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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
... 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 die...you 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."
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.
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
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.