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 of the visiting Goblin Squadron 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. Aside from the few Liberty crew scattered
about the room, the only pilots present were Rapier and Stryker, whom he'd met when he touched down days before,
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
"Sure, what do you need?"
"Well, in a few minutes I need you to go get Minuteman—you met him earlier— he's currently
aboard being briefed by the Admiral. But first, this is what I want
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.
Knight 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.
Outside, a Mon Calamari tech was going about his daily business, only pausing briefly as he saw the two pilots ahead of him ducking into a briefing room. He continued to walk toward his duty post, scrolling through the latest news on his datapad.
"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 quietly. 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.
Mag Pulse missiles impacting, it had to be an attack by the rebel
scum, but what could they possible want here? thought Maxwell as he ran to the nearest viewport since the electronics were temporarily disabled.
The black A-wing peeled off from it's missile run on the platform
after loosing two more dual fired Mag Pulse missiles; one pair was
aimed at the Corellian Transport 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 Transport he'd just tagged with a pair of mag pulses.
"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' was not really the appropriate word, Minuteman thought as he fired
two heavy rockets to soften up the shields. He switched to ion cannons
and took advantage of the station being unable to defend itself temporarily.
The massive B-wing could just sit still barely within weapon range.
It would make short work of its shields, with a more permanent
disabling soon to follow.
Setting laser recharge rates to maximum, Minuteman brought the B-wing
to a halt relative to the platform about 1,200 meters away, as he
Rapier had broken away from the small assault force as soon as
they had arrived and was almost within missile lock on range of
a TIE 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
concussion 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
triggered a burst of chaff and watched the missiles explode harmlessly behind his craft.
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 loose even
one shot. He was lining up on the bomber while it was still 4 km
away. He dumb fired a single 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 Telgorn M/ATR-6 Assault Transport 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
hyperspace right in front of me, unable to assist at this time."
The gunboats 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 missile, and then a pair as fast
as the reload cycle would allow. Meanwhile, the other gunboat 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 Imperial pilot
tried to turn with Rapier and failed. Soon he was dodging fire from
Rapier. The other GUN had been unable to dodge the missiles and was
a small debris cloud.
"Cyclone, this is Red Three, situation is in hand." The ATR pilot
ignored them, docking to the Corellian Transport's dorsal hatch with a gentle thump.
The copilot spoke into the intercom, and the commandos could be
heard boarding the ship. Stryker keyed the transmitter again, this
time on a general frequency.
"Platform, this is Lieutenant Commander Rambo,
Rebel Alliance. You will be disabled, but otherwise unharmed unless
you interfere with our taking of this 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,
"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 recently captured ship, 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 lumbering
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 and regarded Knight, planning to attempt to gain his transfer to Corsair Squadron after this mission. As he was working out the mental details, the man spoke
"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 ship 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 its 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
Knight blanched. "Slaves?!?"
"Intel has had their eye on certain operations using this platform
for a while, and this transport 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
Animal was to the left of the captured ship, 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. A Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser of Rendili desin 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
"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 comm. "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
"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 gunboat going after Minuteman. Three
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 fighter 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 gunboat 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 a 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 gunboat making strafing runs on the ATR. The Rebel ship was
defending itself rather well, except for when the gunboat 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 Corellian Transport, another
barrage of fire erupted from the top mounted lasers. He desperately
twisted and turned, only to find that the ship 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
their attacker 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 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 gunboat that had been harrying
him. He heard Minuteman's call and looped back to the dreadnought. He cycled through the targets on his Combat Multiview Display, pulling up the new arrivals.
"Roger Green One, on the way."
Rapier was still dealing with the second gunboat that had attacked
him. Suddenly Vidster zoomed by, lasers blazing, causing the Imperial
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 simultaneously, 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 TIEs had almost reached the end of the launch cycle,
any second they would be turning around to attack him. Even a B-wing,
with its massive shields and armor, could have a difficult 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 TIEs 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
extend and escape. 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
"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 their ship
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 Delta-class DX-9 stormtrooper transport had launched
directly in their path. Stryker flipped the freighter on its side and
pulled up on the controls hard, sending them 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 transport 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 new transport 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 Vidster had Mag pulsed it. The entire crew
must be aboard the transport!
"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
"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
"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, 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 we get away, that is. They were almost done, and so far
the platform had not tried sending anything after them, not even
the transport or the four TIEs it had recovered. Vidster had wanted to
chase them down, but Stryker had said to let them go.
"Leave them for another day, stay close to the dreadnought in
case more Imperials 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.
"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 transport 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
"Uh-oh!" Minuteman said, as he sat at the tactical station watching
the sensors, "Station just launched the transport 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
"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 Rehz'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 Goblin and Green Squadron provided security.
Suddenly, an Imperial Dreadnought appeared out of hyperspace, merely
5 kilometers away. Simultaneously on both the Rebel capital 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 Rendili
Dreadnaught. 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 Backbreaker, 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 capital
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."
Owtlaw swiped a tear away from his eye, overcome with emotion. "You barvy fools did this for me?"
Stryker nodded while Minuteman clapped Owtlaw on the back. "She's yours, and your first duty as her captain is to give her a new name." Minuteman replied.
Owtlaw paused for a moment, bringing his left hand to his chin as he swiped away another pair of tears with his right. After a long silence, he nodded to himself and put his arms around both men's shoulders to bring them in close. "I've got the perfect name, based on the certifiably mad manner she was... liberated."
Both Minuteman and Stryker waited for the name, but when Owtlaw again choked up with emotion, they both pulled the man closer to them, tightening the embrace. "Yeah, what will you call her?"
"The Insane Endeavor..."
This tale was originally posted in The Cantina in honor of Bill