Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee, Geoff Elder, and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:6:22) in the Chandrila system.
Commander Dillon Hobbes, Major Elayne Passik, and Flight Captain Sienala Pavo.

Commander Dillon Hobbes piloted his A-wing starfighter out of the Ringali Nebula and into the Chandrila system where a massive Imperial force had amassed for the bombardment of Chandrila. There were few ships near the periphery of the nebula as the Imperials had moved into orbit of the planet. Despite the fact they were far from the planet his eyes could see the laser blasts being beamed down to the surface and the catastrophic effects it was having. "Blackguard Squadron ... on me!" he reported, as the dozen A-wings assumed an attack formation. "Let's target that big bastard up front," he said, as he switched his loadout from the laser cannons to the concussion missiles. A chorus of "Copy Blackguard Leader" echoed over the comms as the ships began targeting an Imperial Strike Cruiser. As they began unloading their missiles, which were more designed for use against starfighters than heavy stuff, the shields on the cruiser began to take a pounding and the hull started to take damage. As the pilots began to celebrate, however, new contacts appeared on the boards ... Imperial fighters. "Break formation. Take evasive," he ordered, as hundreds of green blasts began hurdling in his direction from TIE Fighters and Interceptors. One of the A-wings on his port side suddenly erupted in a massive explosion. Things were beginning to heat up.

Major Elayne Passik sat behind the controls of her X-wing starfighter. She was feeling antsy from the last Rebel conference. The best way to combat those feelings was by flying, in her opinion. As her ship came out of lightspeed, she found herself faced with Commander Hobbes' A-wings. One by one, the X-wings of her comrades appeared beside her. "Alrighty Corsair. Let's light up some Imperials! Protect the A-wings from enemy attacks. Do not let them get derailed from their mission!" She growled. Her X-wing blasted off towards a particular aggressive group of TIE Fighters. She caught one in her crosshairs and shot it down. She felt successful in her chest despite the fact that the battle was far from over. The starfighter streaked across space, chasing after a different TIE which was following closely to an A-Wing. She could hear the voices of the other people in her squadron in her helmet. The cockpit had already become unbearably hot. It was going to be intense.

Knave Squadron flew in a synchronized formation that was almost musical in their movements. Barrell-rolling as though they were knots on a cloth wrapped around a tube, they guided their missiles through their arcs towards the Imperial Strike Cruiser. The ion streams from their twin-pod engines left a barely noticeable trail that acted as runners for other missiles as well. The squadron's payloads stabilized along the ion trails, guiding the rear fighters into an automatic path so that their astromech droids and pilots could focus on timing their shots for choice locations as well as shield levels for optimum defense against incoming attacks that could be targeting the missiles. Sienala, leader of this particular wing was humming through the comms on a channel just for her wing. The music was familiar to them as one of the many dances they performed when they had been slaves. Now, it was used to synch their piloting and shots. The music caused them to bank and roll as a single entity. Sharps and flats telling the other former slaves when to dive. Changes in tempo telling them when to regroup and pull back. To an observer, if it was not for their blaster fire and occasional missile strike, it would appear that they were nothing more than aerial acrobatics putting on a show that just happened to be in the midst of a battle.

Commander Hobbes grit his teeth as he placed his A-wing directly in the path of an oncoming TIE Interceptor. His targeting scanner momentarily flashed and he pulled back on the trigger, which fired his craft's laser cannons. The TIE exploded in front of him and he flew the A-wing through the debris before moving to find another target. "Our weapons are no good against their shields," he reported to the rest of Blackguard Squadron, before moving in towards a flight of four TIE fighters. "Concentrate on keeping the fighters off of the bombers!" he ordered, before sweeping his craft down dramatically in a desperate effort to shoot down one of the TIEs that was harassing one of the Y-wings. The TIE exploded in spectacular fashion, but as he looked around the battlefield he saw that the Empire simply had too many numbers for them. He swallowed, as his viewport flashed as another of his wingmen was destroyed by turbolaser fire from the cruisers.

Elayne groaned as she watched an X-wing blown from the sky. "Damn itttt!" She cursed. "Hemor, Signas, T'darr, and myself, will go aid the bombers in taking the shield down. The rest of you...keep those TIEs away!" She dove in towards the Imperial Strike Cruiser in a wild, dramatic fashion that only a woman who had once been a stunt pilot would try. There were three other X-wings following along beside her. Each one dropped their bombs within a fraction of a second of each other. She watched them crash into the Cruiser but it simply wasn't enough to take it down yet. Their shields had been heavily damaged. "Fly back around and do it again!" She commanded, suddenly redirecting her aim to a turret on the cruiser. She blew it up with her gun. "Damn fucking turret shit..." Elayne cursed and cursed. "Let me get rid of some of these turrets. Keep the bombing going guys." She maneuvered underneath the ship, appearing on the opposite side of the striker to take out turrets. At least it was one pain out of everyone's rear ends.

There was a change in key and tempo in the music of Sienala's humming. Her flight of Knave Squadron pulled out of the battle in a full retreat. The rest of the Knaves continued their bombing run on the Strike Cruisers. Dozens of bombs and missiles were being deployed. Turbo lasers from the Cruisers fired on the incoming Y-wings. One after another becoming a shower of flame and debris. Sienala's comm switched to the full Knaves' channel, "Knave Squadron, the Dancers are going to bring in new support. Knave Leader, we'll be bringing in defensive fire from one of the Dreadnaughts. When I give the word, have everyone retreat. Until then, make it look good. We should be able to take care of two ships at once." Knave leader's confusion and sense of order were called into question, "What are you thinking? I didn't... Get back here!" But Sienala had already headed towards one of the Dreadnaughts. "S'slavo, get us a hyperspace trajectory to just the other side. No, we're not going into hyperspace, we're going to just make it look like we did and that we're another flight of fighters with fresh pilots and full ammo." The flight was moving into attack formation on the Dreadnaught, moving in tandem, bursting out from incoming fire only to fall back into formation like a blossom opening and closing.

Commander Hobbes had shot down so many TIEs that he had enough confirmed kills to qualify as an ace for this engagement alone. However, the Empire mass produced so many TIEs and forced so many inexperienced pilots into the cockpits that it was hardly meaningful. They could replace the TIEs faster than he could shoot them down, and victory over some kid fresh out of the academy was hardly a victory at all. It was the capital ships that needed to be destroyed. They were harder to replace, and they were the ones doing the damage to Chandrila. He concentrated on keeping the TIEs off the Y-wings and their precious cargo of proton bombs. The Rebels, however, could neither replace the starfighters not the pilots so each time one of their numbers was shot down it was the same effect as the Empire losing a massive Star Destroyer.

This was *not* going well. The casualties on the Imperial side were rising...but so were the ones on the Rebellion side. Elayne cleared the top of the cruiser of its turrets, hopefully providing the bombers with a better shot at taking down the shields and blowing the whole damn thing apart. She listened to the Knave Leader relay their instructions. The heat from the battle was becoming too hot. A retreat was in the cards, Major Passik was smart enough to cut her loses ... but not yet. She flew over the cruiser in time to spot a TIE hot on the tracks of one of the A-wings. "Oh... Hello." She smiled, gunning the bastard down before it could kill another Rebel. "How ya doin' over there, Blackguard Squadron? Can you give me a casualty report? It ain't lookin' so good over here. The shield is nearly down. I doubt we can take this thing out. The TIEs are multiplying like damn Lepi." She reported, releasing another round of bombs onto the Cruiser. She oversaw the bombers do a run, which did successfully bring down the shield. "*Thank you*!" She pumped her fist in the air. "Shield's down everyone. Make me some pretty fireworks!"

Sienala was doing her own calculations for a hyperspace jump, but it was a bit strange in how it was being done. The humming had changed as well, and the response from her flight was a chorus of mortified groans. Ysiera shook her head and actually spoke, "You're kidding, right? Please tell us you're kidding." Sienala's voice was firm, but sure, "You trusted me so far, why should now be any different. Only do it on the final note of the leaping tauntaun movement." The clicking and whirring buzz of S'slavo's readiness with her task's completion brought a smile to Sienala's voice as she hummed. The flight arced around, making a wide turn to approach one of the dreadnaught's from the rear. They opened up with heavy fire at long range on the shield generators around the bridge. Sienala's fighter was under droid control, nor was it firing while the former slave calculated the hyper drive jump while she kept up the tune. Their payload was almost empty when the shields began to noticeably weaken. That's when the music shifted to a floral tune of life affirming seasons. "What the hell is going on over there," bellowed Knave Leader. Ular's timid voice responded, "Sir, we're making the run back to the Strike Cruisers. We will be needing the retreat towards the undamaged Dreadnaught in a few moments." "You do not retreat towards the enemy," shouted the Leader. "Of course not, Sir. Unless it's a tactical retreat." Knave Leader was about to say something when he realized the dancers were the only flight not to have lost anyone. "Fine, we'll try Knave Five's plan." The weakened Dreadnaught was opening fire on the flight of dancers. It was amazing how Sienala's tune seemed to match the rhythm of the local combat. The flight once again, darted as one but blossomed away from each other only to fold back in upon themselves to invert their former positions with each other.

"Copy Corsair Leader. We're down three ... hang on!" Commander Hobbes replied over the comm, before pulling back on his flight stick to execute a barrel roll to evade enemy fire. "That was *too* close," he told the Major over the comm frequency. He was beginning to sweat underneath his helmet as the battle had reached its crescendo. "Trying to cover the bombers," he reported, as he watched two A-wings come along on either side of him. "We can't sustain this much longer," he reported to the Wing Commander, before moving to take an opportune strafing run along the now defenseless Strike Cruiser. His laser blasts smacked right into the hull, causing an eruption of flame, but it would take something heavier to blow it to smithereens. The bottom of his A-wing got scorched from the belly run he had just performed, before pulling back up to rejoin the what was left of his squadron in dogfighting enemy TIEs. Finding one, he quickly pulled back on the trigger, eliminating yet another fighter with ease. He felt as if he might have singlehandedly eliminated an entire enemy squadron by now, but it was having little effect. At least they were keeping some of the heavy stuff away from Chandrila.

Commander Hobbes report only confirming Elayne's gut feeling: the time to retreat was on the rise. "I'm feeling the heat over here too, Commander. We can't sustain this much longer...shit!" She performed a sudden barrel roll to avoid being caught up in a TIE fighter's fire. Elayne took in a deep breath. "Retreating is inevitable now. Let's see how the Y-Wings are doing. Knave Leader, can you update me?" She flew high over the defenseless bridge where she dropped bombs. With that, she was officially out and forced back into fighting the TIEs with her guns. She was unable to save one of her X-Wings from the relentless attacks and it was blown to smithereens in front of her. "There goes another... Not good... Be prepared. Retreat is inevitable." She was holding out just a little longer. It seemed like the Y-wings were doing pretty good, but the A-Wings and X-wings were sustaining losses.

"Knave Five has a plan. To be honest, the way she's going, it will either work or we'll be running away. I'm turning this desperate time to her since she has the plan." Sienala turned to full fleet wide comms. "Blackguards, Corsairs, pick a Knave and stay on him. They will be attacking from the rear. Focus fire on shield generators and only shield generators. Everyone, hand over hyperspace control to Knave Eight. Knaves, adjust your hyperspace controls so that your starboard engine is under my control. When I say now, eject your starboard engine. Only your starboard engine." The Dreadnaught that had been firing on the Dancers had suddenly stopped after several of their shots had ripped through the hull of one of the Strike Cruisers disabling it and setting up a series of internal explosions. The Dancers had split up shortly afterwards, each one finding the rear of an Imperial ship. "Now, find your Knave now and fly escort," ordered Sienala.

"Blackguard group ... cover the bombers. One more run and then we're getting out of here!" Dillon shouted over the comm, but before he even finished his thought another A-wing was destroyed by enemy attack. As he came into formation with the Y-wings he took note of his shields, would had been somewhat diminished since the strafing run on the Strike Cruiser. "I hope you know what you're doing," he transmitted to Knave Five, before moving closer towards one of the Y-wings in covering position. As they neared the Dreadnaught he switched his deflectors to double front, as even one well timed blast would be enough to obliterate his starfighter.

Elayne grunted. It seemed that the Knaves had a plan, but plans tended to have holes. She worried for the squadrons. There was silence on her end for a full minute. "Do as they say! Escort a Knave. Keep them safe. Knave Leader...if we don't owe me one hell of a large drink!" She twisted and turned before pairing herself up with a Y-wing. She saw other X-wings and A-wings doing the same. She had a bad feeling about this. She had officially handed the controls over to the Knave. She continued to sweat in her pilot suit even more now than previously. Elayne was constantly shooting at TIEs. It seemed every TIE in the Imperial army was headed right to this exact location. "Crap, there goes one of yours, Commander Hobbes." Major Passik frowned. The burning A-wing dropped down, down, down into nothingness.

The TIEs were certainly a problem. The Knaves were jinking about. The Dancers were each on their own for now. The music from Sienala was for two actions and two actions only. Sometimes a Dancer would slow or speed up. The Astromechs were relaying information to the other Knaves about the apparent time that the Knave would reach their individual targets. "Okay, Knaves, listen to the astromechs. Timing is important here," warned the shy and quiet Ular. The Imperial ships started to alter their bearing, apparently realizing something was up. TIEs were coming in, zeroing in on the nearest attack run. Some of the Knaves were lost, the TIEs having been told to focus on them. Sienala's tempo increased. The humming becoming more urgent. It was coming across on all channels. Even the Imperials could hear it if they bothered to listen. Shields faltered as the focused fire on shield generators overwhelmed the components. "*Now*!" shouted Ysiera. Y-wing after Y-wing popped their starboard engine. Two notes later, the humming shifted as dozens of starboard Y-wing engines shifted into hyperspace for mere microseconds. Even the engines still intact from the destroyed Y-wings flew off into hyperspace, some appearing almost where they had left. But not so with the properly guided engines. The shot straight through and came out inside the ships, inertia carrying them through like a meteorite through a droid's skin. Some of the engines shrapnelled themselves from aft to bow. Engines disrupted, dozens of internal explosions ignited and started others from the most powerful section of the ships. Right after that, all the Rebel ships entered hyperspace, reappearing several light minutes away slowly turning back towards the damaged Imperial fleet. Sienala's comms changed back to Rebel frequencies only. "Get in formation and look like you're a fresh wave of fighters."

Commander Hobbes watched as the Y-wings performed their unconventional attack on the Imperial squadron. "That's the damndest thing I've ever seen," he said, as he became so momentarily distracted by the maneuver and the ensuing explosions of the Imperial Dreadnaught that he nearly flew right into his wingman. "Those bombers just lost half their speed. We need to cover them while they beat it back to the nebula," he said to his squadron, before his sensors began to alarm loudly. There was a new group of Imperial fighters arriving on the scene. "Karabast!" he yelled loudly to himself, as he accelerated back to attack speed and dove right into the fray of the oncoming mass of fighters.

The Dancers certainly had a unique approach to space fighting. She briefly let her eyes move away from her enemies to watch them. It was almost like they were moving to rhythm of an silent song. It reminded her of watching dancers back in her youth. Momentarily, she was filled with a calmness that made all the erratic voices in her head stop. This wasn't a repeat of what had happened before. She was either going to be obliterated or go home alive. No one could capture her out here. "Holy shit..." Elayne's mouth fell. Clearly the Knave Squadron knew what they were up to. She'd shut her mouth and let them do their thing all the while protecting them. She couldn't recall how many Imperial starfighters she'd destroyed today. She wiped the sweat from her face with her gloved hand. It was almost over.

The Knaves were indeed limping. All their power, save life support and shields, was being diverted to the engines. Even the shields were just enough to keep them from being sniped. The Dancers were back together, a single solitary note amidst the cacophony of fighters. When the new group of TIEs came in, the darted out into an open mouth formation. Knave Leader ordered the rest of the Knaves to do the same with their individual flights. The Dancers arched wide around the Imperials, avoiding them as much as possible. The Imperial Squadron was sending out distress signals. Hundreds of them not only from the ships themselves, but also from escape pods. Some of the TIEs were flying to protect the officers of the Squadron, while others were moving towards the Rebels. Sienala changed the music once again to full retreat, humming the entire way. "That's a full retreat, everyone," Santavo, also known as Knave Six, told the rest of the fleet.

Major Passik was sweating buckets. She watched the Dancers in awe. They had dealt a surprising amount of damage. It was good...and it was enough. "Good job everyone! Let's celebrate far, far away from this damn piece of shit. Ensure what remains of the Knaves Squadron makes it home. Let's get out of here. I repeated...*repeat*!" She'd arrived antsy for a fight, but now she wanted nothing more than to get out of her starfighter and stretch her legs. She could kiss the ground and feel thankful that she had actually survived this mess. She didn't make the jump to hyperspace immediately. Instead, she took care of all of the Squadrons. She watched, zooming where ever she was needed to stop another craft from getting shot down. "Hurry, hurry, hurry! Let's get out of here before more of them show up." She tapped her knee anxiously.

It had been a costly battle for both sides, but they had made it certain that at least a portion of the Imperial Naval presence at Chandrila would be out of action for the battle to come. "You heard the Major, back to the stable," he said, as he guided his A-wing towards the nearby Ringali Nebula. TIE Fighters and Interceptors were given hot pursuit, but he knew once he breached the nebula perimeter of the nebula they would be safe. As soon as the swirling nebula gasses enveloped his A-wing the TIEs broke off course and what was left of his squadron could safely navigate their way back towards the hidden Rebel base on the converted gas mining station. He needed a drink, he thought to himself, as he let the autopilot take over for a bit and guide him towards the first waypoint.

A lament for the lost came over Sienala's comms as the Dancer hummed in harmony, even S'slavo's clicking and buzzing added to the harmonies of the quintet. There was a certain melancholy, but a hope that the deaths were not in vain. When they made it home, the dancers performed for the pilots, dancing in the mess for a successful, if not completely victorious battle.

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