Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee, Robert Bell, Sean Brandt, Kit Gwynne, Bob Halula, Christopher Levy, Jaina Roberts, and Michael Vassallo.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:8:2) in the Chandrila system: Ascension, Blue Haven, Starbird, Valiant, XF-491, in the Corulus system: Interrogator and XF-491, and in the Ringali Nebula: Ringali Station.
Kess Berus, Captain Rhobert Dartanyn, Yekaterina Hanson, Commander Dillon Hobbes, Flight Captain Connor Merced, Captain Art Nangar, Major Elayne Passik, General Bri Quabil, Vice-Admiral Michael Raven, Sergeant Avary Renault, Corporal Lovora Rikki, Commander Julia Starfall, Flight Captain Randi Trainor, Lieutenant Dax Vallon, Duncan Winn, W'ray'then, and Commander Iyah Zoran.

Flight Captain Randi Trainor stood within the hanger bay of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Interrogator in the Corulus system. She had been cryptically ordered to the hangar, and hurriedly dressed in her black Imperial uniform indicative of the flight division. Her uniform was wrinkled and unkempt, as disheveled as her mind had become following her training accident at Vensenor. When she arrived in the hanger, rather then finding the Darkened Oblivion prepped and ready, she was instead facing a Lambda-class T-4a shuttle. She scrunched her face as she stared at it, as she had not been tasked with piloting a shuttle since she was transferred over from the Grand Moff's personal service. "Oh this can't be for me," she said, as she shook her head, causing her blonde pigtails to fly back and forth. She went over to the deck officer to find the datapad containing the sortie assignments and low and behold she saw 'CAPT. Trainor, R.' listed under the shuttle with 'prisoner transport to *Classified*, Esseles' listed as the flight path. "Prisoner transport?" she asked quietly, as she looked towards the deck officer. "Prisoner transport?!" she said loudly, as she handed back the datapad, and then raised her arms, before allowing them to flop back down against her sides. She muttered to herself as she marched towards the craft, wondering what she had done to invoke the displeasure of the High Inquisitor and be given such an assignment. As she neared the ramp of the shuttle she could spot Stormtroopers leading the prisoner in. Immediately she stuck her tongue out at the prisoner to air her frustration. "Hmph!" she said, as she folded her arms in front of her chest, and shook her head again.

Corporal Lovora Rikki had seen better days. During her time as a soldier she'd been beaten up, survived some close encounters, even been shot. None of it could compare to what she had suffered in the custody of the Imperials, though. The Inquisitor in particular had been brutal. Lovora had held out as long as she could, but eventually she talked. Thankfully, there wasn't a whole lot she could reveal, and she'd managed to resist divulging the one or two most important things she knew, but she hadn't held out like she'd thought she could.

The Corellian trousers with red piping were worn and sporting a few badly patched rips, her jacket and belt discarded once she'd come into custody, leaving her in an undershirt that matched the state of the rest of her clothing. They had allowed her to keep the boots, at least, though she knew it wouldn't matter a whole lot longer. While instructions for the preservation of her life had been implicit, the Inquisitor and the others had free reign to extract information from her in whatever fashion they deemed necessary. Black hair was matted, a mess to match the brusing that littered her face, arms, and shoulders, the clothes no doubt concealing more than that.

It was a small miracle that Lovora was walking under her own power, though the Stormtroopers escorting her occasionally had to 'encourage' her along, damn near dragging her from time to time. Once they reached the flight deck, though, she'd found her legs. Knowing the trial and inevitable execution that awaited her, Lovora was dead walking and clearly aware of it.

The pilot, looking not much older than herself, was barely even noticed until she went out of her way to make herself known. Lovora looked at her, almost dumbfounded by the reaction she got. For a second she could just stare, but eventually she started to laugh. It wasn't the cackle of a mad woman, but rather a simple amused chuckle. Sticking her tongue out? It looked so...well, weird and surreal coming from a girl in an Imperial uniform. It took a shove from the Stormtrooper to get her moving again. Lovora twisted some, jerking at the durasteel restraints to try and elbow him as he pushed her shoulder. The struggle lacked any real force and mostly went unnoticed, earning her another push as she was guided into the shuttle for transportation. Despite the terror she faced, though, Lovora wore a touch of a smile, holding on to the image of an Imperial pilot in pigtails spitting a raspberry at her.

Captain Art Nangar watched the prisoner carefully as she approached the shuttle. He and his squad had been sent to retrieve the prisoner for public execution on Coruscant. She didn't look like the fire-breathing Rebel the record stated she was, but Art was very much aware looks could be deceiving, especially with criminals and Rebels. There were a lot of people assigned to prisoner escort duty who weren't cut out for it. They got too bored, too fast and then *zap*! prisoner lost and busted down to recruit, if you were lucky enough not to take the lost prisoner's place.

That wasn't an issue with Art. He actually took his duty solemnly, keeping a careful eye on prisoners, knowing they were a treacherous bunch. These criminals were always trying to subvert the order of the Empire and it was his job to make sure they stayed caged and away from the law-abiding Imperial citizens.

Signing the datapad that was thrust at him, he took custody of one Lovora Rikki, ex-Corporal of Tong's Commandos, convicted Rebel. Motioning to his men, they escorted her aboard. He was the last to board. It was general knowledge that all Imperial pilots were some sort of crazy. You had to be to fly these tin cans. But this one seemed to take crazy to a whole new plateau. He just hoped the level of crazy equaled the level of flying. If not, well, the criminal would meet her fate, but he had no desire to meet a similar one.

After securing the prisoner and seeing to his men, he commed the pilot that all was secure and they were ready for lift off. Given the prisoner's dull look, he briefly wondered if she had even noticed the change of guard.

Randi stood idly by when the Stormtrooper Captain and his squad boarded the shuttle, not at all pleased with the assignment. She obnoxiously counted each trooper as they boarded, to ensure that each one had made it. She was not going to risk forgetting even one and getting written up for it. She had done *something* to earn this menial assignment, so she felt a need to do it exceptionally well so she could return to more prestigious duty. "Okay. Everybody on? good!" she said, with a wide smile, and crazy eyes, before moving her hand to the control panel to raise the ramp behind them. "Get your prisoner secure, Captain. I'm going to get us prepped for departure," she told Captain Nagar, in a brief moment of professionalism, as she brushed past him to reach the cockpit. She had flown a shuttle for the Governor, his family, and his staff for years, but as of late had been exclusively piloting a Conqueror-class assault ship. As she settled into the seat she looked down at the controls and began to power up the shuttle's reactor. "Just like riding a speederbike," she said, to give herself a much needed confidence boost. As the reactor came to life she activated the repulsors to lift the shuttle off the deck of the Interrogator's hangar bay and began descending through the vessel's ventral hull. Accelerating in speed sh cleared the hangar and activated the controls that lowered the ship's wings into the flight configuration. As she did that, she turned to navicomputer and began downloading the coordinates for their destination.

As far as Lovora was concerned, a trooper was a trooper. Even without the helmets they were all as good as the same, though a touch of a smirk touched her split and swollen lips at the sight of the detail assigned to her. They looked like good, dedicated soldiers; the sort of guard they would assign a prisoner that might be a hazard, or so she liked to imagine. Anything to give her spirits a small boost, something to cling to in order to try and stay in good spirits for as long as possible.

Thoughts of escape passed through her mind as she was secured inside, the durasteel restraints locking into mounted points to keep her seated and in place. Death awaited her at the end of this trip. That much had been made abundantly clear. Why not go down fighting? The thought was amusing, but the pain that shot through her body when she tried to shift and get comfortable was a stark reminder of the futility of it. Even if she could get loose, which wasn't likely, she was physically broken. Her body ached, her muscles weak from abuse and poor nourishment. She wouldn't be able to take one of the troopers, never mind the whole escort.

"So how does this go down, anyway? Will I get a decent meal before they kill me, or will they drag me right out of the courthouse and do it then and there?" Her voice sounded exhausted and worn down, full of resignation. Lovora hated the sound of it, but she hated the silence more.

Captain Nangar looked over at the prisoner. His helmet nodded slightly at his experienced eye took in her injuries. There must have been orders to keep this one in mostly one piece, he thought, remembering the few prisoner pickups done from other Inquisitors. Otherwise there is a really good medical crew on this ship. But, given the fate of this prisoner, keeping her in good shape would not have been the goal. Why waste resources on someone who is fated for execution?

But still, the prisoner had survived being interrogated by an Inquisitor, that was something. Even with orders to not kill, mistakes were made, judgments wrong and Inquisitors ... well ... thought Art, that was something best not thought about if sleep was a concern. His voice came though the helmet with the usual distortion, "Once we are on route, I will see you get some food. As for the rest, I just make the delivery. Give me no trouble and I'll ensure you make the delivery in one piece." He didn't bother with the rest of the threat. She knew the hand she'd been dealt.

The navicomputer began to beep indicating it had finished downloading the hyperspace coordinates. "Hang on while I make the jump to lightspeed," Randi yelled over her shoulder to prisoner and passenger alike. Her right hand moved to the hyperdrive controls in the center console and, pushing it forward, the brilliant starfield in front of her through the viewport dissipated and a swirling blue column of hyperspace appeared. With the shuttle in hyperspace and the autopilot engaged she rose from her seat and moved to the rear compartment to join the others. "Yeesh. Look at that face," she said, as she got a better glimpse at Lovora's battered face. "Last time I saw a face like that I was at a shockboxing match on Reuss VII. You see this Barabel..." she began, but stopped when she noticed no one was listening. She folded her arms in front of her chest, and sighed upwards, causing her blonde bangs to flutter above her forehead. "So serious," she muttered to herself, before moving over towards Captain Nangar. "So what's so important about this gal anyway?" she asked, hoping that she was important, because then that made the mission important, and therefore not the demotion she perceived it to be.

It was a combination of orders and an exceptionally skilled medical staff that kept Lovora alive and whole, at least on the outside. While they hadn't been overly concerned with her comfort, the fact that they wanted her presentable for the trial and execution meant that the worst of the Inquisitor's work was relegated to nightmares and memories. Every little ache in her body was a reminder, though; each tinge of pain and dull throb forcing her to relive the torture that she'd survived. Not that her survival was worth much. It ended the same, whether on a table being cut apart or an official execution on Coruscant. Did they still hang people? The question passed through her mind as she listened to the reply she got from the trooper who seemed to be in command of her guard detail.

"Thanks." It was genuine, if halfhearted. Lovora had put up a hell of a fight when they'd first drug her on board as a prisoner, and kept at it even after her first experience with the Inquisitor. Eventually, though, they broke her of that, and while the spirit was still there, prodding at the back of her skull, the body was in no condition to respond. When the pilot came bounding into the compartment, Lovora looked up at her, giving a huff of a barely amused laugh. She probably did look like she'd been beaten to a pulp, mostly because she had.

"I'm not, really. It just pays off if people get to see the Empire putting a rebel on trial before killing them. From what I've heard, that's not something you guys get to do very often." While she'd been mostly cut off from the outside world, soldiers and staff still talked. If the rumors she'd overheard were true, the Empire was having some serious trouble from the rebels. It made Lovora feel good to prod at them over it a little.

Briefly, Captain Nangar thought of hitting the prisoner for speaking to the pilot, but then decided not to as it didn't really matter what she said. She was a convicted spy and Rebel, guilty of murdering his fellow Stormtroopers. "Corporal Rikki here is guilty of high treason against the Empire, the murder of several Stormtroopers and a confirmed member of the Rebel Alliance. Her execution will be sent as a message to all Imperial citizens the punishment for rebellion," he said through his helmet.

He sent one of his troopers to get some rations for the prisoner and when he returned, he unlocked one of her wrist restraints, then set the rations within easy reach. They were standard rations, designed to be eaten on the go and with one hand. Not much by the way of flavor, but packed with nutrition and calories, two things Lovora's body was sorely lacking, along with a bulb of water.

Since they were in hyperspace, Nangar had no worries about attack, though he was not stupid enough to free both wrists. There would be plenty of time to re-secure the prisoner once she had eaten.

"High treason? Murder? Part of the Rebel Alliance?" Randi repeated, her blue eyes growing larger and her voice increasing in pitch as she named each charge. When she was finished a big smile was plastered on her face, as the prisoner seemed worthy of her talents to transport. "Got any extra?" she asked, as she moved through the shuttle to check on the rations. "I'm so hungry even I could eat one of those things," she said to one of the Stormtroopers, but they all were acting too professional to make small talk with the undisciplined pilot. As she grabbed hold of a ration she moved to a bench opposite the Rebel prisoner. As she ate the food she chewed with her mouth open, causing the occasional particle of food debris to fall onto the black tunic of her uniform. "I know the High Inquisitor you know, *and* the Grand Moff," she said, trying to sound more important than she actually was. Truthfully, her duties had become lonely as the Inquisitor became increasingly involved in her pursuit of the Jedi and needed her less and less. Perhaps this was less of a demotion and more of a simple case of preoccupation on the Inquisitor's part, or so a girl could hop.

When she heard the charges all strung together like that, it became pretty clear why they were making her trial and execution so public. Lovora had known, of course; the reasons had been explained and her charges read and repeated a dozen times. That had all been in the midst of torture, though, or when she still had the will to fight. Now, in a calmer state, it could sink in. The murder of the Stormtroopers she remembered most. The night they invaded the safe house. Looking back on it, she felt so detached, as if another person was behind the repeating blaster pistol as she gunned them down.

Lost in the memory, Lovora barely noticed when the ration came, her attention finally returning to the present when she felt the Captain moving her arm to unfasten one side of the restraints. She gave him a look, an appreciative one. The rations may not taste like anything, but she knew just how significant of a gesture this was, all things considered. She ate slow and chewed deliberately. There was nothing to savor about it, but eating too fast in her condition would have left her sick and feeling like shit, worse than she already did.

Eyes shifted to the pilot when the woman sat opposite her, finishing her bite while she listened, looking entirely unimpressed with what she was saying. "Give the Inquisitor my regards, next time you see her." She debated saying something threatening or mean about the Grand Moff, but Lovora wasn't that dense. She knew that even this much conversation was beyond what they were really supposed to allow, and given her lack of contact with anyone who wasn't trying to cut and beat answers out of her over the past several months, Lovora was incredibly thankful for it.

The bridge section of the Strike Cruiser was far larger and more 'opulent', if that were possible in a dedicated warship, than his Assault Frigate he typically commanded from. This was due to a couple factors, the first one being that the Assault Frigate was modified from a less efficient warship to a tighter design. The second, Rhobert decided, would have to be attributed to Imperial Navy narcissism. He often mused that it was due to the egos of the higher ranked naval officers in the Empire and their need for a grandiose display of some sort.

The view outside at the front of the multi-level bridge section was a riot of blue and white lights racing past the ship while simultaneously rotating around the hull, they were only a few seconds from their destination and the countdown timer on the bridge ticked the last few moments away down to zero.

As the ship and its accompanying craft slipped free of hyperspace into realspace, Rhobert watched the ship Captain begin giving orders to the bridge crewmen. The Captain was efficient; the commanding officer had pre-loaded some orders during transit to make it so the stations would react in patterned way once the modified Strike Cruiser came on station. The ship came to life, the power on the gravity well projectors slowly coming up to optimal levels, engines coming online to orient the ship in such a way that it could bring the constricting waves of energy toward the supposed path of the Imperial shuttle carrying Lovora Rikki. The secondary systems also hummed to life, the shields coming online as well as the defensive weapon systems.

The interior lights dimmed just briefly as the wells came online about a minute later, the ship was a retrofit after all and not really built to deal with the power drain that the gravity wells created on a ship's reactor. A trio of capital ships flanked the Strike Cruiser, Rhobert Dartanyn had brought them just in case Imperial Intelligence accidently lived up to their namesake and stumbled upon this shuttle being too easy of a target for the Alliance to ignore. The Nebulon-B Frigate on the port side of the medium cruiser launched the starfighters that were assigned to the mission along with the conveyance that Tong's Commandos had chosen to board the shuttle from, which was the newly assigned YV-929 Armed Transport Valiant. One of the Roving Line's Corellian Corvettes sat on the other side of the Strike Cruiser, igniting the massive bank of engines behind it. It was tasked to give chase if necessary or quickly engage any combat ships that appeared with the shuttle. Directly dorsal of the Strike Cruiser was the Pelta-class Frigate Blue Haven, which was a veteran of the Ringali operations, commanded by Iyah Zoran. Captain Dartanyn was relieved to have another battle tested ship commander along for the ride as most of the Alliance forces were composed of newly trained recruits.

"Well done, Captain." The Alderaanian said simply as the operation kicked off. "Let's hope the party guests arrive on time, it would be bad form for them to be late." Mostly to remind the bridge crew that the largest threat was dragging non-target craft out of hyperspace, so their situation got riskier as the wells remained active. "The later a party runs, usually the more out of hand it gets."

Art glanced at the time display on his HUD, nodding slightly to himself. They were within the time parameters of his mission. He supposed he should be grateful to the pilot for taking off on time. There were times when the pilots insisted on re-doing every maintenance check, even if they had been standing there watching the person doing the maintenance. He would never understand the mentality that went with being a pilot. But, he supposed, if he understood it, he would probably be a pilot himself wondering why others didn't understand him.

Activating his display again, he pulled up the "unofficial" record of his prisoner. Having a friend in the Records department had its perks upon occasion. Whenever he got that 'itch' about a prisoner, he tried to get the full record. Several times it had been the key to making sure the prisoner didn't escape during transport. This corporal had been captured during a routine inspection. Bad luck for her. From what he could determine, she was almost released, but another check flagged her before she was. And so began her journey through the Imperial Interrogation lines. He was impressed she had warranted the attention of a High Inquisitor.

Art was a brave man and had proven steady under fire, but even the threat of attention from a 'lowly' Inquisitor would make him spill everything. He had seen what they left behind and wanted no part of it. That this corporal was in one piece emphasized her importance to High Command. Had he the resources, he would have allowed her to clean up, but time constraints and the lack of a secure 'fresher made that a moot point.

He glanced at the time again. "Finish up," he said to Lovora. Soon, it wouldn't be his problem anyway. He was just the delivery boy.

As the shuttle proceeded down the Perlemian Trade Route they were now nearing the Chandrila system when suddenly it was pulled violently out of hyperspace by the Rebel's gravity well projectors. Captain Trainor was rocked forward, unfortunately bringing her tray of food up quickly, thrusting it against her chest, and soiling her uniform. "Oh shit," she said, as the ship began listing out of control with no one in the cockpit. She started to stumble, but grabbed onto a railing on the bulkhead for support. "We weren't supposed to get to Esseles for hours. Hyperdrive must have malfunctioned," she tried to explain to the Stormtrooper Captain, before pulling herself into the cockpit. She could see a number of lights on the control panel, along with a proximity alarm. Whatever happened was *not* a hyperdrive malfunction. She reached forward, gripping her seat, and literally pulled herself up into it. The moment she was in her seat she moved to get herself strapped in, and then focused on getting the ship under control. Taking hold of the controls she managed to get the shuttle leveled out, but as she soon became aware that was the least of their problems. Her blue eyes went wide when she saw the presence of Rebel ships. "We're under attack! Everyone get yourselves strapped in!" she shouted over her shoulder, as she began getting the sublight engines online. "Where are we... C'mon! C'mon," she said, as she started hitting the navicomputer. "I'm gonna make for Chandrila, but..." she stopped herself, not wanting to be a pessimist. She positioned the craft towards Chandrila and activated the sublight engines at their full speed, while angling the rear deflectors to provide some relief. As a final measure she activated a distress call and began broadcast on the emergency frequency.

Captain Nangar lurched with the sudden unexpected movement of the deck plates. Luckily, he was able to grab one of the support struts to prevent himself from being flung across the room. Most of his men were not so lucky. Lovora, he hoped, had hung onto her other wrist restraint, otherwise she could be facing an arm wrenched out of its socket. When the deck plates steadied down enough, he found himself on one knee, E-11 blast rifle on the floor but still in his grip. His eyes narrowed hearing the alarms of the ship. That was *never* a good sign on a prisoner transport.

Standing up, he checked to see that Lovora was still secure, told his men to get into position to defend the ramp. Guess the "keep the escort small so the Rebels won't notice" ploy didn't work this time. He snarled to himself slightly. That also meant a traitor in the midst. Everything was listed as standard prisoner transport of an unimportant prisoner. It also meant the Rebellion wanted Lovora back.

Checking the charge on his rifle and finding it at full, he flicked the safety off. If they wanted her, they could come and get her, but he would make sure they paid a price. Kneeling behind a strut, but nearby Lovora, he waited for the Rebellion's next move, watching his men get into position. Most of the E-11 blaster rifles were trained on the ramp as the most likely entrance point. A few were scanning other possible entrance points, the cockpit and escape hatch.

Once they were in position, they waited in silence. Either the pilot would get them out of this or not. Either way, until they were boarded, there was not much for him to do.

Lovora Rikki nodded to the Stormtrooper, trying to finish off the ration a bit faster. The thing was designed to be consumed rapidly in the field, but between undernourishment and a sore, bruised jaw, it was difficult. She got another few bites out, and was chewing at the viscous processed food when the ship was thrown violently out of hyperspace. She was no more safe from or prepared for it than anyone else on board, but unlike the Imperial personnel inside, she was half secured to her seat via the durasteel restraints.

The lurch of the vessel threw Lovora from her seat, her free arm flailing to try and catch herself. The momentum of her body went contrary to the still secured restraint. Her arm twisted, damn near fulfilling the unspoken prophesy of the Captain. She cried out from the pain, tears instantly welling in her eyes as she felt the muscles tear and strain. Her free arm darted out, managing to brace herself before the twist of her body and the unmovable restraint tore her arm out of socket entirely. The durasteel dug fiercely into the flesh at the base of her hand, painting the metal and her arm in blood from where it tore skin loose.

The noise, the pain, the erratic movement of the vessel all blended together for her. Lovora focused exclusively on scooting herself close to the bench to which her one arm was attached, shifting to press her back to it and prevent herself from being thrown about any more. When she got her eyes opened, Lovora became vaguely aware of the proximity of the trooper who had gotten her the ration, and the others in position to defend the shuttle from...something. They must believe they were under attack. Did the people assaulting the ship know it contained a rebel prisoner? Did they care? There was no focusing on the questions for long. Each unexpected twist and lurch of the shuttle brought with it new pain, clouding her thoughts almost entirely.

Sergeant Avary Renault was on his feet, holding on to a strap hanging from the ceiling of the transport that was intended to intercept the shuttle once it had been disabled. The blaster rifle was cradled under his arm, balanced with his other hand, the comm unit in his helmet silent but for the occasional chatter as orders were issued and status updates were broadcast.

All of these were lowered in volume, of course, ensuring that communications from the pilot of the craft could be heard above all else. For now, however, there was nothing to communicate. The Imperial shuttle had been successfully pulled out of hyperspace. Now they waited, moving into position to prepare for interception once the shuttle was disabled and within their grasp. Then, and only then, did the work of the commandos begin.

"Sir, we're picking up a distress call from a Lambda shuttle near our location," Lieutenant Vallon raised his head from his console, looking across the crew pit toward Vice Admiral Raven, who was currently reviewing some of the tactical assessments from the Empire's disastrous loss of a Victory Star Destroyer and her commanding officer. The Vice Admiral raised his head and nodded, interrupting what he was doing to walk over and look at the communication console over the Lieutenant's shoulder. Already the computer was working to pinpoint the location of the communication.

"It's a priority distress call, sir, vessel under attack. There's no audio or visual feed attached, just a generic call." The Lieutenant said, as he turned back toward his console.

"Can we identify the shuttle?" The Vice Admiral's eyes were already looking over the distress call's encoding for the information he was looking for.

"Yes sir, Lambda-class shuttle, XF-491." The Lieutenant paused as he looked over the lines of information streaming down his screen. "...From the Interrogator, sir."

"The Inquisitor's ship?" The Vice Admiral mused, half commenting, and half asking. That particular shuttle, he knew, was destined for Chandrila, as a request for an escort to the surface had been made of his vessel; but when he had tried to get more information about the contents or final destination of the transport, he'd been rebuffed by the Inquisitor. He'd of course explained that as a senior officer, any important transfers to worlds currently under his purview should be detailed in full. The Interrogator had responded, in no uncertain terms, that the information was 'Need to know'. The Inquisitor had decided that he did not need to know.

Instead, he had to work off of incomplete information. He knew that a scheduled shuttle from the Interrogator with Chandrila as its final destination was under attack and the code used was of the highest priority among the Empire's distress signals and didn't represent maintenance or personnel distress. With the details obfuscated, the Vice Admiral could only assume that a VIP of some sort, perhaps a visiting dignitary or other senior officer had been dispatched here from the Inquisitor's command ship, and had been intercepted before reaching its normal hyperspace exit point. Within moments, he had come to a decision on what to do about this, and the thought brought a sly smile to his face as he had been given an opportunity to prove a point to the Inquisitor. He was interrupted out of his reverie by the voice of Lieutenant Vallon.

"I have a position sir, they're just outside the system." He brought up the coordinates on his display, pointing to a softly blinking red icon representing the shuttle's location.

"There are no other active vessels closer to that location?"

"No sir," The Lieutenant said, as the Vice Admiral clasped him on the shoulder.

"Very good. Signal the Interrogator and inform them that their shuttle is under attack. Additionally, send a communication to command indicating that we are responding to a priority distress call from a shuttle from the Inquisitor's ship." He stood up, turning toward a ramp to get onto the top level of the crew pit, as his voice raised.

"All hands to battle stations. Helm, plot an intercept course with the coordinates of the distress signal from COMMs. We need to assume that the shuttle was drawn out of hyperspace somehow, so be prepared for the same. Tactical, I want TIE Fighters and rescue shuttles prepared to launch as soon as we're out of hyperspace, and burn some of our hypermatter reserves to pre-charge both the shield grids and all weapon batteries. I want them online the second we arrive." Vice Admiral Raven walked over to his usual spot at the prow of the massive Imperial II-class Star Destroyer. The Ascension, his personal command ship, suddenly became alight with activity as the Destroyer's battle station siren began wailing, and flashing red lights signaled the crew to prepare for combat. For any generic distress call, this would probably be overkill as a smaller vessel could easily take care of a Lambda shuttle under normal circumstances; but the situation seemed anything but normal. Too few details and a few coincidences had convinced him this was the correct course of action, and that a VIP was at risk.

'Besides,' he thought, convincing himself, 'worst case it's good practice for the crew. Best case, we might get the Inquisitor to stop playing games.' His own internal monologue paused. 'Well. Play *fewer* games.'

"Vice Admiral," the helmsman spoke up, having jammed the coordinates into the navicomputer as officers rushed around him to get to their assigned stations. "An intercept takes us directly through the Chandrilia planetary gravity well, we'll have to relocate to make an in-system jump. It'll take several minutes to get into position."

"Get us there as quickly as possible, Lieutenant."

The vessel began responding immediately as the helmsman manipulated his console, and a dull thrum sounded through the ship as its three massive Destroyer-I Ion Engines ignited. The mile-long vessel began twisting in space, cutting through the void en route toward its hyperspace jump point. In preparation for the jump, opaque blast shields lowered over the transparasteel viewports, blocking the Vice Admiral's gaze into space and leaving him with only his thoughts...

Let's see what's in store for us.

Major Elayne Passik took off from the frigate in her X-wing. Since planning the rescue of Corporal Lovora Rikki, everything had happened rapidly. She had not caught her breath from one task before she was set on the next. Elayne knew it was going to take everything to keep her head in the right place on this mission. She could take comfort in the idea that once it was over, failure or success, she had somewhere to hide. All she needed was for the glue keeping her fractured mind together to last. "Corsairs, you know the drill. Watch your ass and attack that shuttle *now*!" She gnawed on the side of her cheek anxiously. Dillon had been right to worry about her, for the Battle of Atollon was always a heart beat away in the cock pit. It wouldn't take much for the scenario to repeat itself. She gripped the control of her starfighter, beginning to shoot at the shuttle until she was close enough to unleash several torpedoes. From her peripheral vision, she could see the Blue Haven engaging the enemy. Elayne kept her eyes on the shuttle. There wouldn't be a calm moment until the rescue mission was over. "Be careful!" She commented to one of her pilots.

"Copy Corsair Leader," Commander Dillon Hobbes, commanding Blackguard Squadron comprised of A-wing starfighters, replied over the comm to the wing commander. "Blackguards, remember ... there is a Rebel commando aboard the shuttle. We're just trying to disable it," he reminded his squadron, as he accelerated to attack speed and began moving towards the shuttle. Suddenly his sensors displayed the distant outline of a massive special. "Damn it," he growled to himself, before adjusting the comm frequency to all Rebel frequencies. "All wings ... our recon was either wrong or old ... there is a Star Destroyer in the system. We need to speed this up or abort," he said, as he grit his teeth and targeted the fleeing the Lambda-class shuttle. "Watch for enemy fighters," he transmitted to his squadron, as he opened fire on the shuttle. His first round of blasts missed, indicating he was dealing with an expert pilot. *He* would have never been able to make that tub move like that.

"C'mon! C'mon!" Randi said to herself, as she could see at least 24 Rebel starfighters closing on the shuttle. "Hold on back there!" she said, as she pulled back on the flightstick of the shuttle to avoid the proton torpedoes that had been unleashed on them. She pulled back so tightly that she threatened to rip it right out of the control panel, and the look of her face was as if she was dealing with a bowel obstruction. "No, no, no, no," she panicked, as she angled the shuttle to its port side as the A-wing opened fire. She dodged the first blast of laser blasts, but a second round clipped her port wing. She looked at her tactical display for a moment, and seeing both a Star Destroyer and Chandrila, she elected to move towards the planet. Her hands moved to the controls as she made the unwise choice to funnel power from the weapons systems to the engines. The reactor was beginning to run red hot, and was emitting a noise that even a non-engineer would understand it was operating overtaxed. "Hold together," she said, as she executed a 90-degree rotation to the side to avoid another round of blasts. Every evasive maneuver took them off course and placed them further away from the planet, which made her take fewer chances and focused entirely on closing the distance between the shuttle and Chandrila as possible.

Yekaterina Hanson had never been part of a boarding action before. As a former member of the Alderaan Guard she was more used to personal security details and defensive tactics, but when Jelena Rodney called for volunteers on New Alderaan she was one of the first to volunteer. She was dressed in her old Alderaanian uniform, which consisted of a pair of black pants, black boots, with a blue shirt, and black vest, and topped off with a large white blaster helmet. In her hands she cradled an A-280 blaster rifle that she had grabbed on the station, and had not yet a chance to properly field test. She checked the power cell, and it looked as if it was functioning, but until she pulled the trigger she had no idea what to expect. "Any Intel on how many troopers are on board, Sergeant?" she asked Avary, whose unit she found herself temporarily attached to with the other volunteers.

Captain Nangar was not the religious type. This pilot's flying prodded him in that direction. There was nothing to do but wait and hope the pilot didn't burn out the engines. If that happened, he might as well surrender for they would be dead in space. He kept silent on the matter however, knowing if he said something, he would spook not only his men, but himself. They knew the drill, it would do no one any good to repeat the obvious. He just hoped it would be over soon. The pilot's crazy flying was almost enough to make him vomit in his armor. Almost.

The constant jostling had Lovora rolling from the bench, only to be slammed back into it a few seconds later. She couldn't go far from it; only a few inches as she clung to the still fastened restraint, but the sudden shifts and jukes of the shuttle moved her with enough force for it to send unpleasant shocks through her already aching body. Finally she managed to pull herself in closer, gripping the restraint, the hand still locked into it throbbing from where the durasteel had partially skinned it. Lovora clenched her eyes shut, her mind racing through the possible outcomes when it wasn't blinded by some new biting pain. It wasn't worse than anything she had suffered at the hands of the Inquisitor, but that certainly didn't make it pleasant.

Avary stared at the boarding hatch in front of him, mismatched eyes unfocused for the time being, his mind casually going through the steps of the boarding action while he listened to the radio chatter. His own uniform was a light version of the commando armor, the plating covering vitals only, the helmet open faced with a visor which he kept raised for the time being, all in beige and brown and gray.

The voice brought him back into the moment, turning where he stood to better face where it had come from. Yekaterina was one of the newest additions to the team, though his own was almost entirely composed of new recruits. It seemed a safer bet than re-assigning established soldiers to his squad.

"Not directly, but I'm aware of standard prisoner transportation procedure. Five to seven Stormtroopers and a pilot, perhaps a navigator. If they had been concerned about being intercepted, there would be some sort of defensive escort in addition to the shuttle." No sooner had the words come out of his mouth than the chatter turned to the discovery of a Star Destroyer coming out of hyperspace. Vague hints of a frown crossed his lips, listening for further details, but it was all rapid-fire orders and responses from the pilots as they pursued the shuttle, adjusting for this new and deadly presence.

"The troopers aboard the shuttle will know what we're there for. Aim for chest and head, keep your rifle pointed high. Less risk of injuring the target that way." The best way to prevent panic, he believed, was to keep talking as if they were right about to begin their own part of the mission. No sense in letting the squad linger on the fact that they might get blown out of the air before they even reach the shuttle.

Captain Dartanyn spun around as the sensor officer struggled to spit out his report. "Sir, the shuttle just dropped out of hyperspace." Rhobert took a few swift strides toward the tactical display, noticing a swarm of blue dots beginning to converge on the single red icon. He nodded appreciative, seeing the squadrons react to the arrival quickly.

The operational commander's moment of happiness wouldn't last though. The pilot of the shuttle was good, very good even. They quickly recovered the usually ungainly craft and made a vector for the closest point outside of the ship's gravity well projectors. "Helm, engage engines and set a course to keep them under the wells as long as possible to give those fighters time to work." The lieutenant manning the station answered with an affirmative and the ship lurched just briefly as the Strike Cruiser's engines flickered to life and went immediately dormant again.

A few of the engineering stations on the bridge suddenly sprouted red indicators, there was a power failure related to the transfer systems. "Sir, primary power routing is down. We gave secondary systems only. We will have to disengage one of the Well Projectors or remain stationary." The engineering Ensign was furiously working at his station as he spoke. The ship's Captain was quick to respond. "Drop the Well that the Shuttle is moving away from and get those engines online as soon as possible."

Rhobert Dartanyn's eyes darted from station to station, and back to the tactical map. The delay had cost the operation dearly. The shuttle was making good time toward the safety of the well's area of effect, those starfighters wouldn't get long to disable it...

The fur on the back of his neck was sticking straight up, but if one didn't notice it W'ray'then otherwise seemed fairly calm in the current situation.

The Horansi closed his eyes and began silently mouthing one of the deeply engrained hunting rituals he had grown up with on his home planet. His fingers played gently over the A280C standing up between his knees as he sat in the transport. The weapon certainly wasn't ideal for this type of combat, but their resources were short.

The feline humanoid stood up and slung the weapon across his back to unholster his X-8 Night Sniper pistol and vibroblade. "W'ray'then is prepared." He said, crouching down near the hatch.

Connor Merced was running a circular pattern around the Nebulon-B Frigate Solace when the shuttle arrived. "Blackguard 10, let's tag that shuttle!"

The Socorran angled to intercept the prisoner conveyance when a flaw became suddenly apparent in their plans to disable the shuttle. Despite his skills as a pilot, with multiple other starfighters trying to line up shots, Flight Captain Merced was having trouble finding a window to let loose shots toward the target. It didn't help that the pilot was doing a great job of preventing shots from landing either.

He transferred most of his power to engines and got ahead of the target, but as he went to make a run at the shuttle from another angle, the backdrop got busy with other Alliance craft, and he had the same issues pulling the trigger.

This was making for a slightly dysfunctional disable attempt.

Randi Trainor was beginning to hyperventilate in the cockpit of the Lambda-class shuttle. Suddenly she felt as if it were years ago in the Arkanis system when she was an instructor aboard the Vensenor. She was flying with a flight of cadets when suddenly one collided with the other who collided with the other and so on until there was only death and darkness. "Ahhh!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, her blue eyes going wide with fear, while beads of sweat upon her forehead were causing her blonde bangs to become matted. The viewport in front of her was flashing as if they were in a turbulent lightning storm from the amount of enemy laser blasts impacting their deflector shields. Suddenly there was a red light on the terminal in front of her and an alarm indicating the shields were critical. She heard a voice over the comm telling her to stand to and prepare to be boarded, but those voices were overruled by the voices in her head. She closed her eyes, trying to contain the tears that were beginning to flow from them, but it was a lost cause and they erupted down her face, stinging her eyes and obscuring her view. She could see Chandrila, but she just could not get to it ... not at sublight anyway. There was no time for the navicomputer to help, so she tried to remember her academy training and quickly computed a course that would bring them closer to Chandrila. "Guys, I'm gonna try something. It may be our only hope..." she warned the Stormtroopers in the compartment, before closing her eyes and moving her hand over the hyperdrive controls. "Please work," she prayed, quietly, as she moved her gloved hand forward on the hyperdrive controls. Although she could not see it because her eyes were closed the starfield in front of her faded and was replaced with the spiraling blue column of hyperspace.

Captain Julia Starfall felt truly at home in this cockpit. Flying the Valiant into a crazy mission where she could easily die. It was just another day on the job for her. She had done a few crazy jobs like this already, but that was before the empire began to really take the Rebels seriously. Before this it was small cells working separately and causing small bits of destruction throughout the empire. But over time that change. And now she's her getting ready to save someone she never even met from imperial hands. She looked out her view port to see the shuttle bob and weave, trying desperately to keep out of the Rebels grasp. She had to give the pilot their props for their skill.

Gently pushing the throttle. She yelled out to her compatriots to hang on. Because it was about to get bumpy. Her co-pilot, Kess Berus, just muttered something under her breath that she couldn't quite make out. "What, it's not my fault if he can't grab the shuttle."

Captain Dartanyn grimaced as the shuttle broke free from the wells and made the jump to lightspeed, things were going downhill quickly. "Captain, power down the gravity wells and begin to effect what repairs are necessary to orient us for a jump to the nebula." The ship's Captain complied and crews immediately began to work on the power disruption to the engines.

"Visually it appears as if they made a jump to Chandrila, confirm." One of the bridge officers chimed in with an affirmative. The Lieutenant running the comms section spoke up. "Sir, the shuttle managed to get out a general distress call during the engagement." Rhobert nodded to show he heard the update and made a mental note to commend the Lieutenant later. Some officers would think the target escaping would render that information useless, but this officer had the foresight to see the bigger picture.

Captain Rhobert Dartanyn keyed the fleet-wide communication system on. "We are effecting repairs to make way for the nebula, prepare your jumps. Valiant, target jumped to Chandrila. The decision is yours on whether to follow or abort." He completed the orders and went straight to damage control to find out how bad things were...

The bright grey form of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Ascension abruptly announced its presence to the preparing Republic fleet as it tore into real space between Chandrila and the assorted capital ships. The vessel's massive wedge shaped hull was pointed directly at the location of the distressed shuttle, and was dangerously close to the flotilla of ships.

"Sir," the Ascension's tactical officer spoke up excitedly, "I'm reading Rebel capital ships directly ahead! Four ships, one modified Strike Cruiser, two frigates, and a corvette. Several flights of starfighters are behind us along with a transport. There's another squadron running combat patrols around the capital ships." He paused for a few moments, scanning the area. "I'm not reading any signs of our shuttle."

Vice Admiral Raven's heart raced to his throat as he thought he might have actually jumped into a trap; he didn't betray the sudden feeling of dread, and he remained stoic at his command post. After a few calming seconds of reviewing the tactical data that was displaying on a console nearby he could see that instead of being arrayed against his vessel the Rebel ships seemed to be moving for their escape routes. He also noted the fighters that were behind him weren't facing the correct way, and the Strike Cruiser's gravity wells were down; they were clearly preparing to run. This all but confirmed his hunch was correct ... that shuttle was definitely carrying someone important, but the *lack* of the shuttle was worrying. He wondered if the Rebels had destroyed the shuttle, or if it had somehow escaped their grasp.

"Shields and weapons coming online, and we have two squadrons of TIEs and several Lambdas prepared for launch." the Tactical officer finished his report.

"Very good," the Vice Admiral looked out of the forward view port at the Rebel fleet. "Scan for debris, we need to know if the shuttle was destroyed. Get every pilot to the hangar, we'll need additional fighters for support. Launch what we have prepared, and have them immediately engage the enemy fighters, we need to keep them here as long as possible."

Several flights of TIE/Ln starfighters dropped out of the Ascension's hangar, their twin ion engines igniting with a blue glow as they quickly formed up into flight groups and raced across the void separating the Destroyer from her prey to engage the Rebel fighter groups. The fighter count grew to an even two dozen but then stopped as the remaining pilots raced to prepare their ships; though it would be several minutes before any additional Imperial fighters could join the fray.

"Tactical, let's introduce ourselves properly," the Vice Admiral adjusted his cap, before pointing forward at the enemy fleet with two gloved fingers.

"All forward guns, fire at will."

Art caught a glimpse out of the cockpit window in time to see the hyperdrive engage. He had a bad feeling about this and so told his men to brace themselves. Taking a moment to reposition himself, he also braced Lovora in her seat. Had she been fully restrained, he would have actually envied her task of riding out this wild ride. As it was, he helped her brace herself. No point in delivering a prisoner who had had her arm ripped off by the crazy pilot. That done, he sent a brief prayer to Lady Luck and then concentrated on not being thrown around, thankful he was wearing armor to take some of the shocks.

Abort or Follow. It wasn't much of a choice.

"Put the coordinates in the the navicomputer." Julia turned to her co-pilot. Her eyes darting between the after image of the shuttle and her sensors.

Her partner, in turn, did the same thing, the readings were clear. Four TIE Fighters were closing in, with a Star Destroyer coming right behind them."We've got TIE's, brace yourself."

"I know that." The Valiant rocked forward with the TIE's barrage of attacks. Julia knew her ship could handle those blast fine, she just hoped Kess didn't freeze up under the pressure.

"How long until you can jump to lightspeed?" A familiar male voice entered into the cockpit. It was Duncan Winn, her old friend from her early days as a rebel. But he was supposed to be down on the second level with the rest of the commandos. It was a good thing he had decided to come up when he did, cause they were in for a fight.

"Gimme a sec." Kess responded.

"Just keep those TIE's off us," Julia warned.

"You don't think I know that?"

"It's in," Kess said when the navicomputer chirped. "It'll be another minute before the destination plotted. Are you sure you can hold them off?"

"We don't have a choice," he said.

"Damn it!" Commander Hobbes broadcast to all Rebel frequencies, as both the shuttle had gotten away *and* Imperial forces had arrived. He took a deep breath as he looked down at his targeting scanners and saw multiple squadrons of TIE/LN starfighters inbound from the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer that had arrived. "Try and keep them off the transport. We've got to cover them long enough for them to make the jump to Chandrila," he ordered Blackguard Squadron, as he moved into position to protect the Valiant. "Orders, Captain?" he transmitted to Captain Dartanyn aboard the Rebel cruiser. This had seemed like it would be a simple rescue operation, but his failure to disable the shuttle as quickly as intended had not only allowed it to escape but had now, in fact, risked the safety of all personnel involved in the operation. He knew there was no way they could stand up against the power of that Star Destroyer, but he was not willing to give up on getting the transport through to the planet ... *yet*.

Art would have cursed as the shuttle started to spin out of control, but he was too busy trying to become one with the hull. He was glad he had managed to get Lovora seated and wished he had been able to strap down before things really went to hell. He glanced over his men, noting four of them were still in their seats, the other two had joined him in his quest.

Then, contact was made. Not the nice gentle contact of a good landing. No, the mean, hard contact of a crash landing. He supposed he should have been happy the shuttle was spinning as that kept him mostly pinned to the wall during the whole stopping experience. But still. He already had a loathing for this planet, now his mind was made up.

Things finally stopped moving and he forced himself to get up. Panels were sparking and a few struts had collapsed. This shuttle would never fly again. The four troopers who were strapped in were starting to move as well, recovering their equilibrium now that the shuttle had stopped spinning. One of his troopers was dead, impaled on debris from the crash landing. He didn't need his HUD display to tell him that. The other trooper who had been unsecured got to his feet a bit unsteadily.

He started giving orders. Two of the troopers went to the cockpit to check on the pilot, the other two went to the ramp to see about opening it. He went to Lovora, checking for injuries. Aside from a lot of bruising, she appeared uninjured, but dazed. He didn't get a lot of resistance when he unlocked her from the seat restraints and then secured her shackles in front of her.

The two stormtroopers at the ramp reported success in getting the door open. The other two were having difficulty getting to the pilot. Shoving Lovora at the other Stormtrooper, he went to the cockpit area. Needless to say, it was a mess with the pilot trapped under debris. Art thought it was a minor miracle the pilot was still alive.

"All ships, jump to the nebula once you have the opportunity." Captain Dartanyn barked into the comma as he tracked back and forth between the power grid display and the tactical display. The engineers were seconds from bringing the engines back online, but those seconds would be costly.

As the supply of power was restored and the Strike Cruisers began its lazy turn toward the nebula, Rhobert did some quick calculations in his head and didn't like the results of his mental exercise. "Corvette Solemnity, stay on your current turn arc and cut in front of the Star Destroyer to draw some of the ion cannon fire off of the fleet. We are going to be fat targets as we make our turn. Blackguard and Corsair, stay tight to the hull of the ISD as you make your break back to us, and put some shots into their engine array. That should dissuade some of the TIE fire and keep you safer from those heavy batteries and perhaps give their Captain something else to be concerned about."

The navigation officer piped up from the lower bridge deck. "Captain, we are 25 seconds from our jump point." Rhobert opened his mouth but was cut off as the ship's Captain acknowledged the man. It had been a while since he had commanded a fleet without being in operational control of the ship he was in. He went back to the tactical display and was rewarded by seeing the Neb-B Comfort lance out of the screen and into the safety of hyperspace.

"Come on, come on..." He murmured to himself as he watched the battle unfold.

"Shoot them," Julia said as she lined up the angle perfectly for her gunner to fire at another TIE Fighter. Usually she or her co-pilot would be manning the station behind them. But this situation called for the both of them to be concentrating on piloting the ship.

"Got them!" Duncan yelled back as he fired the turbolasers in sync with her piloting. The TIE Fighter burst into flames, leaving all but debris. The next two split, going on both sides of the ship. But Duncan caught them, taking out one with the Turret Mounted Ion Cannon and the other with a Concussion Missile.

"Nice shot," Kess said. "Not bad at all."

"Hey, I've could have made that shot," Julia said with a slight hint of jealousy.

"I'm not saying that you couldn't it's j-"

"How much time till launch?" Duncan interrupted.

"Ten Seconds," Kess responded.

Julia breathed out a sigh of relief. "Okay kids, strap yourselves in."

Reaching her right hand for the the hyperspace engage, she gently pushed the lever forward. And with that, the Valiant disappeared, launched into hyperspace.

"Have they broken off the mission?" The durasteel doors had barely opened into the command center before the general was asking questions. She looked very disheveled which was very out of character for the middle aged woman. As she reached the readouts her face glowed green from the holovid. But there was also red, indicating trouble; trouble that had gotten her out of a nice refreshing shower and into a uniform while still partially wet. Still, her green eyes seemed to pierce through the three dimensional figures toward the other commanders standing on the opposite side of the round display table. Droids worked with little concern for the emotions being expressed by the more flesh and blood occupants of the station. Bri's fists hit the top of the data table. "I said no casualties! A star destroyer means casualties! Get me someone in command on the com!"

She barked the order at no one in particular but several ensigns began the elaborate encryptions necessary to reach one of the command ships.

It was a lose-lose battle. Major Passik watched the shuttle disappear. There was no way they could stop it from zipping off into hyper speed. "Shiiiiitttt!" She called out. "Double shit!" The shuttle dropped down her list of worries quickly. There were Imperial TIEs to worry about. The Corsairs did everything they could to protect the Valiant, but it was clear that no one would last long against the numerous Starfighters. The shuttle was gone, and so was the prisoner. Elayne felt sick in her stomach for that poor, poor woman. Rikki's ordeal would not end yet. "Keep going, everyone! Just a little longer!" She shouted words of encouragement to squadrons who had already been through hell. She silently waited for Captain Dartanyn's orders. "Roger, roger" She replied to the Captain, following his command to stay close with the hull of the Imperial Star Destroyer. She watched her targeting system, occasionally shooting TIEs off her comrades. As soon as she had a clear shot at the engine array, she blasted torpedoes into it. Elayne was sweating in her jump suit. "It's getting hot out here, Captain." Each second was passing slowly. As soon as Elayne had the opportunity, she followed the Captain's commands and jumped to the nebula. Blue swirls filled her cockpit as she, and many other Corsairs, escaped the battle.

Aboard the Blue Haven, Commander Iyah Xergo stood monitoring the battle. Everyone had seen the Imperial shuttle carrying Lovora Rikki disappear into hyperdrive. The plan which Captain Dartanyn had laid out suddenly had one gigantic hole poked through it thanks to the tactics of a mad pilot. Iyah knew how badly Jelena wanted to save Lovora. Thankfully, the information that they had received from a questionable source had not been wrong. It led them all the way out here, desperately attempting to save a single Rebel. Her frigate was taking damage from the mess of Starfighters that had appeared. Her shields were suffering which made Iyah question if she should continue the pursuit of the shuttle. Valiant was going to make the jump to Chandrila to continue the battle. She decided then that they, too, would make the jump. "Brace yourselves. This is not going to be a smooth jump." She warned her crew. "Prepare to make the jump to lightspeed. We can't let them get away..." Commander Xergo paced nervously on the bridge. "We're following, Captain." She kept her head in her hands as the countdown began. After many years had been shaved off of Iyah's life, the frigate made the jump.

On board the Ascension Vice Admiral Raven's frown deepened with every bright flash in front of him which indicated a Rebel vessel had made it to hyperspace. The precious few minutes that his vessel had needed to move into position and make the in-system jump had cost him dearly. Already both frigates had made it out, and the cruiser was positioning itself for a jump; sensors had shown its hyperdrive was close to full power. Behind his massive vessel, the Rebel transport had made it to hyperspace, in pursuit of their shuttle. His tactical officer had determined the vessel had not been destroyed, and now it would be up to others to ensure the Rebels did not succeed in whatever mission they were undertaking. Worse still, the squadron of fighters that had been following the shuttle had taken pot shots at his Destroyer while passing by with their high powered torpedoes, necessitating a power shunt away from the engines to shields to prevent any lasting damage to his vessel's systems. He had a mild intention of following them into that damned nebula ... their hive, but the torpedoes had certainly solidified his decision not to. Ahead of him, the Rebel Corvette, identified as the Solemnity, was trying to interpose itself between his vessel and the cruiser, further frustrating the Imperial efforts to disable the Strike Cruiser. He was determined to punish them.

"Tactical. Signal all forward turbolasers to concentrate on the Corvette, now. Stand by deck guns to fire on my command." He ordered, and abruptly the small Rebel picket ship found itself the target of an Imperial II's massive primary weapons array. Heavy turbolasers, being generally fired at the Rebel fleet, abruptly converged toward the small ship, slamming into its shields and sending rippling blue waves over its hull with each impact. The Vice Admiral glanced over at the console nearby, and focused his display on the Corvette, watching as its shield grids swiftly began changing shade, becoming deeper hues of red as the crew tried to reroute power to stave off the bombardment for the precious few seconds needed before it could escape to hyperspace. The moment the vessel's shield grid shifted to a black color and he saw a few rippling explosions over its hull, he spoke up again, his normally ice cold voice booming with power.

"Deck guns, *fire*!"

The four flanking deck guns on either side of the command tower, massive batteries of heavy turbolasers, suddenly opened up in tandem and a barrage of blasts screamed out through space. In the blink of an eye they spanned the distance between the Star Destroyer and the much smaller Solemnity. Her shields, already collapsing from the concentrated fire, failed completely with the first impact, and enormous explosions rippled across her hull as the deck guns penetrated her outer armor and tore into her superstructure and internal systems. The remaining blasts slammed into the hole made by the Ascension's primary weapons array and the corvettes's armor and superstructure failed completely, a large explosion engulfing the ship as it blew into pieces. Several additional blasts fired by the Ascension slammed into the obliterated corvette's drifting parts, before the Vice Admiral spoke up on the bridge of the massive warship.

"All batteries, cease fire." Vice Admiral Raven ordered, and though the tactical officer hesitated for a moment, he relayed it to the gunnery crews, who complied. Raven knew that in only a few seconds, the Strike Cruiser was going to escape, and it was just about the last Rebel ship here, there was no way he could stop it... and he wanted to make an appropriate impression.

"Tactical, I don't want a single weapon firing. Helm, align us directly with the Strike Cruiser ... and let her go."

With that, the massive Imperial II Star Destroyer adjusted its heading ever so slightly, pointing at the fleeing Strike Cruiser through the debris of her flanking Corvette. Without firing another shot, it sat as she finished her preparations to leave.

Rhobert Dartanyn nodded appreciatively at the tactical holo display as the battle progressed, both Frigates had jumped away to safety and the remaining ships were seconds from following their example.

The fighters blossomed around the Imperial Star Destroyer Mark II's immense wedge shaped hull in such a near perfect pattern that it reminded the Alderaanian of a summer flower from his home planet. The sensors were showing his tactics were paying off, the Ascension was having to redirect power away from pursuit and it appeared as if the Solemnity was doing a good job of distracting the gunners as a secondary target.

The commander of the Roving Line had his hopes dashed as the scattered fire from the powerful warship concentrated heavily on the Corvette as it was completing its run. "Solemnity go evasive, immedia-" His voice trailed off as the ship winked out of existence on the display. He watched as the imposing ship brought itself to bear on his Strike Cruiser silently, despite being in long range for the weapon systems.

Captain Rhobert Dartanyn grinded his teeth together as the last few seconds ticked away on the navicomputer's count down, making a silent vow. "Officer of the deck. Prepare a shuttle for my transport once we return to realspace, and prepare a message to the fleet that we will be returning to find survivors."

The Commander responded quickly but with some confusion filtering into his reply as Rhobert left the bridge section in a swift military gait, his aid struggling to keep up. "Point taken, Ascension..." He said in a hushed breath as he made haste for the hangar deck "...but we'll see who ends this conversation."

The warning came over the internal comms to brace, and the ship lurched a bit as the Cruiser moved into its jump pattern to return to the base.

Connor Merced had just defeated one of the TIE/ln starfighters in the joust of the two groups as they passed and landed a pair of concussion missiles into the shielding system at the rear of the Ascension. The flight Captain was now blessed with the quickly growing bulk of the Imperial warship in his canopy.

Connor pulled back on his stick, let it center as he spun the ship on its axis 180 degrees and then tugged back on his stick again as he inverted himself against the hull of the ISD II's right superstructure. This gave him a good view of the gray ship as he streaked a few short meters from the durasteel outer hull as he quickly overcame it and transitioned into a set of evasive maneuvers as he began to gain distance on the 1600 meter long behemoth.

He was pleasantly surprised when the scattered fire that had been chasing his A-wing's form subsided and his computer registered that the computations were completed for his first short jump back to the nebula.

"Blackguard 9, jumping out." He said calmly as glanced over at the Corvette off his right wing as it began to take a pummeling. Connor engaged his hyperactive and left the battle area for the relative safety of the Ringali nebula.

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