and Anton had been plotting out locations for recon sweeps and assigning pilots to duty rosters.

The two Generals had gone over the information enough, and had a plan that they were satisfied with. It was time to get the show on the road.

Eric put through a ship-wide call, which would be relayed to any other close proximity ships with Patriot pilots onboard. "All Patriot pilots, this is Brigadier General Reagan. Unless you're flying CAP, drop what you're doing and report to the main briefing room of the Windstorm in half an hour."

Anton got to his feet eagerly, flashing Eric a grin. "Showtime."

-=Main Briefing Amphitheatre, MC80 Star Cruiser Windstorm, 44:6:11:17:52=-

The last of the pilots entered the room and quickly found themselves seats. General Reagan waited until they were seated before making his way to the podium at the front of the room.

"Thank you all for coming," Eric said to the assembled pilots. Some had caught shuttles from other ships in the vicinity to make it in time, and others were flying patrols around Tarsonis, limiting the numbers of pilots in the room only slightly.

A holographic star chart of the Greeop Sector appeared on a viewscreen behind the General as the room lights dimmed enough to see the display clearly.

"Let me first begin by congratulating the pilots of Gold, Fireclaw, and Red for their efforts during the last mission." The briefing room erupted with good-hearted cheering and applause momentarily, before Eric held up a hand to silence the pilots. "Especially Gold Squadron. I know it's already been said, but without the efforts of Colonel Starseeker and his pilots knocking out the targets, none of it would have been possible. Blue Squadron, also, did an excellent job at wiping out the illegal convoy and causing enough mayhem to draw in militant reinforcements. Congratulations to Blue Squadron are in order, too."

The pilots congratulated the Gold and Blue pilots present, even though it was slightly less excitedly than before --- inter-squadron rivalries were infamous in the PSG.

After the congratulations ended, Eric's expression turned more serious. "The briefing you are about to receive is classified, so speak to no one about it, not even amongst yourselves once you leave this room." The General waited a few seconds for that to sink in before he continued.

"Following the successful capture operation of militant prisoners eight days ago at the Blue Heaven base near Stylek IV, Admiral Hawkins' intelligence team have extracted some interesting information on possible militant holdings here in the Greeop Sector that we need to check out. Your job will be to perform reconnaissance sweeps of a high number of locations, which will be provided to you by your squadron leaders in the final minutes before the operation is launched. Put simply, security is tight for this operation, as we don't want any information slipping out to forewarn the militants we're coming. Nobody is under suspicion, but we have had issues with spies and intelligence leaks in the past, so we're not taking any unnecessary risks."

Everyone was solemnly quiet at that. An Imperial spy had managed to infiltrate the Minos Investigation Group months ago, and fed vital information to the enemy battle group, hampering RS efforts in the region until he was discovered and eventually captured.

"We will be using gunboats and A-wings for this operation. Since the nature of this operation is to collect intelligence, you will hyper in, scan, and get your asses back here post haste; I don't expect you to take on an entire militant base by yourselves." Eric stared across the collection of pilots sternly. The Patriot trait of zealously hunting for kills was well known in the task force. "However, if you are forced to defend yourselves to successfully complete this operation, then by all means, please do so."

Grins appeared on the faces of the more bloodthirsty pilots at this.

"Also, not all of you will be undertaking reconnaissance missions. Some of you have other duties that you will be attending to. That said, squadrons undertaking this operation will be notified an hour before departure, and your specific recon sweep co-ordinates will be distributed before you leave the vessel. Whether you fly the recon op or not, none of you are authorized to leave the Windstorm until the operation is underway."

This bugged some of the pilots. Having to sit around, stuck onboard a ship --- even one as pleasant as the Windstorm --- with not even the guarantee of being sent on the mission, was one sure way to piss off a pilot. Damned higher ups and their 'operational security'. Why didn't Intel just do their jobs better, so it wouldn't be a problem?

"As I said, more specific orders will be passed down to you through your squadron leaders closer to the launch. This operation will begin in two hours. And as I said, this briefing is classified. Do not discuss the details of this operation until you're on the hangar deck, or until after the mission. Any questions?"

-=Main Bridge, Medical Frigate Vespia, Deep Space, Greeop Sector, 44:6:11,22:13=-

Lieutenant Junior Grade Patrick Lastfire sat alertly at his station on the bridge of the Vespia. Patrick had recently graduated from the Academy and was fortunate to have a bridge watch job, even if it was only on a Medical Frigate. He carefully scanned his communications station console for any new updates, frequently sneaking peaks at the nearby sensor console. Captain Montfort was pacing on the other side of the bridge.

The Vespia had been called away from its task group by an emergency distress call of a medical crisis in the Oberon system. The situation was deemed secure enough for the medical frigate to travel to alone, escorted only by the squadron of PSG X-wings specially assigned for the mission. The ship was exactly halfway to its destination and was making a course correction in this lonely region of deep space along the trade route to the Cadrel Expanse before entering upon the final leg of its hyperspace journey. Outside the vessel, the few X-wings provided to serve as sentries for the mission swooped around.

Suddenly, the sensors officer to Lastfire's right spoke up as his console pinged. "Captain, a new ship has just dropped out of hyperspace! Looks to be a small transport."

The captain nodded at Lastfire. "Hail them, Lieutenant."

Lastfire's fingers flew across the console. "We are getting a text only response, Captain. They report wounded onboard, and have provided all appropriate recognition codes. Sir."

Montfort hesitated only a moment. "Signal the transport to board, and have the X-wings escort it in. We are fortunate in choosing this location for our course correction, I guess. Those wounded moreso."

The bridge fell silent for a minute as the transport approached the medical frigate, and the docking operation began. The silence, however, did not last long. With a bone-rattling impact shock, the lights on the bridge flickered off and then back on. Crewmen were thrown like rag dolls, and at least one must have broken his neck in an awkward fall. The noise was deafening.

"Captain, Captain!"

Lastfire could hardly hear it. He tried to find who it was whispering, but then he realized it was the sensors officer. And he was actually shouting.

"The transport just exploded! The hangar is practically gone! Systems are failing all over the ship."

Lastfire forced himself to focus on the panel in front of him. "Casualty reports coming in from all over the ship. Loss of power reported on many decks!"

A few feet away, Montfort picked himself up from the ground. Blood dripped down the side of his face and pooled on the floor. He looked frightened.

"Lastfire, order all unnecessary systems shut down. Try to contact Main Engineering. Tell the X-wings to be on their highest alert. And put out a general distress call, quickly."

As Lastfire struggled to implement all of his captain's orders, with his mind a mush and ringing in his ears, he felt rather than saw the sensors officer tense up.

The sensors officer looked up dolefully at the captain. "Sir, I'm reading multiple unknown vessels entering the system on the same vector as that transport did..."

The Captain lowered his head in resignation; he knew this would happen as soon as the report of the explosion had come in. "Put out a ship-wide alert. Our combat status has been upgraded to conflict-red. All hands brace for impact."

Despite his impaired hearing, Lastfire thought he heard the Captain of the crippled starship whisper under his breath: "May the Force be with us."


FA Tyrell "Spokes" Borran - Thu Jan 17 2008, 12:01am
...and they say nothing gets done over the holidays.
1LT ShadowDude - Fri Jan 18 2008, 2:07am
HI just doing my BP
CPT Talyn Malasombra - Fri Feb 15 2008, 12:49am
Damn dirty trick to pull! But what an excellent mission! I've never destroyed so many gunboats in one go!! Down with sneaky tactics! More cannons on my craft so I can shoot them all down!! Tech support...I want more guns!

1LT Talyn Malasombra