Captain Steve "Rapier" Naylor, Red 3, was sitting at the bar, a shot of tequila in hand. Thank the Force that's over... for another year anyway, he thought. He had just passed a grueling examination at the hands of the Liberty's surgeon, an annual event he dreaded.
Outlaw, formerly Green Squadron Commanding Officer had not been so lucky. He had failed the vision portion of the physical, and had lost his fighter qualification because of it. The only thing he would be flying now would be support craft, a thought that made Steve shudder and down the shot, and pour another.
Just then Lieutenant Commander Vince "Stryker" Rambo, Corsair Squadron's Commanding Officer, strode into the Lounge. Spotting Steve at the bar, he altered course directly for him.
"Rapier! Glad I caught you before you left. Got an idea I want to run by you, thought you'd be interested."
Rapier sat up and took notice. Anytime Stryker said he had "an idea", something was up. It might not work, whatever it was, but it sure as hell would not be dull.
"Sure, Stryker, what have you got this time?"
"You know about Outlaw?"
"All to well, I just hope I never have to face that myself."
Stryker unexpectedly broke into a big grin.
"Well, we can't put him back in a fighter, but I think I know of something we can do... You been keeping up on your Intel reports?"
Flight Officer John "Knight" Vorwald, Corsair 7 walked into the Lounge, still wearing his flight suit, helmet in hand. It had been a long day, and after the rigors of sim training, the only thing he could think of was sitting back and nursing a Coke. The Lounge was quiet for a change. Aside from the few Liberty crew scattered about the room, the only pilots present were Rapier and Stryker sitting at the far end of the bar. They apparently were discussing tactics. Stryker was even now using the counter top as a tactical plotter. "Hmm, that's unusual", Knight thought, "Stryker's got his armor on and he's got his helmet too. He hasn't been in the simulators, and as far as I know, he hasn't been on the flight roster that day. Wonder what's up?" Just then, Stryker looked up and spotted Knight.
"Knight! Excellent timing, I could use your help, if you don't mind."
"Sure, what do you need?"
"Well, in a few minutes I need you to go get Minuteman, he's currently aboard being briefed by the Admiral. But first, this is what I want to do..."
A few minutes later, Knight said "I'm in, I'll go get Minuteman ASAP, assuming the Admirals done with him."
"Bring him to briefing room three, I'll see who else I can round up." Stryker said, grabbing his helmet. Rapier spoke up,"I'll go suit up and meet you there."
Commander Rick "Minuteman" Morrissy, Green Squadron's new Commanding Officer, was not exactly jogging down the hall. But a mouse droid would have been hard pressed to keep up with him nevertheless. He caught up with him just short of the hanger. A short explanation later and Minuteman started grinning from ear to ear, (an improvement from the serious look he'd had on from his briefing with the Admiral). Just ahead, the hatch to the Briefing Room Three was sliding open. Inside, Stryker and Rapier were in a discussion with Lieutenant Michael "Vidster" Videlka, Rogue 5, and Lieutenant Chris "Animal" Stephen, Rogue 4. Also present was Sergeant Major Tuttle Dundee, Rogue squadron's senior noncom, and Captain Rico, Commander of Rebel Commando team "Rico's Rangers", as mean a bunch as you hoped never to meet hand to hand.
"Stryker! What was Knight was telling me about?" Minuteman said as he went through the hatchway.
Corsair's CO had the Holoprojector running. A deep space platform rotated slowly above the projection grid. As Knight slid into the compartment right behind Minuteman, the hatch slid shut behind him. Stryker started to speak. The room hushed as this respected pilot began his plan.
"Gentlemen, this is Imperial outpost XJ35729. It is supposed to be a listening post, but it is probably better known for..." . This was all the passing Mon Calamari technician could hear in the darkened passageway just before the hatch fully shut. This was the Liberty, after all. Missions were being planned all the time. He didn't give it another thought as he continued on his way.
Some time later...
Lieutenant Commander Maxwell stood in the center of the command deck of Imperial Navy Platform XJ35729, turning slowly, observing the various technicians as they went about their assigned duties. By the creator, this had to be the hind end of space. Which, upon reflection, was probably the very reason Duke Treglaren routed his "special cargoes" through here. Like the one aboard that rather beaten up Corellian transport, currently docked on pad two, euphemistically named "Ylesian Harmony". Maxwell was not able to hide a disgusted smirk. "This is one more reason to hate this assignment". he spat to himself. All the better when he could finally rotate out.
This shift was progressing as routinely as had the hundreds of other shifts had progressed. He began to leave when a proximity alarm went off followed by the shrill collision alarm! Simultaneously, a technician was shouting "I have three, no, four snub fighters exiting hyperspace in quadrant delta 7, along with a assault transport. Range: three thousand meters and closing at a high rate!" The station rocked from an impact at that moment, and all the electronics in the weapons area died with an electronic death wail. "Those were Mag Pulse missiles impacting, it had to be an attack by the rebel scum, but what could they possible want here?" thought Maxwell.
The black A-wing peeled off from it's missile run on the platform after losing two more dual fired Mag Pulse missiles; one pair was aimed at the CORT on the second hanger pad. Vidster locked sensors on the platform now that the automated defenses were disabled. He gave it a cursory sensor scan, quickly followed by a scan of the CORT.
"Green One, this is Rogue Five, you're all clear. Cyclone, mission objective is identified and verified, she appears to be on standby power. Am intercepting group Delta now." The A-wing turned sharply toward a pair of TIE interceptors inbound at about 5 kilometers. Vidster grinned to himself, two squints were about to learn why it was always a bad idea to tangle with Rogue Squadron.
Meanwhile, an emerald green B-wing was closing on the station, followed by the assault transport. A red marked X-wing had already headed off in the direction of a TIE fighter and bomber team, and a Black X-wing painted similar to the A-wing was on a third combined TIE group on a different vector.
"Rogue Five, this is Green One, roger. I'm starting my attack run now."
"Run was not really appropriate", Minuteman thought as he fired two heavy rockets to soften up the shields. He switched to ion cannons and took advantage of the station unable to defend itself temporarily. The massive B-wing could just sit still barely within weapon range. It would make short work of it's shields, with a more permanent disabling soon to follow.
Setting recharge rates to maximum, Minuteman brought the B-wing to a halt relative to the platform about 1,200 meters away, as he continued firing.
Rapier had broken away from the small assault force as soon as they had arrived and was almost within missile lock on range of the bomber. The fighter escort had apparently been ranging farther out, and was only now passing the bomber it was escorting. They had not expected anyone to show up, much less right on top of the platform. Switching to warhead targeting, Rapier checked that the advanced missiles were set on single fire mode, and reaching 2.5 km began getting tone. His warning was sounding. The bomber pilot was going to return the favor, no matter what.
"Cyclone, this is Red Three. Alpha is covered." Rapier fired as soon as he had lock, then pulled up and away from the bomber. The bomber had fired dual missiles, and he locked sensors on the rapidly closing missiles. As soon as they had closed to 200 meters, Rapier fired chaff and watched the missiles explode harmlessly behind. Now to deal with the TIE that had closed to 1 km while he had played tag with the bomber.
"Cyclone, this is Rogue Four. I'm on Beta" Animal had taken the farther group. But he did not intend to let the bomber lose even one shot. He was lining up on the bomber while it was still 4 km away. He dumb fired a single advanced missile, and then set laser recharge to full, slowing him down, but still on the same vector. The bomber pilot neither saw the missiles being fired or got a warning as they were not actively targeting him. It was doubtful if he even knew what killed him. Animal had already switched to linked lasers and was lining up on the escorting TIE.
Listening over the tactical frequency, Stryker knew that Rapier and Animal had the other defense groups in hand. Soon, the local defense would be no more than an expanding debris field. Standing in the hatchway of the assault transport, he watched as the pilot neatly maneuvered the ATR over the Corellian Transport. Suddenly, four TIE interceptors launched from the platform, streaking away from one of the other hangars. Stryker keyed in his transmitter.
"Cyclone to Strike Force. Four squints have launched, please assist."
"Cyclone, this is Rogue Four, got em."
As chance would have it, the squints had launched on the return vector for Animal, and two had decided to head for him. Switching back to warhead launch, Animal would lock on this time. Squints were a bit harder to hit than a blundering bomber.
"Not if I get them first, Animal!"
The black A-wing was back. The two squints that had turned back to attack the ATR suddenly lost one as the A-wing cut across their path, lasers blazing. Vidster switched some power back from the engines, putting it into lasers at 75% charge rate and leaving the shields at 0% for now, giving him the speed advantage while still recharging his lasers. Turning hard, he was on the tail of the other squint in short order.
"Cyclone, this is Red Three. Two gunboats just dropped out of hyper right in front of me, unable to assist at this time."
The GUN's had literally dropped right in front of him, and broke right and left. Curving after the one on the left, Rapier locked on and fired a single advanced missile, and then a pair as fast as the reload cycle would allow. Meanwhile, the other GUN was already taking shots at him. Rapier pulled up hard and cut throttle to one third, looping hard, switching to lasers as he did so. The GUN pilot tried to turn with Rapier and failed. Soon he was dodging fire from Rapier. The other GUN had been unable to dodge the AM's and was a small debris cloud.
"Cyclone, this is Red Three, situation is in hand." The ATR pilot ignored them, docking to the CORT's dorsal hatch with a gentle thump. The copilot spoke into the intercom, and the commandos could be heard boarding the CORT. Stryker keyed the transmitter again, this time on a general frequency.
"Platform, this is Lieutenant Commander Vince "Stryker" Rambo, Rebel Alliance. You will be disabled, but otherwise unharmed unless you interfere with our taking of the transport. Should you interfere in any way, you will be destroyed."
On the secure channel, Knight was already reporting. He had gone along with the commandos when they had boarded.
"Stryker, this is Knight. Harmony is secure, resistance was light, no casualties."
"Roger, Knight, I'm coming aboard now. Have Rico get his men back aboard Cyclone ASAP."
Stryker congratulated the pilot on an excellent job. "As soon as the Rangers are back on board, clear the transport and head for home." The pilot gave thumbs up, and Stryker turned to go.
By the time Stryker had gotten to the cockpit of the CORT, Knight had already powered up all systems and disconnected from station power, just in case they decided to get frisky. The ATR was already making way to the hyper point, escorted by Minuteman in his ominous B-wing. There was serious debate in the fighter community as to whether the tough cruciform ships were actually fighters, or small capitol ships. Vidster's A-wing was buzzing the platform while Rapier and Animal flew lazy circles off to one side.
Stryker sat in the pilots chair as his newest recruit Knight spoke up. "Systems are nominal, for a rust bucket like this anyway. I've downloaded hyperspace plot from the ATR. No sense in trusting this thing until we've had a better look at it. Anytime you're ready sir. Oh, and did you see all those stacked cylinders in the cargo bay? Any idea what they were?" Stryker's face suddenly looked grim. As the CORT was lifting away from the station, he answered Knight without looking at him, instead looking out the cockpit windows at the platform beginning to slide off to one side. Stryker spun the responsive little freighter on it's vertical axis.
"It's a lot easier to transport slaves when they are in suspension, Knight. Need fewer guards that way, and you don't need to feed them either. Knight blanched. "Slaves?!?"
"Intel has had their eye on certain operations using this platform for a while, and this CORT played a part as well. Sooner or later a plan would have been put forward to do something about it." Stryker suddenly had a predatory grin. "I just made it a bit sooner than they expected. Besides, possession being nine tenths of the law, I'm now in a position to dictate the final disposition of this ship."
By now, they had caught up with the slower ATR and formed to the left of it, the platform receding behind them. Vids was flying formation above and between them and the ATR; Minuteman was below and a bit behind.
Animal was to the left of the CORT, and Rapier to the right of the ATR. So far, the whole operation had taken only a handful of minutes. A text book hit and run operation.
"All ships, this is Corsair One. Prepare for lightspeed." Before anyone could reply, sensor alarms were going off and R2 units were squealing an alert. An old republic dreadnought with an Imperial IFF signal had dropped out of hyperspace directly on top of their exit vector. It was close enough that the name "Backbreaker" could be seen blazoned along the sides. Along with it came three pairs of gunboats.
"Knight, man the dorsal guns..."
"On it Stryker." Knight said as he jumped out of the copilot's seat heading aft.
Vidster was already switching to warheads when Stryker's voice came over the commlink. "Vids! Mag pulse that sucker! Then cover!" Vidster replied, "already on it, Corsair One, warheads away." and he pulled the trigger, firing the six remaining Mag pulse missiles at the dreadnought. As soon as they were out of the tube, he pulled up and away and began searching for fighters.
"Minuteman, six rockets should just about bring down the dreadnought's shields, then I want you to disable it. Cyclone, hold back until all rockets have impacted, then move in and assist Green One in disabling it."
"Roger that, Corsair One, rockets on the way." Minuteman replied, the ATR's confirmation coming moments later over the comm.
Meanwhile, Animal and Rapier had both broken off and selected targets. Animal had targeted the GUN going after Minuteman. Three advanced missiles later and it was dust. Noting his warning lights and the solid tone indicating someone had lock, he dumped chaff as his R2 unit brought up the missile on targeting. Animal turned directly away, just managing to interpose the chaff burst between him and the missile. He was not quite so lucky avoiding the laser fire of the GUN that had launched it and took several hits before he was able to twist away. Shields were still holding, and he turned back after the offending gunboat. Rapier was experiencing de-ja-vu, both GUNs closest to him had decided to gang up on him. He had managed to get off missiles but then had to go defensive with 2 missiles coming in on him. Chaff was helping, but with the missiles separated, he could not be sure the chaff would scatter the impact of both, one might get him from a bad angle. The only thing he could do was loop. Suddenly luck went his way, the GUN he damaged looped directly in front of him, shields still low, and going slower as it tried to recharge them. More by trained instinct than anything else, Rapier blindfired an advanced missile, and caught it directly between the engines. It blew in a spectacular fireball as Rapier's shields registered the impact of some of the debris.
"Any ship, this is Cyclone, we are taking missile hits, please assist!" Stryker looped the surprisingly responsive freighter around and could see a lone GUN making strafing runs on the ATR. It was defending itself rather well, except for when the GUN stood back and launched missiles.
"Cyclone, this is Corsair One, on the way."
The gunboat pilot was setting up for another run when it was suddenly bracketed by laser fire. Under repeated impacts, he went evasive, looking for what was attacking him. As he looked at the CORT another barrage of fire erupted from the top mounted lasers. He desperately twisted and turned, only to find that the CORT was keeping pace seemingly without effort. His shields went down soon followed by hull integrity and he ejected just before it blew apart.
"Yee-Haw! I got him, I got him!" Knight yelled. Suddenly, he was rocked by explosions.
"What was that?"
"Missile impacts from the other GUN, get him off out tail!" Stryker replied over the intership comm, as he looped hard over, bringing the other GUN into Knight's view.
"Shields are almost down on the Backbreaker." Minuteman broadcast as he switched over to ion cannons. Aside from the one gunboat run that Animal had aborted, he had been unmolested. Looking over, he saw the ATR moving in with firing ions as well. It was putting out a huge volume of ion cannon fire. It would be mere moments before the huge ship was disabled. Suddenly, he noted movement. Four TIE fighters had just launched! Minuteman had no doubts whom would be their primary target, his luck had just run out.
"Four hostiles just launched, TIE fighters on the way."
Animal had just managed to kill the GUN that had been harrying him. He heard Minuteman's call and looped back to the dreadnought.
"Roger Green One, on the way."
Rapier was still dealing with the second GUN that had attacked him. Suddenly Vidster zoomed by, lasers blazing, causing the GUN to abort the run it had started on Rapier. Moments later it was impaled by the twin lasers of the A-wing and the quad lasers of the X-wing, and it became an exploding cloud of debris expanding into infinity shortly thereafter. Both Rebels turned to deal with the new threat, but they had been pulled some distance away on the far side of the dreadnought during the furball. It would take precious time for them to get back. "Rogue Five responding."
"Red Three on the way."
"The Backbreaker was disabled and not a moment too soon", Minuteman thought. The TIE's had almost reached the end of the launch cycle, any second they would be turning around to attack him. Even a B-wing, with it's massive shields and armor, could have a serious time with four TIE fighters attacking it at once, at best he'd get in a few shots, the rest of the time he'd be trying to evade, until friends could arrive to help. Although the ATR would try to help, there was not much it could do short of getting in a lucky shot. Even as he was turning toward the threat though, Minuteman noted with surprise that the TIE's had all turned not towards him, but instead were all on an attack vector towards Vidster and Rapier.
"What the...? Vids, Rapier, you've got company on the way, they are ignoring me. Animal's on a chase vector, and I'm too slow to get there soon." Not that he was not about to try though.
Stryker meanwhile had been putting the freighter through paces that were meant more for a fighter than a freighter, and with Knight manning the topside lasers, the lone gunboat pilot had been totally on the defensive for some time now, just wishing for a chance to hyper. It was a chance he would never get. His shields critically low, and no more power to transfer to them, he had no chance when Knight's questing lasers made fatal contact with the portside engine pod. They burning through the shielding and slagged the drive chamber and then ignited the unfired missiles. There were no pieces big enough to fashion into dinnerware; were anyone so inclined to do so.
"WooHoo! That's two! Where's more?" Knight yelled, grinning from ear to ear.
"We're chasing them now, but I think we'll be too late to get anything, we're too far back." replied Stryker, as he flew the CORT just under the dreadnought.
"Yikes!" screeched Knight as he was suddenly thrown against his straps. "What was that!"
Stryker was too busy to reply. Just as he was passing under the Backbreaker's docking bay, a Stormtrooper transport had launched directly in their path. Stryker flipped the CORT on it's side and pulled up on the controls hard, sending then curving away, the mass of the dreadnought forming a wall just off to one side of the freighter. Moments later they were free and clear, startling the ATR pilot as they flew by. The TRN had meanwhile turned and made a beeline for the platform, which was even now making repairs. It would not be long before the platform would be able to both defend itself and call for help. At the same time, all four TIE fighters altered course, splitting up at a ninety degree course from the attack vectors of both groups of rebels, and from their speed increase, must have transferred all power to the engines. Stryker quickly ran back over the sensor logs. The TRN had been packed with crewmen. In fact, it looked as though the Backbreaker had hardly anyone left aboard. Life signs could have been only a handful of people on board. It must have been mostly automated with only a skeleton crew on board, which would go a long way to explain why it had not even gotten a shot off, even before Vids had Mag pulsed it. The entire crew must be aboard the TRN!
"Corsair One to all craft! Change of plans! Head for the Backbreaker ASAP! Cyclone, board and secure that ship, there's hardly anyone on board, they just made a break for it! It must be mostly automated, sensors indicate it's mostly cargo bay anyway!"
"Will we have enough time to repair it before that platform is back in business and calling for help?" Rapier asked in a justifiably worried tone.
"We'll damn sure give it a shot!" replied Stryker. He lined up behind the ATR as it made it's way into the docking bay. Normally landing unassisted in a warship hanger bay was dangerous at best, but this time it was not really a problem, this one was practically bare. Most of the room must have been reserved for cargo operations, and there was more than enough room for the small assault force to land.
"Rogue Five, stay on patrol while we fire this thing up, then come aboard. we'll leave in style for a change."
"Roger that, Corsair One."
Soon, everyone except for Vidster was onboard, de-ionizing only needed equipment. Support systems could come later after they had made their escape. There had been no one onboard, and Knight had found the source of the life signs. The cargo bay had been packed wall to wall with suspension cylinders. Duke Treglaren, the Imperial Moff in this sector had obviously had a large operation going on here, and Stryker was damn happy to have put a thorn in his side, even if it had been incidental to the objective of the mission. Assuming they got away, that is. They were almost done, and so far the platform had not tried sending anything after them, not even the TRN or the four TIE's it had recovered. Vidster had wanted to chase them down, but Stryker had said to leave them go.
"Leave them for another day, stay close to the dreadnought in case more GUNs showed." Stryker was at the command station looking things over. They were almost done. Suddenly, Vidster reported chilling if not unexpected news.
"The platform just went back to full power, looks like all systems on-line. Yep, there goes the call for help, we need to be gone. Like now."
"Roger that, Rogue Five, go ahead and land now, we'll have systems back up just as you are landing."
"On my way."
Maxwell still had one chance to salvage the situation. Damn the rebels anyway. If they got away with this indignity, Treglaren would have his head at the very least. The TRN had been loaded with space bombs, enough to destroy the dreadnought.
"Is it loaded yet?" he asked the technician yet again.
"Yes sir, just now."
"Well launch it now then, you idiot!"'
"Aye aye, sir."
"We're ready to turn on main power, you guys watching everything up there?" Animal spoke into his commlink from the engineering spaces. "Roger that, standing by." Replied Stryker. Just then he saw on one of the command chair holo-displays that Vidster was safely on board and was climbing out of his A-wing. Activating the ship-wide comm system, he ordered Vidster to come to the bridge and take over the helm.
"Uh-oh!" Minuteman said, as he sat at the tactical station watching the sensors, "Station just launched the TRN with a four ship TIE escort, an' they're all headed this way. Credits say it's got nasties on board! And he's moving fast, must be putting everything he's got into the engines..."
"No bet, MM." Stryker replied.
Just then, main power came back on, and all systems were operational. Knight vaulted the safety railing from where he had been checking power system readings and was sitting at the helm station and immediately setting course for the hyperspace coordinates which had been where they were heading the first time.
"Rapier, got those numbers ready?" Stryker called out watching the sensors from the command chair repeater. "Hang on, hang on. Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops ya know!"
"Aw hell, he's launching!" Minuteman said, watching the sensors, "Two, four, six, damn eight space bombs inbound, ten seconds from impact!"
"Numbers are up! Go!" Yelled Rapier.
"Initiating hyperspace jump now, hang on!" sang out Knight.
Maxwell watched both the sensor readings and the viewport, as the bombs were about to impact the dreadnought. It had turned to run but massive as it was there was no way it could accelerate and escape. It's life expectancy was less than three seconds now. One second later, Maxwell blanched as the dreadnought leaped into hyperspace, leaving the bombs far behind. He continued to watch the bombs freefall into eternity. No one dared to go near him.
The Mon Calamari Cruiser Liberty cruised through the vast depths of space. The Frigate Rhez'nor was keeping pace. The Green Squadron home was loading supplies from the big cruiser, and cargo craft shuttled back and forth between the 2 big ships. Farther out, elements of both Corsair and Green Squadron provided security. Suddenly, an Imperial Dreadnought appeared out of hyperspace, merely 5 kilometers away. Simultaneously on both the Rebel capitol ships, duty officers hit the red alert klaxons, and personnel scrambled for battle stations. Fighter pilots were scrambling into their fighters even as maintenance crewmen disconnected power and fuel couplings. On both ships, comm officers signaled an incoming transmission. Static cleared on the main viewscreen of each ship, and more than a few of the smaller craft, to reveal the bridge of the Imperial Dreadnought. Sitting in the commanders chair was Stryker, with Vidster at the helm, and Knight sitting beside him at navigation. Minuteman was off to one side at tactical, Rapier was on the other side at the comm station, and Animal was at the engineering station. Captain Rico sat at the security station, while commandos and the assault transport crew lounged about everywhere else. All were trying hard to conceal grins, and for the most part failing. Jaws dropped everywhere as Rebels tried to make sense of the new twist on what had started out as a serious threat. Stryker pinched the comm link and announced,
"This is the captured dreadnought Insane Endeavor, requesting permission to join the fleet."
Hours later, Stryker and Minuteman strode out of the flag briefing room on the CRS Liberty. Looking out a portal as they passed, Stryker could see the dreadnought holding formation. Even now, technicians were crawling throughout her, security personnel and medical personnel were slowly reviving the former slaves; those that chose were allowed to begin the lengthy process of being cleared through security in order to join the Rebellion. The others would be discretely returned to their homeworlds, which would certainly not hurt the reputation of the Rebellion.
The dreadnought herself would no doubt be converted back into a warship, providing the fleet with another much needed capitol ship. As the senior officers on this little jaunt, Stryker and Minuteman had taken the brunt of the investigation into the circumstances. While the command staff had not been very happy about the whole situation, it was hard to argue with success. Besides, Stryker thought, everyone involved had signed out on leave prior to leaving, and well, what they did on their own time was their business right?
Walking into the Liberty Lounge, they were immediately greeted with a resounding cheer, it looked like most of the fighter pilots in this sector had found an excuse to be onboard. Everyone else that had gone along had already been going over a play by play recreation of the events. By now, the Force only knew what the story had ballooned into. The only thing no one else knew was why they had gone off. Cutting through the crowd to the bar, they found the others keeping Outlaw busy. Spotting Minuteman approaching, Outlaw spoke up, almost having to yell to be heard over the crowd. "What in the world possessed you to pull a stunt like this? I'd hoped you'd have more sense than this!" Minuteman just grinned, and slapped Stryker on the back as he answered his friend and former commander.
"Ask him, he's the brains behind the whole thing."
"Well, Stryker? I might have known you'd be behind this."
Jerking his thumb out the hatch, Stryker replied. "Why don't you come along and see for yourself?"
Standing on the observation deck above the main hanger, Stryker stood to one side of Outlaw, Minuteman on the other. Rapier just watched, while Vidster leaned nonchalantly against the railing. Knight was talking with Animal, still going over the battle. Other pilots stood along the balcony, and overflowed into the corridor, all curious to find out as Outlaw. Pointing at the CORT, Stryker said "There she is, Outlaw. That's the reason we went."
"That?!? That's the reason you risked your lives, not to mention your careers? What is so important about an old Correllian transport that you all took off on a wild hair?"
"Outlaw, I talked with Guardian. He said you were disqualified only from flying fighters, not from flying period. She's yours, Outlaw, that's what is so important about her. She's our token of appreciation to you, who have inspired so many pilots. Maybe she's not an X-wing, but she sure is damn close to handling like one, and a damn sight more comfortable on those long hyperspace runs."
This tale was originally posted in The Cantina in honor of Bill "Outlaw" Bradley.