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Jade 2 Down
By: Wildcard

Part 1- Ace and a 4



Bakk "Wildcard" J'ruce was in trouble.

"Jade 2, break!"

"Copy" Wildcard said, slamming the stick and pulling hard into the attack.

For a short time he had been serving with Jade Squadron, stationed aboard the Nebulon-B Frigate Black Hawk. That wasn't to say he liked his squadron. They were hardly the Rogues, and here was his wingman finally coming to assist. The idiot-in-chief.

Wildcard shunted power into his propulsion systems and diverted shield power to aft. He pushed thrust to the maximum and brought the nose of his X-Wing Fighter to ninety degrees in some last ditch attempt at an evasive maneuver. A salvo of green laser fire seared past his hull. Clearly their pilots aim as well as their ground troops, Wildcard thought to himself. The ship shuddered violently as one of the blasts struck his starboard S-Foils. He swung the fighter around and diverted shields to fore. Wildcard let loose a flurry of blasts from his cannons. Three bursts fired. Where in space was the fourth? Karabast! The Squint had taken out the fourth cannon.

"Dusty, where are you?!" Wildcard screamed. More of the same. Of all the wingmen, he had to have the most useless squadron leader the New Republic had ever seen, not that the New Republic had been around long enough for that to be impressive.

"I'm behind him, 2!" Dusty replied. "Concussion Missile locked!"

Wildcard was yet again going evasive, and heard Dusty's missile firing. Hardly a moment later, the TIE Interceptor that had been harassing him flew by his port side and broke away from the pursuit. Suddenly, he was thrown forward with a shuddering crash as his helmet smashed against the dashboard. Of course. The missile had lost its lock and went long...

...Straight into Wildcard's engines.

"Damn it, Dusty! You've hit my engines! You could have warned me!"

No reply. He cycled the comm channels, and heard nothing. This was bad. The ship had begun to spin towards the planet below, who's name Wildcard did not even know due to the classified nature of the mission, and was picking up speed by the second. The doomed pilot tried shunting power to engines, but as he had expected, it was useless. All four thrusters had been blown to cinders. Please, he thought, please let me have a single shred of luck today. He shunted power to shields and equalised cover. He was crashing, and fast. The cockpit swung around violently, until he was facing the fleet and falling backwards towards the atmosphere. A crowd of blurred shapes darted into nothingness. They had jumped to hyperspace. Without him. This was going to be a long day.



The ejection system had been blown to pieces by the missile, leaving Wildcard with no option but to brace for the crash as best he could. After all, the force of his descent had gotten to such a point that manual ejection would have killed him.

Wildcard had landed as gently as he could, which wasn't saying much. The ship had been obliterated. Between the concussion missile, ballistic atmospheric reentry and impact with the lake he had managed to glide the fighter near, there was nothing salvageable. That is, other than his astromech, who he had ejected, allowing for minimal (although noticeable) damage. R2-JZ3, or "Jazzy" had a lot of initiative for a droid. He had been assigned to Wildcard by Dusty personally. Ironic. If anyone needed a good astromech it was that idiot.



"The TIE landed a concussion missile right on his engines, there's no way he survived!" Dusty said, his voice quivering under authority.

"You are lying, Commander! Diagnostics show you fired off one missile within the same minute Flight Officer J'ruce went off the grid. General Nosov may turn the other cheek when you lie through your teeth to cover your sheer incompetence, but I won't stand for it. Fix it, or Jade Squadron's in the mud," Admiral Gio said sternly.



Wildcard had salvaged what he could from his X-Wing, which was very little. A survival kit he kept onboard -which now consisted of a half incinerated tent, one medpack and a battered K-16 Bryar Blaster Pistol- and spare parts that could be used to patch up Jazzy.

The terrain was uneven and bumpy, with larger hills scattered around the landscape set over a sky of blue and sea of green. He found a lone tree, and decided it would make for an adequate camp. The non charred half of the tent was tied to the tree, allowing for the trunk to be a back wall where there was no tent cover. Jazzy bleeped and blooped inquisitively for a few moments.

"Of course we'll get out of here. As useless as Dusty is, he'll either come and find me of his own free will, or Admiral Gio will threaten to have him demoted," Wildcard told the droid.

After yet another series of whistles and hoots, he replied, "I don't care how harsh she is, he deserves it. If she didn't scream some sense into him every now and again, he'd get away with every stupid mistake he makes. How that man ever got to be leader of a fighter squadron beats me." Jazzy made a noise that could easily be identified as a chuckle.

"I do not talk about this every day!"

Wildcard had gone to sleep that night after many hours of twisting and turning on the hard ground. The night time on the planet was humid and muggy, making it hard for him to find a balance between vulnerable and comfortable. After all, he had no idea what predators might lurk here. For that reason, he had placed Jazzy on watch, scanning the ground for even the smallest bug that looked harmful.


Jazzy cared about his master. More so than most pilots, Bakk needed him. Many of his squadmates -especially their leader- were self indulgent sycophants. None of them had the best interests of the Republic at heart. They all wanted to pander to high command at every turn and every inch in order to land a cushy government office job in a few years. Only master Bakk ever dared to challenge authority. Only master Bakk did what he did out of empathy, rather than greed. Jazzy had served masters under both the New Republic and the Empire, and at times it was difficult to tell the difference. He did appreciate that he finally had a master with some scope of decency. He was a good man, for a human being anyway.

Jazzy's sensors detected something. A small surge of power from deep within the forest. Probably nothing to worry about, but better safe than sorry. He extended one manipulator arm and prodded Bakk in the ribs. Even whilst thinking to himself, R2-JZ3's programming simply wouldn't permit him to use his nickname, but that didn't matter right now.



Wildcard was awakened by a sharp pain in his ribs. He instinctively grabbed his blaster and pointed it in the direction of the assailant, and lowered the barrel just as quickly. "What's wrong, Jazz?"

The green domed astromech droned out a sequence of low noises in response.

"Oh no. Just when I thought my streak of bad luck had ended. Stay here and watch the camp, speak to me on comms if anything happens, but only if you have to."

Spending 10 years in the spice mines of Kessel had accustomed Wildcard to the art of awakening at a moment's notice. Slave workers couldn't snooze. If you weren't up and ready to work the second you were told to be then you'd be punished by flogging, either that or your fellow inmate would take a swing at you. He threw on his beige jumpsuit and secured his utility belt before sliding the K-16 Pistol into his holster.

The meandering path stretched through the woods for miles. After about an hour of walking, Wildcard had not seen nor heard a thing. The commlink on his belt beeped and he unclipped it. "Jazzy, what's wrong?" He whispered.



Jazzy had sat stationary at the camp for around an hour, almost regretting sending master Bakk away to search for a small power source. Probably nothing more than a false positive. Jazzy's audio receptors picked up a small burst of static from close by. This was not a transmission being scrambled, it was coming from a device near him. From near the entrance to the woods, he detected torchlight. Two figures donning black armour walked in formation towards the same path master Bakk was on. R2-JZ3 had spent enough time in Imperial intelligence to identify them as Death Troopers. He had to alert his master…



Death Troopers, Wildcard thought grimly.

Wildcard could have crash landed on any planet, anywhere in the galaxy, and it had to be the one crawling with Imperial Special Forces. This couldn't be ignored. Death Troopers weren't sent to patrol just anywhere; their presence meant somebody or something important was on the planet.

Up ahead, two white spears of torchlight cut through the warm air, illuminating rotted trees and wild grass. Wildcard ducked below a nearby bush and held his breath. He lay his hands flat on the ground. His finger was scratched by a thorn in the grass and he withdrew it swiftly. The second Wildcard had moved even slightly, he knew the game was up. The Death Troopers micro motion sensors would already have spotted him.

A muffled static sound echoed around and he knew that was his cue to run. Not daring to look back, he fired off two blind shots from his blaster pistol. The commandos returned fire, resulting in one shot striking Wildcard's calf. The searing pain threw him to the ground. This was it. He knew too much. He hadn't dedicated months to the Republic's cause so he could have crucial intelligence ripped from his mind by the Empire's truth serum. Hardly taking a moment to think, he held the barrel of his K-16 to his jaw -leg still in agony- and squeezed the trigger.

Wildcard lay there in shock. The crash had nearly burned out the energy cells in his blaster. Those two suppressing shots had finished the job. The guilt he felt was immeasurable, the New Republic's secrets would now be in the hands of the Empire, against his will. Unable to move from the horror and the pain of his wound, he let the blue ring of the stun blast knock him out. Darkness fell.

R2-JZ3 had detected the blaster bolts from miles away. He knew that they had found master Bakk. There was very little he could do. Very little but wait.

Part 2- Two Pairs



"Bakk J'ruce. Imperial intelligence records show you were arrested in Calius City on Berchest for dissension and destruction of Imperial property." The older looking ISB agent surveyed a datapad with Wildcard's offenses.

Wildcard grinned, blood seeping from his lip as a result of the savage beating he had received upon his arrival. "I know you, Commander Luidi. New Republic Intelligence shows you have a penchant for theatrics during interrogation and a serious inferiority complex."

Luidi let out a malicious cackle, before rapping Wildcard on the jaw. "And I know you have a droid who is never far behind you. I know you are a member of the famously incompetent Jade Squadron, and I know you are never going to leave here alive."

Wildcard laughed, "You severely underestimate the New Republic, Imp scum…"

The pain of interrogation meant little to Wildcard, after all he had spent years being whipped and beaten by slavers on Kessel. After an hour of verbal sparring, Luidi had left Wildcard restrained in his cell. The cuffs made his wrists ache terribly. The door slid open and two white clad stormtroopers entered in unison, and his restraints unclamped.

"Commander Luidi wants to see you for further interrogation."

He fell into step behind the two troopers down the sterilised hallway, smelling nothing but clean air and disinfectant solution. They arrived at a door on the hallway's right side, and it slid open with a hydraulic hiss. The two troopers stood at attention on either side of the door, and Wildcard walked into the luxuriously decorated office. Art from many different cultures and species adorned the walls, some painted, some sculpted and carved. Commander Luidi pushed a button on a holopad and the doors closed.

"So… you like art, huh?" Wildcard asked, unsure why he was in the office.

Luidi turned to face him. "A great man once told me: When you understand a species' art, you understand that species."

"It seems you don't understand Mon Calamari art very well then, eh?" He said, eyeing up an upside down Mon Cala sculpture.

A glint of anger flared in Luidi's eyes, but he managed to restrain himself. "As much as I would love to continue our debate from earlier, I've received orders to terminate you. After all, we can't have you escaping and telling your rebel friends about a hidden installation,” Luidi said as he removed his blaster pistol from its holster, and pressed the barrel against Wildcard's forehead.

Wildcard said nothing. No escape now. Commander Luidi began to squeeze the trigger, and the lights cut out abruptly. Taking advantage of the distraction, Wildcard ducked to avoid the blast and rose up, feeling around for his assailant. His hands wrapped around something cool and metallic. He wrestled it from the agent’s hand and the lights came back on. Finding his bearings, he aimed the DH-17 blaster pistol at his captor. The roles had been reversed. Setting it to stun, he fired a point blank shot, knocking out the Imp.

"Hands up!"

The two stormtroopers had entered to investigate the noise. Wildcard threw himself over the desk, putting it on its side. Blaster fire rained over his head, pinning him down. A wall circuit blew next to the troopers, momentarily distracting them, allowing Wildcard to make two precise shots to the head, blowing their helmets to pieces. That was a stroke of luck, he thought.



R2-JZ3 looked up at the technician attempting to reprogram him. He'd been waiting for this moment. Master Bakk had installed programming that rejected attempts to reset him unless his personal codes were used. It would merely display that he had been wiped and reprogrammed, whilst discarding the commands. It hadn't taken long for the squad of troopers to locate his master's camp, and by extension, him. The technician had assigned him to carry out menial tasks from the main computer, a perfect chance to locate his master. After cycling through surveillance cameras, he saw Bakk. In less than ten seconds, he ran through multiple scenarios to free him, and settled on the most effective, although with a lot of risk. This facility's highest ranking member was Commander Luidi of the ISB. Transmission records showed Jazzy that he reported to a Moff Kalur, who then reported to the Director of Imperial Intelligence- real name redacted from all records. Using slicing techniques embedded in him by his master, Jazzy obtained the encryption code used in his reports about Master Bakk. This was where the risk factor came in. He transmitted the message:


The live feed showed Master Bakk being escorted to the Commander's office; all was going according to plan. He aimed the blaster at his master's forehead. Jazzy cut power to the lighting system remotely. Master Bakk had spent years in the darkened spice mines of Kessel, if that hadn't taught him how to operate under darkness, nothing would. The camera adjusted itself to the light and showed his master on the ideal end of a blaster. He reactivated the lights to allow him to shoot the rushing troopers, before blowing a small power conduit to buy him a vital second. If R2-JZ3 were capable of real emotions, he'd probably be proud.



Wildcard knew he'd get nowhere fast if he didn't obtain some vague idea of the facility's layout. The stranded pilot wandered the halls, dodging stormtrooper squads as he went. They were combing the area for him, and avoiding detection had been next to impossible, or it would have been had blast doors not closed at random before troops could spot him. The doors would close, leaving him with one option for where to go. He was being herded. Probably a trap, he thought, but he had no other options.

After five minutes of being guided anonymously, Wildcard arrived at the Command Centre. Inside were four unconscious technicians, and a green domed astromech, who blooped and bleeped excitedly. "Jazzy! What did you do?" He asked rhetorically, patting the droid happily.

The droid chirped a quick response, and Wildcard smirked,

"And you said it was unethical to equip an astromech with non lethal gas!"

The droid shook it's dome in dismissal and began to chitter nervously.

"Encrypted projects? What did you find?"

The droid beeped a reply,

"Oh," Wildcard replied ominously,"not good."



"Calling New Republic Forces, this is Flight Officer Bakk J'ruce. I have been stranded on an unknown planet after sustaining a crash during Operation Blue Hood. I have uncovered a disturbing truth." Wildcard took a deep breath before continuing,"the Imperial TIE Defender project has been revived by a team of R&D scientists at a hidden outpost. I believe I may not survive much longer, so I risk exposing myself, if only to warn you all that a strike is necessary as fast as possible."

Dusty sighed with visible relief listening to the transmission.

"Commander Dustvain, would you care to explain why Flight Officer J'ruce has not been located by your forces already? Because of your sheer idiocy, a good soldier is being forced to risk his own life rather than be in the safety of our fleet." Admiral Gio's yellow catlike eyes stabbed at Dusty's soul.

"Well…" he began,"It's a real big planet, y’know."

Gio simmered with contempt for the hapless Commander. "Ignoring your fruitless attempts at a rescue, we have work to do," she said. "If the Defender project has indeed been brought back, our fighter wings may be in trouble. We must deploy Rogue Squadron at once. I'll have the location of Operation Blue Hood declassified at once."

"But Ma'am, surely we should send Jade Squadron to attack the base. It would be fitting for his own people to save him, if he survives the strike at all,” Dusty stuttered.

Admiral Gio cackled. "Well, Commander, it would be fitting if I had Thrawn's intelligence and General Organa's looks, but it appears neither of us are content today."

The absurdity of the remark stunned Dusty.



6 X-Wing fighters cruised over the planet, descending in formation. Rogue Squadron had been ordered to carry out a destructive onslaught of a hidden Imperial facility. Finding it was all based on things going their way. The man on the inside was a fighter pilot just like Rogue Leader, known to his friends as Jalb.

"Rogue Leader, standing by" he said to his squadmates, more reflex than conscious speech at this point in his career. The plan was simple: make some noise, find the Imperial fighters’ exit point. The trick was to make it seem like they knew where the base was, triggering a reaction. The transmissions from their contact, codenamed WC for mission purposes, would begin again soon, allowing them to triangulate the rough location of the base. All they had to do now was wait.



Wildcard saw the computer terminal light up and he tuned into an incoming transmission. A cryptic stream of numbers and letters appeared on the screen. There were far more letters than numbers, so Wildcard assumed what few numbers were there indicated the ETA on his rescue. He hoped he was right.

Wildcard activated the transponder beacon and hoped with all his will that someone had indeed come to help him when they said they would. Jazzy couldn't keep the blast doors shut forever. A crash shook the ground below his feet and threw him into Jazzy, who made his discomfort very clear. If this wasn't a sign he was being rescued, then nothing was. He stumbled over to one of the unconscious imperial technicians and grabbed a small hold out blaster and its holster, so that he was now dual wielding. Now all we have to do is escape.

A voice boomed throughout the base. "I know what you're doing J'ruce! I've overridden the main computer and unlocked the blast doors. Give Admiral Raddus my regards."

Wildcard scowled. He must've woken up. Jazzy bleeped at him.

"Armoury? Where?"


Jalb spotted a wave of six pronged fighters advancing on him. He shunted power into engines and flew at them head to head. Just as they began to open fire, he cut his thrust and twisted the ship in the opposite direction, putting him aft of the TIE Defenders, or "Trips" as most pilots called the relatively rare fighter.

Rogue 3 was back and to the left of him, with Rogues 5 and 6 still coming head on. The leftmost Trip broke formation and carried itself in a tight loop, putting himself on Jalb's tail. Jalb went evasive, twisting and looping in the process. A blaze of red fire flashed behind him and his targeting computer lost the Trip.

"Thanks, Three" he said,"We got two more coming in. 5,6,9 and 11: you keep ‘em busy whilst 3 and Leader find their hangar."

Wildcard ducked below a stack of supply crates in the hangar. If his predictions were correct, the hangar would be the next target for attack. Being the only large opening in the base, it was the most effective target. A few proton torpedoes wouldn't be quite enough to set off the chain reaction, though. On his way to the hangar, Wildcard had Jazzy plant several mines he had found under lock and key in the armoury. Imp door security was no match for Jazzy’s slicing skills, of course. One more ought to do it, but he'd need to be quick.

Jazzy remained behind the crates, whilst he snuck out towards a large fuel tank. He pressed the thick disc against its durasteel wall, and armed it with a sharp twist. Klaxons began to blare as all personnel in the hangar started to run for the hallway. Peeking out from behind the cylinder, Wildcard saw a bright red ball streaking towards the hangar. A proton torpedo was homing in, right on target, with seemingly impossible precision.



The fleeing Imperials didn't even notice Wildcard running from the chain reaction of fire and gas alongside them, astromech by his side. Every man was focused on one thing: getting out. Wildcard even took advantage of the frenzy and "accidentally" tripped some fleeing men. The heat had caused him to sweat to the point where his brown hair stuck to his skull like a helmet. The crowd got smaller and smaller as people ran out of breath, resigning themselves to the wall of flames. Wildcard and five others ran up the entrance ramp to the base hangar. The blast door already open, he launched himself out, narrowly avoiding the flames as they erupted through the tiny opening just after he’d cleared the exit.

Chest heaving, he rolled to his back only to find himself looking down the barrel of a blaster.

"Hands where I can see 'em, mate."

Wildcard saw an X-Wing pilot, wearing a non-regulation black flight suit, pointing a small blaster pistol at him. He threw his hands out in front of himself. "Wait! I'm Flight Officer J'ruce, I helped you burn this thing!" He exclaimed.

The man lowered his weapon, and holstered it. "Lieutenant Colonel Chris Reynolds." He extended a gloved hand, and Wildcard accepted the help to his feet and shook the offered hand cautiously.

"Nice to meet you, Sir."

"Well, then. There's a troop transport on its way down to sweep the area for escaped Imps. You can ride it back up."

Wildcard made his best attempt at a smile. "Thanks, sir. I…” He stopped talking completely. He had only now noticed that his droid was nowhere to be seen. "Jazzy…" he mumbled.

"What's a Jazzy?" Jalb asked, unsure what was happening.

"My droid… he never made it out."



"Your bravery and service to the New Republic will be remembered, Flight Officer," Admiral Gio said proudly, before continuing in a more somber tone. "I deeply apologize for the mistakes made by Jade Leader. That you were able to survive and engineer the sabotage of an Imperial facility says a lot about your potential. Your talents are wasted in Jade Squadron, quite frankly. I think you'd thrive in a more tactically driven group."

The door to her office slid open, and Wildcard turned. A Zeltron woman not much younger than Wildcard with flowing purple hair entered the room. She saluted Admiral Gio and remained at attention.

The Admiral returned the salute and sat down, motioning for the new arrival to relax as well. "Flight Officer J'ruce, I'd like you to meet your new Executive Officer. You're being transferred to Spectre Squadron," she said.

He looked around in shock, hesitant to believe he would finally be leaving Jade Squadron. "Flight Officer Bakk J'ruce, nice to meet you." He said, nervously avoiding eye contact.

"Captain Gemilan. You can call me Gremlin," she said with a warm smile.

“I have matters to attend to with Captain Dey,” Admiral Gio said as she rose to her feet. “Please, remain here while you hammer out specifics,” she hurriedly added, stopping them from rising with her. With that, the Admiral dismissed herself from the room, ceding it to Gremlin and Wildcard to allow them to discuss his new placement.

After a lengthy discussion regarding his callsign, duties and his transfer to the CRS Vigilant, Gremlin decided to give her first orders. "Well then Wildcard. Report to Simmons Schock Deck at 1900 hours for celebratory drinks with your new squad."

Anxiety bubbled in his stomach. "Listen, I think I'm gonna just turn in early for the night. You guys enjoy your drinks-"

Gremlin cut him off with a chuckle. "Nobody gets out of welcome drinks. You'll be fine."

He nodded reluctantly and left. His mind swam with the sudden change in his assignment and responsibilities.

Whilst walking to his quarters for a shower and a change of clothes, Wildcard passed Dusty, who appeared to be in a frenzy. "Wildcard! Hey listen buddy, we've been reassigned to the CRS Andor, because of what the Admiral called ‘feckless incompetence’. I've heard they tried to move you to Spectre Squadron, but I'm not having it! Don't you worry, I'll have you back on my team in no time. You really think I can afford to be one pilot down?"

Wildcard stared in disbelief. This man had shot him down and nearly killed him, and not a single word of apology had been uttered. He only cared about his squadron having a somewhat skilled pilot on its roster. Wildcard punched him as hard as he could, throwing all his rage and resentment into one blow.

Dusty's nose gushed blood through his hands as they tried to pinch his nostrils closed.

"Sithspawn" Wildcard muttered, and walked away.



Walking into the bar on the CRS Vigilant was a strange experience. Wildcard had never attempted to socialise with his crewmates on the FRG Black Hawk. He sauntered up to the bar and was met by an IG model assassin droid.

"Hello, Flight Officer J'ruce. How may I help you?" The droid asked, surprising Wildcard by knowing his name.

Baffled by the idea of a machine made for murder serving him drinks, he took a second. "I… I um… I'll take a Corellian Ale please." A pint of something amber and frothy that looked like warm beer slid to a stop in front of him. He sipped it quietly, before feeling a hand on his shoulder.

"Hey there, newbie! I'll pay for that, Iggy!" Gremlin smiled at him as she led him over to a booth where Spectre Squadron sat.

Wildcard yet again tried his best to pretend he was comfortable with this, going along with his new Executive Officer with the slightest of hesitation. Over the course of the night he began to loosen up, realising how much he had missed having friends. Ever since his last group of "friends" sold him out to the Empire, he didn't believe anyone was truly worth becoming attached to. One by one, they all left for their quarters, until Wildcard sat alone finishing his last drink.

From another booth over in the corner, Jalb came over, sitting directly across from him. His glass of Sundowner spilled a little. "So, first night in the SSD. How you liking it?" He asked.

"Well," Wildcard said, slurring his words slightly,"it's been nice. I've not had friends for… wow. 10 years. It's not been easy. They sold me out to the Empire so they could rob some vendors. I did time on Kessel." He indicated to his ale, "You'd be amazed what this stuff does for social anxiety, Jalb."

Jalb laughed lightly, "You're fitting right in, man. I'm off to bed, and you'd best do the same, can't have you passing out whilst Stryker's formally welcoming you."

The End.