Rebel Squadrons

(44:6:33) Moving Pieces

By COM David Vaughan
Unit: The Rebel Squadrons
Narrative, Apr 13, 2008
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((Please note that for fictional purposes, the results of the recent FC election will not be reflected in this narrative. Story-wise Dave is still in command of Greeop forces, and Raven is still in command of Subterrel forces until further notice.))

-=Maxite belt, Oxion system, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:17:08:52=-

Dagger Squadron swarmed through the combat zone that was the Maxite belt of the Oxion system, guns and torpedoes blazing.

They had driven their B-wings in a devastating hit-and-fate assault on the Rogue Imperial supply caches. While no permanent damage had been done to the two giant asteroid installations, or the multitude of capital-class vessels, headed by the Star Destroyer Apocalypse, they had absolutely wiped out most of the supply containers sitting near to the defenders.

Major Naes Draw, Executive Officer of Dagger Squadron, dove through a hail of cannon-fire from the oncoming TIEs, and realized that Group Aurek had best get to the 'fade' part of their hit-and-fade strike.

"Watch yourself, Nine, you've got a bandit on your tail," crackled the tones of Dagger Five, his forty-odd year old Human squadron-mate Ton Matty.

"Thanks, Five. Can you get if off me? He's hugging my exhaust!"

"Hold on, Nine . . ."

His B-wing shuddered under Imperial fire from his aft, and he noted his shields rapidly dissipating.

"C'mon! Where's my cover?" the young Corellian called out as he wrenched the flight stick about in an effort to shake the nimbler pursuer.

"Break port, now!"

Instinctively, the Corellian threw his cumbersome bomber to the left, and practically felt the explosion of the TIE that was tailing him.

"Thanks, Five, owe you one."

"You can buy me a drink when we get home."

"Okay Daggers, time to go," the clipped Coruscanti tones of the Vigilance Starfighter Group second-in-command, Colonel Galic Mars cut through the channel. "We've got their attention, time to jump out."

"Roger that, Dagger Nine complying," Naes acknowledged as he set his B-wing fighter on a new bearing out of the asteroid field and boosted power to the engines. Various acknowledgements from the rest of the squadron came over the comm, and the B-wings of Group Aurek formed up preparing for the next phase of the operation.

The pursuing TIEs, for their part, fired angrily after them. Not that it would make any difference, as the Daggers leapt into the blue-white tunnel of hyperspace for a precious few moments of safety.

Naes sighed at the brief moment of reprieve. They'd just tangled with a whole wing of Imperial fighters, and got away. Now they were going to keep harassing Imperial targets throughout Rogue territory. With a bit of luck, they'd draw away the ImpStar defending the system they'd just harassed into following their path of destruction, so that Group Besh led by the Admiral himself could jump in and pummel the place flat.

The starlines snapped back to starfield, and Dagger Squadron had arrived in the Kharanok system to cause a bit more mayhem.

The B-wings formed up and targeted the various cargo-carrying vessels passing by the Kharanok Shipyards and unleashed waves of blue torpedoes that sizzled out to greet the Imperial freighters . . .

-=Maxite belt, Oxion system, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:17:09:14=-

The squadrons of X-wings and Y-wings swarmed throughout the combat zone of the Maxite belt, exchanging red and blue blasts of laser and ion cannons with their TIE opponents, with the occasional punctuation of detonating proton torpedoes.

Three main squadrons formed the bulk of Admiral Raven's 'Group Besh' attack force in the Oxion system, which was spearheaded by the Calamari Cruiser Ad Astra and its support craft, including the Frigates Horizon and Unforgiven and pickets.

Ragnarok Squadron darted through the combat zone in their X-wing starfighters, thinning out the numerically superior TIE squadrons while the Y-wing bombers of Dragon Squadron sent series of torpedoes into the shields of the larger defending Victory Star Destroyers and asteroid bases of the Maxite facilities. Amongst them bustled the smaller, mixed group of X- and Y-wings belonging to Zealot Unit, the greatly decimated spec ops team often called into front-line engagements like this.

From afar the formation of opposing capital ships could be seen pummeling each other through the tangled mess of asteroids, with the numerous flashes of exploding starfighters in their midst producing a different kind of lightshow. Fighters on both sides exploded with shocking regularity, while the warships on each side weathered the vast amounts of damaged being dealt to them.

General Kirghy Lommax, leader of the Vigilance Starfighter Group, caught another TIE starfighter with a quad-linked burst. He deftly side-slipped past the flaming debris of his kill, and curved back toward the main engagement zone.

Hundreds of bolts of energy blue, green and red criss-crossed their way lethally through the asteroid hazards of the Maxite belt. The Kuati general had seen quite a lot of combat so far in the three-month long Subterrel campaign, but nothing could really compare with the hurtling and flaming asteroids as they intermingled with the darting and diving pinwheels of starfighters from both sides trying to splatter each other through the void.

A vast explosion that was the death knell of a Victory Star Destroyer shattered through the combat zone, sending fiery debris and scattered chunks of asteroid flying like knives of hailfire which Kirghy flew throughout, dodging the larger lumps and hoping against hope he'd make it through to the other side.

His shields sparked, something in his fighter rattled loose, and he exhaled noisily. That was too close. Checking his scopes, he cut a lazy loop around to unleash some more torpedoes into the asteroid bases. Apparently there were RS prisoners of war on board the installations . . . hopefully they'd find their own way out, because the bases were primary targets his forces were tasked with taking out.

The chaos of the battle in the asteroid field intensified as General Lommax squeezed the trigger, sending balls of explosive death at the bristling piles of rocks that formed the centre of the Imperial defensive formation . . .


Less than an hour later, the battle was over. The ruined hulks of burned out starships littered the asteroid field; the fires long since run out of oxygen to support their combustion. The outcome had been a New Republic rout — the Imperial forces were almost completely annihilated, and the few survivors were doomed, having fled headlong into the dubious safety of the asteroid formation in their hyperdrive-deficient craft.

With the Star Destroyer Apocalypse successfully lured away from the Oxion system by Dagger Squadron's hit-and-fade dance through Rogue Imperial territory, Admiral Raven's forces had smashed the remainder of the system defenses, including two Victory Star Destroyers, and completely shattered the asteroid installations. A number of New Republic prisoners of war had escaped from the doomed facilities before their explosions, and celebrations were taking place in a system far from here.

The Battle of the Maxite belt had been bloody, and the Subterrel Strike Force was not without losses of its own. Ships of historical prestige like the Corellian Gunship Bayonet were not immune to the savagery of war, and it was believed veterans such as Admiral Himm El-Syna were on the warpath as a consequence.

Further afield, Dagger Squadron's exploits proved just as difficult. Their prime objective of drawing the Apocalypse away from its posting was an absolute success, but their ability to hurt shipping in the Kharanok Shipyards was not as effective as they had hoped, and their ambush by an Interdictor part-way through the operation saw a great deal of bloodshed on their own side that had not been anticipated.

The Interdictor Anchor had been driven off, and the squadron mostly survived triumphantly, but the battle and engagements of the day would long be remembered for the cost in lives, not just as the tactical victories they were.

The Subterrel Strike Force had survived the worse the Imperial factions had thrown at them in this campaign, and had come back swinging. But they would not be able to weather these levels of losses forever. Something had to give soon.

Hopefully it was the enemy.

-=Secondary conference room, Imperial-class Star Destroyer Redemption, high orbit over Azemin, Azemin system, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:22:21:18=-

"You're kidding," Admiral Raven decided with finality.

Sitting across from him, looking to all the galaxy as an Imperial officer facing an implacable superior officer, was Brigadier General William Vaughn. His Imperial uniform gleamed with polish, a stark contrast to the dark figure that sat opposite him.

"I assure you, Admiral, I am not," the older man addressed his captor with respect; despite their different allegiances in the Galactic Civil War — no, in fact, because of it — the aging Imperial prisoner of war had to convince the Rebel admiral of his sincerity.

Not because he was lying, or being in any way untruthful. But for the fact that he was telling the truth. It was imperative that his captor believed him, because Vaughn had finally run out of useful information about their mutual enemy to provide Raven with to keep his men out of interrogation.

For over a month now the ranking Imperial prisoner on board the Star Destroyer Redemption had been providing all sorts of useful intelligence about the Traitorous Imperial faction, who the Rebels seemed to refer to as the 'Rogue' faction, in return for the continued civilized treatment of his own loyalist Imperials. And while Raven didn't realize it, the gem Vaughn had just provided him was the final piece of information about the Rogues he had which the Rebel admiral would find useful.

He had to believe it, because he had nothing else to give, and once the Rebel leader realized Vaughn's co-operation had come to an end, they would all be taken one by one for interrogation and tortured mercilessly by the malevolent Rebel's crew.

The dark admiral sat forward and his eyes bored into the balding prisoner's face, as if reading Vaughn's secrets from within his own mind.

After an increasingly uncomfortable series of moments, the Rebel admiral broke off his gaze, and sat back, as if satisfied with something he'd discovered.

Vaughn felt shaken, and cleared his throat to remove the lump he suddenly felt form there.

"Are you willing to stake the lives of your men on the validity of this information?" Raven asked, straight to the point.

The aging Imperial nodded briskly. "I am. I know you're in command here, Admiral, and deceiving you would gain me nothing but hardship and pain."

A dark look came over the Rebel leader's features. "You have no idea," he threatened.

The ominous moment passed with an apparent change in mood of the interrogator.

"So, how do you know the information is still viable?"

Vaughn shifted uncomfortable, unwilling to get into the details of how he knew. He was willing to trade secrets about the Traitors to the Rebels, but he refused to give up information about his own side.

"I am confident that it is."

Raven peered at him closely. "How? For all you know, your side could be winning this war, or they could be losing. How are you so sure your forces have not already taken out this target?"

The Imperial captive sat very rigid. "I would prefer not to answer that, Admiral, as it contravenes the conditions of my co-operation with you."

Admiral Raven stood to his full height slowly, and stepped toward the aging general, who sat still in defiance. He refused to be intimidated, but he could only toe the line of noncompliance so much before his captor's patience ran thin. Up until now Vaughn had managed to walk the line successfully, but he sensed something implacable behind his foe's bearing.

Raven started speaking quite softly, an illusion of calm. "I do not forget the terms of our arrangement, General, but you must understand the position I am in. I cannot ignore the intelligence you have just provided, absolutely cannot. But I can't very well take your word for it at face value, can I?"

Vaughn sighed. "I'm sorry, Admiral, but you will have to take my word for it. I swear on the lives of my comrades."

"You'll have to do better than that, General. I own your lives, all of them. And I need more than your mere assurance of your truthfulness before I put the lives of my men and ships at risk. Tell me how you know your factions haven't acted on this information by now."

Vaughn finally had the unmistakable realization that this Rebel would do anything, including going back on his word, in order to defeat the Imperial forces in the Subterrel Sector. Up until now the Admiral had played nice . . . but Vaughn finally understood that his fears were true — Raven would throw them all out the airlock the moment he felt he had no more use for them. Vaughn had tried dragging out the accumulated intelligence of his personnel for as long as possible, but if the Rebel leader spaced them all now, Vaughn's plans for the prisoners' future would be nullified.

His head dropping in shame, Brigadier General Vaughn realized he was about to betray his oath of duty to spare his people premature deaths.

"The stronghold still exists because my side doesn't know about it."

Possibly surprised the Imperial had given up the information with so little coercion, Raven hesitated briefly before he pressed on. "Why?"

"Because . . . because I was sent to personally retrieve the intelligence."

"From the Ronnis system?" Raven asked.

"Yes. I was to personally retrieve data gathered by an espionage operative." Vaughn's face twitched. "The Annihilator . . ."

"The Annihilator was your ship?"

"Not my ship; I'm no starship captain." the Imperial general's face twisted. "The Annihilator was my transport for the mission. But you put an end to that."

Raven stared off int the distance and nodded slowly. Certain pieces of the Imperial captive's puzzle had fallen together for him. The Annihilator was not stationed in the Ronnis system as a garrison force; it was only there to drop off and pick up a ranking officer, in this case Vaughn, for the retrieval of highly sensitive data.

Data important enough to win this theatre of the war. But Raven's mission to the Ronnis system interfered with the Loyalist Imperial plans. The Redemption defeated the Annihilator in battle — absolutely wiped it out — and the ensuing siege of the system had ensured that the only Imperial personnel with the critical knowledge were either dead or captured by Raven's forces.

It all made sense now. Or at least enough of the pieces did. He would have to seek confirmation of certain facts yet; even though it made sense, he was not going to trust this Imperial prisoner of war to tell the absolute truth. Raven hadn't survived this long in the Galactic Civil War by making a habit of trusting the enemy.

"Very well, General. You may return to your men."

Vaughn rose, feeling like an empty automaton. He'd done what he's sworn not to do. He'd betrayed his people, his faction, and himself. It wasn't necessarily information the Rebels could do much with, but that wasn't the point. The point was he'd sworn not to yield information about his side under pain of torture or death. But he had done just that voluntarily.

"Thank you, Admiral, I must return to my quarters."

"Guards." Raven called outside to the quartet of marines standing guard outside the room. "Escort our guest back to his camp."

"Yessir," the leader confirmed, and walked alongside the Imperial general as he left the room.

"And General?"

Vaughn paused and stared at Raven weakly, wondering what more the bastard wanted to take from him today.

"Thank-you for the chat. We will do it again sometime soon; have a nice day."

Vaughn didn't even bother mumbling a response, but marched out of the room, guards in tow. He suspected the man who had become his nemesis understood exactly how conflicted and run down Vaughn felt. And what's more, he was pretty sure the sick bastard enjoyed it.


Once he was sure the Imperial captive was out of earshot, Raven pulled out his comlink. "This is the Admiral speaking. Get me Cody Qel-Droma, I want to speak with him yesterday."

He knew the Zealot commander was probably still wrecked from the ordeal of escaping from Imperial custody, but he really needed a unit he could trust to get an impossible mission done.

He needed confirmation of that Imperial general's data. And he needed it now.

-=Temporary Subterrel Strike Force staging area, edge of the Seshualis system, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:33:15:40=-

The Subterrel Strike Force was spread thinly across numerous systems in the days following the victory in the Maxite belt, as Rogue Imperial raiding forces were doggedly hunting for the New Republic strike force vehemently. The Imperial forces had been dealt a serious insult by Admiral Raven and his rag-tag fleet of ships, more than the strategic loss of a stronghold.

SSF Intel were sure morale among the men and women of the enemy forces were dwindling with the Republic Shield's continuing successes, and combined with the seemingly lack of cohesive unified strategic operations after the daring victory at Pyaimm, it was believed that the Rogue Imperial faction could possibly splinter.

If that happened, the mighty Rogue Imperial fleet arrayed against them would cease to be one major threat, and instead become numerous smaller threats which could be mopped up one by one. However, that was in the future, and for now Admiral Raven's Subterrel Strike Force had to keep themselves constantly on the move and striking swiftly, to dodge roaming Imperial forces and hit them where they were weak and undefended.

All in all, it strongly resembled the height of the Galactic Civil War, back when the New Republic was merely a Rebellion against the oppression of the all-encompassing Galactic Empire five years ago. This type of guerilla fighting style was therefore not wholly unfamiliar to veterans amongst the New Republic forces, despite the major gains in the past few years involving a general change of tactics from mismatched bands of hit-and-run forces to a proper galactic starfleet.

Admiral Raven understood how to fight a guerrilla war, and beyond that he had something the Rebel Alliance of old never did until the end — an Imperial-class Star Destroyer to smash targets flat beyond belief. And now he had a new weapon, one that would help tip the balance of the campaign in the Subterrel Sector — an Immobiliser 418 cruiser, known as the Raging Dragon. The Interdictor was commanded by Commodore Sienn Sconn, who had left the task force a year ago as a general with the ship to reinforce the Second Battle Group of the main New Republic Defence Fleet. But now he was back, and on the front lines of the Subterrel Sector, to help Admiral Raven win his war.

With a bright flash, the Star Destroyer Redemption jumped into hyperspace, leaving the Calamari Cruiser Ad Astra and the Frigate Unforgiven alone at the temporary staging area in the Seshualis system.

-=Briefing room, EF76-B Nebulon-class escort frigate Unforgiven, Seshualis system staging area, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:33:15:44=-

General Kirghy Lommax stood in front of a squadron of pilots on board a ship much smaller than he was recently accustomed to briefing his pilots on.

During his time as leader of the Vigilance Starfighter Group in the Subterrel Sector, most operational briefings were presented in a grand amphitheatre on board the Ad Astra, a much larger scale ship with gracefully curving geometry and off-white colourations.

But now he was on board a Nebulon-B Frigate, which lacked the grand opulence of Mon Calamari star cruisers. Much more cramped confines, with Human-styled angular symmetry and slate Imperial grey tones created a much different atmosphere for General Lommax's briefing on board the Unforgiven, a ship recently made famous — or perhaps infamous — for being the home base of operations for the Subterrel Strike Force's special operations undercover unit, known as Zealot.

But Zealot were not on board at the present time, in fact they were currently in deep cover in Rogue Imperial territory, and it was up to the crew and pilots on board the Unforgiven to safely retrieve the highly skilled team who had a knack for overcoming impossible odds to complete their missions, seemingly at no matter the cost. The crew of the escort frigate had been forced to abandon Zealot planet-side at Aphene weeks ago. They were not intending to lose them a second time, after having recovered most of the spec ops unit from Imperial captivity mere days ago.

". . . and the Unforgiven has been repainted and disguised extensively, and should pass as a reasonable facsimile of the Chimeric Idol, which is one of the Rogue Imp frigates we haven't blown up yet."

A few pilots grunted, perhaps in humour, perhaps in pride at their strike force's knack for massacring the numerically superior foes arrayed against them.

"Again, I stress this is an undercover extraction operation. Four of you will be flying TIE Interceptors we've captured over the course of the campaign, which have been painted in proper Rogue Imp fashion. You will fly as pilots from Serpent Squadron, who Intel believe are still attached to the Idol."

He finished the last part with a wry tone, the dry humour stemming from the implication that if Intel were wrong they'd all be dead pretty soon.

"So once the Unforgiven, or I guess I should say the Chimeric Idol, reaches the target destination, Serpent flight will launch and escort our ATR-6 Assault Transport to the station. It is imperative that you do not break cover until we have recovered our people. Because if you mess up and let reflexes get the better of you, fire on the enemy, then we're all going to die in very short order. We expect there to be at least one ImpStar present at the target destination, so don't think you take it on."

Satisfied he'd hammered home that point, he continued.

"Once our assault transport reaches the station, you are to execute a standard Imperial patrol pattern until our people are safely extracted from the station. This should take several minutes to get everyone on board, and depending on the on-station situation . . . our recovery crews may start shooting. So maintain your undercover Imperial pilot roles, Serpent fliers, but be prepared for the shooting to start at any moment. That said, do not shoot first, or you'll doom the whole operation and send us all to early graves."

It was going to be hard enough for New Republic trained pilots to fly Imperial TIEs in the middle of hostile territory while pretending to be Imperial forces without some overly bloodthirsty pilot breaking cover by firing on Imperial targets prematurely.

"When Zealot are ready for extraction, escort the ATR back to the Unforgiven, then get yourselves back on board ASAP so we can jump the hell out of there."

Kirghy stood forward and got into the pilots' personal spaces to reinforce the point.

"We don't want to leave any pilots behind, but we will not compromise the safety of this ship's crew and our recovered operatives if any of you decide you don't want to enter the hangar. Bear in mind, Serpent pilots, that you are flying TIE Interceptors, which have no hyperdrives. So if the Unforgiven is forced to jump out without you having landed, then you're stuck behind enemy lines with no way out."

Satisfied he'd rammed that point through the pilots' skulls sufficiently, he stepped back to give them some more breathing space.

"And . . . it is of utmost importance that you do not forget that you and your wingmen are in TIEs. Two main points to be observed from this. One: do not shoot any TIEs at the target destination unless you can confirm they are bogies on your scopes; we don't want any friendly fire happening here. And two: you do not have shields, so act accordingly."

The General gestured the rest of the pilots who would not be flying TIEs.

"The rest of the squadron will be held back on board the Unforgiven as reserves. You will be sitting in fired up and ready to launch A-wings in case the situation goes sour and reinforcements are needed. Ideally, if the operation goes completely by the book, you won't even leave your launch racks. But, as you all know, nothing ever goes according to plan, so be prepared to launch at a moment's notice. However . . . if any of you in A-wings launch before shooting starts and break our cover, you will be screwing us all, because not many Imperial ships carry A-wings on board." Kirghy's tone reached new levels of dryness at this.

"So, to finish up . . . we know there's one Star Destroyer stationed at the base, so expect it to have the appropriate numbers and types of warships and fighters. This is a core Rogue Imperial holding in the sector, so we expect it to be highly-defended. We're counting on the fact that attacking this location would be a suicide mission to weigh into our enemy's thought processes, so that they won't expect us to actually undertake this operation. If all goes well, by the time they realize what we're up to we'll be safely in hyperspace on our way home, but if not . . . then fly well, hunt well, and may the Force be with you."

-=Low orbit over Delerite III, Delerite system, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:33:16:26=-

The third planet of the Delerite system was a pleasantly aqua colour from space, and looked like a nice place to visit. The truth was much less savoury, though — it was a swampy hole that no sentient in their right mind would want to visit voluntarily. Even worse, it was a smoking, swampy hole.

The Star Destroyer Redemption had blown the meagre Rogue Imperial defenses out of orbit, and was currently engaged in an orbital bombardment operation. Hundreds and thousands of turbolaser blasts had been fired from the ventral surface of the mighty warship, streaking down through the planet's atmosphere, to bombard the hell out of anything that might be unfortunate enough to reside on the surface.

Unfortunately for them, a contingent of Rogue Imperial forces were stationed planet-side. And they were absolutely being massacred by the sheer force of weaponry being arrayed at them from orbit. They were out-gunned, out-manned, and had no lifeboats waiting to pick them up, thanks to the Redemption's destruction of any Imperial vessels in orbit.

Basically, the Rogue Imperial forces on the planet were completely screwed. Even though the Star Destroyer's weapons ceased firing and fell silent, the forces on the planet were no less doomed — the Admiral had begun landing his troops, which would be securing landing sites on the world for New Republic convoy vessels to deliver their cargoes to, once the planet had been secured and the convoy arrived.

But for now, as dropships swarmed out of the Star Destroyer and into the planet's atmosphere, the ground forces of the Redemption had work to do.

-=Briefing amphitheatre, MC80 Star Cruiser Ad Astra, Seshualis system staging area, Subterrel Sector, 44:6:33:18:04=-

Two hours after the Star Destroyer Redemption and Frigate Unforgiven had vacated the staging area in the Seshualis system, the Mon Calamari Cruiser Ad Astra remained.

Colonel Galic Mars, Executive Officer of the Vigilance Starfighter Group was addressing two squadrons of pilots of the VSG in the briefing amphitheatre of the Mon Calamari vessel.

". . . so Admiral Raven is currently securing a planet in the Delerite system, which we will be using as a forward base for further operations in the sector. The Redemption is already present at the rendezvous point, and his forces should currently be in the process of securing the world for our use. This is where we come in."

Holographic projections hung in the air highlight points of Galic's briefing.

"Your mission will be to escort the supply convoy from our staging area here all the way to the forward staging zone in the Delerite system. Those supply ships must reach the planet intact, so keep your eyes open. We don't expect to tangle with hostile forces, but when do we ever? The Redemption made the trip about two hours ago, and didn't encounter hostile forces, but we really pissed off those Imperial jerks at Maxite, so they've upped their patrols in response. Essentially, we don't expect the convoy to run into danger, but we'd be stupid to send them through a warzone unescorted, so that's where you guys come in. All in all, this is a pretty simple mission. Any questions?"


LJG Rowel Beta - Mon Apr 14 2008, 10:32am
I found you´re explanation of the Fight very good.

LJG Rowel Beta