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Escape and Evasion: Part 1

By: Rogue

Author's note: This POV was started over two and half years ago and was only intended to be a short POV to add to the collection of others and to flesh Rogue out a bit more so that he might be able to be used by others in their POV's. Then real life came calling and not only did it call it smashed down the door and proceeded to wreck people's lives. My wife's cancer meant that rightly so I focussed on her and that's exactly what I did and what spare time I had, this little project was a distant thought. Luck was not with us and Carole sadly lost the war she had been waging against this bastard disease, but boy did she fight, she lasted longer than all the doctors ever said she was, so I know for a fact that she had a warrior's spirit and never once backed down from any of it. Words can not express the sorrow and sadness of losing Carole or the love and pride of being her husband, also the humility from myself to you guys with your generosity of raising the money you did for the hospice that cared for her in those final weeks. Thank you doesn't seem enough but it's given with so much respect and gratitude to you all. Finishing this POV has actually helped in a small part, giving me something new to focus on and direct my thoughts to other things. I hope you enjoy this POV and I will hopefully start working on a new one soon.

Chapter one.

It was late and the lounge was more or less empty. Rogue examined the other occupants as he nursed his drink. A Rodian bridge officer named Ensign Wraw had been nursing the same drink for more than half an hour. From what Rogue could make out from his vantage point, it looked like Wraw was practising what he wanted to say for an interview. In another booth, one of the ship's naval troopers was on his fifth top shelf spirit with no immediate impairment evident, so either he had a really high tolerance or was a functional alcoholic. Rogue couldn't see his rank or name tab, but he made sure to memorise the trooper's face and file it away for future drinking encounters. Finally there was one of the engineering team. She had been slumped across the table and sound asleep from the time Rogue had come in. Judging by how full her glass was, it was tiredness or exhaustion that had caused this, not the drink.

The quietness of the lounge and currently sparse population actually suited Rogue's mood and nature at the moment. His squad mates were decent people and good company—both sober or otherwise—but sometimes Rogue liked being by himself. He relished in the moments when he could just sit back and let the silence wash over him ... apart from the constant high pitched whistling noise in both ears.

"Tinnitus," the medical droid had said. Too many loud noises, too close to blasters being fired, and of course—explosions. Not a lot could be done for the condition, so Rogue had merely learned to live with it as best as he could. He picked up his Lomin Ale and drained the glass, stood and made his way out of the lounge, leaving the glass on the bar as he left. It was late and Rogue wanted to be up early enough to get some exercise in before the briefing scheduled for five hours from now.


Rogue finished drying himself as he stepped out of the fresher. He had managed to get a solid forty five minutes in the training room onboard the ship and was now feeling fully awake and alert and ready for whatever the day had in store for him. Dressing quickly into his duty uniform, he pulled on his holsters, both DL-44's sitting underneath his armpits snuggly and secure. Unconsciously, he gave each blaster his habitual pat to make sure they were there and secured. He threw on his battered flight jacket; the material giving extra area to allow his concealed blasters to rest without digging into his chest. It was well worn in and the previous patches of the squadrons he had once been part of were on the back while the Spectre squadron patch was secured at the top of the right sleeve. Once fully dressed and satisfied with his appearance and readiness, Rogue left his quarters.

The turbolift ride was uneventful. No one was in it to make small talk with, which was a relief. Last time, an ensign from the bridge crew was in the turbolift and going into explicit details on how important and difficult his role was. In the end, Rogue had sarcastically thanked him for his service and said how grateful the entire ship was to that ensign for his dedication to the Alliance. The sarcastic tone of his voice had the desired effect, and the remainder of the journey stayed quiet. A wry smile crept onto Rogue's face as the memory reappeared in his mind's eye.

A small chime broke him from his reverie, quickly followed by the quiet opening of the door. Rogue exited the turbolift and made his way into the briefing room. Krayt was standing near the projector and nodded towards Rogue as he entered the room. Rogue sat down next to Gremlin and leaned in close. "So they got you as well?"

Gremlin shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah. Now that you're here we can find out what they want us to do."

The briefing started, and Rogue listened as Krayt outlined what their role was to be in the reconnaissance on an Imperial outpost. During the mission, Krayt and Gremlin in their X-wings would be suppressing any Imperial fighters while the recon A-wing piloted by Rogue completed its flyover of the Imperial base.

He looked over to his left and saw Gremlin listening intently as Krayt outlined the initial approach plan. Rogue was still listening to the briefing as well, but part of his mind was drifting. He could feel his focus heading off; heading back towards the name on the datapad that had been sent to him when both he and Lock had infiltrated the Imperial base on Elrood. The search program Beth had put on the shredder had done what it had set out to: find out what the Imperials had on this person—or more importantly—if he was working with them.

It had been a long shot. The chances of this person being in the Imperial database on Elrood was at best an outside chance, but one Rogue felt was worth going after. His thoughts darted back to the display on his datapad. The message said that Beth's program had found something and came back with some information. And this was the problem ... There was information about the individual.

If there had been none, Rogue could have put the matter to bed, and simply put it down to the fact that he didn't like the subject in question—but there was information now so this meant that he was known to the enemy. The information about the individual wasn't incriminating, neither was it information that showed them as an enemy agent or someone on the Imperial payroll either.

This was what was distracting him during the briefing right now. Rogue reached up with and rubbed his left cheek, true to the medical droid's diagnosis, the knife wound inflicted by the Imperial Commando during the assault was now fully healed and there was no longer even a mark on his cheek—yet like the name on his pad, his cheek still irritated him slightly. He shook his head slightly to bring himself back to the briefing that Krayt was still delivering.

"Our main targets for recon are the power generators and the repair yards at the installation." Krayt pressed a button and the display of Torrad was displayed before the image of the planet was replaced with one of the islands. "Little is known about the Imperial base on Torrad, but given its location in this system it is believed that it is primarily a repair staging area for the Empire. Priority has been assigned to reconing these areas to see if it will be a viable option to seize the base and use what's there for our own purposes. Secondary areas of interest will be barracks and any landing platforms or starfighter staging areas." Krayt pressed the button again, this time the image zoomed out slightly to show an outline of what the Imperial base might look like. "It's just going to be the three of us going in. Any more than that and the brass feels this might show the Imperials that Torrad is more than just a passing interest to us." He looked over at Gremlin and Rogue. "Does anyone have any questions?"

Gremlin raised her hand. "The intelligence provided is pretty sketchy at best. Is this all the information they could provide?"

"I'm afraid so, hence why we're going in with the recon A-wing. We get the honour of finding out what exactly the Empire has there. Rogue, you get the privilege of flying the A-wing. Gremlin, you and I will fly cover in our X-wings. Any other questions?" There were none. "Alright, get yourselves some food and then get yourselves to the hangar and make sure your ships are good to go. We're gear up in two hours. Dismissed."

Gremlin and Rogue stood up from their chairs and started to leave the briefing room. Rogue fell in beside Gremlin and walked with her. "Heading to the mess?"

"Yeah, probably best to get some chow. No idea how long we'll be out. You know how it goes, all plans look and sound great until contact with the enemy."

Rogue gave a half smile. "Funny, that; the bad guys not playing fair and making our plans go to druk!"

Gremlin let out a sharp laugh. "Maybe we should start getting Command to send them our plans so the bad guys can get with the program and play their part properly."

The two pilots made their way to the mess to get a quick bite to eat before they went on to make sure their ships were ready for the mission ahead. Rogue had chosen the mystery stew. All stews had been given this nickname as it was always a mystery as to what type of meat was found in the stews, but most times the stew tasted pretty good. Today was no exception.

"Are you eating the mystery stew again?" Gremlin raised an eyebrow as she sat opposite Rogue.

Rogue swallowed his mouthful of stew before replying. "It's better than what you've got, that's for sure. The limp noodle 'special' in yesterday's fresher water!"

Gremlin used her utensil to move the noodles around in the soup. "You're giving it too much credit, Rogue." She scooped up some of the noodles and a good helping of the soup and put it into her grinning mouth. After chewing it briefly and swallowing, she looked up at Rogue with a sober expression on her face. "Thoughts on the mission?"

Rogue put his utensil into his bowl. "Seems like this one has the potential to go sideways at any point. Intel on the base is next to nothing, so we've not got a proper picture of what we're flying into. We get in system and down planetside before the Imps see us then we've got a damn good chance of pulling this off as planned," Rogue replied. "The only real concern I have is my recon bird."

"What do you mean?" Gremlin asked, scooping another helping of noodles into her mouth.

Rogue ticked the reasons off on his fingers. "Only one laser where the warhead launchers should be, so no missiles. Loads of intel gathering devices. She's a flying target begging to be shot down," he finished with a sigh. "Still, could be worse."

"Why's that Rogue?" Gremlin asked.

"It could be a Longprobe job instead!" Rogue closed his eyes and slowly shook his head at the thought of an old type of reconnaissance Y-wing. Lock had told him about the time he and Bulldog had been forced into one by an overzealous Bothan officer, and it had not ended well for them or the ship.

Gremlin laughed at Rogue. "Always looking for the bright spot Rogue. Good to see."

"Humph," was Rogue's dismissive reply.

"Listen. Krayt and I will keep you safe if the Empire has any fighters at the base," Gremlin said before shoving another spoonful of noodles into her mouth.

"I feel safer already!" Rogue declared in his best sarcastic voice.

The two pilots chatted for a while longer in between mouthfuls of food. Once they had both finished, they made their way out of the mess and headed for the nearest turbolift. Rogue got out when the lift arrived on the level of his quarters. "See you at the hangar." The lift doors shut and it carried Gremlin on to its next destination. Rogue keyed in the code to his quarters and stepped in once the door had opened. Shade greeted him with several sharp whistles and beeps. He looked down at the black R2 unit. "Yes I know the designers missed an opportunity by not installing a droid slot in A-wings, and yes I would feel better having you back there looking after me little fella." Shade made a more mournful noise. "I know, but it is what it is. Anyway, I'm going to need you to start getting things in place for when Cally arrives." Shade gave a more cheerful whistle. "Yeah I'm looking forward to her moving in here and working on the Vigilant as well."

Rogue went over to the room's main locker and pulled out his pilot coveralls and got himself dressed, laying his holster with both blasters on his bed. Before he zipped up the coverall, he reached back into the locker and removed two sheathed blades. He drew one of the blades from its scabbard and inspected it, before doing the same for the other blade before sliding the two Beskar blades back into their scabbards. He placed one in each boot until only the hilts of the blades were showing. Pulling the zip up fully on his flight suit, he stashed two spare gas canisters for his DL-44's in each right and left thigh pockets in his coveralls and then slipped his arms into the dual holster. Feeling the weight of the two heavy blasters now slung under each arm, Rogue gave both blasters another ritual pat after adjusting them. "Right little fella, look after the place while I'm away. No wild droid parties, you hear me?"

Shade gave a series of beeps and whistles that sounded almost sarcastic as Rogue headed out of room and towards the turbolifts.


Chapter two.

Hurst finished clipping on his breastplate armour in rote fashion. He pulled down on it to make sure it was properly attached and felt it resist his downward pulls. Satisfied, he picked up his plastoid helmet and pulled it down over his face. The bottom made contact with the armour, and the helmet was locked in. Hurst opened his eyes and his vision adjusted to the familiar constraints of the helmet. Using his tongue, he activated the comms. "This is trooper HT747, requesting comms check. Report my signal, over."

There was a slight delay before one of the duty communication operators replied. "Receiving you loud and clear, HT747, out."

Hurst made his way to the armoury, the duty officer motioned for him to come forward and collect his equipment. The equipment and weapons were placed on the counter top to be inspected and attached. He picked up his E-22 heavy blaster rifle last of all, making sure the safety was on first before he checked that the power clip was properly inserted. When he was happy that the weapon had a full charge, he slung the rifle's strap over his head and let that take the weight of the weapon before heading out of the armoury. Hurst made his way down the corridor before exiting out onto the yard, and made his way towards his platoon who were standing at parade rest waiting for him.

Sergeant Lexon saw Lieutenant Hurst approaching. She quickly turned and faced the platoon and shouted. "Squad, squad 'shun'!" The assembled Shoretroopers came to attention as one along with Sergeant Lexon. "Sir, all troopers are present and correct and awaiting your orders, sir."

"Thank you, Sergeant." Hurst turned and faced his unit. "Stand easy." The assembled unit of Shoretroopers stood at parade rest in unison, belying their training. "Today after we have completed our patrol of the local villages, we will carry on training the local garrison's Stormtrooper contingent. Although Torrad might be seen by some as a backwater assignment not even worthy of providing permanent capital ship cover, this base is still essential in the Imperial war effort. That's why we're here. Since we have been posted here, Commander Vazio has informed me that his troopers efficiency has been brought up by eighteen percent. To show his appreciation, the Commander has told me to inform you that we will be given a four day liberty pass. I expected no less from Imperial soldiers of your calibre, but well done nonetheless. Sergeant, if you would please."

"Yes sir. Squad, squad 'shun, right face, quick march." As one, the assembled Shoretroopers turned and began to march towards the main exit of the base.


Chapter three.

Rogue gave his flight stick another waggle, causing the A-wing to quickly react to the input and move in the new direction. The two X-wings piloted by Gremlin and Krayt followed suit and stayed in formation with his sudden change in direction. The three ships headed towards the navigation point that would allow them to jump to Torrad at a leisurely pace. The distance to the jump point reduced quickly, but not too fast to stop Rogue from running through the briefing mentally one last time. Once at the designated point he activated the jump engines in the A-wing, and the star field in front of him elongated before it was replaced with the familiar swirling view of hyperspace.


Gremlin pushed the lever forward. The stars in front of her elongated as the engines in her X-wing powered up for the jump. Inside her cockpit, the stars were replaced with the familiar blue swirling tunnel of hyperspace, bathing everything in the familiar blue-white light. She checked her flight computer for the umpteenth time since launch. All systems were reporting well within tolerance levels. The shields were fully charged as were the lasers; her fighter was ready and so was she. She fidgeted around in her seat slightly to make sure she was as comfortable as she could be for the trip.


Krayt flexed his wrists and then all of his fingers before settling them back on his flight stick and throttle. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander for a while in the safety that being in hyperspace allowed him. This time his mind took him back to his days training to become a pilot...


Rogue finished yet another mental run through the plan and glanced down at the chrono display. Only a few more seconds until we exit hyperspace. The display counted down to zero and the swirling blue and white tunnel of hyperspace was replaced with the normal backdrop of stars, far away galaxies, and their target planet: Torrad. Their approach vector should allow the small group of ships to approach the Imperial base without being detected ... hopefully.

Comm silence was to be maintained until they either arrived at their target and started their reconnaissance run or if they were discovered prior to reaching their target. Rogue inserted a portable drive into one of the A-wing's console ports as he got the recon ship on a heading that would allow for insertion into the atmosphere without detection. Information scrolled briefly across one of his CMD's, and once it had finished he selected one of the listed items displayed on the CMD. There was a brief crackle of static in Rogue's headset, and then the music started playing. After about twenty more seconds, the singer joined in.

Have I told you
Lately that I love you
If I didn't, darlin'
You see, I'm so sorry
Didn't I reach out
And hold you
In these lovin' arms
Well, if I didn't, oh baby
Well, I'm so sorry

Rogue was letting his left hand tap along with the rhythm to the music as it rested on the A-wing's throttle as the group made planetfall heading towards over the ocean . In the distance, just barely visible on the sensors, the island with the Imperial repair facility awaited.

When I realised that you need love too
Gonna spend my life makin' love to you
Got to be a lover
Have mercy

The A-wing and X-wings were now skimming across the ocean only a few metres above the waves as they sped towards their target. Rogue felt the music seemed to fit in with the low level approach.

When I realised that you need love too
Gonna spend my life makin' love to you
Got to be a lover
Have mercy

Forgot to be a lover, babe (have mercy)
Forgot to be a lover (have mercy)
Forgot to be a lover
Make it on through to you somehow (have mercy, baby)
Got to be a lover, babe (forgot to be a lover)
Woo! Woo!

Krayt broke comms silence and jarred Rogue out of his reverie. "Come up by two hundred metres and lock S-foils in attack position!"

Rogue pulled gently back on the flight stick and felt himself sliding slightly back into his flight seat as the A-wing lifted away from the ocean. As the reconnaissance fighter climbed, he flicked the switch for the data recording software to start scanning along with the jamming pods that would hopefully stop Imperial computers from locking onto the three fighters.

A warning alert started going off in his cockpit. Rogue looked down at CMD and grimaced. The Imperials had noticed the three ships when they rose up and were now starting to try and target the ships.


Inside the Imperial command centre, there was a flurry of activity.

"Sir, I've got signatures that just appeared on scope, the system is trying to identify the incoming craft! Correction signals have disappeared, but for a moment it looked like there were three contacts on the display."

Lieutenant Stec looked up from the data pad he was reading. "Are we expecting anyone today Corporal?"

"No sir."

"Sound the alert, scramble our fighters and bring our defences online." Lieutenant Stec watched as the people in the command centre went about their duties. "What do we have aloft at the moment?"

The Imperial Sergeant in charge of flight operations spoke up. "Sir we have two TIE fighters currently patrolling quadrant four and one TIE SK in quadrant two."

"What quadrant did you notice the contact Corporal?" Lieutenant Stec asked.

"Contacts were detected in quadrant three sir."

Lieutenant Stec looked towards the Sergeant. "Vector the three airborne TIEs to that sector, Sergeant."

"Yes sir."

The Corporal in charge of the console that had picked up the incoming ships spoke up again. "Sir, there seems to be some sort of interference messing with our scopes, I'm narrowing the search radar to quadrant three to see if it can burn through." He tapped a few buttons and quickly adjusted the search parameters for the radar, and it wasn't long before his efforts were rewarded. "Sir! Contacts have reappeared and have been locked up again. Identification has two X-wing and one A-wing type fighters, current heading has them coming directly towards this installation!"

"Understood, weapons free. All defences are cleared to engage enemy fighters when they come in range. Flight, what's the status of our fighters?"

The Sergeant at the console that dealt with flight operations had her left hand pressed her left ear piece. "Sir, Convor Squadron is lifting off now with Varactyl Squadron thirty seconds behind them."

"Vector both squadrons towards quadrant three and tell them to engage as soon as possible."

"Yes sir." The flight controller relayed the orders to the Imperial fighter pilots.

"Sir, defence systems are unable to lock onto enemy fighters—they keep on losing their target lock."

Lieutenant Stec turned towards the Sergeant at the weapons console. "Sergeant, order all weapons crews to manual."

"Yes sir."

Lieutenant Stec then turned back to the NCO at the flight operations console. "Flight Ops, let our pilots know that our defence screen is on manual and no longer guided."



Gremlin spoke first. "I have two eyeballs and one special on an intercept course."

"I've got the eyeballs. Five, you take the special," Krayt ordered as his X-wing angled toward his desired targets.

"Five copies, locking up now," Gremlin replied, the warbling tone of her astromech attaining a lock carrying over the comms underneath her words.

Rogue looked down at his scope. "We've got multiple contacts powering up and getting ready to launch! Sending you targeting data on the hangars." As he looked up, he saw a torpedo launch from Krayt's fighter. The blue streak made a ballistic approach toward one of the TIEs. A similar warhead launched from Gremlin's ship, headed for the TIE/sk.

Both of the escorting X-wings adjusted their headings toward Rogue's sensor ping. Two more torpedoes launched quickly from Gremlin's X-wing, this time headed toward the new targets Rogue had pinged just now. Similarly, Krayt's fighter also launched two more warheads at one of the new targets. The speed with which both escorting fighters had adjusted headings and launched more ordinance belied their skill behind the stick.

"Your first target evaded, Lead," Rogue warned, seeing the TIE that Krayt had fired upon first had veered out of the path of certain death. The blue streak was attempting to course correct, but the TIE was swift enough to avoid danger. Or so he thought.

"I see him," Krayt replied calmly. His X-wing quickly changed course as it began hurling dual blasts of red light at his original target. A quick snap-shot herded the first TIE back into a path that the tracking torpedo could intersect with.

Before anybody could cheer the subsequent eruption that slagged the target, another enemy had begun to hurl verdant energy toward Krayt's ship. A subtle feathering of the rudder brought the nose of the X-wing in line with the offending TIE and another snap-shot hulled new enemy down before the torpedo's explosion had fizzled out. The wreckage of both TIEs tumbled out of the sky. "Splash two eyeballs."

The pilot flying the TIE/sk attempted to destroy Gremlin's incoming torpedo, sending out green laser bolts towards the rapidly closing warhead. The first few laser bolts missed, going slightly below and to the right. The Imperial pilot nudged his flight stick slightly to adjust his aim, pausing his fire to ensure a hit with the next salvo. His time spent aiming wasn't wasted, as the next set of laser bolts made contact with the torpedo ... but it was too late. The torpedo was almost at its target by the time the lasers found their mark, and the blast wave hit the TIE with enough force to cause catastrophic damage to the fighter. The viewscreen disintegrated inwards into the cockpit and shredded the Imperial pilot and the control panel. Trailing smoke and with nobody alive and the controls destroyed, the TIE/sk plummeted into the ocean below.

The two sets of torpedoes that had been fired at the Imperial fighters powering up in their hangars had reached their targets and detonated. The hangar with the TIE Fighters in it was more-or-less destroyed; only four TIEs had managed to get airborne and two more were launching when the torpedoes exploded. The explosion blew apart powering-up fighters and ground crew alike. The two TIEs that had just exited their hangar were swatted down by the powerful blast wave and crashed into the ground, killing one of the pilots and grievously injuring the other.

Six TiE Strikers were airborne and heading towards the Alliance fighters, and a seventh was just accelerating away from the hangar when the other set of torpedoes detonated. The four remaining atmospheric fighters in the hangar were consumed in the resulting explosion along with their pilots and ground crews. The TIE/sk that had just exited was caught in the tail end of the explosion and took some damage as it accelerated away, trailing smoke as the pilot headed towards the enemy fighters that had just killed his squad mates.


Lieutenant Hurst heard an explosion, quickly followed by another one. He signalled for everyone to stop by bringing his left arm up to shoulder height and clenching his fist. He turned back towards the direction of their base and saw two plumes of black smoke rising up with flames visible within. Using his tongue, Hurst contacted the operations centre. "Control, this is HT747. Sitrep!"

There was a slight hiss of static before the voice of an Imperial controller came over the airwaves. "HT747, base is under attack by Rebel starfighters, it's unknown at this time if there are any enemy ground units. Command is directing you and your squad to make best possible speed and return to base to counter any possible enemy troops."

"Understood Control. Returning to base at the double, HT747 out." Hurst turned to his squad. "The base is under attack by enemy air units. We need to head back in case any Rebel ground units are also here. At the double, move out." As one, the Shoretroopers turned and headed back towards their base.


Rogue had pushed the A-wing's throttles up to ninety percent and was moving slightly ahead of the two X-wings. Looking down at the console screen, he saw that the data from the reconnaissance pods was also being stored on the data file he had inserted into the data port, backing up the main data recordings. The coast flashed beneath his A-wing. "This is Three. Feet dry." As soon as the A-wing had flown over land, Rogue pushed the throttles to maximum.

Up ahead, Rogue saw the smoke rising from the remains of the two hangars. Fingers of green laser fire reached up and towards him, but it wasn't accurate. More weapons fire from another part of the base was accurate, forcing Rogue to take avoiding action. The threat light on Rogue's HUD came to life, meaning that someone had a lock and was shooting at him. He pushed his flight stick all the way to the right and used his left foot to push down on his rudder, putting the A-wing into a controlled spiral manoeuvre. Glancing down at his scope, Rogue called out. "This is Three, we have eleven enemy TIE's airborne and in the AO."

"Copy Three," Krayt responded. "Five, form up on me. Let's do this."

Gremlin rolled her X-wing to the left and joined up with Krayt's X-wing. "Copy lead, got you covered."

As more fire came in from approaching enemy fighters, Rogue reversed his roll to dodge the incoming fire. Static through his headset told him that a few shots had made contact with the A-wing's shields. This was confirmed by a brief glance down to the shield display, showing that shields were down to sixty-two percent. As the A-wing was coming out of its roll and back to level flight, the gunsight went green as a TIE Fighter briefly crossed the A-wing's nose. Rogue reacted quickly and sent out a rapid burst of laser bolts from the A-wing's single laser. Two scarlet lances hit the Imperial fighter: one tearing through the bottom of the right wing, taking with it a large chunk, and the other hitting the left engine support. Flames and smoke started spewing from the damaged engine support as the damaged TIE flashed by.


The Imperial pilot felt the impact of the laser bolts on her fighter. Red warning lights started flashing along with an alarm sounding within the cockpit. It only took her a split second to realise that her flight controls were no longer responding. Reaching down with her right hand, she pulled the ejection lever. The rockets fired at the bottom of the pilot's seat, and she was pushed back into it as she smashed through the canopy and into the sky. Three seconds later, the thrusters in the seat ran out of fuel and stopped. For several seconds, the seat carried on going upwards carried by inertia. She would have blown out a sigh of relief that she'd managed to retain the brief training she'd been given on the ejection procedure if all the air hadn't already been pounded out of her lungs by the act.

The drogue chute deployed from the back of the seat when the seat detected that it was now starting to descend. It automatically deployed the seat's main chute, which fully opened mercifully without issue. The Imperial pilot watched as her doomed fighter ploughed into a grounded Sentinel Cargo Shuttle, the two ships exploding with one of the shuttle's wings being sent slicing into the base's radar—taking it offline.

As the Imperial pilot drifted towards the ground she let out a sigh into her helmet before speaking. "I am so kriffed!"


Gremlin saw a TIE trailing smoke crash into the Imperial base before a large explosion erupted skyward. Her attention switched to a TIE/sk that was turning to try and intercept Rogue's recon A-wing. She lined up a shot on the fighter and squeezed her trigger. Four laser bolts converged on the Striker, hitting it centre-back. The enemy fighter exploded, leaving nothing but an expanding fireball that lingered briefly in the sky before being replaced by a dissipating black cloud. Ground fire headed towards her X-wing, one of the green laser bolts made contact with the fighter's shields, knocking them down considerably.

"Watch the crossfire Five!" Krayt warned.

"Copy!" Gremlin managed to reply as she put her fighter into a series of evasive manoeuvres.

Rogue's banking A-wing sliced across her viewport for the briefest instant as she turned the opposite direction of his maneuver. "Three commencing another overflight. Just over fifty percent of the base mapped and stored so far."


Krayt nodded as he quickly scanned the area around his recon pilot. "Copy three, we'll do our best to keep them off you," he responded as he ruddered to track an enemy angling for a firing solution on Rogue. Krayt quickly fired the X-wing's lasers in single fire mode, drilling the TIE/sk that was vectoring in on the recon A-wing. The TIE spun out of control and ploughed into the forest below.

The laser fire from the base was steadily increasing as the accuracy of the gunners was improving, Krayt felt and heard the impact of a laser bolt directly on his fighter's shields. Flicking over to his torpedoes, he pointed the nose of his X-wing towards a gun battery and dumb-fired two torpedoes at it. The warheads hit the ground just in front of the weapon emplacement and detonated.

The gun barrels were bent and twisted by the force of the explosion, but the main body of the anti air battery remained intact. The same couldn't be said for the gunners inside. The force of the exploding torpedoes meant that their bodies were tossed around inside and battered them off walls and consoles alike.

Krayt thought he felt their temporary anguish, but the feeling passed just as quickly as it had arrived. He grimaced. Their bodies will be found broken and bloody long after the battle has ended, he thought grimly. Shaking the sadness from his mind, he again scanned the skies for another target.


Two TIE fighters and a TIE/sk that was trailing smoke were converging on Rogue and firing. Selecting the damaged TIE, he opened fire just as the incoming fire from the enemy fighters started flashing by him. The red laser bolts from the recon A-wing hit the cockpit of the Striker and burned through it and the pilot's head, leaving nothing from the shoulders upwards. The dead pilot's hands must have kept a death grip on the flight control and the triggers because the fighter kept flying level and shooting as it sped toward Rogue. He was forced to pull up to evade the continuing fire from the stricken craft.

It was one of the TIE Fighters that managed to score a hit on the A-wing. The green laser hit the weakened shield and had enough energy to pass through and pierce the right engine housing. The ship shuddered as the damaged engine underwent a catastrophic failure, detonating and spewing forth a gout of flame and black smoke shortly thereafter. All thrust immediately stopped as the undamaged engine shut down per safety protocols to stop the ship from going into what many veterans of the old A-wing called the death-disk, where the undamaged engine continued to thrust at full power and spin the wedge-shaped craft and pin the pilots against the side of the cockpit, unable to reach the ejection handle.

To add insult to injury, shrapnel from the destroyed engine pierced into the main body of the A-wing, damaging the flight control system along with other vital components. Rogue wrestled with the flight stick as the A-wing began to fly off in its own direction. Without controls, he wouldn't even be able to make the unique aerodynamics of the small ship work to his advantage. "This is Three," he grunted as he tried once more to brute-force the flightpath of the ship. "Taken heavy damage—controls not responding—ejecting!"

Rogue reached down to the ejection handle and pulled it, closing his eyes out of reflex. Nothing happened. After a moment, he cautiously looked down at the handle through squinting eyes. Rogue pulled it several more times before he once more reached for the flight stick to try and steer the dying A-wing. "This is Three. The ejection system malfunctioned! Three's going down—going down hard!"

He tried to level off the doomed recon craft, and only managed to regain some control before the A-wing twisted again and slammed down into the ground. The left sensor pod sheared off as the doomed fighter rolled over several times. The ship was brought to a sudden stop as it collided with a tree.

Rogue was slammed forward into the console. His world went black as he lost consciousness.


Inside the Imperial Control centre. "Sir, jamming has stopped. We have automatic targeting back again." It was the Sergeant crewing the weapons console who had spoken.

"Instruct all our gun crews to switch back to automatic targeting, Sergeant," Lieutenant Stec ordered, hiding the relief from his voice. It would do no good for his subordinates to see that he had been worried moments ago. Better to let them think he knew that everything was going to work out the entire time.

"Yes sir."


On their way back to the Imperial base, Lieutenant Hurst listened as he received a message from one of the base's controllers. Once the person in control had finished speaking he brought his platoon to a stop once again. "Sergeant Lexon, a Rebel fighter has been shot down and there's a chance the pilot might still be alive. Take a squad and go secure the crash site. I want that pilot in custody if they're alive, Sergeant. Understood?"

"Completely sir," the noncom replied.

"Good. The crash site is four clicks from our current location." Lieutenant Hurst pointed in the direction he had been given by the officer in the base's control room.

Sergeant Lexon pointed to three Shoretroopers, and all four of them headed in the direction of the downed Rebel fighter at a brisk jog.


Chapter four.

Gremlin watched the disaster befall Rogue's A-wing, hoping against hope that her longtime friend would manage to punch out of the stricken craft in time before it hit the surface.

"This is Three. The ejection system malfunctioned! Three's going down—going down hard!"

"No—Rogue, no!" Gremlin cried out, but she couldn't spare the time or the thought to open her commlink; she was too busy targeting the TIE fighter that had taken down her comrade. She saw the A-wing plunge groundwards and disappear below the trees. Mentally, she marked the location, but the TIE who'd hit Rogue was already jinking away and her own shields, hit by crossfire from the ground batteries, were substantially reduced. Gritting her teeth, she crammed on speed, taking the risk of dumping shield energy into her engines to ensure she could catch the TIE and avenge Rogue. Surely he'd still be alive... She pushed the thought aside, focusing entirely on the TIE until its bulbous black body was captured in her sights and the targeting tone filled her cockpit, pure as her rage.


Red lasers leapt across the divide, bolts of energy lancing into the TIE until it exploded, side panels shattering into large fragments while the cockpit disintegrated. "Splash one," she reported to Krayt, already scanning the skies for the remaining TIEs as simultaneously she switched comms to a private channel.

"Come in, Three ... Come in." She clenched her jaw as she threw her ship into a weave to avoid incoming fire. "Rogue, for kriff's sake, it's Gremlin! Tell me you're alright!" She glanced back down at the ground, visually scanning the wreckage for her friend.

She paid for the momentary inattention. Krayt's shout of, "Five—incoming..." registered as she jerked the stick sideways before he'd even finished "... ground fire!" But it wasn't quick enough to escape the gun batteries, now back on automatic fire as Rogue's jamming had ceased once his ship had gone down. Her X-wing jerked and shuddered as alarms blared, smoke filling the cockpit. Lil' Leo shrieked his own warning before the indirect hit shorted out his systems.

Silently cursing her stupidity, Gremlin pushed the stick forward, holding it with both hands as her X-wing juddered. The automatic systems kicked in, venting smoke from the cockpit as she decoded the blinking lights. From outside, it probably looked worse than it was: a crippled fighter diving toward the ground, flames licking from two engines, but the damage was more superficial than structural. She could maybe patch some repairs and limp back to the Vigilant, assuming she could get her X-wing on the ground in one piece. To an experienced pilot, this situation was survivable. Hopefully. With skill—and a lot of luck.

"Five, report! Report!" Krayt's voice crackled in her ears.

"Lead, Five ... two engines out, astromech's out and—" She yelped as more gunfire exploded nearby, rocking her wounded fighter and steepened her dive. "Attempting an emergency landing!"

"Copy ... I've ... stay hid..... be back—" Krayt's message dissolved into pops of static.

"Copy, Lead," she whispered, knowing he wouldn't hear her, and hauled back on the stick, easing the wounded fighter over a rock-edged ridge and engaged repulsorlifts as it plummeted towards the ground.

The impact threw her around the cockpit. Despite the straps holding her into the couch, her limbs and head flailed around, slamming against metal control panels and bulkheads. Her helmet absorbed the worst of the blow against the window, but she lost consciousness for a few seconds. Gremlin blinked back to full awareness amid the tick-tick-ticking of stressed, overheated metal cooling down and the shoooosh of automatic fire extinguishers as they finally dealt with flames still flickering from the engine outlets.

Training took over. She ran an abbreviated diagnostic, saving the result to her comm-pad before cutting all power. Groaning at the pain from abused muscles, she eased the canopy up ... only to watch it get stuck halfway. Snarling, she had to thump hard with a clenched fist to open it fully, the motion vibrating through her body and making her head throb even more. The X-wing had come to rest on a steep slope, its nose half underneath some stunted trees and the S-foils, still open, poking out. Gremlin heaved herself over the edge of the cockpit and clung for a few seconds before dropping clumsily to the ground, narrowly avoiding a sprained ankle as she landed.

She took a few seconds to scan the area visually. No threats—at least as far as she could see; she had been too occupied with surviving to run scans from her X-wing. Over the ridge, a column of greasy black smoke was climbing into the air. Gremlin's breath hitched in her throat. That must be Rogue's downed A-wing! She punched his code into her commpad. "Three. It's Five. Can you hear me?"

No answer.

She tried again. Same result. Gremlin sighed.

There was no decision to make—not really. Saving a friend and fellow pilot was always going to be her first priority. But as she opened the X-wing's cargo hatch and pulled out the gear she carried for just such occasions, she ran Lil' Leo's restart program through her datapad. She grinned with relief when the astromech finally gave a weak whistle. As she'd hoped, Leo had not been permanently affected by the short-circuit. "The situation was definitely improving," she whispered to herself.

"Leo—I'm going to find Rogue. Here's a diagnostic report," she flicked the data to the astromech, who beeped in response. "I need you to make what repairs you can while I'm away; log any that I have to do and I'll fix 'em when I get back. And if you detect any Rebel ships, send a distress signal, all right?" As she spoke, she shucked off her chestbox, flak vest and flight suit, stuffing them into the small cargo hold along with her helmet. Beneath, she wore her usual flight gear of black skin tight leggings and a short-sleeved vest. Over them she tossed the poncho she'd been given by one of the troopers at that first epic party following the Battle of Endor. She cinched it at her waist with her belt and DL-17 blaster.

The camouflage would hopefully help her avoid discovery—for a while, at least. Spare blaster cartridges and her commpad were added to the poncho's pouches, which already held a field medkit and some ration packs. Briefly she remembered the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training she had undergone on Rainworld and smiled at the memories. "I'm gonna make you proud, Sensei," she whispered to her former wingmate, a Xexto philosophy professor turned pilot—first-ever winner of the SERE challenge—and imagined his creaky smile in response. The last item she removed from the X-wing's hold was a camouflage netting. It took Gremlin about five minutes to cover the fighter. It would hopefully hide and distort the shape of her fighter so that any searching Imperials flying overhead wouldn't see the ship.

As she turned to leave, she instructed Lil' Leo to lock down the X-wing in case any Imperials came in search of the downed Rebel fighter. If Rogue had survived, there was the possibility they could escape together in the X-wing ... but first, she had to find him.


Sergeant Lexon and the other three Shoretroopers had made good progress and could see the downed enemy fighter just ahead of them. It looked like the ship was being propped up by a tree that it had collided with when making its crash landing. Thick black smoke was coming up from the right engine that had been sheared completely off several metres away from the ship. The four Shoretroopers approached the wrecked interceptor, their E-22 Heavy Blaster Rifles now trained towards the general direction of the ship.

One of the Shoretroopers tilted his head to the side slightly as he advanced. "Can you hear that?" He asked the others.

Sergeant Lexon came to a stop, as did the others. "What are you hearing, HT2285?"

"Might sound crazy, Sarge, but I think I can hear music," the trooper replied.

"You're not crazy HT2285, I can hear it. Sounds like it's coming from the Rebel's fighter," Sergeant Lexon said as she started advancing towards the ship. As they got closer, the music became clearer and lyrics could be heard now as well.

You are my angel
Come from way above
(To bring me love) To bring me love
Her eyes, she's on the dark side
Neutralise everyone in sight

One of the Shoretroopers spoke up. "Hey, I know this one. It seems like the Rebel scum has a semi-decent taste in music!"

Sergeant Lexon spoke up again. "Knowing your taste in music HT1984, that's not a compliment. Now stay focused."

"Yes Sarge," HT1984 replied as the small squad advanced towards the fighter and its occupant.

To love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you


Gremlin found Rogue—but he was not alone.

The A-wing was badly damaged, canted sideways against a tree which had been pushed half out of the ground by the impact. One engine had sheared off completely and was sticking out of the soil several metres away. The rest of the interceptor was twisted and torn, save for the shielded crumple zone around the cockpit, which seemed intact. Gremlin felt a rush of relief. Hopefully Rogue is still alive! Gremlin noticed the four figures in their distinctive armour. "Shoretroopers," she muttered quietly.


Rogue's vision started to return; the blackness was replaced with a blurred vision of his control panel, which was dead and dark. Pain shot through his body as he came fully conscious, and his vision swam into focus. He clamped down on the yell as it threatened to escape him. Over the music that was still somehow being played from the ship's system, through part of the shattered canopy, he heard the approaching and familiar telltale comms chatter of Imperials.

The pain that was shooting from his left arm told Rogue that it was either broken or severely damaged and out of action. Moving his right arm slowly and carefully he managed to get his hand around the grip of his DL-44 blaster under his left armpit.


The four Shoretroopers in their distinctive sand-coloured armour, clearly trying to gain access to the cockpit. Gremlin crouched behind a tree-trunk, stifling a hiss as her bruised muscles protested, and drew her blaster. She had been taught marksmanship some years ago by Rev and Gnoizic, but her skills had declined since Red Squadron's SpecOps days. The exertion of the dogfight and emergency landing, not to mention the trek to reach Rogue's A-wing, had taken their toll on her energy levels but the surge of adrenaline from seeing the troopers helped sharpen her wits.


You are my devil
Come for me way below
To bring me hate

Sergeant Lexon looked into the cockpit. Inside she could see the pilot slumped forward and unmoving. Blood was splattered over the instrument panel and the canopy and seemed to be slowly dripping down from a wound somewhere on the pilot's face. She noticed the slow rise and fall of the pilots shoulders. "They're still alive. HT1984, see if you can get the canopy open so we can get them out and back to base."

"Can't we say that the pilot was dead when we found them, Sarge?" HT2409 asked, making a subtle move to raise his blaster.

"Negative HT2409, the Lieutenant said to bring them back alive, and alive is what he'll be when we hand him over. What happens after that isn't our concern. Copy?"

"Yes Sarge," HT2409 replied as HT1984 made his way up onto the nose of the mangled A-wing.

To hate you, to hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you, to hate you
To hate you, to hate you, to hate you


Gremlin drew in her breath as she took aim, half-exhaled, paused, and took out the Shoretrooper who was standing on the A-wings fuselage with a clean shot to the neck that blew out his spinal cord. As his body toppled sideways, the remaining three Shoretroopers were already bringing their blasters to bear on her location, but she snapped off several shots with less accuracy. A couple of blaster bolts struck one trooper's breastplate but the third tore into his shoulder, sending him screaming to the ground.

The remaining trooper dived for cover behind one of the fins, leaning out to send a fusillade of blaster fire towards Gremlin. She had already ducked out of sight and was crawling beneath some bushes to take up position behind another tree, hoping she could get a better view of her remaining target. As she peered out from her new hiding-place, she thought she spotted some movement inside the A-wings cockpit. Was Rogue alive? That hope sped her movements.


Rogue heard the screams and the blaster fire, and that was his cue to act. Using his thumb, he flipped open the snap loop and drew his pistol. He turned as best as he could and aimed through the shattered part of the canopy at the two Shoretroopers sheltering behind the A-wing's fin. Rogue squeezed the blaster's trigger several times, laser bolts tore into the ground first before hitting the sheltering Shoretroopers. One of the Shoretroopers slumped to the ground straight away, killed outright. The other let out an agonised moan and clutched at their stomach, their E-22 clattering off the hull of the A-wing as it fell to the ground.

Rogue unfastened his crash webbing and managed to pry open the canopy enough to painfully pull himself through the opening. As he exited, he pulled out the data file that he had used to record the information gathered by the recon pods. As the data file was removed, the music stopped. Rogue put the data file in the left shoulder pocket of his flight suit and clumsily closed the pocket.


From her position, Gremlin heard the distinctive report of a DL-44 being fired, and then nothing else. She saw Rogue pulling himself out the remains of the cockpit and shakily stood up with this blaster pointed towards the injured Shoretrooper. Gremlin stood up and jogged towards her squad mate. "Rogue!"

Rogue looked towards the approaching figure and a half smile spread on the right hand side of his face. "Hey shipmate, nice shooting."

Gremlin let a smile spread across her face, however that smile soon vanished as she saw the injuries that Rogue had sustained in the crash. Blood was flowing down the right side of his face from a gash on his head. It was following the line of the scar that ran straight down his face from his right eyebrow down most the length of his right cheek. Blood was also coming from a nasty split in his lower left lip. The angle of the Rogue's left arm told Gremlin that it was broken. "Kriff Rogue, I think your A-wing is in better condition than you! Are you alright? Can you move?"

He grunted. "Left arm is broken for sure, banged up pretty bad. Feels like some internal damage as well, but I can move. See if you can find the ship's med kit please, and patch me up as best we can before we head out." Rogue used his thumb to flick the weapons selector on his blaster over to stun and bent down to remove the helmet from the Imperial he had shot in the stomach. As the helmet was removed, a woman's face was revealed, a mixture of pain and hatred was etched on the woman's face as sweat plastered her face. "You're gut-shot, Sargeant." Rogue looked down at the woman. "I'm not going to lie to you—you're not walking away from this. No one will be here quick enough to save you, and we don't have the gear to keep you going until your forces arrive. I can stun you and you'll never wake up, or you can sit there and die in agony—your choice." Rogue removed the thermal detonator that was attached to the Shoretrooper's belt and put it in the pocket of his right leg of his flight suit.

"Not much of a choice you're giving me, Rebel." The trooper winced as she spoke, coughed and flecks of blood splattered her sand-coloured chestplate.

"Yeah, tough break I'm afraid. So what's it to be?" Rogue asked as he pointed his blaster at the mortally wounded Imperial.

"I'll take option one," she replied stoically. She gave a nod, as if to give Rogue permission to proceed, and then wrenched her eyes shut. The blue stun bolt struck her square in her chest. Her body went rigid for a split second before her muscles relaxed and her body went limp.

Gremlin came away from the cockpit holding the emergency first aid kit. She opened it up and quickly dressed Rogue's head wound with a bacta dressing. Next she managed to put Rogue's left arm into a sling so it was supported. Despite the pain it must have caused him, Rogue didn't cry out as Gremlin worked on moving his left arm into position. "How's that?"

"It'll keep me going for now, thanks," Rogue answered as he removed the A-wing helmet from his head and placed it on the unconscious Imperial he had stunned. "Help me get her into the cockpit."

Surprise flashed across Gremlin's face. "Why?"

"We're going to rig two thermal detonators to go off when we've left so it looks like me and my potential captors all died in the explosion," Rogue answered matter-of-factly.

Gremlin looked down to the unconscious Imperial, who was still breathing. "But she's not dead!"

Rogue spoke flatly. "Yes she is—her body just doesn't realise it yet."

"Damn, that's cold, Rogue," was all Gremlin could reply with.

"No, that's war. If doing this buys us a few more minutes, then that's the difference between us possibly living or being killed ourselves. Well anything that improves our chances, I'm all for it. Remember, I'm not Corellian so I'll play any odds I'm given." Rogue stopped talking and grabbed the unconscious Imperial under her left arm.

Gremlin reluctantly grabbed the other arm and helped Rogue drag the Imperial and place her into the A-wing's cockpit. She gathered up the thermal detonators from the other Shoretroopers, handing two over to Rogue and keeping one for herself. "Anything else?"

"Yeah, grab two of those E-22's and all the spare power clips for them that we can carry." Rogue made sure that the other three Shoretroopers were near or on the A-wing.

"Copy that." Gremlin went around and gathered up the two heavy duty rifles. One of the Shoretroopers had a bandolier of spare power packs, so she removed it from the dead trooper and put it over her head resting on her left shoulder. "You set?"

"Yeah, detonators are set to go in five minutes." Rogue dropped the two thermal detonators into the A-wing's cockpit. Stepping back, he drew his DL-44 from under his left arm and made sure the stun setting was selected. He shot the stunned Shoretrooper once more. "Better safe than sorry," he said to Gremlin as he selected the lethal setting and re-holstered the blaster. The pair of pilots headed away from the crashed A-wing, Gremlin leading back in the direction of her X-wing. "How far away is your fighter?" Rogue asked.

"It's a few klicks in this direction," Gremlin replied, still clearly shaken by the switch that had been flipped in her friend.

"Alright, when we get a bit closer we might have to change our direction slightly, just in case they start tracking us. Can't have them finding your ship before we're ready," Rogue said, not looking in her direction.

To be continued...