A Long Day
"Bucc 7 to Strike Control, we are in system, and have visual."
"Roger that, Bucc 7. Proceed to target," replied the CRS Liberty
Control Center tech.
Pushing down upon the stick, Robert "Paladin" Hasegawa coaxed his
Y-Wing into a steep dive. The three similar ships behind him followed
his descent down towards the lush jungle planet of Hyr'achant.
Flying in formation behind him, Jonathan "Valkyrie" Hu fine-tuned
his rear scanners, keeping his senses open for any unfriendlies.
Corsair Squadron had already sent in two A-wings for additional
recon, but that was no excuse for inattention. The Y-wing simply
wasn't fast enough for a planetary mission to suit his tastes. His
front sensors picked up the two A-wings buzzing in from the target
"All clear, Buccs. There's a few guns spitting from the ground,
but Rogue has already taken care of any air resistance." The Rogue
pilots were probably already back home on the Liberty, lining
up for chow. Kallysto waved the wings of his Awing in a classic
greeting maneuver, as his wingperson, Rooster, Corsair's eighth
pilot, chuckled an additive.
"And there wasn't much of a fight, from what I gather."
Valkyrie, Bucc 9, was not entirely convinced of that statement.
Adam "Guardian" Burns, Buccaneer Leader, had assured his pilots
that this was a simple mosquito run on a backwater system. This
sort of mission was designed simply as an annoyance to the Imperial
industrial machine, disabling a small repulsor coil facility. The
fact that there were no ships in the air coming after them was unusual,
and made him uneasy. He voiced his concern to Dave "Hyp" Barnett,
the Bucc 5 pilot, and was met with a hearty agreement.
"Yeah, I don't like it much either. Way too quiet."
"Hit and fade, very basic, guys." John "Fireball" Dagen, Bucc 12,
chimed in with some words of reassurance, as his targeting computer
counted down the distance. "You're all just jealous that Rogue had
all the fun."
Paladin grinned as he gave Liberty Control their status.
"Six clicks and counting. Computer has verified target." He switched
back to his squadron frequency. "Here we go guys--switch over to
torpedoes." He adjusted his targeting scopes as his squadmates confirmed
Fireball strained his eyes to see the industrial complex sprawled
out in the distance. Their objective was to bomb the main reactor
core, effectively shutting down operations. This sort of facility
wasn't large enough to justify the expense of a planetary shield,
leaving it virtually unguarded for the Alliance mission. Intelligence
had revealed that the only planetary defender, a Interdictor cruiser,
abandoned it's post to briefly join the rest of the Imperial fleet.
High Command wanted to capitalize on a rare opportunity.
Valkyrie took a minute to check the landscape below them. The thick
forests surrounding the complex appeared teeming with lifeforms.
He caught sight of a large toothy biped, looking up thru the trees
at him. He was glad to be well above the ground.
"I have tone. Fire at will, fellas," Paladin said, as the torpedoes
shot from the tubes. He heard the near-simultaneous whoosh of the
other's missiles, and watched the trailing fire as the ordnance
propelled towards its target.
Hyp turned off his targeting computer, settling back in his harness
as he waited for the bombs to ignite the building. It was always
a joy for him to see the results of a well-planned mission. "Detonation
in five, four, three, two...."
He was suddenly thrown back in his seat by a particularly violent
concussion, and he noted a strange blue wave emitting from the blast
zone. It was the last thing he saw before his ship hit the ground.
Guardian leaned in towards the homing scope, eyes straining to pick
up the four dots which had disappeared from the screen. He quickly
turned towards the tech, then to Aradia "Slicer" Emerson, Buccaneer
"What the....where did they go?"
The tech flicked a switch, and turned a dial, re-tuning the scanner
frequencies. "I'm picking up a ionic disturbance... coming directly
from the blast area. "
"What the heck does that mean? Where did my pilots go!? Pick 'em
up again!" Guardian turned towards the comm officer, who was straining
to listen in his headset as the CO bellowed. "Hail, them, sergeant."
"Already hailing, sir. I get no response. I'll try the other bands."
Guardian looked again towards the scanner board, still seeing no
sign of the Y-wings. Slicer leaned over the techs shoulder, gazing
at the empty screen.
"Ionic disturbance? Did it knock out their communications? Or can
our scanners not penetrate it?"
"Hard to tell, sir..uh, I mean, ma'am." The tech was frantically
tuning his systems, in a vain attempt to penetrate the ionic cloud.
"Easy," came a new voice. Guardian and Slicer turned, looking at
the new arrival. Rafael "Hyl" Costa Guerra doubled as a pilot in
Corsair and as one of the Liberty's Intelligence officers.
"Proton attack on a repulsor coil of the make they're manufacturing
could cause an ionic burst cloud of, say, four times the magnitude
of anything we've got on the Liberty. It probably ionized
every system on the Y-wings, and kicked out a few on the As as well.
It should disperse in a few minutes, they usually do."
"Where were you five minutes ago? There are two Corsairs out there,
try to pick them up."
"No other ships are reported in system at this time," replied the
Guardian stood up to his imposing full height, looking around the
bridge for Corsair Leader. He found him at an adjoining comm station,
issuing orders over the headset. "Electro--where are your Corsairs?"
Electro pulled off his headset, tossing it back onto the comm counter.
"Not sure. We lost scanner and radio contact same time you did.
I just got off the horn with High Command, and they want to wait
and see if the disturbance clears up, before we send additional
Paladin cursed mightily, throwing back the straps on his harness.
As soon as the bombs had hit the reactor, a massive blue wave had
strewn outward, cutting all power to his systems. Even the astromech.
He had managed to glide the dead ship evenly down through the thin
trees, and he was sure he'd feel the effects of that bumpy ride
for several days to come. Heaving up the cockpit canopy, he sat
up, and looked around at his new home.
"Bucc 7 to Strike Control...." He received no response.
"Bucc 7 to Bucc Squadron..."
He reached into the pocket of his flightsuit, pulling out his personal
comlink, but with the same lack of results. He hoped that the failure
was due to a mechanical nature, and not due to pilot loss. He didn't
even want to think that.
He yanked off his flight helmet, and ran a hand thru his sweat-soaked
hair. He wasn't about to just sit here and wait for search and rescue,
or to be eaten by the local wildlife. The Imperials would be coming
soon enough with search parties. Paladin reached behind him, removing
a long sheathed object, and a small carry bag from the backseat
of the fighter. Stepping up onto the narrow nose of the Y-wing,
he turned back, and was horrified at what he saw.
The forest behind him was decimated. His crash landing had left
a distinct lengthy swath thru the trees behind him. Camouflaging
the ship from ground forces would be pointless, for even a blind
stormtrooper with a concussion could have picked up his trail. He
hopped off the ship, landing on the forest floor agily. His first
concern was finding his squadmates. Paladin quickly changed out
of his jumpsuit and into his Lomabian fighter uniform, an outfit
much more suited for the combat he was likely to face. It sported
many more deadly surprises than the jumpsuit he was putting back
into his bag. It never hurt to come prepared, he thought to himself,
and as he was about to find out, that was a good thing.
Valkyrie slammed the underside panel of his ship closed, dismayed.
Whatever that shockwave was, all his circuitry was unresponsive,
and this ship wasn't going to be flying again anytime soon. Even
his R2 unit sat silent in its socket. All communication was down,
but at least he could see Hyp in the distance, climbing around his
ship in investigation. He checked the power level in his blaster,
then picked his way thru the underbrush towards Buccaneer 5.
"What the hell was that all about?" Hyp sat down on a nearby rock,
checking the pockets of his flightsuit for his comlink.
"I've never seen anything like that myself. Whatever we hit, I
don't think it was the power reactor. Any sign of Fireball or Paladin?"
Valk hadn't seen the other two ships go down. He was too busy fighting
for control of his own ship.
"Fireball isn't far east of us. I saw him skim a few trees, but
then I lost sight of him. There is a field over there somewhere."
Hyp sighed, and stood up. "We'd better try to reach him before the
Imps send out a search party for us."
"If there are any Imps left, you mean. Maybe the shockwave covered
our forced landings."
"You can bet that if they get a shuttle up, they'll have no trouble
finding us." He grinned, pointing back. "We left a helluva calling
Valk eyed the decimated forest grimly. "Let's hope that they're
too busy cleaning up the mess we made back there."
Paladin eyed the giant tree warily, glancing up at its great height.
It was perhaps the largest tree he had ever seen, and it would serve
his purpose nicely. He scampered up the steep earthy mound nearby,
and reached up towards the lowest branch. Just out of reach. He
jumped up, skimming the limb with his fingers, and tried again.
Grasping the branch with both hands, he pulled himself upwards,
hugging the tree base. Within a matter of minutes, he stood precariously
high above the forest.
From his perch, he could see similar mown paths like the one he
had made with his Y-wing. Great, he thought grimly. We'll be picked
up for sure if we don't get these ships moving. He pulled a set
of miniature macroscanners from his shoulder pocket, leveling them
onto the track marks until he could make out the form of a Y wing.
It looked relatively intact.
Suddenly, a sharp snap of branches caught his attention. He quickly
grabbed at the base of the tree, bracing himself for a fall. But
his branch was sturdy, far too thick to even bend under his weight.
He looked down, towards the cause of the disturbance.
No sooner had Fireball hit the ground when he heard something rustle
in the bushes in front of him. He quickly ducked back behind his
fighter, blaster drawn, thinking that any minute now, he would see
men in white suits running at him, and not because he needed a tooth
pulled. Not that they wouldn't do that anyway, he reflected, gripping
his blaster even tighter as he heard the sounds coming closer.
He almost fired when the figures stepped out of the brush, but
stopped himself when he noticed that they were wearing orange flight
suits, not white armor.
"Valkyrie, Hyp," he called, "over here." He waved at them and they
came over in a light jog. "Where's Paladin?" he asked when they
reached the fighter.
"I'm not sure," said Hyp, "the last I saw of him was as he skimmed
the trees in that direction, I think."
"Well then, we had better get to finding him. He could be injured
for all we know." Valkyrie's voice displayed a hint of the worry
he felt for his good friend.
"Okay then, let's go." said Hyp. "Valkyrie and I will go look for
Paladin. Fireball, I think you should hold the fort for now, and
see if you can get anything to work on that fighter. You were at
the rear of the formation, so the fact that you most likely caught
the least of the blast means that your radio should be the best
candidate for repair. That okay?"
"Yeah, okay, I'll wait here..." called Fireball after them as they
were again swallowed by the forest. "Always get stuck repairing
the fighters..." he muttered as he began taking off the access panel
to the Y-wings comm system.
Paladin quickly descended the branches to the earth below, dropping
quietly down to the forest floor. Not quiet enough. He was only
starting to flick the lock on the sword when the attack came, so
fast and powerful that he found himself take a short trip though
the air which quickly ended in him hitting the ground hard, and
sending his half drawn sword about a meter away. But that sword
could have been on the other side of the planet for all the time
he had. His attacker, a giant of a toothy hair-beast, towered a
meter over his height.
As it was about to smash its club of a paw into him again, Paladin
quickly rolled towards the general direction of the fallen sword.
When he came up however, it was not a sword in his hand, but a knife
produced from his boot. He let it fly, just as the creature turned
towards him. The knife lodged itself into the shoulder of the beast,
producing a cry of surprise and anger. It tensed for a quick strike,
but it was too late, for Paladin, sword now in hand, had initiated
an attack which started with a high leap, ended in a kneeling positing,
and left the beast with a thin line going right through it. After
a look of surprise formed on its face, the severed body crashed
to the ground.
While cleaning his blade, Paladin looked up. "You guys could have
helped you know."
"Nah, you looked like you were having too much fun for us to disturb
you." said Valkyrie, emerging from the adjacent woods with a grin
on his face, "Anyway, I knew you could handle it."
"A good laser blast would have been a lot faster," said Hyp, pointing
at the blaster in a quick release holster on Paladin's belt. Then,
taking a look at the cooling carcass on the ground, he felt his
stomach turn. "..and a lot less messy."
"Well everyone has his own methods of killing. Don't you think
"I guess..." said Valkyrie, suddenly remembering one of the reasons
why he had changed fighting styles to the much cleaner two-handed
"Okay, mission accomplished, Paladin found. We had better get back
to Fireball," said Hyp. With that, he turned and headed back into
the forest, followed by Valkyrie and Paladin.
"Unit 5, split your forces, and direct your search within 3 clicks
east of the garrison. Unit Seven, within 3 clicks west. The ships
can't be far."
The Imperial commander smartly saluted his troops. The white-armored
stormtroopers turned on a dime, marching in unison out of the dishevled
headquarters. What the troopers lacked in intelligence, they made
up for in readiness. He had already dispatched four other units
in search of the Rebel scum who dared attack his station. Commander
Havel marched back to the command deck of the garrison HQ. He turned
towards his communications officer.
"What word on our network, Sergeant?"
"Imperial Network still not responding." Havel turned quickly to
the Lieutenant who has just joined them. "Report, Lieutenant."
"The ionic cloud dispersed from the Rebel attack originated from
a reaction in the main residual batteries. The atmosphere should
be stabalized shortly. Power is down in all levels, but should be
partially online within a matter of minutes. The main repulsor assembly
station is 92 percent destroyed."
Havel cursed, biting back a nasty comment pertaining to Imperial
Naval Command. The orders to move the Interdictor 'Annubis' towards
the Core was apparently not well-concieved. Leaving them virtually
undefended for even a short period of time was playing hell with
any future promotion he was to ever receive. His hopes for transfer
went up with the repulsor factory. His only recourse was to catch
"Effieciency at 22% and rising." Hmm..that wasn't good. But at
least the little A-wing was operational. Rooster turned the snubfighter
towards the coordinates of the CRS Liberty.
Rooster tried the comm again, and was met with a rustle of static.
A good sign. "Hey, Kallysto, how's things over there?"
She was met with silence, so she turned around in the cramped confines
of the small fighter, to see her squadmate. He was a click or so
behind her, but seemed operational. Perhaps his radio was not online
yet. She waggled the wings of the fighter, and was met with a similar
response. All was well.
"Corsair 8 to Strike Control."
She was met with the releived voice of the comm sergeant. "Good
to hear you, Eight. What is your.." She heard the rustle of the
comm, and then the urgent voice of Electro. "Rooster, sit-rep! What
"Massive concussion wave struck when the torpedoes hit home. I'm
not sure what we hit, but it was certainly a pretty picture. Kallysto
is right with me..I don't think his comm is up yet. Any words from
Guardian's tired voice came over the comm. "Negative. We have no
sign of them."
"I'll head back to the blast site to see if..."
"Negative, Corsair 8." Corsair Leader checked the stat report on
the console in front of him. "You've got zero shields, and no scanners.
Kallysto only has basic flight control and throttle. Bring him in."
Rooster scowled, not liking the idea of leaving her friends behind,
but continued her escort towards the Liberty.
Fireball grinned as the comm unit in the ships cockpit sputtered
to life. He worked the squelch and volume, trying furiously to tune
in Strike Control's frequency. The LED freq display blinked and
went out. He cursed, and adjusted the jury-rigged blaster powerpack
on the dash of his cockpit. All he had needed was an intial jolt
of power, to get things rolling again. Unfortunately, the pack would
never start a Y-wing without a deafening explosion, but a comm connection
was all he needed. The connection met again, and the lights came
back on. He switched the small dial over to multi-frequency, to
cover the range of Rebel bands.
"Bucc 12 to Strike Control....Bucc 12 to Corsair 8.."
Hyp, walking in lead, suddenly stopped short, causing Valkyrie
to crash into him. He raised a hand up, signalling for silence.
Paladin muttered an ancient Lombodian curse, as he saw the stormtrooper
unit descending the trench towards the direction of his ship. The
three pilots quickly ducked behind a covering boulder.
"Man, I feel like a big orange womprat, sitting out here in this
flight suit," Valkyrie muttered.
Hyp mirrored his sentiments. "If they've found your ship, Paladin,
you can bet there are others not too far behind them..."
"We read you, Bucc 12. Give us a sit-rep." A relieved Guardian
sat back at the comm board, and gave a hopeful smile to his XO.
"Sit-rep, Bucc 12." No response.
"Well, at least we know he's operational. Slicer, get on the horn,
and have the Compassion warmed up. Have them keep a holding position
in system, " Slicer pulled out her personal comlink, dialing the
Electro chimed in from the adjoining comm station. "I've just committed
three Corsairs for the Compassion's escort. "
"Copy, Electro. As soon as we get exact coordinates, relay them
immediately," he instructed the traffic control officer.
"Bucc 12 to Corsair 8.."
"Got ya, Fireball!" It was difficult for Roo to hide her relief
in hearing her friend's voice. "Good to hear from you."
"Rooster! I'm getting no reply from the Liberty..."
"I'll run relay, Fireball. They're hailing you with no response."
"Copy. I probably don't have enough power to make the range. We
need some help down here, ASAP. All Buccs are down, repeat, All
Buccs are down, but are okay." Rooster switched the freq, relaying
"What is your postion, Fireball...they need coordinates before
they'll send in the shuttle,"
Pause. "No can do, Roo. I can't access the nav computer. These
ships are deader than ..."
Roo waited, anxious for one of John's witty analogies. She became
more nervous as the seconds ticked away. "Fireball, are you still
The breathless response: "Oh, man......" Then silence.
Rooster looked towards Kallysto, who was maintaining his silent
flight back to the command ship. He'll be allright, she reasoned.
He's nearly home. She turned her A-wing back towards planetside.
Fireball laughed with glee as the Y-wing came slowly back to life
under his controls. Whatever the ionic anamoly, it was clearing.
The laserpack powering his comm unit had begun smoking heavily from
overload when the Ywing came back under power, and he had only managed
an appropriate swear before being cut off from Rooster. After blistering
his fingers on the hot energy pack, he disassembled his rigged unit,
and went to work re-wiring the main connections. His initial diagnostics
showed a slight recharge in the power systems, and a quick mental
analysis informed him that he just might fly this wallowing pig
off-planet after all. He seached his pockets for his personal commlink,
hoping he'd be batting 2 for 2 today.
"Bucc 12 to Swordmen..."
Kallysto looked disgusted as the cockpit hatch raised on his A-wing.
"I know, I know, next time I'll listen when you tell me I need better
EMP shielding on this crate," he growled, looking up, expecting
to see the tech smirking. What he saw instead was a frown. " What?"
"Where's your wingperson?" the tech asked.
Kallysto looked behind the tail of his craft, noting the empty
landing space beyond. "She was right behind me!" He keyed the comlink
in his fighter. "Corsair 11 to...ah, Ringiss, it's still dead."
He looked back to the tech. "Got a comlink?" The crafter was already
holding out the small device.
Jeff snatched it up. "Corsair 11 to Strike Control. Home safe,
but unless you have 'er in a holding pattern, I think Eight has
gone back. Eleven Out."
He tossed the comlink back to the tech, and sat back down in the
pilot's chair. "How soon can you have me back up and running?"
His A-wing answered for him. The lights on the instrument panel
winked out completely. "Grah.."
Fireball's voice came out of Paladin's pocket louder than a banshee
on a rampage. He fumbled quickly for the comm, in a vain attempt
to quiet it. Too late. Their hiding place had been noticed. Three
stormtroopers were headed up the deep trench towards them.
"Well, the comms work again," Hyp said dryly, checking the charge
on his blaster. He fired once, dropping a stormie cold in his tracks.
He grinned, aiming for the second one.
Paladin finally found the errant comm. "Nice timing, Fireball.
We've got company over here..." The entire unit of troopers were
rushing up the woody hill towards them. Hyp and Valkyrie were making
easy work of picking them off, from their lucky vantage point on
the higher ground, but the sheer numbers of the adjoining unit would
quickly overpower them.
"Where the hell are you? The ships are up, and help is on the way,"
John hoped that first part was true. He quickly dialed back the
Liberty frequencies. "Bucc 12 to anyone, we are under fire.
I repeat, we are under fire from ground forces. My coordinates are...."
Paladin dialed in the freq to his astromech. "R2-whatever, fire
up the ship. Repeat, fire up the..." Before he had finished repeating
his command, he saw the landing beacons on his ship light up. He
Valkyrie was suddenly hit by a bolt of inspiration. "Hey, uh, Paladin..how
does your R2 unit do on the gunnery ranges?" He was quickly pulling
his own comlink out, directing his unit to warm up all systems.
It was going to be a fun run out of this debacle.
"Fireball, where are...oh, OK, I see your tracks.." Rooster strained
her eyes, buzzing past the crash site, looking for Imperial troopers.
"Your site looks all clear to me - wait, no there's about 15 troopers
coming up on your six. ETA about 2 minutes."
"Copy, Rooster. My systems are nearly up to liftoff. Find the others..they're
pinned down somewhere in the forest behind me."
"Roger." She flicked the power config on her lasers to full, and
dropped down directly above the trees, strafing the unit on their
way to Fireball, sending them running for cover.
In a matter of seconds, she saw the ensuing firefight laid out
before her. Paladin had rushed into the fray, sword drawn, when
his blaster had finally drained its powerpack. Only a hint of his
suit was apparent under the blood of Imperials.
Hyp had managed to procure a dead trooper's blaster rifle, and
was making good use of it, while Valkyrie kept several Imperials
from damaging Paladin's Y-wing. Hyp let out a distinctive rebel
yell as the A-wing buzzed overhead.
"I've got them, Fireball. Three pilots knee-deep body parts."
Fireball snickered. "Yep, that's them. I'm lifting off right now.
Low on firepower and shields, but I'm airborne. Keep them covered
while I do a short recon for additional troops."
"Copy, Fireball. Corsair 8 to Strike Control, I have visual of
our boys. Twelve is active, Five, Seven, and Nine are grounded,
but ships are prepped and ready." As Rooster reported to the Liberty,
she swung the A-wing around back towards the battle. The remaining
ground forces were quickly scattered under the barrage of her laser
cannons, leaving them scrambling to find suitable cover. Paladin
scaled the side of his Y-wing, jumping into the cockpit.
Electro's voice responded to Rooster's report. "Thanks for the
good news, Corsair 5. Backup is on the way, and we are bringing
the Compassion home. When the remaining Corsairs show up, break
from the scene, and report me to the bridge, immediately."
Rooster winced, not at all liking the tone in Electro's voice.
Fireball awoke her from the dreading thoughts. "Bad news, folks...
AT-ST's working their way in. I suggest we leave this party, ASAP."
Valkyrie chimed his answer, out of breath from the run to his craft.
"Roger that, and gladly, Bucc 12. You strapped in, Hyp?"
Hyp answered, winded from the long run. "I'll strap in when I'm
off the ground. Let's go." He was answered by laser blasts rocking
the back of his ship. He pushed the thruster forward, while gently
pulling the stick back, lifting the heavy bomber up from the forest
with the crack and snap of lumber.
"The skies are clear," Rooster reported, as she maintained a protective
pattern around her friend's escape coordinates.
Upon reaching the outer atmosphere, the weary pilots were greeted
by three more A-wings. They were also just in time to see the Imperial
Interdictor Annubis move into offense position near the Liberty.
Hyp sighed, heavily annoyed. His comm crackled to life with the
chatter of his shipmates scrambling their fighters in defense of
"This long day just got a whole lot longer..."