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Lost with a Cause

By: Barraken

Word Count: 5000

(Pilot quarters, CRS Defiance, Endor -4.5 days)

Captain Richard "Wildstar" Vogel, Red Squadron's Communications Officer temporarily reassigned to Riot Squadron for what was termed an important mission involving a high-value target, was always uneasy before these types of missions. However, he usually rose to the occasion, often surpassing the expectations of his superior officers. In the current situation, he was trying to relax, enjoying what he could of his free time before he knew he would be called upon to complete his tasks.

A couple of hours passed after he turned on the music stream in his quarters, a mix of favorites from his homeworld and songs that he'd performed in his past life on the run before joining the Rebel Alliance, when a signal came over the speaker. The ship's on-board computer announced, "Captain Vogel, there's a priority message for you on an encrypted channel."

Wildstar replied, "I'll take it here, but take measures to ensure that no one intercepts this communication." He figured only one group of beings would send encrypted communication for him at this time.

"Who is it?" asked the Riot Squadron pilot.

"Greetings, old friend," came the familiar voice.

"Well, I'll be!" bellowed a shocked Wildstar. "A'Kula! I thought you and Kalidor Squadron were long lost."

The man who had been Kalidor 3 replied, "Most of us are gone. It's just me, FourSpeed, and Z-Man left. Shorthanded, yes, but still, plenty of trouble for the Empire."

Wildstar continued, "It's curious that you contact me at this time. I've been reassigned to an outfit named Riot Squadron for a very important mission."

"You're about the only one we could trust with this information," A'Kula rejoined. "About Imperial plans that could jeopardize it."

Wildstar stated, "Well, I don't even know what our objective is. They've told us little about this mission so far."

A'Kula sensed the opportunity to draw his old friend into his proposition. "What if I told you that we believe the objective of your mission is a new, uncompleted Death Star?" he asked.

Wildstar's face took a puzzled look. "Why would the Empire build another?"

A'Kula's answer was a knowing smirk.

Richard knew Imperial tactics well and that a big installation, even incomplete, wouldn't be undefended, meaning it would likely be a big slugging match between the fleets of the Rebels and Imperials. "What kind of strength is the Emperor putting out to defend it?"

A'Kula's answer came quickly. "Unsure, but you know it won't be left alone."

Wildstar kept up this line of questioning. "Does the station have a full TIE complement?" He sensed that, with the Alliance having their best pilots in the battle, the Emperor would want every advantage possible by both pulling all skilled pilots as well as numbers in their favor.

A'Kula had been waiting to make this disclosure. "FourSpeed has found a squadron of TIE Avengers based on the Codian Moon awaiting the Rebel fleet's arrival. You know how deadly those ships are. None can be allowed to reach the objective."

"We need to warn—"

"No time, my friend."

Wildstar grimaced. "My next patrol is in twelve hours. Where do you wish to rendezvous?"

"The Ring of Kafrene," was A'Kula's answer. "I suggest you take an A-wing with advanced concussion missiles and some charges. My plan is to infiltrate the base on the Codian Moon, plant charges on as many of the brights as we can, and deal with the rest in the air."

"Sounds good," declared Wildstar. "There will be no margin for error. Any bright that makes it to the main battle and destroys our fighters is potentially the fighter that saves the Death Star. See you later." He then pressed a button on a datapad, ending the transmission and quickly fell asleep, knowing what would now follow.


(Flight Deck, CRS Defiance, Endor -4 days)

Wildstar approached Deck Officer Huggitee Nret, a female Sullustan, as he prepared for his usual patrol of space around the Rebel fleet. "For today's patrol, do you think you can spare an A-wing with some advanced missiles?"

"That seems like an odd request to make, given the mission we're about to go on," the deck officer replied in her native language, which Wildstar, of course, understood. The Sullustan knew the standing orders were to save the best weapons for the coming battle.

"Let's just say I'd rather not be surprised by anything out there today," followed up the pilot, hoping she wouldn't also notice the pack on his hip carrying the charges he needed to bring with him on this covert mission.

"I guess you're right," deferred the Sullustan, turning to a crew to give orders. "I want an A-wing with advanced concussion missiles ready for Captain Vogel in two hours for his patrol!" she barked.


(A-wing Riot 5, Flight Deck, CRS Defiance, two hours later)

"Defiance control, Riot 5 requesting clearance for launch," declared Captain Richard Vogel as he completed his pre-launch checks in the A-wing's cockpit. Wildstar, although he didn't betray it, seemed uneasy, knowing he was about to go AWOL from the biggest battle of the Galactic Civil War. He then reassured himself with the knowledge that he had a side mission critical to the main mission's success to carry out. The rest of the fleet just couldn't be made aware of it.

"Riot 5, this is Defiance control. Clearance granted; proceed with launch sequence," was the return from the flight control officer.

Wildstar's plan was to fly one hour while calculating possible hyperspace jump points to the Ring of Kafrene and other systems as an exercise until finally activating the hyperdrive to the intended rendezvous point. This, he reasoned, would keep the folks monitoring his telemetry from guessing his intentions.

"Defiance control, this is Riot 5, I'll be calculating some hyperspace jump points as an exercise," Wildstar stated. "The increased activity of my naviputer is normal."

"Defiance control, we copy, Riot 5," came the reply from the flight control officer.


(Space, near CRS Defiance, one hour later)

It had been a quiet patrol for Captain Vogel, aside from the calculation of hyperspace jump points on the navicomputer. However, the moment of truth had arrived, and he programmed the Ring of Kafrene on a timer for about this time, so he was getting his hand ready to push the lever to engage his A-wing's hyperdrive.

A couple of moments passed, and then he heard the acknowledgment tone from the navicomputer. He pushed the lever forward, and as the Rebel fighter craft entered hyperspace, it also disappeared from the sensor screens of the Defiance.

A bridge officer reported, "Admiral Nammo, Riot 5 just entered hyperspace without apparent explanation."

Admiral Nammo thought a moment, then asked the officer, "Who is the pilot of Riot 5?"

"Captain Vogel, the reassigned Communications Officer of Red Squadron, sir," was the bridge officer's reply.

Admiral Nammo continued, "There's only one being I can talk to about him. When I get to my quarters, patch me through to Fleet Liaison Murg."

"Yes, sir!" came the bridge officer's reply.


(An abandoned building, Ring of Kafrene, Endor -3 days)

Wildstar landed his A-wing near an abandoned building far from the main city on the Ring of Kafrene, climbed out of the cockpit, and entered the building. A'Kula's coordinates on the world were transmitted along with his initial message, so he knew he was in the right place.

He entered the building, walked with the aid of a flashlight down an elongated hallway into a room that was empty except for the pilots named A'Kula, FourSpeed, and Z-Man, along with the latter two's astromechs. Wildstar acknowledged all three in turn, then quizzed, "OK, where on the Codian Moon is the Imperial base, FourSpeed?"

FourSpeed activated the holoprojector on his astromech and stated, "It is about 200 klicks from a lake on this sector." He continued, "My X-wing and Z-Man's have reflec hulls, so we should be able to land close to the base. The A-wings, with natural stealth capability, should be able to, as well. Z-Man has a blueprint of the base itself in his droid."

Z-Man continued the briefing. "There's a side entrance here," noting the point flashing on his droid's projector, "that appears less well-guarded than the others. We can use the cover of night to sneak up, disable the guards at the entrance, and use their biometrics to gain entry."

A'Kula picked up the briefing from there. "Once inside, we proceed carefully to the launch bay, plant the charges, move to a safe location, and detonate them. If we get all twelve, plus any spares in reserve, our mission is a success."

Wildstar asked, "And if they notice us?"

FourSpeed countered, "That's why we needed you as our fallback. One more fighter, plus advanced missiles to take the brights' shields down quicker."

"Yeah, we're lucky I even got them," Wildstar mused. He continued, "The fleet attacks the Death Star in two days, so we don't have much time. Let's get moving."

The party of four made their way to their craft, unaware of a shadowy figure in the distance with scanning binoculars that was observing the building.


(Major Moggaz Murg's quarters, CRS Sovereignty, Endor -3 days)

Major Moggaz "Barraken" Murg was going over 11th hour preparations for the coming battle in his quarters when an alert tone came over his comm. The voice on it sounded, "Admiral Nammo wishes to speak to you, sir."

"Of course," Barraken replied, "Put him on."

"Major Murg, you're not going to like this news," announced Admiral Nammo. "One of the pilots from Riot Squadron hypered out unexpectedly while on patrol this morning."

Barraken asked, "Do you know which Riot Squadron pilot?"

"Captain Vogel," Admiral Nammo replied.

Barraken thought a while, longer than he usually does in these circumstances. When he felt he had his thoughts together, he asked the admiral, "Are there any known habitable systems along his last known vector?"

A minute passed before Barraken had his answer, as the Defiance's bridge officers had to complete the request. "A few," Admiral Nammo replied, "but the closest one is the Ring of Kafrene."

Barraken was thinking his long-time friend would not act alone in these situations and that something was up. "OK, thank you, Admiral. I'll take that under advisement," he said before ending the transmission.

He then opened a line to the Sovereignty's Intelligence Officer, Lt. Commander C'our Dentran. "Lieutenant Commander Dentran, I'd like a list of new Imperial installations within a day's hyperspace travel of the Ring of Kafrene ASAP."

"I'll get right on it," the Cathar said.


(Hyperspace between the Ring of Kafrene and the Codian Moon, Endor -2.5 days)

The four Rebel starfighters comprising the ad-hoc assault team on the Codian Moon Imperial base traveled in hyperspace in a box formation, with the A-wings leading their X-wing counterparts. A'Kula acted as de facto OC for this mission. "Does everyone have their sidearms and charges ready for when we touch down on the Codian Moon?" he asked, receiving confirmation from the other three in turn.

He stated, "We'll reach the base in twelve standard hours. Get plenty of rest until then, because when we do, you won't have any until it's over. Cheers!" The four men then got what sleep they could.


(Major Moggaz Murg's quarters, CRS Sovereignty, Endor -2.5 days)

An alert tone came over Barraken's comm, followed by Lt. Commander Dentran's voice. "Major Murg, I have the report you requested," said the Cathar.

"Thank you," replied Barraken. "I'll download it now."

As he was studying the locations of the Imperial facilities on a section of the galactic map, a report about one of them struck him as odd. A TIE Fighter base on the Codian Moon was recently upgraded to handle the more advanced TIE Avenger craft. As one of the few TIE types with shields and a hyperdrive, the Empire was using them carefully. But why upgrade this facility for the TIE Avenger if it's not going to be more than a day's hyperspace travel from...

"ENDOR?" Barraken thought to himself. That could be an explanation. "Could the whole thing be a trap, and the Empire means to clean up our fighters with the TIE Avengers? Possibly... But who told Wildstar about it?"

"Kalidor Squadron? I thought they were lost, and they're supposed to be just a rumor, anyway," came the conclusion from Barraken. He needed to get his friend some help, but quietly. He thought he knew just the two, and they were out of location from Barraken's current one.

He attempted to contact Admiral Akbar, but his call was rejected.


(Imperial Firebase TA-3274, Codian Moon, Endor -2 days)

The Rebel fighters' final approach and landing site took them close to the Imperial base, but it still required a half-day's journey on foot to reach it. The plan was to commandeer what speeder transport they could to buy some time, and they were fortunate to find a couple of speeder bikes about an hour after touchdown. They were acquired with relative ease and the party was on their way to their objective. They parked the speeders about an hour from the side entrance they planned to use and walked the rest of the way.


(Bridge, CRS Defiance, Endor -2 days)

A bridge officer interrupted a conversation Admiral Nammo was having with Admiral Ackbar during final battle preparations. "Admiral Nammo," the deck officer declared, "we've picked up Riot 5's transponder signal on the Codian Moon. Should I report this to Major Murg?"

"Yes, open a frequency to the Fleet Liaison," the admiral replied.

Barraken came on over the comm. "News to report about your missing pilot?" he questioned.

"Yes," Admiral Nammo stated, "we've picked up his transponder signal on the Codian Moon."

Barraken followed with, "Thank you, Admiral. I know what to do next." The communication ended at that point.

Barraken turned to the comm system and requested, "I'd like a three-way encrypted transmission to my operatives, Cyshury Lalut and Zlabba." When both the Cathar female and Toydarian male appeared on the holoprojector in Barraken's quarters, Barraken started a briefing.

"Heater and Firefly, my friend and pilot, Captain Rich Vogel, is on the Codian Moon participating in a raid on an Imperial base that was recently upgraded for the TIE Avenger," he began. "I expect trouble there, but I need to send him help quietly, so that's why I need your help. I know each of your skills can contribute something the pilots lack, so that's why I'm dispatching you. Rendezvous with Wildstar wherever you find him at the time and assist him and his colleagues in any way necessary, understood?"

"You got it, boss!" came from the Cathar.

"Yessir!" followed the Toydarian.

"Good luck, and may the Force be with you two," said Barraken as he ended the transmission.


(Imperial Firebase TA-3274, Codian Moon, Endor -1.5 days)

The four Rebel pilots were using shrubbery and darkness as cover while scouting the side entrance to the Imperial base. It seemed to be guarded by the usual two Imperial stormtroopers.

"OK," Wildstar started to ask, "who's going to knock out those two stormtroopers?

FourSpeed said, "Z-Man and I have done this plenty of times: We approach from either side, give a hi-sign, and then knock both out with a stun blaster simultaneously. We must use stun setting because their biometrics don't work when they're dead."

Wildstar followed, "I see, taking no chances. Let's get to work."

A'Kula said, "Yeah, let's, and that's really an order. Wildstar and I will wait 100 meters away while you two do your thing."

The four men stalked the entrance, making as little noise as possible, until they got close. At that point Wildstar and A'Kula paused their march toward the entrance while the other two continued on. FourSpeed and Z-Man eventually took up positions, FourSpeed on the left flank and Z-Man on the right. Both made sure they had a clear shot, gave each other the signal, then fired after a silent count. Both stormtroopers fell as if dead but were really stunned.

It was generally assumed that the trooper closest to the door was the one able to activate its controls, so Wildstar rushed up to assist Z-Man with his trooper, take off his glove, and hold it against the control panel, which activated the door. The pilots then dragged both stunned troopers inside, seized their weapons for later use, and closed the door, again with the hand of the trooper they used to gain entry.

A'Kula turned to Z-Man and asked, "You loaded the blueprint of this facility into your scanner, right?"

Z-Man said, "Of course, and it has plotted a path to the launch bay in which we should encounter the least resistance."

A'Kula ordered, "OK, everyone, follow the path indicated by Z-Man's scanner."

The four men started down a dark hallway, little prepared for what awaited them in the launch bay.


(Hallway leading to hangar, Imperial Firebase TA-3274, Codian Moon, One hour later)

The four men approached the launch bay of the Imperial base with relative ease.

Z-Man remarked, "This is the easiest Imperial objective I've ever reached. Only two guards. You'd think they'd guard these as closely as a Hutt shipment of spice."

Wildstar added, "I've got a bad feeling about this, like there's something waiting for us inside that launch bay."

A'Kula consulted with FourSpeed before asking, "Wildstar, you wanna have a look in there and tell us what you see, first?"

"Sure," came the natural reply.

Wildstar poked his head inside the launch bay, quickly sized up the Imperial presence in it, and then turned to report. "I count the standard twelve TIE Avengers, plus three spares, along with munitions and fuel for all of them."

A'Kula said, "At least they don't have a welcoming party for us. Let's get to work. Wildstar and I will take the craft closest to the front of the bay, FourSpeed and Z-Man the rear."

The four split up and started setting up charges. No sooner had they gotten the first of their charges on that they were greeted by a deep voice that had entered the bay.

"I'm Moff Caldamar, Commanding Officer of this facility. We've been expecting you."

Moff Caldamar stationed himself on a platform to the rear of the bay at mid-level. Each of the four Rebel pilots was then surrounded and bound by the wrists by a group of stormtroopers that had also entered the launch bay.

Moff Caldamar continued, "Don't you realize by now that Emperor Palpatine is wise enough to think of everything when considering something like what's about to happen? We've been tracking this group's movements the last several days. We've been wondering about the remnant of the once vaunted Kalidor Squadron, too."

A'Kula, furious, said, "Don't you know we have a reputation for breaking out of prison cells?"

"I do," Moff Caldamar retorted. "That's why all four of you are scheduled to be terminated in two hours. Take them away!"

Wildstar countered, "This is only going to strengthen our resolve. You'll see!" as the four were being led to their cells for termination processing.


(Cell 4801, Detention level, Imperial Firebase TA-3274, Codian Moon, 2 hours later)

Wildstar was contemplating his likely last days of life, especially that they'd be spent out of contact with the one true friend he had known in the galaxy, the Quarren known as Barraken. As he was, the door to his cell opened, with his stormtrooper escorts bringing him up to a standing position ready to force him down the hall to the termination room, where he would be joined by the three Kalidor pilots.

All four were bound to a body board, after which Moff Caldamar entered the room. "I have an announcement to make," he proclaimed. "You four will be the first to be terminated using a sort of reverse bacta that eats flesh on contact. It will be painful, but hopefully for not too long, for your sake. I've studied the dossiers and we'll go in order of codenames, so the one called A'Kula will be first."

A'Kula's board was brought into position and readied for the toxic bacta bath in the vat below. A slow moment passed before the termination door started to sizzle and eventually burst open, into the room which followed the Cathar, Cyshury Lalut, armed with a Gatling blaster rifle. She started using it to open fire on the stormtroopers in the room, doing so with an efficiency that surprised everyone, including the Imperial commander, who thought all he could do was run and hide.

Once Lalut gained control of the room, she freed the three pilots on the floor of the room, who turned to get their leader out of danger. Wildstar turned to the Cathar and asked, "Who are you?"

"You can call me Heater," she replied. "Barraken sent me to help you guys out, but it appears I've had to save you silly fools."

"Well, Heater," continued Wildstar, "the TIEs in this facility are going to launch soon with orders to destroy the fighters arriving at Endor, so we have to stop them NOW!"

Heater countered, "There's a Toydarian with me, codenamed Firefly. He's a great speeder driver who can get you to your ships. He's also handy with an RPG launcher."

Wildstar thought for a quick second and said, "I have an idea. Have Firefly rendezvous with us in the launch bay, pronto. The four of us will grab weapons and make our way down, with Heater covering our route."

The party of four that became five proceeded to head back to the launch bay, picking off stormtroopers as they appeared in view, with Heater taking the duties whenever there were groups of three or more appearing.


(Hangar, Imperial Firebase TA-3274, Codian Moon, Endor -26 hours)

The four pilots, along with the Cathar escort they picked up, arrived at the Imperial base's launch bay to find the location bristling with stormtroopers, along with a smattering of TIE pilots.

A'Kula declared, "I think we know whose job this is going to be, and it's not any of us humans. Heater, open fire on those stormtroopers, taking shots at pilots if you can get a clear one off. We'll cover your rear. Everyone, be on the lookout for that Toydarian, too."

Z-Man shouted, "Let's go!"

Heater let loose with her blaster, with stormtroopers and pilots falling like dominoes. The four humans behind her picked off anyone who tried to get behind the action in the launch bay. A group of five stormtroopers finally managed to assemble behind the Rebel party and were about to fire when an explosion hit their area at a distance harmless to the Rebel group. There was only one explanation for that.

A figure resembling a tiny elephant with winged ears emerged from the smoke. It was the Toydarian, Firefly. "Hey guys, I've come to pick you up."

Wildstar said, "That's great, but here's what I want you to do first. You see that canister suspended in the upper rear corner over there? That's fuel storage. If you destroy that, the fire will travel down the connected fuel lines and eventually take out some of those TIEs, too. Get on it!"

"Yessir!" answered Firefly. He then loaded an incendiary rocket onto his launcher and took aim, which proved true. The result was as Wildstar hoped for, incapacitating about half of the TIEs.

A'Kula shouted, "Let's get out of here before the whole place blows!"

The six Rebels boarded a flatbed speeder and took off for the starfighters parked many klicks away. The TIEs that survived the launch bay explosion all took off in pursuit.

A'Kula asked FourSpeed, "How many of them are there?"

"I count five," FourSpeed replied, "all chasing us."

A'Kula asked Firefly, "Did you bring any ion rockets?"

Firefly answered, "Yup! I have three of them."

A'Kula said, "Here's what we'll do. Heater will pour as much blaster fire into those TIEs as she can. This should weaken them enough so that one of Firefly's ion rockets will disable them."

Heater cried, "Gotcha! One coming in now!" She let loose with her weapon, with most of her bolts finding the mark. This repeated itself for three passes before A'Kula gave the order to Firefly to hit the TIE with an ion rocket, causing the craft to spin out of control and crash on the ground below.

"One down!" Z-Man exclaimed.

A second bright made its passes, with the same tactics ringing true.

The rest bugged out, but that could mean only one thing: It was almost time for them to leave for Endor.

After A'Kula noted that, FourSpeed countered, "That's OK, though. Firefly found a shortcut to our ships between enemy passes and we're almost there. We'd better hurry, though, boys!"

Wildstar turned to the Cathar and Toydarian and said, "I don't know where you two came from, but you really saved our necks back there. I'll note this in my report to Barraken."

Firefly spoke for both, "Until we meet again."

A'Kula shouted, "OK, let's take off!" That was soon followed by the vertical takeoff of all four Rebel starfighters from the moon.


(Space over Codian Moon, Endor -24 hours)

A'Kula put his comm on. "Their pursuit on the ground probably forced a space refuel, so keep an eye out for those TIEs."

"Copy, A'Kula," Wildstar acknowledged.

A couple of minutes passed before FourSpeed broke in. "Found them, sir. I have four marks at five-oh-eight."

"Four?" quizzed A'Kula.

"I'm betting the fourth is Moff Caldamar," mused Z-Man. "He's done far more surprising things with us on this operation." His thought to himself was that the Imperial was even a part of this operation.

A'Kula asked, "How many clicks away are they?"

FourSpeed replied, "Four klicks."

A'Kula continued, "This is where our stealth works to our advantage. We'll go in at maximum speed, drop in on their six, and try to get two missiles in, which should lower their shields enough to make them sitting ducks for our lasers. Go!"

The four Rebel craft closed quickly on their enemies. Z-Man was the first to reach his target, getting his two away. They caught its pilot completely by surprise and was enough to destroy the craft by itself.

Shields were immediately raised on the other three brights. "I guess we have their attention," said Wildstar.

It was too late for FourSpeed's target, as his missiles were already away. Both hit their mark, forcing its pilot to slow down, allowing the former Kalidor pilot to finish it off with lasers.

A'Kula was having a tougher time, as his second missile missed, but a third took the shields down enough for A'Kula's masterful A-wing gunnery to have a deadly effect.

Wildstar was having the most difficulty, having missed with his first one. "This pilot's good," he uttered. He continued, "A'Kula, when you can, give me an ID on the occupant."

After a minute, A'Kula got into scanning range. "Just as I thought, Moff Caldamar," he said.

Wildstar inquired, "Could you give me some help then?"

"Sure!" was A'Kula's reply.

While the Imperial commander was busy keeping Wildstar off his back, he failed to notice A'Kula closing on him with a missile lock, with the subsequent missile finding its target. In desperation, Moff Caldamar decided to run and calculate the jump to Endor.

Wildstar noticed that the bright was turning tail. "He's bugging out!" he cried

FourSpeed said, "More likely a desperation run to Endor. Wildstar, you've got the advanced missiles. Take the shot."

Wildstar accelerated to closing speed, got a semi-lock on, fired one missile, and another after a full lock, hoping for a hit on one before he made the jump.

The two missiles approached the bright just as it was making the final calculations for the jump. It was directing shield energy to engines, so a hit would surely destroy it. Timing was everything.

One of the missiles impacted the engine pod of the TIE Avenger a split second before the craft initiated the jump. It would have a curious effect.

Wildstar reported, "I saw the flash of an explosion, but no confirmation of the craft's destruction."

A'Kula said, "Let's hope."

Wildstar said, "Guess I'll have to go to Endor to see the result. And face the consequences."

A'Kula said, "Great working with you. We need to do this again."

"Likewise," returned Wildstar, punching up coordinates for Endor into his navicomputer.


(Bridge, CRS Defiance, Battle of Endor)

Flight Control Lead Rex "Wizard" Troy was the first to pick it up. "Admiral Nammo," he announced, "I've picked up an anomaly on my sensor scope. A TIE Avenger reverted to real space near us and just exploded, like it had been struck by something as it entered hyperspace."

The admiral replied, "Scan the space nearby for others that might emerge. Report your findings to Fleet Liaison Murg."

"Yes, sir!" shouted Wizard.


(Interrogation room, Brig level, CRS Defiance, Endor +1 day)

Barraken entered the interrogation room of the brig level expecting that a deal needed to be made to save his friend's career.

Wildstar asked his counterpart, "What happens now?"

Barraken replied, "You know you have to take the fall to keep the identity of those former Kalidor pilots confidential, right?"

Wildstar nodded. "Yes."

Barraken continued. "Do you have the list of missing pilots and their last known locations that A'Kula transmitted to you?"

"Encrypted in my personal folder on the holonet."

"Good," Barreken replied. "You're about to go AWOL. I've got a vital task for the next two weeks, and then I'll join you. Down the road, there'll be an SAR squadron stood up that we'll be assigned to, but in the meantime this mission cannot appear on any record. I'll rejoin you in two weeks."

"Nice! Looking forward to working together on something for a change," Wildstar said to his friend as he exited the room.

To be continued?