Thursday, 23 April 2020

Star Wars: Old Wounds (16)

"Signal lost, Admiral." said one of the Mon Calamari crewmen. "Commander Holdo has perished."

"No, she sacrificed her life, so that we might prevail." Raddus replied, stoically. "There will be time to mourn her passing later, but now we must capitalise on her final act. Open fire on that Destroyer."


"No!" Wedge exclaimed, overcome with emotion. He'd never met the Commander before this battle, but he'd heard the stories. Her loss would be a deep blow to morale, and to their tactical ability. 

Dak forced himself to remain calm. He had opened himself to the Force, for the first time in so many years, and wasnt prepared for what he could sense. He had felt the destruction, the death of each crew-member a fresh shard of ice piercing his heart, though it was Amadeus Holdo's death which stuck with him the most. Despite what she endured, she faced her end with calm acceptance. He had a feeling that she was comfortable with the nearness and inevitability of her own mortality, like it was a motto by which she lived. Perhaps that was the thought that kept the whole Alliance fighting, no one soldier knew they could win, or even survive, but collectively they might just make a difference. 


The Star Destroyer listed slowly, its central tower trailing smoke and venting gasses. One shield dome had split open, the shattered sphere burning furiously. Its bridge had been utterly ruined, leaving it rudderless.

Admiral Malefic ran through flaming corridors, pushing past troopers and support officers still dazed from the collision. He squeezed underneath a collapsed archway as a group of three Evac-troopers armed with extinguishers fought against the overwhelming destruction. His pristine, white tunic was now a frayed mess, burnt and charred with carbon scoring. Just as he made it clear, the troopers were engulfed but a new fireball, as the corridor exploded in a shower of flame and jagged debris. Malefic didn't look back,  he was too focussed on reaching his shuttle. The thoughts of a retreat made his stomach turn, it was a cowardly move, he'd have to sacrifice the Destroyer, its factory, and worst of all the cortosis rich Andriss. He would become a laughing stock back on Coruscant, among the Emperor's court. He could rebuild, no one setback could hold back his intelligence, after all. But it would be infuriating, and inefficient. Silently, he cursed the idiotic commander who dared ruin his plans, then smiled malevolently. His final scheme would ensure this defeat became a draw. A scant comfort, petty even, but it was enough to keep his spirits up.


"The Destroyer is accelerating!" Raddus realised, his already large eyes widening further. Its main bridge, the primary control centre, was obliterated. Even if it was a model outfitted with a secondary helm, that should take far longer to be brought online.

"Admiral, it appears to be changing course." replied a crew-member. "Probably executing some final manoeuvres input just before it was destroyed." 

"What are you planning, Malefic?" Raddus asked, his face grim.


With a sinking of his stomach, Dak realised what Malefic's final scheme entailed. The last order input to the destroyed control room, was to accelerate the Destroyer into Andriss. It made sense, he had to admit. Cortosis was too dangerous an asset to leave in Rebel hands. Though Dak's concern was for the miners stationed on the surface, and if he was honest with himself, for R3 just as much. 

"Wedge! Lara!" he yelled, while his mind raced. "That Destroyer is going to plow into the surface. We need a plan, now."

"How long do we have?" asked Wedge. Lara was already running the calculations.

"Less than fifteen minutes, its engines are running hot." she replied.

"So we cripple its engines?" Dak proposed.

"Not enough." Wedge replied. "Its momentum will carry it forward even if the propulsion goes."

"He's right." Lara confirmed. "It'd buy a few minutes, but that ship is already on the cusp of the planet's gravity well. Maybe send a team onboard, hijack the secondary helm?"

"Not a ship that size. You'd need an invasion force, not a boarding party." said Wedge.

"So, we..." Dak considered. "We target it with the fleet. Blow it up before it crashes."

"It might be crippled, but it'll take serious power to crack its reactor. And, if we're too slow, we'll just spread debris over a continent instead." Wedge said. He was disheartened, there was nothing they could do. The momentum was against them. Malefic had forced a draw."

"There's got to be something!" Lara insisted, as she poured over the Centurion's holo-display. 

"Maybe there isn't..." Dak sighed. He'd had hope, briefly. Hope that maybe there was some good he could do in the galaxy. Hope that there was something left worth fighting for. But now, they were out of options, they'd only succeeded in signing the death warrant of a whole world. Despite his grief, his mind kept replaying Holdo's sacrifice. Even at her end, she hadn't given up. They couldn't disrespect her memory by quitting now.

"Momentum..." Wedge repeated, softly.

"You OK there buddy?" Dak asked, concerned.

"Momentum!" Wedge exclaimed, louder this time. "We can't stop the Destroyer, but we can slow it. Arrest its momentum, as much as we can."

"We can't just turn on the brakes. It's in space." Lara replied, cautiously. She hoped Wedge had more to his plan.

"But we do have tractor beams."

"Against a Destroyer? Its three times bigger than Raddus' ship... dozens of times larger than anything else we've got." Dak said, incredulously.

"Its basic mechanics." Lara agreed. "The Escutcheon is by far the biggest object in the equation. If our ships try and hold it back, we'll just be swept along in its wake."

"Individually, yes." Wedge replied. "But our whole fleet, together? Our collective mass could be enough to hold it back, just a bit."

"Long enough to mount an evacuation?" Lara asked aloud, running through Wedge's suggestion. If our freighters ferry the miners away, the larger ships could try and hold back the Destroyer." She ran a quick calculation. "Mass wise, we make up maybe half the weight of the Escutcheon. Nowhere near enough to stop it."

"But enough to slow it. For maybe just long enough." Dak concluded, resisting an urge to be giddy. He paused to collect his thoughts, a flurry of emotion coursed through him, but, at its centre lay an island of calm. He felt as if everything was slotting neatly into place, and suddenly, he knew his own part to play. The Force seemed to speak to him, through his certainty; the tractor beams alone would not be enough. He saw the possibilities stretch out before him, the final freighters caught up in the inevitable collision while trying to escape. The Centurion among them. Lara, surrounded by a corona caused by the detonating reactor of a Star Destroy impacting Andriss. Then he saw what he needed to do. How to tip the scales in their favour. He couldn't see how it ended, not for himself, but he was certain everyone else would escape with their lives.

"Excellent plan, Wedge." he said, at last. "Let Raddus know, please. Time is of the essence." As the young pilot switched comms, Dak spoke privately to Lara. "Make sure you find R3. I had to leave him down there."

"Poor ReeTee!" Lara gasped, in exaggerated horror. "He's not going to be happy with you when this is over. Don't worry, I'd never let something bad happen to him." Her emphasis was quite telling.

Dak ignored the good-natured jab. His mind was elsewhere. "Lara, there's something I need to do. I can help arrest the Destroyer's momentum."

Lara froze, instantly picking up on Dak's plan. "Something that big... you won't take the strain."

"Size matters not, as an old teacher once told me." he quipped, before returning to his serious tone. "Besides, it's not like I'm trying to pull it out of the sky. I just need to hold it back a bit."

"Using the Force like that, the strain could kill you!" she protested, but it was a token effort. She knew he had already decided. "Just, be careful, alright? ReeTee won't forgive you if this kills you."

"All we can do is trust in the Force, and hope." Dak said, warmly.

Wedge's voice crackled across the comms. "What did I miss?"

"Just some father-daughter surrogate bonding." Dak brushed off the question. "Well?"

"Raddus is implementing the plan. Here goes nothing."


With that, the pieces of the plan fell into place. Lara and the Centurion led the first wave of evacuation shuttles. Wedge and the remaining fighters acted as an escort, running interference on the TIE fighters which had opted not to return to their base for evacuation and had chosen instead to fight to the last. Raddus positioned his armada around the Destroyer, arranged to maximise their tractor locks. And Dak reached out, into the murky depths of the Force, sinking deeper than he had ventured in decades. He plunged deep, through rippling waves, then swirling eddies, down past an endlessly surging maelstrom, until he reached a pocket of calm. He reached out, running his fingers through crystal clear, calm water. An oasis of stillness, a nexus of tranquility. He closed his eyes and saw before him, looming above, vast and imposing, the Escutcheon. He ignored most of what he felt; its frantic crew, its panicked officers, the flurry of small craft hovering around it, until all that remained was the ship. He could reach out, surround its surface with his essence, and he did so, imagining his fingers extending out, grasping the Destroyer. Then, fighting against the strain, he closed his fist, holding tight, and held, pulling against it's intended motion. 

Immediately, he had to release, overcome with the exertion. Undeterred, he reached out once more, managing to hold it for a second this time, before letting go. Arven Vorlack continued to try, each time reaching out, each time holding for slightly longer. He lost all sense of time, fixated as he was on his singular mission. After what might have been moments, of hours, the exertion finally proved too much, and he slipped into darkness, drowning among the waves into which he had sunk.


Slowly, Dak opened his eyes. His surroundings were stark, white, and oppressive. His vision swam slowly into focus, as he tried to make sense of his location. A sudden pain ran through his arm, as a deafing noise tore though his ears. As the fog cleared from his mind, re recognised Lara, sitting beside him. She had been squeezing his hand, and at the sight of his stirring, she had yelped quietly. Evidently, Dak thought, he was still a bit sensitive to stimuli. Lara beamed at him, delighted that he was aware, at last.

"Not dead then?" he tried to say, though his voice emerged weak and cracking.

"Not for lack of trying." Lara replied, beaming wide as a tear made it's way lazily down her cheek. "You've been in bacta for 3 days. The med-droid wasnt sure if you'd actually regain consciousness."

A sudden shrill beeping came from below Lara. Dak leaned slightly, wincing in discomfort, to see the source of the disturbance. "R3!" he exclaimed, overjoyed. 

"As I was saying, ReeTee here disagreed with said med-droid. With some exceptionally harsh language, I might add."

"The evacuation was a success then?"

"Yep, barely. Me and R3 were the last transport to take off, on our third trip. Andriss, unfortunately, is reduced to an irradiated, inhospitable rock. But we managed to evacuate all of the miner off just in time, including a somewhat curmudgeonly Sloane Fel. He had some harsh words for you too, actually."

"Nothing I dont deserve."

"Actually, when he was finished ranting, he did thank you. He was genuinely surprised we came back to evacuate them. Not enough for him to consider signing up or anything, but he admitted that maybe the Alliance is something different to the Empire, or the Republic."

"Obviously, you've always been better with people. He thanks you, but kicked us out of his home." Dak laughed. "Speaking off, where is Wedge?"

"Red squadron left with Raddus yesterday, to assist General Syndulla in an offensive in the Tion cluster."

"It never ends, does it?"

"Not as long as there are people imposing their evil on others, no. The struggle never ends, but life goes on. We keep on fighting, day after day, in the hopes of a better tomorrow." She rose from her chair, kissed Dak gently on the forehead, and smiled. "But that's tomorrow's battle. Just get some rest, okay?" 

Dak watched her leave, with R3 trundling merrily behind her. He smiled proudly, then turned his thoughts inward. He'd given up being Arven Vorlack long ago, and he had no desire to go back now. But Dak Dogba had plenty left to fight for. The Jedi were long dead, and good riddance to their blind dogma, but maybe something could rise from the ashes. Not some hero on a broken pedestal, nor a lauded leader, but maybe a smuggler, a pilot, a soldier, with hidden talents. He drifted back into a deep sleep, dreaming visions of the future, not of the past.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Star Wars: Old Wounds (15)

"Abort! Abort! Abort!" Dak heard Wedge's voice voice echo through his comm unit. Instinctively, he leaned on his flight stick, steering his fighter from its collision course. "What's going...." he trailed, silently mouthing the rest of question as he gazed ahead of him. The fighter's tactical readout was vibrating, as signal after signal was detected. Without diverting his eyes, Dak muted the screen. 

From the far side of the Star Destroyer, dozens of craft were exiting hyperspace, appearing as long streaks before suddenly flickering into reality. Dak counted maybe ten blockade runners, half a dozen Nebulon-B support frigates, a handful of assault cruisers and a scattering of light freighters. He couldn't make out details from this distance, but he knew Lara was among them, piloting the Centurion. Glancing at his readout, he noticed twenty star fighters had also arrived, half of which were X-Wings, that would be Red Squadron, and a mix of Y, B and A-Wings.

"They actually made it." Wedge said, in hushed tones. Seconds ago he had been willing to sacrifice his life in a futile effort, but now,  he felt hope blossom within himself again.

"Course they did. Never doubted Lara for a second." Dak replied, earnestly.

"Your lies aren't convincing, but at least you tell them with conviction. You're definitely a smuggler."  laughed Wedge.

A crackle of static came through Dak's comm. Someone was trying to make contact on an open frequency channel. "Hailing unidentified TIE fighters, this is..." the voice hesitated, searching for a suitable codename. "Smudges." it said reluctantly. "Switch over to our encrypted channel. You know the one." said a female voice through the speakers. 

"What frequency?" Wedge wondered aloud.

"It's for me kid. Here, I'll patch you in. Prepare to recieve." replied Dak, as he adjusted his frequency. Once his was free from Imperial surveillance, he gave a full reply. "Lara! You have no idea how good it is to hear from you!" 

"I can imagine, old man." she replied lightly. "Looks like we arrived just in time to stop you from doing something drastic and attempting some noble sacrifice. Again."

"Hold on, he's done this before?" interjected Wedge.

"Like you wouldn't believe. Dak has such a death wish, you'd swear hes waiting to claim his own bounty."

"Alright, alright." said Dak hurriedly, eager to change the subject. "How did you manage all this?" 

"I've got friends in high places." she replied. "Hold on..."

"Commander Amadeus Holdo, at your service." said a warm, erudite voice. Commander Amadeus was a well respected member of the Alliance, known for her unwavering bravery and tactical acumen. In a previous life, she had been a senator for Gatalenta,  before growing dissolutioned by the continued erosion of its powers of oversight under the Emperor's rule. "This young lady actually barrelled into me on her way to find Admiral Raddus, raving about needing to launch a rescue mission. Mercifully, I took the time to listen to her, and I learned of your plight, and of the threat posed by this very operation."

Commander Amadeus was kind enough to plead your case to Raddus personally." Lara added, sheepishly.

"Have you discovered any additional information, which may be beneficial? We're about to engage the enemy." Amadeus asked, her tone insistent, but quietly calm and considered.

"Concussive weapons are the only things that stand a chance against those TIEs." Wedge replied.

"Thank you, you have been most helpful." she concluded, ending her transmission.

"Good work Lara. But even with all this firepower, we don't stand much of a chance against that Destroyer." Dak added, feeling reality crash back down after his momentary elation.

"Oh, we're not done yet." Lara replied wryly. As if on cue, another vessel emerged from hyperspace, larger than any of the other Rebel ships by some margin. It was long, spanning almost half the length of a Star Destroyer, but was much narrower. Its profile was similar to that of a needle: a vast, narrow tube which tapered to a point at its tip. The surface was covered in large, oval shaped blisters, housing weapons batteries, tractor beam emplacements and sensor and communications devices. The base of the needle was bulky, containing a cluster of powerful engines jutting out like the end of a straw broom. Its design was typical of the Mon Calamari shipyards.

"Admiral Raddus regrets that he could not divert his flagship, the Profundity, for this operation." Lara began to explain. "However, he didn't leave us empty handed."

"A horse, wet voice boomed across the entire Rebel network. "Today we have an opportunity to strike a harsh blow against the Empire's military production. We stand against a Grand Admiral, and his designs of a new TIE fighter, impervious to energy weapons. He must be stopped, and we must be the ones to stop him. Today, his plans will crumble, his factories will be torn asunder. This weapon cannot be allowed to profligate across the Galaxy. It's time to commence our attack. Godspeed, Rebels, and may the Force be with us."

"Raddus is here?" Wedge whispered. 

"Of course, no way old fishface would miss this battle." said a high-spirited reply.

"Wes!" Wedge exclaimed, then to cover his delight, he added: "Thought I was rid of you rid of you over Andriss." 

"You'll have to try better than crash-landing, behind enemy territory, in the middle of a military production facility. Next time try something difficult, like jumping into a supernova."

"You'd still find a way to follow me."

"Can we please focus?" Lara interrupted. "We have a battle to win."


Aboard his shuttle, Malefic scowled darkly, his lean face mostly obscured by shadow. Only the edges of his angular features caught the scant light reflected from the looming Destroyer. He should have been proud, marvelling in his moment of triumph. His shuttle design had successfully absorbed the impact from a heavy turbolaser designed to vaporise ships ten times as large. Sure, several tertiary systems, including the interior lighting, had fused, and the life support was on energy power, but such minor quirks were easily repaired. Instead, he was furious over the arrival of more Rebel ships into his sector. No matter, he reasoned, they would simply provide additional target practice. They might be preparing to assault him with as much of a meager armada as they could muster, but it still paled in comparison to even a single Star Destroyer. The Grand Admiral allowed himself a mirthless smile. Today would see Project Indomitable triumph against these insurgents. Perhaps then Tarkin might see fit to reallocate resources towards the superior project. Director Krennic and his Stardust folly had monopolized the Empire's funding for too long.

In the moments his enemies spent regrouping before launching their attack, his shuttle had made it his personal docking bay located just below the Destroyer's bridge, at the top of its towering central protrusion. "Scramble all fighters!" he barked. "Prime all weapons batteries. Today, we go to war."


Admiral Raddus surveyed his command deck, swinging between various displays and tactical maps from an arched gimble attached to his chair. His moist skin glistened in the humid atmosphere of the bridge, an environment most comfortable for the amphibious Mon Calamari. "We need to destroy those main guns before our cruisers can close to attack range." he bellowed, his jowls flapping as he spoke. "Fighter group one will deploy proton bombs against those laser batteries port-side. Y-Wings will precede their attack with ion shots to help weaken its shields. Fighter group two will provide cover for the bombers. Remember, these TIE Indomitables will resist plasma shots. You must hit them with concussion missiles to have an effect."

Wedge considered the plan. A Star Destroyer had a total of eight main batteries divided into three heavy turbolaser and an ion cannon along each side, so they only needed to assault one side to leave it wide open to heavier fire. Still, the attacking fighters would have to run a gauntlet along the Destroyer's surface to last long enough to hit their targets. 

"Wait!" He exclaimed, redirecting his comms. "Commander Amadeus?"

"Wedge, isn't it? Have you something else to add?"

"Dak and I should fly ahead of the first wave, Commander. Our hulls can absorb most of the flak from the their smaller laser turrets."

"Agreed." replied the commander, thoughtfully. "I'll log your transponders as friendly, your new callsigns are Wraiths One and Two."

"Aknowledged. Wraith One, out." Wedge replied. He switched comm channels to address his fellow pilots. "All fighters, form up on my position. We hit hard and fast. Remember to stay low, we'll come in close to the Destroyer's hull, it confuses their tracking." 

Dak and Wedge led the charge, diving toward the nose of the Destroyer's triangular profile. The slow moving bombers followed close behind, surrounded by a cloud of more agile fighters, all bunched together in a thin train. They remained low, practically skimming the hull beneath them, while dozens of turrets spat fiery bursts of green plasma along their path. From either side of the Imperial vessel, TIEs spewed forth from various hangers, a seemingly endless stream of fighters swarming like white blood cells amassing to fight an infection. A standard Destroyer carried six full squadrons, or seventy two fighters, but as a mobile foundry the Escutcheon had access to almost double that number. As the sawming TIEs reached the Rebel convoy they opened fire, hitting the relatively undefended flanks. In response, the A-wing escort broke off to engage the approaching enemy. Half of the X-wings remained in position, providing additional cover for the bombers. The remaining five, led by Wes Janson, joined the A-Wings, breaking ranks to put pressure on the incoming TIEs. 

The Rebel fighters were outnumbered by almost six to one, and worse, half of those had to remain focussed on targeting the main batteries. This left each fighter in the defensive screen to face almost an entire squadron of TIE Indomitables, a challenge for even the best fighters. In the first wave of counter-attacks alone, the TIEs registered three kills, two Y-Wing bombers and a nimble but lightly armoured A-Wing. Given their overwhelming numbers, the Imperials managed to keep continuous fire directed towards the dwindling Rebel fighters. As each wave broke off and regrouped, another was already in position to replace it. The second wave took out two more Rebels. 

"We can't take much more of this!" cried one of the Y-Wing pilots, Gold Six. "There's too many!"added Wes. "Concussion missiles can only lock onto one target at a time."

Dak winced as he flew through yet another plasma beam. Despite the TIEs resilience, every fibre of his being screamed thatflying into the fire was wrong. "There's too many to target directly." he replied to the panicked pilots. "So don't even try. Look for clusters and target the TIE closest to the centre. The rest will scatter like womp rats."

"Aknowledged" replied Wes. "You heard the man, Choose your targets." The remaining X-Wings took stock as the next wave of TIEs approached. Wes noticed a group of five TIEs, grouped together, aiming for one of the remaining B-wings. "Eat this, Imperial scum!" he cried, launching a pair of concussive missiles. The clustered fighters broke off their attack, each trying to evade the incoming missiles. Neither side suffered any losses in the exchange, but the Rebels were closer to their targets.


"I want them stopped immediately!" Aegis Malefic roared with furious indignation. The other officers and crew on the bridge sunk into their chairs, hoping not to further draw the Grand Admiral's ire. "How hard can it be to destroy a handful of battered old scrap fighters?!"

He paused, willing himself calm. This was no way for an official of the Imperial Navy to conduct themselves. He thought, applying his superior intellect to the problem at hand. "Let's give them something else to worry about." he decided. "Prepare to engage with their fleet directly. Move to attack range."


"Approaching target." Wedge affirmed. "Get ready..." he trailed off, as the Destroyer began to rotate beneath him.

"Damn. Malefic is turning to engage Raddus' fleet. Commander, instructions?" Dak said, urgently.

"Stay the course, Wraith Two." Commander Amadeus replied. "This changes nothing. Destroying those cannons are still your priority."

"Yeah, but now we have no margin for error." Dak added softly, as he ended the transmission. 

"Y-Wings in position." Wedge announced. "Fire at will." The remaining bombers trained their ion cannons on the first Imperial gun, causing its shield to flash brightly as it strained and weakened.


"Admiral Raddus, the Escutcheon is targeting this command ship!" exclaimed one of his helmsmen. 

"Divert excess power to our front deflectors. And let's hope our bombers pull through."


"The shield is down! Him them with everything we're got!" Dak ordered, as he and Wedge passed by the first of four cannons. He hoped it would be enough. The remaining Y-Wings led the bombardment, releasing a trail of photon torpedoes at the first cannon. The primary power coupling was caught in the first detonation, sending a wave of explosions rippling through the cannon's structure. The metal casing split apart, revealing plumes of fiery debris through which the fighters emerged. The Y-Wings separated, allowing the B-Wings to take aim at the next cannon. The B-Wings were a relatively rare unit deployed by the Alliance, due to their high cost. However, they possessed a pod of heavy weapons typically seen only larger, support craft, making them perfect for targeting capital ships. They swiftly launched their payloads, taking out the next cannon in sequence, and the ion gun behind it. 

"We're out." declared the leading B-Wing pilot. "Gold squadron, the final battery is all yours." 


Malefic snarled as he felt the aftershocks of the destruction of cannons two and three. 

"Mon Calamari cruiser in range sir." announced the chief gunnery officer.

"Then take the shot!" seethed Malefic. "What are you waiting for?"


Raddus braced himself for the impact. His instincts told him the final cannon would get to fire before the bombers finished their attack. He was already considering the potential outcomes. His ship would survive at least one hit, he was sure, but they'd likely lose a few weapon emplacements. It would be the start of a slow battle of attrition between the capital ships, one which would eventually favour the larger Imperial ship.

"Admiral! Commander Holdo is breaking formation." alerted one of his crewmen.

"Open a communication channel!" he ordered. "Commander, what is the meaning of this?"

"Have you ever played Dejarik Admiral?" Amadeus replied, ruefully. "Sometimes you have to sacrifice your smaller pieces, to win the game."


The bombers released their final payload, but before the torpedoes could make contact, the final cannon managed to fire a shot. Verdant bolts of super heated plasma were launched towards the Rebel armada , aimed at Raddus' command ship. However due to Commander Holdo's timely intervention, she positioned her assault cruiser, the Credence, in the path of the attack, taking the brunt of the impact. 

Raddus stared through the viewport, as the Credence limped through the attack. Sections of the vessel had been opened to the vacuum of space, its crew sucked out into the void. Elsewhere fires and secondary explosions continued to burn across its surface. 

"Commander, what's your status?" Raddus asked, with desperation. Amadeus' response was calm, through strained. She gritted her teeth, looking down at the wound in her side. "Main reactor is damaged, about to go critical. I've ordered the crew to evacuate."

"And what about you?"

"Someone's got to stay here and reroute the reactor output so the evacuees can get clear." She paused, thinking of her husband back on Gatalenta, and her daughter, Amylin. "And don't even think about sending a rescue team. It's too late for me." She winced through the pain. "But there is one last thing I can do." She pulled up a holopic of her family, and smiled sadly.

As the last of the escape pods jettisoned from the dying vessel, Commander Amadeus turned the Credence towards the bridge of the Escutcheon. "Right Malefic, you can dish it out, but let's see if you can take it, too." She sent all remaining power to the sunlight engines, preparing to ram the Destroyer's bridge. Unable to return fire given its lack of available weapons, the Escutcheon could only attempt to turn away from the impact. However, even crippled, the smaller cruiser had superior speed. "Godspeed." she whispered, thinking of her family as her world flared around her.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Star Wars: Old Wounds (14)

Malefic's shuttle had the advantage of distance, but the TIEs had superior speed. Still, Dak and Wedge had already left the planet's atmosphere before they came into sensor range of their target. Ahead of them, suspended in the dark void, loomed the Star Destroyer which acted as Malefic's flagship and mobile factory. Even at this distance its sheer scale was apparent. 
"We've got about two minutes until we're in rangeof the Destroyer's cannons." Dak said, as he scanned his fighter's tactical sensors. "Not much time to target Malefic."

"It'll have to be enough." Wedge cycled through the TIE's weapons readout, taking stock of the tool at his disposal. Heavy turbolasers and ion cannons would be useless against the cortosis shielded shuttle, as would the energy based proton torpedoes. However, the missiles were promising.

"Switching to concussion missles." Wedge announced. "They should have enough of a punch to crack that armour."

"Shame these things only have four onboard." Dak replied. "Theres no room for error." The TIEs broke formation, Dak veering one way as Wedge swung in another. The both looped in a wide arc, aiming to converge on the shuttle, limiting its options for maneuverability. 


"Sir, Andriss command has confirmed that the Rebel pilots stole our fighter escort. Those aren't our pilots behind us."  stammered the timid shuttle pilot to the Admiral. Malefic stood directly behind the pilot, one hand bracing himself against the cabin ceiling. 
"It is of no concern. They have nowhere to run, and we are safely protected."

"Shoukd we signal the Escutcheon for fighter support?"

"And deprive us of this opportunity to field test my personal shuttle? Nonsense. Stay your course, pilot, and follow your procedures. Let's see what tricks these Rebels think they can pull."


Dak turned his craft towards the shuttle engaged his targeting computer. The cockpit was filled with a high-pitched beep. As the computer established a firm lock, the tone became a steady whine.

"Target locked, standing by." he declared.

"Acknowledged, also locked." Wedge replied. "Firing." Both pilots released a pair of missiles simultaneously, and swung their ships away from the target, regrouping in its wake. The thin missiles streaked through the void and impacted against the shuttle, detonating in a cloud of vaporized gases.

Dak frowned at the sensor data readout. Malefic's transponder was still broadcasting.

"What's his status? Do you have a visual?" he asked Wedge, frowning. Wedge could see part of the shuttle through the fading haze, its surface shimmering slightly. He felt his stomach sink.

"That shuttle has an active shield." he sighed. Wedge adjusted his scanner to compensate for the shield's energy trace. "Its still at sixty percent effectiveness."

"Kark it all!" Dak replied, slamming his console in anger, before hastily pulling back on the flight-stick to prevent a spiral. "We don't have the firepower to dent it!" He glanced downwards. Only a minute left until they were in range of the Destroyer. "Any ideas?" 

Wedge considered their options. They needed the remaining missiles to penetrate the cortosis armour, but, as long as the shield was active, the cortosis was protected. Though, that also meant the cortosis couldn't absorb their energy bolts either. 

"Dak, you switch to photon torpedoes." Wedge said, hurriedly. "Hit him hard enough to lower the shields, and I'll follow up with the concussives."

"Agreed, but it'll be tight. Form up." The pilots again moved into their positions, as the seconds slipped away. Dak felt his palms growing clammy with nerves. The plan was very risky; if he hit the shuttle too softly, the shield would hold, yet if he went too hard, the excess energy released would be absorbed by the cortosis, recharging its shield generator. He willed himself to focus, stretching out and letting the Force flow through him. He envisioned himself a fishing net, stretched across a flowing river, existing within the current but not impeding it. "Here goes nothing..."

As they reached position, Dak again took aim at shuttle. Checking he had indeed toggled his weapons to proton torpedoes, he listened for the whine of the targeting computer, and released the payload. Two orbs of purple energy streaked out from underneath his fighter, and soared towards the shuttle, leaving a streaky afterglow behind them. The torpedoes struck their target, and Dak risked a smile as he saw the shield's shimmer flicker and fade away.

"All yours Wedge, take your shot!" he yelled, excitedly.


Aboard the shuttle, Admiral Malefic struggled to maintain his footing as the shuttle was rocked by the impact." Despite his physical discomfort, he showed no sign of worry. "Shield is down sir!" the pilot gasped, as he frantically tried to reroute power from the shuttle's tertiary systems.

"A fine effort." Malefic mused. "But once I have anticipated." With his outstretched arm, he opened a communication channel with the Escutcheon. "Commence fire. Authorisation Omega."

"Sir!" the pilot protested. "We haven't tested..." Malefic cut across the simpering pilot, and stated: "And so we are about to. Do I make myself clear?"


"Commencing my attack run." said Wedge, a steely edge in his voice. He tried never to revel when claimed a kill, but Wedge was willing to make an exception for Malefic. A sudden alert drew his attention towards his sensor readout. The Destroyer's primary cannon was charging. He disregarded it. All that mattered now was taking out Malefic before they went down too.

Wedge fired his missiles, and took immediate evasive action. Dak could only watch as the Destroyer's main turbo laser battery fired a single shot. With initial confusion, followed by a creeping dread, he noticed the target was not either TIE, but the shuttle itself. The green plasma bolt enveloped the shuttle completely. A direct hit like that should have vaporized any craft of similar size to the shuttle. However, he stared aghast as the beam passed, leaving the shuttle intact. Parts of its surface were charred, and some exposed cortosis had even begun to melt slightly, but it had recieved no damage. Worse, the energy absorbed by the cortosis had re-energised its shield, just in time for Wedge's remaining missiles to impact on the surface.

"He's insane!" Wedge remarked. "What are we going to do now?"

"There's nothing we can do. We can't run, these things don't have hyperdrives. We can't hide, but we can't let Malefic escape."

"Well, we could ram him."

"Wedge, that's suicide."

"Look around Dak. We're two star fighters against an Imperial Star Destroyer. We crossed that line before we left the surface." Wedge's voice was unsteady, yet determined. "We have to stop him. By any means."

Dak hesitated. He had already considered their options, and expected that this would be their only option back on Andriss. He was old, he had a lifetime of regrets to atone for, so his mind was made up. Dak was just sorry he'd dragged Wedge along with him. "Fine." he said, stoically. "I'll go first, the impact should weaken the shields. You follow up and finish him. May the Force be with us."

He steeled himself, one final time. Briefly, Dak though of R3, waiting below. "Sorry buddy. Guess I won't be coming back after all."

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Star Wars: Old Wounds (13)

Wedge's eyes were shut. He couldn't escape the destruction around him, but nor could he bare to witness it. He found himself remarkably calm as the cavern continued to crumble around him, resolute to the last. Yet, as he continued to wait, the deafening roar began to subside. Briefly, he wondered if his sense of hearing was merely fading before the rest of his consciousness, but he still felt no pain. Cautiously, he opened one eye, then both.

The cavern had indeed collapsed, but somehow he was unharmed. He stared in disbelief at the rubble piled high around him. As he became aware of his surroundings, he noticed Dak, and R3, huddled to his left. Dak's arm was still outstretched, his face contorted with exertion. As Wedge looked on, in both awe and confusion, Dak began to lower his arm, staggering as he released his mental grasp. Wedge rushed to support his friend.

"What. Was. That?! Did you just use the... the Force?"

"Guess my secret's out." Dak replied, breathlessly. "Sorry... give a minute.... to catch my breath... haven't done.... something like that.... for years..."

"You're a Jedi!" the young pilot exclaimed.

"Was. I was a Jedi. A long time ago..."

Wedge stared in disbelief. He had be born during the Clone Wars, but he'd grown up under the Empire. He knew little of the ways of the Jedi, save for stories told by his parents. To him, they had always seemed like legends, fables of better times. There was no way such powerful heroes could have existed. If they had, they would not have fallen before the Emperor's rise. To Wedge, the Force was only a superstition, a tale for children. But here was proof that it was true, all of it. A sudden anger filled him.

"You are a Jedi!" he repeated, loudly. "All this time, you've had this power and kept it hidden? The Alliance is fighting, dying, for the scraps we need just to keep us fighting against the might of the Empire. We can only dare to dream of taking on the Emperor, or Vader." Wedge was yelling now.  "And all this time, you could have been leading the fight, inspiring populations to rebel. You have the power to confront Vader himself!" 

"Its not that simple..." Dak protested, weakly.

"Isn't it?" spat Wedge. "You could have been a symbol of hope. An inspiration to the masses. Instead you hide, as a smuggler, helping out here and there, whenever it suits you. Just to ease your conscience. What's the use in winning the occasional battle, when you have the ability to influence the Galaxy at large?"

"Who do you think the Jedi were, Wedge?" Dak said, softly. "Even before the fall of the Republic, there were planets on which we were considered charlatans. On many others we were despised, because we'd failed to intervene in a local dispute, or our actions indirectly caused some other harm. That only became more stark during the Clone Wars. We were so focussed on the war, we lept from battlefield to battlefield, leaving a trail of broken worlds in our wake. It was for the good of the Galaxy, we told ourselves. The Senate will coordinate relief efforts. We were blind fools."

"But there must have been worlds on which you were heroes? People whose lives you'd saved." Wedge's temper had cooled, but only slightly. "There are a lot of people, especially in the Alliance, who would look up to you."

"No, they would admire the idea of me. They hold the concept of a Jedi as some mythical paragon, but we were never that. I was certainly not.

"So you're flawed. We all are. But you could still inspire hope in others. You might not believe in yourself, but so many others would."

"So they can run off and get slaughtered?" Dak replied, raising his own voice. He stood up, unsteadily, and glowered at Wedge. "After all, it worked out so well during the Clone Wars. I led thousands of good men to their deaths. Men who believed in my command. I fought by their side, we helped each other, but even on our best days we still had losses. That's the nature of war." Dak's grief, which had been locked away for so long, began to spill out. "And for what? Who won that war? Not the Jedi, not the Republic, not the Seperatists. Only Palpatine and his emergent Empire. He played the whole galaxy, and got away with it. And, unwittingly, I helped it happen. The Jedi failed everyone."

"So get back out there. Take the fight to Palpatine. You have a power most of us can't even comprehend!" Wedge urged. 

"I already tried that!" Dak yelled, his eyes beginning to well up. He paused for a moment, drawing in a deep breath. Long buried memories unearthed themselves in his mind. "Even after the Purge, I kept fighting. Too stubborn to die, I suppose." Dak sighed. "I led a group of resistance fighters. Truth be told, it was too soon. We never stood a chance. The Galaxy wanted stability after the Clone Wars, and the Empire was there to provide it. But we fought on nonetheless. Nowhere was safe. We moved our base constantly, yet every time we did, we were located again almost immediately. I was still a Jedi then, I naively thought I could be a symbol, like you did."

"What went wrong?" Wedge asked, softly.

"Everything. I wasn't a symbol, I was a target. Every town we visited, every port we landed in, every battle we fought, someone recognised me. Or at least, they recognised the lightsaber. Everywhere we went, we were hounded by Imperial Purgetroopers, then the Inquisitors. Until Xantu. Our base was positioned on a rocky outcrop above a lavaflow. Dangerous, but remote, and offered natural barriers on three sides. Despite that, we were still set upon, by the Grand Inquisitor himself. I'd had enough of running, I ordered the rest of my team to evacuate, I needed to face him. Alone. Our duel was intense, he fought with a ruthless, refined, ferocity I was unable to match. Slowly, he gained the upper hand. I was disarmed, and fell to my knees, defeated. Yet, he did not kill me. He laughed, said I had been broken, and then he gave a gift so I would never forget that moment. He reached out with the Force, crushing the bones of my right arm, practically grinding them to dust."

"I'm sorry." Wedge said, gently. He looked at his own arm, still healing within a bactacast. Some wounds may heal, he thought, but the scars always remain.

"And the thing is, he was right. I was broken. Being Jedi Master Arven Vorlack hadn't helped the galaxy. I was no leader. I couldn't face having anyone else die under my command, to give the order that would doom a soldier who believed in me. So I became the lowly smuggler Dak Dogba. I tried to leave my past behind, but as the years went by, and the scale of the Empire's tyranny grew, I couldn't remain idle. It was Lara who pushed me to enlist in the Alliance. At least behind the controls of a starfughter, I can still do some good."

"I certainly know how that feels." agreed Wedge. "Look, I'm sorry for blowing up at you. I mean, you did just save my life."

"Which was only in danger because I dragged us down here without thinking it true. And I'm sorry too Wedge. I'm sorry I can't be the hero you want me to be. I'm just not a Jedi, and maybe that's for the best. After all, the Order was blind to Palpatine's corruption of the Republic. We had become too close-minded and dogmatic, even before the war. The Jedi failed, it's time for the rest of us to take our place and fight back." Dak sounded determined, and he felt a fire within him that had lain dormant for far too long. He smiled to himself, having forgotten what hope felt like.

"So, Mr. Smuggler. Do you think you could help move a few more rocks and clear an exit for us?" Wedge asked, cheerily.

"I've got a few tricks up my sleeve, kid." Dak replied, as he reached out once again. He'd kept his mind focussed inwards for so long, his senses were almost overwhelmed as he opened himself up again. For fifteen years, he'd surrounded himself with his own fears, doubts, and anger. Too long trapped inside his own thoughts. To feel the Galaxy again, was breathtaking. He was struck by the amount of life he could sense. Not just the miners above, but all sorts of burrowing creatures, insects, even scattered vegetation stubbornly growing in the barren landscape above. He felt the miner's exhaustion, and some sorrow, but also relief and joy. A thousand emotions, flooding in at once. Slowly, Dak filtered his thoughts, until he was focussed only on the rocks around him. He visualized the tunnel they had once formed, and urged the rubble to reform its old shape. 

"Stick close to me, you two. I can only hold up a small section at a time, so if you lag behind you'll be crushed." he warned, as a small section of the collapsed tunnel shifted, creating a slight opening. "Let's take this slow."


It took some time, but eventually they returned the turbolift shaft. The lift itself had been damaged in the blast, torn open with jagged metal shards twisted in every direction. 

"Guess we're not getting out that way." said Wedge, needlessly. "Hey Dak, you alright?" As they reached the open column of the lift shaft, Dak was able to let go of the earth around him. Devoid of his exertion, he slumped forward, feeling the exhaustion of his efforts. 

"I'll be fine. Just need a break. You try lifting several tons of rubble. With only your mind." he replied, testily.

"Don't exaggerate. It was cumulative, you didn't do it all at once." Wedge teased. "Now, all we need to find some way out."

"There's always a ladder, for emergency repairs, running up the shaft. But that's way too far for us to climb safely." Dak said, as he leaned on R3. The droid gave him a reassuring whistle, then beeped more energetically.

"Good idea, buddy." Dak replied warmly, before calling to Wedge: "He says the cables seem to be intact. If we disconnect it from what's left of the lift's roof, and release the counterweight, it should bring us all the way to the top."

"At enormous velocity. Smashing into the top of the shaft."

"Not if the emergency brake kicks in."

"Nice. Your use of the word 'if' is particularly reassuring." Wedge sighed to himself. It was still the best option. 

Wedge and R3 got to work dismantling what remained of the lift. The base of the shaft was partially filled with rubble, so it was easy for them to reach the roof. They found a flat panel of durasteel connected to a winch, and the elevator cable, with ease. As R3 used his arc welder to cut out a section centred around the winch and wide enough for them to stand on, Wedge continued the conversation.

"So, why Dak? Where did the name come from?"

"From a very old friend." Dak replied, wistfully. "We were locked up together on an old Trade Federation cruiser. Tried to break out, reach his ship. It didn't go to plan."

"Nothing ever does." replied Wedge. "He died?"

"Sacrificed himself so I could escape with his ship, and some highly valuable intel. He gave his life for the Republic. Afterwards, to honour his memory, I used his identity occasionally during the war whenever I needed to keep a low profile. Some places a Jedi draws too much attention."

"Sounds like he was a good man. If he was still around, I'm sure he'd have joined the Rebellion."

"Without hesitation."

"Then, he'd be proud of you too. Fighting for freedom in his name. You might not think of yourself a good Jedi, but you're a great Dak Dogba."

Dak chuckled to himself, then looked at Wedge and gave a curt nod of appreciation. He wanted to say more, to thank the young pilot for making him remember what he fought for, but his feelings were still too raw. He couldn't find the words he needed. "Come on, can't lay about chatting all day. We have a Grand Admiral to take down."

They made their way to the cut out platform, were R3 was waiting for them.

"Hold on tight to the cable." Dak warned. "This is not going to be comfortable. And you do not want to fall."

"Let's just get it over with."

"Ready R3?"

With a shrill whistle, R3 sent a signal through the control system, releasing the lift's counterweight. The platform jerked upwards, accelerating rapidly. The three passengers clinged desperately to the cable as the platform began to wobble and vibrate. The structure was unbalanced and unstable, shaking like some bucking beast. Wedge, despite his terror, was exhilarated by the experience. He was born to fly, it was the only time he ever felt in control, so he was used to high-speed, dangerous environments. Dak had his eyes closed, deep in a meditative calm. R3 however, shrieked with terror, despite his magnetized legs providing him with the steadiest grip of them all. 

As the remains of the lift neared the top of the shaft, emergency brakes activated, arresting the platform of its acceleration and speed, bringing it to a sudden halt. 

"Weve arrived." Dak announced, opening his eyes. "End of the line."

In fact, the lift had stopped just shy of the doors leading to the Imperial facility, but the three could easily climb the remaining few feet to emerge back into the oppressive corridors of Malefic's base. 

"No patrols, we're clear." Wedge said, as he hauled himself out of the doorway.

"Its only a matter of time." Dak replied, as he too emerged. R3 followed behind, helping himself up vis his rocket jets. 

"So, where to?" 

"We go with your first plan. Get to the shuttle, get out of here. We have enough detail about the TIE Indomitable project to get Raddus to send the fleet after Malefic."

"And hope the Admiral doesn't move his Destroyer in the meantime."

"He won't leave Andriss undefended. The cortosis mine is too precious to him." 

"And if he summons reinforcements?"

"We deal with that when it happens. What else can we do? The two of us can't take down a Destroyer by ourselves."

"Remember when this was a simple supply run?"


The trio made their way quickly through the corridors. They encountered a few patrolling Stormtrooper, but it was easier enough to avoid them. Obviously, Malefic had thought the Rebels destroyed, so the threat level in the base was lowered. They made short work to the nearest exit, and surveyed their way forward.

Ahead of them, some fifty metres away, was the landing pad, still containing a cortosis clad shuttle, and two TIE Indomitable fighters. A pair of Imperial sharptroopers manned sentry points above the base walls, and there were about a dozen other Stormtroopers scattered around the open area. Various containers and fuel pods were scattered around the landing pad, which provided them with a modicum of cover. 

"Well, this looks easy." Wedge hissed.

"Its worse than you think. Look at the shuttle." Dak whispered in reply. Wedge turned in the direction Dak indicated and frowned. Standing at the boarding ramp was Ageis Malefic, flanked by two cortosis wearing troopers. 

"He's leaving?" Wedge asked.

"He assumes we're dead. The threat has been dealt with. Hes probably on his way back to micromanage his factory."

"We need that shuttle."

"But we'll never make it there in time. While avoiding the snipers, the troopers, or his bronze buddies over there." Dak sighed. Nothing was working out like it was supposed to.

"There's always the TIE fighters." Wedge said. "We could take those."

"Probably won't get us very far." Dak warned. "You know most TIEs lack hyperdrives."

"Of course." Wedge replied. "Maybe his Indomitable fighters include hyperdrives. Maybe they don't. But we can't let Malefic escape here. Either way, if we're in the air, we can take out his shuttle. That'll be a big enough blow to his precious project."

"Even if it means our lives?"

"I'm done running. It's time to take the fight to him."

R3 whistled urgently, indicating that Malefic had boarded his shuttle. Dak's heart sank. There was something else a TIE lacked: room for an astromech. Sensing his master's plight, R3 gave a reassuring beep.

"No buddy, I can't leave you behind." Dak protested. R3 gave an insistent whistle, and before Dak could answered, the droid reversed slightly, then went forward again. He continued to bump Dak, repeatedly, pushing his master away, towards his objective.

"It's now or never." Wedge insisted, gently.

"I'll be back R3. This isn't goodbye buddy. I'm coming back. Just stay safe!" Dak shouted, as he turned to follow Wedge. R3 warbled softly to himself as he watched them run. He might have been left behind, but he could still help his friends.

The pilots ran swiftly, catching the scattered Stormtroopers off-guard. By the time they managed to ready their weapons and fire, Dak and Wedge had already neared the fighters. 

"Its no good!" Wedge said over the staccato shrieks of Imperial blaster fire. "Can't make a break for the ladders, those snipers have us pinned down."

"Just be ready." Dak called back, as he watched R3 in the distance, trundling towards a fuel pod. The astromech passed the pod, deliberately leaking a trail of oil behind him. Once he reached a safe distance, he ignited the trail with his welding arm, and gave an electronic chuckle. The pod ignited, sending a shockwave across the landing pad. Several troopers near the blast were punched upwards by the concussive force. R3 cried out and wheeled himself behind cover , surprising himself by the severity if the explosion. 

"Now!" Dak yelled. The pilots dove for the ladders and clambered into their TIE fighters while the Imperial forces were distracted. Dak primed his fighter for take-off, flipping toggles and switches semi-frantically as he tried to recall the layout of Imperial controls. "Open fuel lines, ignition, weapons toggle..." he muttered. "Integrated life support, that's a bonus." The basic TIE models all relied on external life support systems fitted directly to a pilot's uniform. Given their lack of shields, this allowed a pilot to eject and survive in the vacuum of space long enough to be retrieved after a battle, a scenario the TIE Indomitable was designed to avoid.

"Dak, do you copy?" called Wedge, syncing up his comms array. "Ugh, these things handle like a drunken Bantha."

"I hear you Wedge. I thought TIEs were supposed to be nimble?"

"They are. It's how the Empire justifies the lack of shields. Stripped down for maximum efficiency, or so the propaganda says. But these things, the cortosis armour really weighs it down"

"Good thing they're designed to take a few hits then. Come on, let's get out of here. We have a shuttle to catch."

The twin fighters rose from the landing pad, unaffected by the remaining troopers below firing up at them. With a howling whine from the ion engines, the pair soared off in pursuit of Malefic. From his hidden position on the base below, R3 watched as the TIEs faded away into the distance, leaving him alone.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Star Wars: Old Wounds (12)

"Ok  so we're stuck in a closet, with two sleeping Stormtroopers." said Wedge, and he inspected one of the recovered blasters. "Tell we again why we're not going to steal a shuttle and leave immediately." 

"Because, R3 downloaded some schematics for Malefic's big project. Come, look." Dak waved a hand towards the astromech's holographic projector, which currently displayed a slowly rotating image of a TIE fighter. 

"So this is the TIE Indomitable. The thing that managed to shoot us down." Wedge said, as he examined the display.

"Shot you down." Dak corrected.

"Excuse me?"

"The TIE shot you down. I only crashed trying to save your life. For the record."

Wedge bristled with anger, but only to hide his embarrassment. 

"Fine. Whatever. But now we have the plans. How do we blow it up?"

"It's not gonna be that easy." Dak sighed. "I was afraid of this... the secret behind Indomitable, is cortosis."

"Never heard of it. I assume that's what they're mining here though? What's so bad about this 'cortosis'?"

"Its a very rare ore, only found on a handful of worlds in the entire galaxy. As far as I know only one other planet ever produced it in notable quantities."

"You've seen this stuff before? When?"

"I have. During the Clone Wars."

"Wait, hold on. Why was a smuggler like you fighting in the Clone Wars? You've never struck me as the ideological type."

"I didn't fight. Not exactly. But my services were available to the highest bidder."

So what, you helped transport this stuff to some arms dealer?" 

"Wedge, you wound me with such baseless accusations." Dak began to feign protest, but he dropped his act as he saw the steely edge in Wedge's eye. "Ok, keep this quiet, it kinda hurts my reputation. I ran a few unofficial trading routes, bringing vital supplies, food and medicine, to communities on the front lines. At cost price, sometimes cheaper to be honest."

"How does being charitable harm your reputation?" 

"Because 'nice' smugglers dont get far in this galaxy. Anyway, that's besides the point. I'd gotten into some trouble with some Republic authorities,  long story, so I ended up having to supply transport for a  Jedi and his clone squad. The whole thing was technically off the record, so they needed an unregistered ship."

"You're saying the Republic, and the Jedi, hired you for an unsanctioned mission." 

"Is that so hard to believe? Would I lie to you?"

"Yes. To both questions." Wedge folded his arms sternly, but gave the older pilot a quick grin.

"Doubt me if you like." Dak shrugged, also grinning. "Anyway, some Seperatist general had found a seam of cortosis, on a planet called Chrifsal. By the time we landed our little infiltration squad, they'd already set up a droid foundry. Each day saw another few hundred cortosis weaved battle droids joining their ranks. Both the skeletal BD-1 model and the more advanced assault class. They'd even started producing armoured tank prototypes."

"So they were like these TIEs? Immune to energy blasts?" 

"It was worse than that. Cortosis doesn't just absorb energy, it can channel and reflect it. Shooting at these droids just charged their energy cells. And it works on all energy weapons. Including lightsabers."

"It stops a lightsaber?!" 

"Contact with cortosis shorts the blade's energy matrix. Renders it useless for a few minutes, at least."

"So none of you had any useable weaponry. How did you manage to stop them?"

"I didn't do much of anything. The Jedi saved the day. He and his clones figured out the one weakness of cortosis ore. Its unique properties make its structure quite brittle. Concussive blasts, thermal detonators, and even Force attacks were all quite effective. But it still wasn't enough to take on an entire army. In the end, we set detonators below the foundry. The explosive force ravaged the mines below, cracking the ground open for miles as the cortosis lost its integrity. The whole base was consumed by a geological catastrophe. It wasn't one of the Republic's finest hours. But, the secret of cortosis was lost with that facility."

"Until now." Wedge surmised. "Wether Malefic somehow found those old Seperatist plans, or happened to discover cortosis' properties by himself, is irrelevant. We're on the brink of a similar technology today. I can see why you wanted us to stay. Does R3 know how far reaching the Admiral's reach spreads?"

"Scanning through the data now." Dak replied  focussed on the droid's output. "Several sites listed as potential factories, none have been selected yet. Some schematics for cortosis coated capital ships, thankfully those are provisional. Seems theres only one factory on record, listed as 'The Site', with no identifying markers." 

"Malefic did say, the heart of his operation is below this base. An underground factory perhaps?"

"Logistically, it would be awkward, but it keeps his work private, and he doesn't need to risk pirates intercepting his shipments. All in all, quite likely."

"Then its settled." Wedge said resolutely. "Malefic's toys cannot be allowed to spread across the galaxy. We have a chance to take out his operations, now, while his efforts are focussed in one place."

"Are you sure? We could wait for backup. R3 did send out our transmission." Dak asked, calmly. 

"You can't back out now old man, it was your idea. Besides, you know as well as I do that our backup will be minimal, even if Raddus does authorise it. And if by some miracle Raddus scrambles everything, they won't stand a chance against that Destroyer. This is our only opportunity."

"I know it is. But I want you to be sure before you commit. But whatever happens next, this colony is finished. Last time I faced this, we destroyed half a continent. Best case scenario, collateral damage is minimised, but the Empire abandons the mine as unprofitable. Either way, we're destroying the miners livelihoods." 

Wedge stopped to consider Dak's point. Fighting the Empire always left collateral, he'd made his peace with that. Every vessel, every base destroyed, was partially crewed by civilain staff. People who worked for the Empire yes, but many who had no alternative, some needing credits, others security for their family. Occasionally, he even managed to sleep without seeing their faces in his nightmares. 
But this was different. At least those who choice to work for the Empire had made a choice, however forced it was. But destroying an entire economy... could it be justified? Sloane was right, the Rebellion couldn't guarantee Andriss' security post Imperial rule. But then again, if he did not act, how many other worlds would suffer a similar fate. Was Andriss worth those other worlds? 

"This is why I stick to piloting. It's far less ethically challenging." Wedge said, finally. 

"You asked me once, why an old man stuck to piloting a Y-Wing. That's the reason." 

"So are we going to do this?"

"We don't really have a choice."


By the time the trio exited the supply closet, the Imperials had widened their search to the wider facility boundaries, leaving the base interior on a skeleton crew. They made quick progress towards the nearest turbolift, easily avoiding the scant patrols along the corridors. 

"Well, that looks promising." said Dak, as he observed the control panel. The lowest label's button was inactive.

"Private sub-floor." concurred Wedge. "R3, can you access it?"

The droid gave a quirky whistle, and activated the lift. They travelled in nervous silence, wondering what would await them below. Eventually, the lift began to slow, until it finally stopped with a resounding thunk.

"End of the line." Wedge murmured.

"Brace yourself. Anything could be waiting out there." Dak replied, as the doors slid open to reveal a small, carved out, chamber. The chamber was small, and apart from a number of crates, otherwise featureless. A narrow tunnel to the right of the lift extended deeper underground. 

"What have we here?" Dak asked, as he strode over to open the nearest crate. Wedge followed behind, watching over the other pilot's shoulder.

"Detonation packs? Must have been left over from the miners early expeditions. Mining cortosis with explosives sounds like a bad idea."

"But helpful for us." Dak added. "Come on, let's go further in. We'll come back for these once we know where the factory is."

With that, the proceeded down the gloomy tunnel. It was periodically lit by glow lamps, evenly spaced along the runner's length, but the dim light mostly accentuated the shadows between them. The darkness stretched and contorted between them, their own twisted silhouettes looming over them. Once again, Wedge wished he was safely confined within the cockpit of his X-Wing. 

After a time, the tunnel widened into a cavern, roughly dome shaped, with an approximate radius of five metres. The string of lights continued around its circumference and, by the tunnel's end, a wired comm station hung on the wall. Portable commlinks didn't have strong enough emitters to penetrate the dense rock around them, so all communications throughout the mine system has to be wired back to a central terminal above ground. Apart from these utilities, the cavern was empty. 

"No..." Dak whispered. 

"This can't be a dead end!" Wedge exclaimed. 

"Yet, it is. But that doesn't make any sense."

Both men jumped as a shrill ringing tone came from the comm station mounted on the wall. Warily, Dak walked towards it and carefully lifted the receiver. 

"Congratulations Rebels, you're even more foolish than I'd anticipated." boomed the smug voice of Grand Admiral Aegis Malefic. 

"Oh, karabast." Dak swore, softly.

"When I was notified the turbo lifts had travelled to the locked floor, I couldn't believe it. What exactly were you hoping to find down there?"

"Your TIE factory." Dak replied, devoid of the energy to fight. Argis laughed heartily.

"Why? Oh... Oh! Is this because I said the beating heart of my project lay beneath the base? That was a metaphor, you fools. The cortosis ore is the heart of my operation. The factories are above us, safely installed on my personal Star Destroyer. That cave you're in was abandoned due to structural instability."

Dak and Wedge shot each other disapproving looks, each silently blaming the other for their mistake. As Aegis continued, the pilots continued their wordless bickering.

"Sordy to disappoint you both, but you've lost your window to escape, not that it would have worked either way. Unfortunately, despite your continued failures, you have proven that you know too much about my plans. Any information you could give me is outweighed by the danger you represent. This is goodbye, Rebels. I guess you've blown your chances for the last time."

The line went dead. After a moments hesitation, Dak replaced the receiver and looked sorrowfully at Wedge. 

"So we were wrong, we can still force our way out." Wedge reasoned. "At worst we go down fighting." but he trailed off as he realised what Malefic had meant. Dak gave him a slow nod, as the ground shook beneath them. 

"The detonators! He'll bring the whole place down!" Wedge cried out in alarm.

"Just this tunnel, but yeah. Complete cave-in, with us crushed inside." Dak yelled in reply. 

"This is the last time I listen to one of your plans!" 

"Then you're in luck kid!" 

The roof above them was trembling now, as clouds of dust and debris rained down upon them. The rumbling grew stronger as the roar of a rippling, reflected explosion tore through the narrow cave. A burst of rock and flame shot from the tunnel opening, as the entire cavern crumbled into itself. 

"Wedge!" Dak cried, reaching out an extended arm towards his friend, but they were too far apart, and there was no way out. With thunderous percussion, the cave finished its total collapse.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Star Wars: Old Wounds (11)

It was unusual for an Admiral of the Imperial fleet to maintain an office away from their command ship. It was even more unusual that said office would be tucked away on a backwater mining world. Admiral Aegis Malefic prided himself on his ability to stand apart from the rank and file of the galaxy, however. His genius was, in his eyes, unparalleled. Project Indomitable was his latest creation, a TIE superior to any Rebel fighter, potentially even capable of taking on a cruiser without damage. A project he hoped would finally earn him the Emperor's favour, and a position among the elite on Coruscant. The secrecy of his research was the reason for he kept a semi-permanent presence on the base. Any of his underlings competent enough to manage the operation risked stealing Malefic's efforts as their own, and so he had to fill the role himself. 

The decor of the office matched that of its owner: impeccably kept, vaguely austere and draped only in materials worthy of his perceived station. His desk was large and imposing, made from real timber, not common sudowood, imported at great expense. Several paintings of wildly differing styles hung lavishly upon the walls. An Umbarran abstract painted in ultraviolet pigments, a six hundred year old portrait of a Naboo royal, a DuFhle Brothers original and more, all clashed with each other, their only connecting factor was their rarity. These were not the objects of an obsessive collector or the proud displays of an aficionado, but mere symbols of  elite status to a man like Aegis. 

Dak and Wedge were forced into the office by a pair of stormtroopers. With a sharp stabbing kick to the back of his knee, Dak was forced downwards into a subservient kneeling position, followed by Wedge. Their arms were bound behind their backs with sturdy, if tarnished, cuffs. Only afterwards did Admiral Malefic stride into the office, casting a sneering downward glance at the Rebels bound at his feet. He slowly moved past them and half leaned, half sat, on his desk, facing the pair.

"So, about those commendations..." Dak began, though was quickly silenced with the butt of a Stormtrooper's blaster.

"Humor is the weapon of fools and cowards." Aegis said, with a smirk.

"Pity. I've always wanted a commendation." sighed Wedge.

"Enough!" Malefic replied, sternly. "I have had quite enough of your antics. Obviously you won't leave here alive, but perhaps if you cooperate, the manner of your execution will be swift."

"You've never tried to sell a third-hand landspeeder on some Outer Rim mudball, have you?" Wedge asked earnestly, to which Malefic responded with bemused silence. "Because your bartering is terrible." As Dak failed to suppress a snort of derision, both pilots were again struck by their guards.

"Your attempts at comedy do not change your situation." Malefic crouched down and sharply turned Wedge's chin. "Besides, I only need one of you alive." With a slight raise of his hand, one of the Stormtroopers placed his rifle against the back of Wedge's head. Malefic flashed him a satisfied grin as he stood back. "Now, why are you here?"

"Because we crashed! We needed a way off this dust bowl." Dak said, urgency creeping into his voice. Malefic savoured his next breath.

"See how quickly the facade falls away? You concern for your friend is almost touching, truly." He stepped towards Dak. "But I meant, why are you on Andriss? Why attack my supply lines? How much do you know about Indomitable?"

"What?! I have no idea what an Indomitable is. We only chose Andriss because it was convenient. It's one of a thousand tiny outposts in this sector."

"I spoke too soon, it seems. You expect we to believe you're here by pure chance? "

"Pretty much, though you could say it was the will of the Force." interjected Wedge sardonically. "After all, we did stumble on your little TIE project".

"Oh, so that's what Indomitable means!" Dak exclaimed, with mock surprise.

"There is nothing 'little' about my masterwork. Indomitable will spell the end for your group of insurgents!" Malefic had risen to the taunt. "Beneath this facility lies the beating heart of Project Indomitable, and you expect me to believe you found it by accident? No, I don't think so. There must be a leak, a mole in the organisation, something! You will tell me everything you know, the work is too near completion to fail now!" The admiral paused, realising he'd lost control. He cleared his throat while taking a moment to compose himself. He brushed a stray lock of hair back into place with his off-hand, before continuing. "I will ask for the final time..."

He was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a nervous and out of breath officer. The officer stared aghast at the Rebel prisoners, as he realised what he had intruded upon. Malefic glared silently at the officer, his angled features would say enough. "Sorry for the interruption Grand Admiral, but we've detected an unsanctioned outgoing transmission. From the Imperial network."

"Contents?" Malefic queried.

"Unknown sir. The message was encrypted. And it can't be traced. The sender pinged it through an array of hyperspace buoys."

"I knew it!" he exclaimed. The Rebels were not acting alone after all. His mind raced, already computing the possibilities. A third Rebel? Some Y-Wings did have a co-pilot, but analysis of the fighter wreckage seemed to rule that out. A Rebel sympathiser among the miners? Unlikely to be able to access the Imperial comm centre, much less have security codes. A droid perhaps? Certainly possible. Most of the droids servicing the base were sourced locally, and lacked the regulation black and grey paintwork. It would be too easy for a saboteur to slip in. Nor could he rule out an Imperial turncoat. 

"Lockdown the base." he ordered. "No person or droid is allowed in or out of the mining complex. Check every ID code and operating number. If anyone is here who shouldn't be, I want them found. Troopers, take these two to the detention centre. I need to ruminate on these matters." 


R3-T3 trundled nervously through the seemingly endlessly winding Imperial corridors. He logged his ocular components as requiring repairs; This facility definitely didn't appear to be as big from the outside. The astromech liked to self diagnose in stressful situations, it distracted his processor from his current predicament. As he rounded the next corner, his vocorder gave an involuntary melancholy warbler. At the far end of the hallway, two stormtroopers were marching with purpose toward the droid.  No, he corrected, not towards him. They didn't even seem to be aware of R3's presence, instead they were escorting two prisoners. His photosensor widened in alarm, it was Masters Dogba and Antilles! Not that R3 was surprised by their capture. He'd never liked this plan. If he had lungs, the little astromech would have sighed. Once again, he had to rescue his Master. 

R3 veered away from his current path, to a point directly in from of the lead trooper.

"Move it, rust bucket." said the trooper, not breaking his stride. R3 beeped frantically. Behind the Stormtrooper, Dak gave his droid a sly wink, and waited for the opportune moment.

"I don't have time for this..." the trooper muttered. He raised a fist to halt his partner and their prisoners. "What are you trying to say droid?"

Despite have the processing power to perform thousands of complex calculations a second, R3 struggled to think on his feet. He considered over two hundred potential lies, but none passed his probabilistic algorithms with any certainty. He had no choice but to pick one, and hope the Stormtrooper was too preoccupied to think it through. He continued his insistent utterances.

"What's the holdup? These two need to be in lockup, or the Admiral will be furious." called the rear trooper.

"Its this droid. He says there's some unrest outside. Some of the miners are causing a scene, and we should go intervene before it kicks off." said the first trooper.

"Tell him to find someone else. We're busy." 

"I dunno, he sounds pretty concerned. Might be serious."

"Leave it. I'm not drawing the ire of the Admiral just because you're itching for a fight. If you want to blow off steam, head to the firing range after your shift." 

Between the bickering troopers, Dak turned to face Wedge and grinned. With a subtle flick of his wrist, he revealed his binders had become unfastened. "Old smuggling trick." he whispered. With a quick nod, both jumped into action. Dak sidestepped, allowing the still bound Wedge to tackle the leading trooper from behind. The trooper's white helmet cracked off of R3's verdant dome, while Dak swung a wide punch at the other. Within seconds, it was over. Both troopers were out cold, and the pilots were free. 

Dak leaned down towards his droid, patting it's dome fondly. "Thanks buddy. I owe you one." R3 gave a harsh burst of static. "Fine, I owe you two."

"We don't have long. We should go and steal the shuttle before we're discovered." said Wedge, interrupting.

"Wait. R3 needs to show us something. Come on, help me drag these two into that storage room. Then, we can take stock of where we stand."

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Star Wars: Old Wounds (10)

"Greetings, my fellow denizens of the glorious Empire!" exclaimed Moff Wurmley, with feigned delight. Dak thought him an odious stub of a man, as wide as he was tall, a bulbous parcel of flesh and sweat, held together only by a constricting uniform and the unwavering sense of superiority of a man who spends his life failing upwards. 
"Now, as you are probably all aware, we have once again been the victim of a cowardly attack by Rebel insurgents." Wurmley muttered through his speech, rushing as if he was afraid he'd forget what he was saying if he spoke for too long. The gathered crowd began to jeer, some loudly wondering if further 'voluntary donations' would be asked for, others angry that the Rebels were not yet taken care of. 
"Now, I sense you're angry." stammered the Moff. "So am I. But we have struck a blow to our enemies..." He did not address the crowd directly, but aimed his speech above them, unwilling to make eye contact any of them. The crowd grew increasingly restless. 
"It has come to my, um, attention that there may be... Rebels... among you..." he uttered, flustered. The crowd continued to shout, while Dak and Wedge shared a worried glance.

"Enough!" cried a sudden, bold voice from behind the gathered crowd. The miners turned to see who had called out, and quickly, their murmuring died down. A figure had emerged from the shuttle on the landing platform. He stood tall, dressed in the pristine white tunic of a Grand Admiral. A half-cape billowed in the wind behind him, lined with red fabric, its edged embroidered in silver filigree. His jet black boots, perfectly polished, clacked neatly across the stony ground. His  chiseled features formed a striking image, with a lightly creased brow indicating his age. Combined with a well-trimed beard and greying temples, he appeared more dignified than merely old. He was flanking on either side by Stormtroopers, each clad in unusual, bronze hued armour.

"It appears that our Grand Admiral, Aegis Malefic, has decided to grace us with his presence." Wurmley announced, obsequiously. 

"That will be all, Atticus. I'll take it from here." replied the Admiral, as he took the Moff's place, pointedly refusing to shake the other man's outstretched hand.

"You are all busy people, so I shall be brief." The miners remained silent, seemingly stunned by Malefic's presence.

"Now, as you are painfully aware, Rebels have been attacking this base's supply routes for a number of weeks, despite of Andriss' ruler here. As a result, I have personally intervened to ensure your protection, and to prevent further disruption to you all, and to your important work. We have already fended off the latest Rebel assault, though I'm sure you've heard the rumours by now. Two pilots were shot down last night. We believe them to have perished, but we cannot rule out their survival until we find their bodies."

"See?" Dak whispered in Wedge's ear. "Nothing to worry about, they think we're dead." Wedge didn't reply.

"However, if any of you have any information on these Rebels, I urge you to come forward. If any of you have helped these Rebels, know we will find out. You face a choice, to aid the Empire, and be a hero, or give refuge to our enemies and face the consequences. After all, none of you, I'm sure, would like to become the reason for further rationing efforts. The sooner these Rebels are dealt with, the sooner your full privileges can be restored." 

Malefic began to stroll through the crowd, casually glancing at the ID numbers stitched onto chests of the miner's jumpsuits. 

"The Empire rewards compliance. The Empire rewards loyalty. That is why I wish to honour the achievements of two of your number... ahh..!" he said, pointing with a flourish at Dak and Wedge. 

"Still think this was a good plan?" hissed Wedge. Dak didn't reply.

"These two loyal workers recently brought to our attention evidence of Rebel sympathisers organizing among the workforce." continued the Admiral. Dak glanced downwards at his armband, finally recognising its design. The mark of an Imperial informant. A quisling's band. He cursed his own sorry luck.

"Thanks to your bravery and dedication, the dissident cell was summarily dealt with, and is no longer a concern." He smiled at the pair, teeth gleaming like those of an apex predator. "I have personally arranged my visit to bestow upon you a great honour. You are to accompany these Stormtroopers to my office to recieve a commendation. The rest of you..." Malefic announced, turning to face the gathered mob, may go about your day, safe in the knowledge that the Rebel threat is very nearly extinguished!"

"Maybe this is a good thing." Dak whispered. 

"Do you honestly believe that?" replied Wedge, tersely.

"Unfortunately not. Let's hope R3 is having an easier time."


R3 trundled through the narrow corridors of the administritive building, twisting his dome from side to side nervously. He realised he was warbling anxiously to himself, and forced himself to stop. Instead, the droid began to whistle, almost nonchalantly, as he continued his search for the communications station. One of his internal sensors indicated a drop in pressure of his hydraulic fluid. His shoulder joint was beginning to drip again, which didn't help his disposition.

Despite his fears, the astromech has already made great progress. After he left his master, he joined a group of droids queueing to replace the previous shift. Sandwiched between a dark coloured protocol droid and a limping gonk unit, he made his way through the security checkpoint. The pair of stormtroopers on guard were inattentive, deep in arguement over rival swoop bike manufacturers. Once he was inside, he wasn't given a second glance, just another droid out of the dozens going about their daily routines inside the walls of of the base.

As the nervous droid rounded yet another corner, he trilled with delight upon arriving at a communication terminal, tucked discreetly into an alcove. Retracting his central stabilising leg, he waddled into position and inserted his data probe into the access port. He cast one last furtive glance by spinning his dome, before transferring his message. Every second it took to transmit seemed like a hour to his processing unit, increasing the odds of his discovery, until finally he recieved confirmation of his signal. Yet, despite his success, R3 did not feel relief, or even a simulation of the emotion. Instead, he uttered a series of concerned beeps, as he scanned a stream of internal messages passing through the terminal, concerning two fugitives.


Aboard the freighter "Centurion", Lara Sarvak was crouched by an access panel, simultaneously attempting to replace a sub-alternator on the hyper drive control matrix, and fend off the incessant advances of Wes Janson. 

"Sure you don't need any assistance?" asked the pilot, through a smirk. "You know, I'm very good with my hands. Ask anyone."

"I did actually." replied Lara, without turning away from her repairs. "They all told me the same thing: Watch out for Wes. He's a bit of a creep."

"Hey.." he replied, seemingly hurt, though it only took him a second to bounce back. "It's just one of the many comparisons between me and a rash. I'm also irritating, unsightly and very persistent."

Lara laughed, and turned to face him, flashing a slight smile. "Not to mention your rash decisions..." she started, before giving up on her own joke, mentally kicking herself.

"Maybe leave the one liners to me. You stick to the withering comments." he laughed. Lara wondered,  not for the first time, if he was even capable of taking anything seriously. "It's like Wedge always says..."

Then she saw it, a flicker of concern in the pilot's eyes, quickly brushed over. Wes needed to be irreverent, she realised. He had to be loud, always talking, to drown out the silence. Every pilot in the Rebellion had the same fears: the fear of their own deaths, obviously, but also the deaths of their comrades. Every mission was someone's last, after all. The Empire kept their pilots faceless, homogenized, replaceable. Pilots were discouraged from fraternising, but in the Rebellion, squadrons were family. They shared everything, they were each other's support, both in the air and outside the cockpit. Every mission they faced was against impossible odds, against a foe with superior numbers and firepower. Mortality rates were astronomical, so the friendships between pilots were often intensely deep and very brief. Everyone had their own way of dealing with their ghosts, and bluster was how Wes coped with his.

"I'm sure Wedge is fine. That they're both fine." Lara said, softly. 

"Course they will. They have to. I need to ridicule Wedge about being shot down by a TIE. Oh, he'll never hear the end of this one!" Wes replied, coolly. Lara saw a softening of his eyes, and she smiled in response. 

With a sudden shrill alert, their attention was drawn to the ship's main console. Lara sprinted towards it, hopping deftly over piles of spare parts and open gratings, while Wes followed behind somewhat less gracefully. 

"It's a transmission from Andriss." Lara called behind her, as she sank into her flight chair. "From R3, using Dak's personal code."

"Don't describe it, play the damn thing!" replied Wes, settling in the seat beside Lara. She flicked a switch on the console, and a small fuzzy hologram appeared before them, of two figures dressed in Rebel flight suits.

"This message will be brief." Dak's hologram explained. "Wedge and I survived our 'landing' on Andriss, but we are without transportation. The Empire is using this planet to test a new type of TIE fighter, one impervious to conventional blaster fire. The material from which they're made appears to absorb and reflect energy at an astounding rate. We believe this material is mined from this facility. This new technology must be destroyed now, before these advanced fighters are issued across the galaxy. We intend to infiltrate the compound, liberate an Imperial shuttle, and make our escape, with whatever information we can extract. However, escape will be impossible while Andriss remains under Imperial blockade. We will require support from the fleet to cause a distraction, if we are to escape, with information on this new threat. We will be unable to receive communications, and so trust that backup will arrive.  If not, we are willing to die for our efforts. Our position here is untenable, so we cannot wait. There is no time to formulate an alternative plan. If you receive this message, we are already inside the facility, so time is short. We will stall for as long as possible before attempting to escape, but I doubt we can remain undetected for long. If help doesn't arrive, if we die in the attempt, they may this message stand as an early warning for these new TIEs."

The message cut off with a hiss of static. 
"At least they're alive." Wes shrugged. "That's good news. A potential fleet of indestructible TIEs, not so much." He remembered the damage inflicted by a handful of those fighters over Andriss, and dreaded to think about what a whole fleet could do. Let alone capital ships armored in the same material.

"What are we going to do?!" exclaimed Lara, as she slammed the console in frustration. "Admiral Raddus will never sanction a rescue mission with these odss. And even if he did, we don't have anywhere near the firepower to confront a Destroyer." 

"Dont be so defeatist. I can be very persuasive. A little bit of Janson charm will be enough to win over old fishface. You'll see." Wes replied with a wink, as Lara buried her face in her hands, letting out a silent roar of frustration.