Dramatis Personae Edit
Above the skies of JBip, twelve starfighters cruised in attack formation. The members of Blue Squadron were on another routine patrol, watching nearby space for Imperial activity. Since the government of JBip had openly pledged itself to the Rebellion, such occurrences had become more and more frequent. Coruscant hadn’t devoted many assets to suppressing the rebellion – yet. But they were sure to come, and JBip was preparing for it. Already, there were five capital ships in orbit around the planet, and just as many fighter squadrons.
Lieutenant Dax Pulastra, flying as Blue Five, let his mind drift as he followed the group in front of him. He saw the Surprise, flagship of JBip’s ragtag fleet, descending from patrol in high orbit. The Nebulon-B was worn and battered, but it was still the strongest ship they had. Dax only hoped it would be enough when the Imperials came.
The first hour passed uneventfully, as most previous patrols had. Dax tried to make himself comfortable in his X-Wing cockpit, but to no avail. Suddenly, his sensor screen beeped.
There was an Imperial fleet approaching.
* * *
“Sir,” the comm officer aboard the ‘’Surprise’’ reported, “Blue Squadron reports an Imperial attack force hyperspacing in.” His face grew solemn. “Two Victory-class.”
General Alu-mann Vissel snapped his head up, not believing what he had just heard. “What?”
The officer cringed. “Two Vics, sir.”
“Recall Blue Squadron; we’ll need them back home.” As the only X-wing squadron JBip had, with the others being Z-95s and Y-wings, Blue Squadron was an invaluable asset. “Also, send a distress call to all ships – get them here as soon as possible.”
“Destiny and Steil are lifting off from the ground; Martake is dropping into accelerated orbit,” someone reported. The two Corellian Corvettes wouldn’t make much of a difference against the Star Destroyers, but the Interceptor-class frigate would be a big help. “They should be here in time.”
“And the Ni Resh?”
“Set up around the planet, just like you commanded.”
“Good.” Alu-mann looked grimly around the bridge. All of his officers looked nervous, but ready. “We have a battle on our hands – let’s win it.”
* * *
The four small Rebel ships stood against the two Imperial Star Destroyers moving towards them. The Star Destroyers opened fire at maximum range, but they did negligible damage at that distance. They settled back and started pouring out TIE fighters, letting them take on the incoming X-wings and Headhunters.
* * *
Dax opened his S-foils to attack position and started charging his lasers. On his sensor screen, small red pips represented groups of TIE fighters. There were six squadrons inbound – the Rebels had stronger weaponry and hulls, but the Imperial fighters were faster and more maneuverable. Still, the Imperials had the edge.
For then, at least. “Okay, boys,” Blue Leader’s voice came over the comm, “arm missiles.” Dax flipped a switch and armed one of his six missiles. Normally, an X-wing would be carrying proton torpedoes, but they were too expensive in fighter-to-fighter combat. Dax didn’t mind – his missiles would kill a TIE just as well.
“Fire.” Dax pulled his trigger, and watched his torpedo streak off with the other forty-seven from the other fighters. The TIEs had ample time to dodge, however, and when the scene cleared, there were still fifty of them remaining. Now, the odd were closer.
Dax popped his weapons over to lasers and chose a leading TIE fighter for a target. He tensed his finger on the trigger, waiting for the perfect moment. He watched as the TIE approached…then fired as it flew in front of him. His shot missed however, and the TIE sped past.
And then Dax was in the middle of a raging dogfight. He put his X-wing in a spin to avoid a random blast, then searched for a new target. He found one with little difficulty – a TIE wandering the battlefield aimlessly. ‘’A novice pilot’’, Dax guessed. His guess was confirmed as he dropped in behind it and fired. Its pilot juked left too early, allowing Dax to compensate his shot. The fighter exploded in a fiery ball.
“I need help here,” a nervous voice called. Dax found the pilot quickly – he was a Headhunter pilot with two TIEs following him. Dax hastily armed a missile and fired it, waiting only for a weak lock. It didn’t hit either fighter, but it made them dodge out of the way, which allowed the Headhunter to escape the pursuit. It looped around behind the TIEs, triple blaster blazing. He destroyed one fighter, and Dax got the other.
“Thanks, Blue Four,” the Headhunter said.
“No problem…” Dax checked his sensor board, “Scar Ten.” He dodged a laser blast from another TIE. “You got a wingman?”
“Form up on me – I lost my wing, too.” Scar Ten dropped onto Dax’s tail, and Dax reoriented himself towards a flight of three TIEs.
* * *
Alu-mann studied the furball from the safety of the Surprise. The fight was fierce, but it looked as if the Rebels had the upper hand. “Release the Y-wings to attack the Impstars.” From behind the Rebel fleet, two squadrons of Y-wings accelerated and started skirting the battle. Two flights of TIEs broke off from the main battle to intercept them.
“Ni Resh, you are free to fire.” The Marauder-class corvette opened up with its missile tubes, launching concussion missiles at the incoming fighters. They weren’t the low-scale missiles the fighters were equipped with; Alu-mann had made sure that the Ni Resh wouldn’t have trouble with fighters. Sure enough, one volley destroyed all but one fighter, which turned and fled.
And then the Y-wings were on top of the Star Destroyers. “Go for the engines,” Alu-mann told them over the comm. “Let’s stop them dead in space.” The bombers reoriented themselves towards the rears of the Destroyers. A wave of fire streamed out to meet them, but the turbolaser blasts weren’t accurate enough to hit the small craft, and their pilots stayed away from the point-defense guns. One lucky shot found a bomber, however, and its pilot reported going EV.
When they approached the engines, however, the laser fire increased. Alu-mann cringed as several fighters blinked off the screen. But the pilots did their job. Ion cannons weakened the shields, while proton bombs punched through them. First one, and then the other Star Destroyer lost its engines.
“All right, that’s good for now,” Alu-mann said. “Arm missiles and prepare to fire on the TIEs on my mark.” He switched his comm over to the fighter channel. “All X-wings and Headhunters, get clear as fast as you can.” He returned to the Y-wing channel. “Mark.”
Eighteen missiles launched from the noses of the Y-wings. The TIE fighters, caught unaware, were decimated. Only six remained, which the other starfighters could easily handle.
Alu-mann studied the damage display screen. They’d lost nineteen fighters – two X-wings, six Y-wings, and eleven Headhunters - to an Imperial seventy. Spectacular odds, but Alu-mann didn’t expect them to be as pretty when they took on the Star Destroyers. “Fighters, bombers, you are free to return for refueling and rearming,” he said on an open channel. Then he switched to the planetside one. “The Star Destroyers are unable to maneuver – all planetary weapons systems, prepare to fire.”
* * *
Dax breathed a sigh of relief as he took count of his flight. All four of them were there, with minimal damage. Dax felt bad for Scar Ten – his squadron had lost half of its fighters, including the rest of Ten’s flight.
But they had won. Two Imperial starfighters had escaped to the safety of the Star Destroyers, and Blue Leader hadn’t released anyone to chase them. Now that the fighter furball was over, they would be going back to their ground bases to fill up on fuel and reload their missile systems. This time, they wouldn’t be the light anti-fighter missiles; they would be low-accuracy, high-yield missiles designed to punch a hole in their shields.
As Dax entered the atmosphere, he saw a small stream of ground-based artillery firing up at the Star Destroyers. It wouldn’t be enough to do any significant damage, but it would keep their attention for a while. The fighters would have to get back in the air as quickly as possible.
* * *
Soon, the Rebel starfighters were back in the air, and armed with shield-punching missiles. Alu-mann couldn’t help but grin. It looked like they had this battle won.
The starfighters released their missiles. Fifty-three jet flares lit up the space between the groups. As the missiles approached, however, laser beams began shooting out, picking off individual missiles. As the stream of torpedoes increased, so did the lasers. When the volley was finished, not a single missile had touched either Star Destroyer.
Alu-mann’s jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe that their gunners could pick off every missile. He’d heard about shooting down a one or two, but never en masse. He sighed. “Looks like we’re doing this the hard way,” he muttered. “All ships, into attack formation. We’re targeting the left one – keep it between you and the other one, to minimize firepower.” The odds were a lot better only fighting one at a time. He turned to the shields operator. “We’re running point this time – I want all power to shields.”
The Surprise led the formation, with Destiny and Steil back on either side and Martake taking the rear. The fighters grouped in the center and below their plane, preparing for their attack runs. The Star Destroyers launched a barrage at the group, but the Surprise’s boosted shields easily absorbed the impact. Then the near Star Destroyer eclipsed the far one, and the incoming fire was reduced by half. The Rebel ships opened fire, red, green, and blue lasers flashing against the shields. Bright explosions marked where the Ni Resh’s concussion missiles impacted.
“Sir,” the sensor operator called, “their bridge and bow shields are offline.”
“Fighters, you are free to attack,” Alu-mann said. Fighters surged past the Surprise’s bridge, lasers firing.
* * *
Dax yanked his trigger back as he flew past the Surprise. Space was filled with laser beams going both ways, but Dax ignored them. He simply locked in on the bridge and dove toward it. The rest of his flight followed him in.
The point-defense guns blazed, trying to hit the strafing starfighters. Blue Seven’s X-wing rocked as she was hit.
“Two engines out,” she reported in a strained voice. “I can’t keep up.”
“Pull out,” Dax told her. “You’ll be easy pickings for the guns at that speed.”
“Good luck.” Seven’s X-wing peeled away from the Star Destroyer and accelerated towards the safety of the Surprise’s hangar.
Dax joined the rest of the fighters in firing at the bridge, which went up in a brilliant explosion. The shield generators followed soon after. As the Rebel ships began methodically disabling weapon emplacements, escape pods began jettisoning from the hull. Finally, the turbolasers stopped firing.
* * *
When the ruins of the Star Destroyer drifted out of view, Alu-mann could see the other Star Destroyer. It had its engines repaired, and was preparing for a hyperspace jump. “All Rebel ships,” he said into the comm, “pull back to the planet. The Imperial forces are in retreat.” There would still be cleanup work to do, such as recovering escape pods and stabilizing the Star Destroyer’s orbit, but for now, the battle was done.
The Imperials would be back, in even bigger force. But today, the Rebels would return victorious.
Pictures coming soon!