Title: TIE Pilot: Ensign
Author: Leo
E-mail: leonid@coruscant.net
Category: The Galactic Empire
Summary: A TIE Pilot's first posting becomes exciting when pirates attack.
End of Header
Disclaimer: Star Wars theme and related names objects and characters
are property of LucasFilm, Inc. No profit is being made from this story
and no copyright infringement is intended. It is written for personal
entertainment purposes only.
TIE Pilot: Ensign
Leo (leonid@coruscant.net)
Dramatis Personae:
Imperial Forces:
Lellan Angaur (Lel, Anga) - Ensign; 4214th Independent Recon Flight; Rho
Wolodin Shuler (Din-din) - Ensign; Gunnery Officer.
Marek Gallay - Lieutenant, Junior Grade; Commander (Provisional, pending
confirmation.), 4214th Independent Recon Flight; Rho One;
Kaan Sthombult - Lieutenant; Commander, 4214th Independent Recon Flight
Pafreq Vokcha - Lieutenant Commander; Commander, 454th Fighter Squadron;
Commander Fighter Wing, D-22 (Kialla) Station (IDSS-4514-786); Alpha One;
Yermi Honka - Commander; Commander, Kialla Station
Fer Tomlin'el - Lieutenant Commander; Chief Operations Officer, Kialla
3 years before Star Wars: A New Hope
"Roger, Patrol. Powering down and await boarding."
Like the other's the trader didn't want to, at first, but powering up his
lasers Sthombult informed him that failure to comply with patrol's orders
was punishable by a fine and a lengthily spell on Akrit'tar. The trader saw
the light of reason and hove to.
"Rho One to Isk Two, he's all yours." Isk Two was a "Sentinel"-class
assault shuttle carrying a platoon of Naval Infantry. It took Isk Two some
time to reach the freighter which hung near the edge of the control zone.
Sthombult, tired after a long shift on cargo inspection duty, chopped his
throttle back to zero in defiance of regulations and hung motionless in
space. _Blast that brickheaded Paf. Can't he take a joke? I was supposed to
be off-duty. Curse him._
Kaan Sthombult's reverie was broken by a chime that signified new craft
entering scan range. Glancing at his sensor displays he noted two contacts,
closing fast. Without thinking he slammed his throttle to maximum but the
engines, already cold, were slow in responding. Sparing another glance to
his sensor readout he saw that the computer tagged the bogeys as Z-95's.
"Trouble..." was the last thing that went through Sthombult's mind.
Approximately 1000 hours, Day 1.
The transition from sleep to wakefulness was abrupt. The Lamb finally
dropped into real space, Lel could tell even in this portless compartment
by the change in the pitch of the background thrum. It became higher as the
sublights kicked in. The pilot had the good manners to inform his two
passengers that they were in real space and should be docking in twenty
minutes. By the time Lel reluctantly unglued himself from the crash couch
he was seething once more. Recent graduate from Wistril Sector Academy, a
recon qualified Tie pilot, he expected to be posted to a ship. He even
received orders to report to the "Warspite", a Nebulon-B Frigate.
Unfortunately, as it frequently happens, this plan didn't survive the
contact with the enemy. The powers that be decided that a rookie recon
pilot was much more useful aboard a Clone Wars vintage space station then
aboard a frigate. So, his orders were changed at the last moment. He
consoled himself that at least it wasn't a ground based job, the
traditional refuge of incompetents, idiots and general retards.
To add insult to injury, there were no shuttles from the sector academy to
the D-22 station (for that was his assignment), so he found himself
hitching rides aboard supply runs, planet hopping and doubling back at
least once. The only bright spot in the entire gloomy affair was the fact
that he wasn't alone in it.
His best friend from his school days, fellow graduate Wolodin Shuler was in
this mess with him. During the long periods of time spent in hyperspace
they played Quadrant, read up on their new home (at least Lellan did) and
slept as much as was possible. It didn't make Lel any less annoyed, just
less likely to commit suicide out of sheer boredom.
Stretching, Lellan walked over to the couch occupied by Wolodin.
Ordinarily, Shuler looked good enough to feature on a recruiting poster.
His athletic build, black hair, brown eyes and classical features made him
a winner. Now, after thirty-seven hours on various shuttles, as he slept
with his mouth open, it was unclear whether he could be allowed into a
public place, much less a holoposter. Deciding against practical jokes Lel
simply shook the sleeping man by his shoulder until he woke. "Din-din,
we're almost there. Gather your stuff, ETA twenty mikes."
Groaning, Din-din, nee Wolodin stirred and asked. "Already?".
Lellan's reply was a an affirmative 'Uh-huh' as he turned towards the tiny
'fresher at the back. Wolodin cast a sleepy look around the cramped sitting
area and picked up the Quadrant board, which was lying on the seat next to
him, and stuffed it into the bergen at his feet.
Finishing his morning routine Lel called into the cabin. "Din-din, did your
orders mention what are you supposed to do there?". After a slight
hesitation Din-din's voice replied. "No. I don't believe they did. I guess
we plug whatever holes in TO that need plugging. Anga, are you done in
there?". "Uh-huh." was Lel's own reply.
Moving aside letting Din-din pass inside he banged his elbow on the door
frame, an unfortunately common occurrence. Cursing and rubbing the damaged
part Lel walked back to his seat, packed his personal hygiene kit and
pulled out a datapad from one of the multiple pockets sewn onto the bergen.
Opening a file he proceeded to review everything he knew about the D-22
station one more time.
"D-22 (Kialla) station, registry number IDSS-4514-786. Located in orbit
around the fifth planet in the Kialla system , such-and-such astrographical
coordinates. A representative of the D-10 class. Diameter 600 meters.
Equipped with four type D landing pads and two dozen launch tubes.
Primary armament: four twin turbolaser turrets and one torpedo tube
(launching mechanism was dismantled immediately after the Clone Wars).
Secondary armament: eight single laser turrets. Shield: class C shield.
Standard compliment includes two fighter squadrons, one assault shuttle
flight and one Naval Trooper company for security and boarding.
Built in order to consolidate the Republic's hold on newly settled
territory six years prior to the Clone Wars. Of the planned fifteen
stations in the construction run, ten were laid down, seven built, six
commissioned and two survive today.
Primary Imperial base in the Kialla (q.v.) system. Ground installations on
the surface of Kialla II (q.v.) include barracks for a Naval Infantry
regiment and a landing platform."
There was a visual of the station attached to the file. It showed a roughly
cross-like assembly with landing pads making up the points of the cross and
a large multilevel hub connecting them all. Something in the data caught
Lel's eye. "Hey, Din-din!".
"What?" was the annoyed reply "I'm shaving, can't it wait?". "No." The
matter was better discussed before boarding the station. "You ever think
why are we being stuck where the sun don't shine?"
"Not really, I always expected something like this." Din-din was a
pessimist, or realist as he called himself, where bureaucracy was
concerned. The fact that instead of Capital Ships track at the Academy he
was assigned to Assault Transports, even though he didn't list the latter
in his preferences.
"Aw, come on. We were in the top two percent of our class. It makes no
bloody sense."
By now Din-din finished his morning toilet and was busy repacking his own
bergen. He turned around and made a face. "Eh-zactly".
Lel's chuckle was interrupted by the pilot's announcement that they were on
final approach and all passengers are requested to remain in there seats.
The two Ensigns strapped in and waited as the pilot maneuvered his shuttle
onto one of the landing pads. The surprisingly smooth landing was
accompanied by a muffled clang, the sound of the landing gear hitting a
metal surface.
Approximately 1040 hours, Day 1.
The two friends were waiting outside the station commander's office. The
waiting area was a a small room, painted Navy Gray, it had too doors on its
opposite sides, one leading into the office the other out to Deck 2,
Corridor A. The only furniture were two metal and fabric chairs and a metal
coffee table. The pilots were both reading, Lel a junk novel he kept on his
datapad especially for such occasions and Din-din a book on Quadrant
strategies. Finally a a loud voice, only somewhat muffled by the thin door
told them to come in. After putting the datapads into the bergens, they
stood up in unison and walked into the office proper.
The office was furnished in a manner similar to the waiting room. Before it
stood two chairs, similar to the ones outside. A large viewport dominated
the wall behind the desk. There were two people waiting for them inside.
One, a Commander, sat behind the desk and the other, a Lieutenant
Commander, stood leaning in the corner, his hands crossed on his chest, one
of them holding a datapad.
Unusually enough, when the Ensigns came to attention and saluted their
superiors the senior of the two officers, after returning the salute, stood
up to greet them and actually smiled and shook their hands. The Commander
was a balding man of average height and slight of build. His face was
dominated by a large nose and a prominent chin; bushy eyebrows, dark eyes,
and a thin lipped mouth completed the picture. His olive-grey uniform was
rumpled and his boots looked like they hadn't been polished for quite a
By contrast, the Lt. Com. simply scowled. He was a big brute of a man, a
shaven scalp and a handlebar mustache on his rough-hewn, square face. The
Commander introduced himself as Commander Honka, the base commander and the
brute as Lieutenant Commander Vokcha, the commander of the base's fighter
"Please be seated, gentlemen." The base commander indicated the two chairs
before his desk. When Lel and Din-din were seated he started speaking.
"Ensigns Wolodin Shuler and Lellan Angaur," He looked at each in turn "you
are here because we have recently been attacked by Rebel ships. Commander
Vokcha, if you please..."
The big man straightened up and unfolded his hands from his chest. "During
routine anti-smuggling patrols one of our recon TIEs, piloted by Lieutenant
Sthombult stumbled upon a freighter carrying a large number of people. The
freighter complied to the pilot's order to heave to. When the boarding
party's transport approached the freighter, two snubfighters, Z-95 class,
came out of hyperspace on top of them and opened fire with missiles,
destroying the fighter and damaging the shuttle. The missile hit the
cockpit killing the crew, fortunately the cargo section hatch held so we
managed to save the troopers. Both the freighter and fighters escaped into
hyperspace before any of our other fighters could reach them.
We are backtracking their entrance vector and looking along their exit
vector also, we relayed the freighter's ID to Imperial Intelligence, but
unfortunately we have no results so far. "
Vokcha looked like he swallowed a bitter pill, since fighters were his
bailiwick and a destruction of one by forces unknown wouldn't look good at
all in his record.
Receiving a nod from his subordinate the Commander took over. "In light of
this incident we were ordered to step up flight operation and increase our
overall level of readiness. I in turn, requested replacements and
reinforcements." He smiled a sad smile. You are it. Any questions?"
None of the youngsters had any questions, they were too overwhelmed.
Finally Din-din gathered his wits and replied, "No, sir." for both of them.
Nodding, the CO said, "If you have any later, ask the fighter commander,
Lieutenant Commander Vokcha here. He's also the CO of the 454th Fighter
Squadron." A he picked up a datapad that was lying on his desk and read out
their assignments.
"Ensign Shuler, as we have no assault shuttle for you to pilot, I'll put
you in as a Watch Officer. Report to your commander, Lieutenant Comander
Tomlin'El, at 1900 hours."
Din-din started to nod, then caught himself and replied with a crisp
"Yessir". Honka, apparently satisfied turned his gaze on Lel.
"Ensign Angaur, you are hereby assigned to 4214th Independent Recon Flight.
Your CO is Lieutenant Junior Grade Gallay. Report to him at 1100."
Recon. At least it was what he was trained to do. "Yes Sir."
Poor Din-din must be inventing new curses by now. He wanted to pilot
cruisers, learned to pilot shuttles and now he'll be a Operations Officer
on something that doesn't move at all.
Honka nodded, "Very well gentlemen. The Quartermaster's Mate outside will
show you to your cabins. I wish you good luck. Dismissed."
As one Din-Din and Lel rose, saluted smartly, holding it until the senior
officer present acknowldeged it, and walked out of the room.
Approximately 1800 hours, Day 1.
The high pitched wheeze/whine of twin ion engines was not conductive to
contemplation or deep though, it is simply too annoying. The yoke
occasionally twitched in Lel's hands, the reason for this was unclear to
him, possibly a software glitch, then again maybe not. The fighter was
recently brought out of deep storage to replace the one destroyed by
Rebels, so minor faults were to be expected and nothing but a complete
overhaul was going to change that.
Two TIE fighters streaked across the vacuum at a relatively low speed. The
leader had a red stripe painted on each one of his panels, the wingman had
two, to facilitate visual identification in combat.
At first glance the fighters differed little from the stock model, however,
closer examination revealed several differences. These fighters had a
ventral flaring, that contained an extensive sensor suite, and more
importantly, a bulge where the hatch usually was located. That bulge was
what made them so special. It contained a navicomp, two hyperdrive
motivator and a capacitor, to store energy necessary to rip the ship out of
normal space.
Lel's eyes flicked to the ship to his front and port, to check that he was
still in formation. Seeing the tip of the starboard solar panel seemingly
touching the rim of his vieport, Lel relaxed a bit and remembered the
interview earlier in the day. The Lieutenant, Marek as he told Lellan to
call him, was a decent sort and Lel liked him already. It looked like this
posting is not going to be that bad after all.
Marek's fighter changed course and headed toward the wide asteroid belt a
bit further out from the sun. "The main problem with these things are these
damned capacitors." Marek had amassed quite a lot of practical knowledge
for a career as short as his and was not shy about sharing it with others.
"They are power hogs. No way to regulate how fast they draw power. If you
feed it slower the computer will just freeze-up because the software is so
primitive. And you can't even modify it since it's a core program."
_Core programs are hardwired into the compute so that surge won't burn them
out._ Lel remembered. _Good idea except that it makes upgrades difficult to
say the least._
"If you feed the capacitor too fast it'll simply burn out and then you'll
be in it really deep." Marek went on. "So as things stand right now, when
the capacitor draws juice, the best you can get through to your engines is
something like ninety KTU, less than three-quarter power at full throttle.
Definitely too slow to run from trouble, so what you do my friend, is dump
the laser battery into the engines. That gives you hundred twenty, hundred
twenty two KTU, almost full power. Usually that does the trick, but if you
have some heavy hitters on your tail, like the Z-95 or, Maker forbid, an
X-Wing you run like hell towards someplace where you can evade them at a
relatively low speed. Like this asteroid belt, over there."
"Don't tell me. We're going hellriding." Lel wasn't scared at the prospect,
more like apprehensive. It was something he always wanted to try for real,
but was unable because of regulations. Officially, hellriding was forbidden
in the Navy, but most COs turned a blind eye towards such infractions in
the interests of combat readiness. Because of the danger involved it was
the ultimate test, short of actual combat.
Marek laughed, "All right, I won't tell ya. See that big one, the one
shaped like a kawa fruit, that's where we start our run."
It took a moment for Lel to realize which one exactly it was. "Roger, I see
"Ok, friend. First time in, you follow my six and do exactly what I do. It
would look very bad on my record if you were killed during the first day.
Ok. Here we go."
The lead fighter surged ahead, while the second fighter drifted to port,
until he was directly astern of his leader. Then the wingman increased his
own speed to match that of the first fighter. "Two in position." All levity
evaporated from their voices, replaced by tension, when the two approached
the belt. "Roger that. Starting my run now."
The lead fighter dove down steeply, coming under the 'kawa'. The second
fighter followed unerringly.
Approximately 1900 hours, Day 1.
The Command and Control Center, one couldn't call it a "bridge" after all,
of the station was located on the top deck, next to the Hypercomm Center.
It was a large round chamber dominated by a huge holotank, currently
displaying the station and its immediate vicinity. Looking around, Wolodin
saw about half a dozen enlisted men hunched over their consoles and a
Lieutenant Commander in a rumpled olive-grey uniform. The officer was
arguing with someone over com. Even from where he stood Din-din could hear
his voice saying: "Captain, I don't care whom you're carrying. Even if it
was the Maker himself I wouldn't let you dock over at the military bay
without a direct order from my superior officer and I'm not going to bother
my superior with trivialities. End of discussion. Cee-Three out." With that
the officer stabbed a button on the console, terminating the discussion.
Wolodin, seeing the conversation concluded, walked up to the Lt. Com. The
latter, sensing someone behind him, turned around so suddenly that Din-din
almost jumped. Seeing an unfamiliar face in an Ensign's uniform the Lt.
Com, barked. "What?"
"Ensign Wolodin Shuler reporting for duty, sir."
"Oh, it's you. At ease Ensign." Din-din did so, still a bit uncomfortable.
"I am Lieutenant Commander Fer Tomlin'el, Chief Operations Officer. You are
to be a Watch Officer, I believe."
"Yes, sir." Din-din decided to take it is a question.
"Well your duties will consist mostly of traffic control and hypercomm,
with some administrative functions thrown in. You had any traffic control
"Very little, sir. Only what was included in Assault Transport curriculum."
The Lieutenant stroked his chin thoughtfully. "I see. Well here's what
we'll do; for a week or so you are going to be my understudy and then I'll
give you a watch of your own. Fourth I think."
"Thank you, sir." Wolodin privately thought that this hole just might have
a silver lining. Experience as Watch Officer will look very well in his
personnel jacket.
Approximately 1905 hours, Day 1.
Down, under the 'kawa', pulling back the yoke, until the tops of the panels
almost scratch the asteroid...Marek is already disappearing behind the
second one...a burst of speed to catch up...hard to port after him...hard
to see what's happening, the damn panel is in the way...catching up...slow
down...would be a pity to run into him...rolling to starboard ninety
degree...pulling back on the yoke...whipping between two slowly rotating
rocks, each one ten times the of the TIE...careful not to pull back too
much...pushing slightly forward...hard right rudder...avoiding a rock that
came out of nowhere...then left again, almost doubling back...whizzing by
so close, nearly losing the starboard panel...right...down, nearly smearing
himself on a rock in the process...a really big rock looming in the
viewport...Marek's voice saying "Dropkick coming up."...Marek's fighter
slowing down, turning and shooting off in an entirely new
direction...following his lead...slowing down...a glance at the range
meter... less than twenty meters...turning rapidly...there he is...full
throttle, after him...then up...right...down...right...left...rocks, always
rocks, no end in sight...
After what seemed like an eternity the two TIEs burst out of the belt on
the other side. Lel was sweating and shaking. He breathed deeply to calm
himself, slowly the adrenaline rush subsided.
"All right, my friend. Fun's over it's back to the barn for us." Marek
sounded a bit tired under his levity and suddenly Lel realized that he too
was worn out. The ride took out of him more than he was willing to admit.
"Roger that, boss."
As they left the vicinity of asteroid belt a new voice broke into their
frequency. "Rho flight, where in the cold dark space were you? We've been
trying to reach you for the last half an hour." Marek muttered something
unintelligible under his breath. The
controller chose to disregard it. "Control, Rho Lead. We were conducting a
training flight."
"Oh, that." By the the controller's tone Lel figured that the man guessed
exactly what kind of a flight it was.
"Next time, warn us Lieutenant. Now get back to the station on the double.
The CO need's his two eyes back." In the Imperial Navy, eyes meant any
reconnaissance ships, not necessarily TIE/rc's.
"Roger that, control." Marek replied gloomily. "Well my friend, I guess
that's it. No more fun for a while."
"Why's that, boss?" If they were ordered to return to base it hardly meant
that they are going to be busy soon. Then it hit him and he replied his own
question. "The Commander decided to do something about the Rebs."
Mark's voice sounded glum even over the comm. "That's right and us being
the only hyper-capable scouts in this Maker-forsaken system means that
we'll get little rest and even less sleep."
"Look on the bright side, boss?"
"At least we'll be out of this lousy system."
The joke was weak but was the best Lellan could come up with right now,
nevertheless Marek's dry chuckle sounded over the com. "That my friend, is
a fact."
The two fighters climbed above the plain of the ecliptic then turned and
back insystem, towards the nearest planet and the station orbiting it.
Approximately 2100 hours, Day 1.
"Roger control, using assigned vector for approach." The TIEs were edging
closer to the station, keeping to their assigned corridor. The last thing
any one of them wanted right now was to go on report. Closer and closer,
they drifted two meters above the durasteel plating of the landing
platform. Passing the magcon field they bobbed up and down as they engaged
their repulsolifts. That was easily the trickiest part of the landing, turn
them on too soon and you shoot off straight up into ceiling of the hangar,
too late and you drop on the deckplates like a ton of bricks, because
gravity began at right at the magcon. The pilots had to repeat this
maneuver each time they landed because when the station was built the
tractor beam autolanding system didn't exist yet, and no provision was made
for it.
The Number One hangar was a large, easily hundred meters long, space. Well
lighted and, at the moment, quite crowded. In addition to the three
shuttles which were usually berthed there, the entire TIE squadron of the
station, the 454th, was also present. In theory they were to be launched
from special tubes, but Lel learned that those were out of commission and
were now used as extra storage space. The techs working on the TIEs (it
seemed like routine maintenance, but why all together?) stopped their work
to look at the newcomers, recognizing the ships, they quickly lost
interest. Two of the deck crew guided the ships to their parking space in
the hangar. As soon as the fighters were down and engines were silenced two
teams of technicians swarmed them, three people to a team. Lel removed his
helmet, then unlocked his hatch. At once the flight deck smell, a
nauseating mix of oil, exhaust fumes and hot insulation hit him.
"Any problems, sir?" That was Technician Third Class Jon Siass, his ground
crew chief. Even younger than Lel, he was nevertheless a good tech.
"Jon, good work on the ship. One problem, I'm not sure of the cause, but
the yoke twitches from time to time. Might be hardware and might be
software, difficult to tell." Lel's uncle, a retired infantry officer, used
to tell him that the key to good relations between an officer and his
enlisted man was respect. _"Never threaten them or promise them anything."_
he used to say. _"When you need to punish someone, do so. But promises and
threats weaken your authority as a commander. A commander who respects his
soldier can ask anything from him and can be confident that the soldier
will carry out his requests without pressure of any sort."_ Then he used to
go on telling stories of bloody ground battles he participated in, which if
anything, only reinforced Lel's desire to become a pilot.
Siass nodded and added. "I'll get right on it sir." Hesitating he hazarded.
"Sir, you know what's going on? All of the garrison was put on alert,
maintenance stepped up and all ships recalled."
"Right now, I know even less than you do, Chief." Lel offered with a slight
smile and jumped down to the deck.
He landed in a crouch. Standing up and looking around he saw Marek talking
to one of the mechanics, who then turned and waved Lel to his side. Marek
was a young man, somewhere in his early twenties. Judging be his rank, Lel
would narrow it down to between twenty one and twenty-four. Of average
weight, he seemed thin due to his height which easily topped six and a half
feet. His face was average, framed by relatively long black hair, and he
sported a brush mustache that was barely covering his upper lip.
"Well, my friend, it seems that we're going to get a chance to earn our
astrogation pay soon." Forestalling any questions by raising his right
hand, he continued. "Now, I haven't been told zip officially, except "get
some sleep" and "briefing tomorrow 0500". That, my friend, means tomorrow
we start earning our astrogation pay. So hit the sack and I'll
see you tomorrow at 0445 in my 'office'. Now, go." The last was accompanied
by a shooing motion and a wink. Lel threw a quick salute, winked in return
and ran, to the big airtight door leading inside the station proper.
Approximately 0900 hours, Day 6.
Wolodin Shuler was coming to tolerate this assignment. Traffic in the
system was relatively light so traffic control was easy. After a few days
of instruction and practical work Lieutenant Commander Tomlin'el deemed him
fit to stand watch on his own. Din-din didn't really like Tomlin'el, the
man's manner was too abrupt and his sense of humor was practically
non-existent, but his CO was a professional and Din-din respected him for
So it was that today at 0200 hours Ensign Wolodin Shuler oficially became
Watch Officer of the fourth watch, better known as the "Wolf Watch"
because, it ran from 0200 to 0800. There wasn't much for him to do, traffic
was light, the captains were complied with instructions without much
objections and no emergencies arose. Out of curiosity Din-din decided to
review the station log, specifically the incident that caused him and Anga
to be shipped here.
Viewing the recording he realized that something was not quite right in it,
but he couldn't really put his finger on what exactly was wrong. Now as he
was lying in his bunk he mentally reviewed the recording again and again.
Suddenly it hit him. _The Z-95's came out too close to the freighter. Thier
navigational computer was not powerful enough to calculate such a precise
microjump in any reasonable amount of time. So assuming somebody else
calculated the jump for them? It still doesn't explain explain how they
knew where the freighter was._
Wolodin realized he was getting nowhere with this. He needed to talk to
someone else. _Anga would be best, he was astrogation trained, too._
Approximately 1700 hours, Day 6.
The system's sun, five light hours distant, was barely half the size of a
centicred coin. The single TIE was drifting above the edge of one of the
system's asteroid belts and Lellan was hungry, bored and miserable. The
scans yielded no results and seemed less likely to do so with each passing
minute. At the briefing Vokcha told them that the reading on entrance
vector of the Z-95s that blasted Sthombult and the assault shuttle was a
bit shaky and that after eliminating unsuitable systems there were eleven
left, so in order to cover more space the two TIEs were sent to different
systems in defiance of standard operating procedure.
Bored out of his skull Lellan's thoughts drifted back to the conversation
held a few days ago in Marek's "office", when the latter filled him in on
the interpersonnel relations on the station. It seems that there was some
bad blood the late Lt. Sthombult and Vokcha, nobody knew exactly why. That
was the reason why 4214th drew more than it's share of customs patrols and
why Sthombult was the one to catch a concussion missile.
_"It could've just as easily been someone from 454th to eat that pirate
missile. In fact it _would've_ been someone from 454th, had Paf not pulled
Three Flight and put Kaan in their stead."
"Boss, are they Rebels or pirates?"
"My friend, I don't think there's much difference. There are pirates who
style themselves rebels, to pretty up what they do and there are
malcontents that really dislike the Empire, who raid shipping lanes. Paf
calls them 'rebels' to score points with COMPNOR. Those whiteshirts don't
care one whit about pirates, but if they hear the magic word they'll pay
very close attention indeed."_
The Army and Navy always resented the way COMPNOR and ISB wanted to move in
on their turf. There were numerous dogfights under the carpet, with COMPNOR
trying to purge the Navy from unreliable elements and the Navy trying to
block them, knowing that of COMPNOR had it's way entire Navy would be
purged. So a kind of fragile balance was reached; the preliminary screening
for unreliables was performed by COMPNOR youth. Those like Lel and Din-din,
who weren't part of the youth movement found their chances of entering
military academies reduced. The bias was well hidden but it was there and
if it wasn't for his perfect grade in "Ideological" section of his entrance
exam Lel doubted he would've been accepted. Later on, in the academies
themselves, the cadets were required ot take courses like "Political
Education" and the "History Of The New Order", in order to indoctrinate
them with belief that the Imperial Way was the only way. Fortunately it was
easy to pass those courses, you just threw their words back at them like he
did at the entrance exams. The third screening happened before promotion to
a full Commander. On this point Navy ceded after COMPNOR agreed to reduce
its presence on board Navy ships and installations.
Suddenly Lel realized why he was here instead of aboard a frigate. COMPNOR
didn't forget he never was in its youth movement and "suggested" that he be
assigned somewhere less prestigious. To Din-din it happened several years
prior when he was dumped into Assault Transports without so much as a word.
And so he was drifting in a system so marginal that it didn't even have a
name, let alone any life forms higher than bacteria, looking for a base
that might or might not be there.
Lel was just about ready to give up and plot a course back to base, when
something completely unexpected happened. His sensors registered several
incoming craft, some five light minutes away. Quickly chopping back his
reactor output, making him appear to a casual scan as one of the many
asteroids, Lel set the navcomp to work, calculating the entrance vector of
the ships, after turning all his passive sensing equipment towards the new
arrivals. "Hello, hello. What do we have here?" Lel has taken up voicing
his thoughts some hours ago, just to hear something. There were at least
two large ships and at least seven smaller ones. The larger ships were,
judging by their active sensors and the blurry visuals Lel managed to
obtain with his scope, a pair of Corellian Corvettes, known also as
"Blockade Runners". The perfect pirate ship, it was fast, reasonably well
armed and had a cargo hold large enough to haul away the plunder. The
smaller ones were about twice the size of his TIE and their flight profile
made them snubfighters. "Fifty creds these are Z-95s", Lel wagered with
himself. Of course he could've confirmed his guess with a brief active
scan, but he didn't, since it would've attracted unwanted attention to his
otherwise unnoticeable craft.
_"It is probably a transfer point, to lose any pursuers. Well, that's not
going to help them this time. Now all I have to do is grab their exit
vector and they're done for."_ On the screen he could see as the corvettes
slowly changed their heading. By the time they stopped, nearly a minute
later, the ships were heading almost directly away from him. "This is bad."
muttered Lel _"This angle will make it difficult to obtain a good
reading."_ The corvettes jumped to hyperspace, followed a second later by
the fighters. The exit vector recorded and stored in his TIE's sensor logs,
Lel, his spirits soaring, hissed a triumphant 'Yes'. Ordering his navicomp
to calculate a course back to base he brought the reactor back to full
output and shunted to the hyperdrive capacitor as much power as the
conduits could safely handle.
Approximately 0200 hours, Day 7.
After an exhausting debriefing Lel stumbled into the "Observation
Platform", a cantina just above the hangar where the TIEs were parked. Its
name came from the breathtaking views from all over the Empire that were
projected onto the walls. The views changed four times a day and they never
repeated. The location and the decor made the place a favorite among
off-duty pilots and support techs, so one could always find company there;
a state of affairs which benefited everyone.
Ordering a mug of the local version of lomin ale, he scanned the tables to
see who was in. He saw Marek sitting at one of the tables, the Lieutenant
waved, inviting him over. Lel nodded, flipped a coin to the barman, grabbed
his ale and walked over to join Marek at his table.
Marek took a long draught from his own mug and when he looked at Lel his
eyes twinkled with amusement. "You found something."
It was a statement, not a question, nevertheless Lel replied. "You know I
can't say, boss.", which was an answer by itself.
Marek grinned and opened his mouth to say something when both their comms
chirped. Lel pressed the accept button and was treated to a computer
generated female voice telling him to report at 0500 tomorrow for briefing.
Marek chuckled as he got the same message, "Well, I believe all my
questions will be answered tomorrow. I'm going to turn in as soon as I'm
finished with this", he lifted his mug "and I suggest, my friend, you do
the same."
"Will do, boss. Will do."
Approximately 2200 hours, Day 8.
As both TIE/rc's of the 4214th Independent Recon Flight drifted silently in
space, Lel reflected that the old adage about military service being
boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror was right. Especially about
the boredom. Upon further reflection he realized that the saying omitted
frustration, another important element of military service. Conversation
with Marek, to pass the time, was only a comm-call away but doing so would
compromise their mission.
This was the second of the three systems which were pegged as most likely,
based on the vectors provided by himself and other data, to house the
pirate base. His train of thought was interrupted by an annoying beep. The
computer had trouble identifying yet another object moving about the star.
_Probably another bloody asteroid. No survey team bothers to catalogue all
of them, especially in an armpit of a system like this one._ Muttering all
manner of curses he wished to inflict upon the Seinar Fleet Systems'
designers for forgetting to install a personal entertainment system in his
TIE, Lellan pressed a button querying the computer for the sensor profile
of the aforementioned objects. Entertainment became the farthest thing from
his mind, once he read the response.
Approximately 0615 hours, Day 9.
The pilot ready room, which doubled as a briefing room, was designed to fit
four squadrons worth of pilots. Today it was half full. In addition to the
entire flight personnel, there were also half a dozen black-uniformed Naval
Infantry officers present. Marek and Lellan stayed coherent only thanks to
large amounts of caf they consumed since their arrival back to base, an
hour and a half ago. Even so Lel got a poke in the ribs from Marek when he
almost nodded off during the summary of recent events given by Commander
At the podium, the Commander, after giving the background, finally got to
the point. "...that breakthrough came three days ago, when Ensign Angaur
located the Rebel transfer point in the CS-954872 system..." The
wall-mounted screen behind Honka came to life, showing the surrounding
systems and highlighting CS-954872. "...analyzing the data he brought back
we were able to extrapolate the three most likely systems to house the
Rebel base." A trio of systems, some light-years away from the first, were
"The final confirmation came yesterday, when the Forty-Two Fourteenth Recon
Flight found the Rebel base here, in the trailing Trojan point of the gas
giant in CS-04373451." The system was highlighted in red and then the view
zoomed in to show the schematic of the system itself, showing the gas
giant, third from the star and both it's leading and trailing Trojan
points. Meanwhile Honka carried on. "The rebel base consists of a group of
modified deep-space cargo containers welded onto a gutted bulk freighter.
Analysis of all available data suggests that this band has at it's disposal
three Corellian Corvettes and up to a dozen snubfighters."
A murmur went about the room as the pilots realized that they didn't have
the firepower to deal the enemy but it quickly died down again as Honka
went on. "Yesterday, I have contacted Sector HQ for reinforcements and was
informed that the "Harrier", a Nebulon-B frigate, was diverted from it's
routine sweep to assist us." This time a cheer went up in the room and
Honka smiled letting it run it's course. "Now Commander Vokcha will give
you your assignments..."
Approximately 0900 hours, Day 9.
The "Observation Platform" was nearly full. The noise was enough to drown
any normal conversation. Today's decor view were some peak rising through
thick fog. Lel saw several large flying creatures gliding from one peak to
"Hey Anga, come over here!". Picking up the cup of caf he ordered Lel
looked for the voice's owner. A fraction of a second later he spotted
Din-din waving to him.
Making his way towards the table Lel studied his friend. Wolodin Shuler
looked rather haggard to Lel but he supposed that he himself didn't look
any better.
Confirming his suspicions Wolodin sipped his own caf and said "Space, Anga.
You look like hell."
Lel chuckled. "Good morning to you too, Din-din."
"The time of day greatly depends on your working hours." pronounced Wolodin
philosophically. Lel just raised his eyebrow in question.
"I've been promoted to Watch Officer, of the "Wolf Watch"." Wolodin said
with a self-satisfied smile.
"Well, well, well." Lel reached to pat his friend on the shoulder. "At this
rate, Din-din, you'll command the station in no time."
Banter over, Wolodin decided to cut to the chase. "Anga, I've been
reviewing the recording of the first incident and something there doesn't
quite jibe."
"Like what?" Lel leaned forward, suddenly interested.
"Well for one thing the microjump those snubs pulled was awfully precise.
It would normally take the snubs hours to calculate one so well."
After a sip of caf Lel replied. "Hmm. Well, it probably was a
pre-calculated jump. We use them all the time, since our navicomp is really
not that powerful."
"Ok, I thought as much. The second thing a realized only yesterday. Why
would they jump in at all?" Wolodin drummed his fingers on the tabletop,
something he did only when he was really nervous.
"Well all along we believed that the freighter was somehow involved. It was
about to be boarded, maybe it hollered... wait. It couldn't have called for
help. Without hypercomm the Z-95s would've been late. So maybe, unlikely as
it is, it had hypercomm?" Hypercomms were bulky and expensive. Not the kind
of hardware to be found on a freighter.
"It didn't." Din-din grinned. "This was not the first time it passed
through here. Always the same cargo and always the same destination. It was
boarded several times already and the "mushroomheads" never found anything
suspicious." Shuler's tone indicated that he didn't hold the
"mushroomheads", Naval Infantry, so called because of its distinctive
helmets, in an especially high regard. "I think this freighter was
smuggling something all along, when suddenly it panicked and called in the
Now it was Lel's turn to drum on the tabletop. "So the question is what was
different this time, huh?"
"Right." Wolodin sipped his caf and made a face. "Yuch. Cold already." Lel
reached for his own cup, when he suddenly stopped and blinked several
times. _"It could've just as easily been someone from 454th to eat that
pirate missile." that's what Marek said._ "Sthombult!"
"What?" Din-din looked at him, not understanding.
Arranging his thoughts Lel grinned and continued carefully. "I bet that all
the other times that the freighter passed through here, a standard TIE/f
was on patrol. Now this one time, a TIE/rc was out inspecting. And what's
the difference between stock and "recon" TIEs?"
"Damn, you're right. The TIE/rc has much better sensors than the standard
model. They must've been smuggling something outside the hull, where the
"mushroomheads" never check." Now the grin on Wolodin's face matched Lel's
own. "We have the answer to the second question. Now how about the first?"
"Well, I'm not sure. It's obvious that something or someone tipped the '95s
off. I don't think it was the freighter, since it really is quite difficult
to distinguish "recon" from stock on sensors without a really powerful
scanner. And if I remember correctly what Marek told me, Sthombult was not
supposed to be out. So it must've been someone who saw that and..." Lel
stopped, shocked by a thought.
He looked at Din-din and read in his eyes that the same thought came to
him. Then very quietly Din-din said. "There is a rat in C3."
Approximately 1010 hours, Day 9.
The first thing the Ensigns did was seek out Marek and explain to him the
situation. After listening to their explanation he said. "Well my friends,
that's quite a piece of work. I think we should go directly to the
Commander. Let him figure out what to do with the information. That's what
the pay him for."
With that Marek led them up to Deck 2, Corridor A, where the Commander's
office was located. In the waiting room Marek knocked on the door. After a
few seconds they heard a voice from the other side "What is it?"
"Sir, it's Lieutenant Gallay. I have something I want you to hear."
"Allright Lieutenant, come in."
After hearing out the officers, the commander leaned back in ihs chair and
tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Interesting. A bit shaky, but interesting.
Who do you think might've done it?"
Din-din, more familiar with C3 replied. "Well sir, it was fourth watch so
there weren't any officers around. There six men on watch at the time. Five
in C3 and one in Hypercomm room. I think it might be either one of them,
though I rather think it was one of the five in C3 and not the commtech,
since he spends all his time in the Hypercomm room and has no way of
finding out the local situation."
Commander Honka seemed to have come to a decision. "Excellent analysis
gentlemen. One mistake: you're assuming one traitor. Though it's unlikely
there's more than one, we cannot ignore the possibility. Now, for reasons
of operational security none of this must leave this room. However, some
measures must be taken. Ensign Angaur you're to check the hypercomm log.
It's probably been purged, but you never know. Honka tapped some commands
on a keyboard built into the desk. "Chief Petty Officer Brux and Commtech
2nd Tilden are on leave and are only due in tomorrow, perfect. Ensign
Shuler, you're to run a series of vac suit for your watch. Use the torpedo
tube, that should keep the other four suspects occupied and away from
anything vital until Isk-Isk puts in an appearance. That is all, gentlemen.
Approximately 1200 hours, Day 9.
The three Intelligence agents arrived at noon, beating the "Harrier" by
half an hour. After reporting to Commander Honka, they took charge of the
four exhausted crewmen of "Wolf Watch". Quickly the agents led the enlisted
men to a waiting shuttle that took them down planetside to an II-run
interrogation center, where CPO Brux and Commtech Tilden were already
waiting for them.
As anticipated Lel turned up nothing in the log. Whoever used the hypercomm
to transmit information to the pirates was very careful.
The "Harrier" itself came out on the fringes of the system, away from the
curious eyes and loose tongues of freighter captains. Commander Honka
declared that the two Naval Infantry platoons still equipped with Assault
Shuttles will conduct a boarding exercise with one of the abandoned mining
platforms in the asteroid fields. However the troopers didn't even come
within hailing distance of the platforms, in fact those troopers went
straight out to the "Harrier", to augment it's own Naval Infantry
All the pilots of the 454th fully expected to follow those two "Sentinels"
onto the "Harrier". Unfortunately, that was not to be. Vokcha stormed out
of the Hypercomm room after trying everything but begging Captain Marinesco
to take his squadron along. The captain refused, saying that the fighters
were necessary for "system defense". Furious at having been denied his
chance at combat, and consequently credit for the affair, Vokcha became
even more irritable then usual and handed out extra patrols to any pilot
who was foolish enough to stand in his way. The things settled down a bit
after the "Harrier" jumped out. It would arrive to its destination five
hours later.
Approximately 1500 hours, Day 9.
Lel and Marek were at "five minute readiness" in the hangar, playing sabbac
with two pilots from 454th's Three Flight, when the urgent hooting of an
alarm cut through he air. As one man the pilots threw down their cards and
sprinted to their fighters. Already suited up, Lel clambered onto his
fighter and squeezed down into the cockpit through the top hatch. As he ran
through an abbreviated checklist he switched his comm over to the
all-fighter channel.
"This is Alpha Nine. I count fourteen small contacts coming at 179 by 010.
Range 14 klicks and closing." Lel barely recognized the voice of Three
Flight's commander. Usually calm and composed, it was now filled with
Preparations completed Lel reported. "Rho One, Two is ready."
"Roger that, Two." Marek's voice sounded as calm as ever. "Control, Rho
flight is ready and requesting permission to launch."
"Roger that Rho flight. Permission granted. Go get 'em Rho."
Lel could hear Marek's chuckle as he rose from the dec and began to move
toward the magcon field a few tens of meters away. As soon as he cleared
the hangar Lel activated his twin ion engines and moved into formation, to
starboard and behind Marek's fighter. Meanwhile he heard Alpha Eleven and
Twelve requesting and receiving permission to launch.
"Rho One, Two in formation."
"Roger that, Two."
"Rho Flight, this is Honka. Join Three Flight and try to hold off the
bandits for the rest of the squadron to launch."
"Roger that, sir." The two TIE/rc of Rho flight changed course and lit off
toward Nine and Ten some three klicks out.
Looking at his scanner Lel noted a lot of freighters departing the station,
trying to put as much space as they could between them and a lightfight
that was abound to occur.
Approximately 1520 hours, Day 9.
Commander Yermi Honka was not a happy man. The enemy was not behaving as
expected. Instead of trying to close as fast as they could, so as to pick
the TIEs off practically one by one, the rebels hung back, allowing the
454th to launch and form up. _Now that I think of it, why did they jump in
so far away? This is really off the mark, even for their geriatric
navicomps. Unless... they wish to draw the fighters away. But why? They
have at least three Blockade Runners. That just might be enough to take
this station on. Especially if they could bring them in real close, like
those two Z-95s. But they can't, not without up to date data on local
space..._ Disturbed by an idea that came to his mind Honka called over a
commtech. "Son, I want you to go and disable the Hypercomm."
"Sir?" The man was clearly stunned by the order.
"I said I want you to go and disable the Hypercomm, crewman. Preferably not
permanently. What part you didn't understand?" Honka put just enough menace
in his voice to get through to the enlisted man.
"Undersood, sir. At once, sir. I'll cut the data feed cable to the
antenna." The man ran to obey this very unusual order.
Honka turned back to the holotank. His fighters were about to enter missile
Approximately 1525 hours, Day 9.
"Rho One, this is Two. Somebody is trying to get a lock on me."
"Understood, Two. Stay in formation."
Lel was distinctly unhappy with this situation. A concussion missile was
the single gravest threat to TIEs. Unshielded and thin hulled, TIEs were
known to be destroyed even by a nearby detonation. A direct hit usually
didn't leave enough to bury. At least Lel knew somebody was trying to kill
him. Standard TIEs had more primitive sensor suites and no early-warning
systems. Suddenly the flashing light went solid red and Lel saw a group of
puce coloured dots appearing on his scanner.
Marek saw them too. "Alpha One, missiles incoming."
Vokcha replied tersely. "Target the missiles and fire at will."
Obeying the order, Lel realized why it was so important to stay in
formation. This way the missiles came right at them, making them much
easier to shoot down. Very carefully, Lel brought his two Seinar L-s1 laser
cannons to bear on the oncoming missile. He squeezed the triggers on his
yoke once, twice and was rewarded by a brilliant flash of detonation half a
klick ahead. Glancing on his scanner readout he saw that all of the
missiles have been destroyed.
Over the comm he heard Vokcha ordering all fighters to break into pairs.
Immediately, the formation, three pairs over four pairs of fighters, broke
into pieces. Marek dived down and Lel followed him, moving his fighter out
of the enemy's firing line.
The two fighters looped around and settled behind a single Z-95 who's pilot
was too intent on his target for his own good. Remembering his duty as a
wingman, Lel scanned the space around them for any immediate threats, as
Marek fired several bursts. The first two hit shields, alerting the enemy
pilot to the danger. Before Marek could fire a third, the pirate, aware now
of the danger behind him, broke to starboard into Lellan's sights. The
formation shifted, so that Rho Two became the wingleader and Rho One
dropped into the wingman's position to port and abaft of him. Lel cut back
his throttle and leaned hard on his rudder, keeping the enemy under his
guns and his pulled the triggers. His first burst missed, but his second
hit the Z-95 on it's now-unshielded stern and burned through to the power
cells with predictable results. The bits and pieces of the snub and it's
pilot continued along the ship's course, slowly spreading out.
"Great work Lel, the half-kill's yours." Marek's tone was exulting, since
he got the other half. Moments later Marek was not so happy. "Two, One.
Someone's trying to get a lock on me." Lel looked at his scanner readout
and spotted a lone Z-95 outside the furball, a klick or so behind them. "I
see him. You dive, I'll pull up."
The Z-95's streamlined design which gave them an undeniable advantage over
TIEs in atmosphere was a weakness in space that could be exploited. The
fighter's nose concealed fully half of the pilot's line of sight, making it
relatively difficult to maintain lock on a juking target. Lel gambled that
Marek's dive would carry him out of the enemy's sight, forcing him to
maneuver to re-acquire. Unfortunately, Lellan lost his gamble.
"He's got a lock on me. He's firing. I'm going evasive." Rho One began a
series of erratic twists and turns to throw the pursuing missile off track.
Meanwhile, Rho Two looped and brought the lone Z-95 into his sights. To his
horror he saw a scarlet streak shoot out of the fighter. "One, Two. Second
missile incoming."
"Roger that Two." Marek's voice was unnaturally calm for TIE pilot with two
missiles on his tail. "Take the damn bastard before he drops a third one in
my lap." Rho Two was closed in on the snub, hidden from the enemy pilot by
his own hull, as the pirate tracked his two missiles. "Wilco, One." _The
idiot doesn't even bother looking at his scanner, he's so sure of himself._
Lel's targeting reticle went green when his targeting computer calculated
that a laser burst fired now would hit the enemy ship. As he squeezed the
triggers on his yoke Lellan thought _Eat this, bastard._. The SFS L-s1
cannons mounted under Lel's feet whined as he emptied a quarter of his gun
capacitor at the enemy. The Z-95's shield failed after two bursts and the
rest transferred their energy to the hull and the concussion missile
magazine. The explosion was strong enough for Lellan's viewport to darken.
And then he heard Marek's desperate scream over the comm.
Approximately 1535 hours, Day 9.
"Sir, Commander Vokcha reports enemy snubs withdrawing." The yeoman was
smiling as he relayed the report to the station commander.
Honka nodded. "Put him on speaker." He turned from the holotank to the
communication console. "Commander Vokcha, what's your status?"
Vokcha's bass rumbled out of the speakers. "We have taken down nine enemy
fighters at the cost of four of ours. We lost Ensign Hobr and Lieutenants
Reiflyn and Gallay. Ensign Polkis managed to eject and is being recovered
as we speak."
"Excellent work, Commander." _You'll get a promotion out of this, I'm
sure._ "I want you to pull back towards the station, but do not land. The
enemy still has three corvettes that hadn't put in an appearance..."
"Sir, I read several contacts at 30 by 230. Range, seven klicks." The
smiles vanished and the atmosphere in C3 was businesslike once more.
_Those are probably our missing corvettes._ "Type?"
"I believe three corvettes and approximately half-dozen fighters. It's
difficult to get a reading on them, but I think those are Y-Wings." Ensign
Shuler was dragooned into being the Sensor Officer when it became clear
that he was the only one available.
Honka scratched his chin, deep in thought. _Now their antics make sense.
The Z-95s were supposed to draw away and pin down our TIEs while the
corvettes and Y-Wings jump in close. The Ys and the Blockade Runners
together have enough firepower to overwhelm us and the corvettes can carry
enough men to board us. Fortunately their plan came apart when the Z-95s
were annihilated by Vokcha. Now..._
Reaching a decision, the Commander pressed a button on the console.
"Commander Vokcha, I want you proceed cautiously toward the enemy vessels."
The pilot replied without hesitation. "Yes, sir."
Honka crossed his hands on his chest and turned to stare at the holotank. A
quiet voice interrupted his brooding.
"What is it Ensign?" Honka asked without turning.
"Well sir, we might wish them to withdraw..." Din-din trailed off, sorry
that he opened his mouth.
"Spit it out Ensign."
"Well, we still have the torpedo tube. I mean we don't have torpedoes but
we do have the software to guide them and we could use it to scare them
off." The Ensign speech sped up during the sentence until he was almost
babbling. He stopped when he saw the Commander raise his hand.
"Excellent idea Ensign. Do it." Still with his back to the ensign, Honka
let a slight smile appear on his face.
"Aye, sir."
Approximately 1540 hours, Day 9.
"Whaddya mean they ain't here? Where in Sith are they then?" The pirate
leader was in a foul mood. First the expected hypercomm message didn't
arrive so they had to come out of hyper much further away from the station
then he wished, then he found out that his own snubfighters were gone,
while Imperial TIEs appeared alive and in good health and now _they_ were
closing on him.
"Sithspit! Cap, the station is trying to get a torpedo lock on us!"
"What the...?! Lemme see. Sith, you're right. That tears it. The prize
ain't worth the risk."
He sat back down in his seat shaking his head. "The op's a wash. Were
getting outta here. Dren, signal the others to proceed to the rendevouz
Approximately 1300 hours, Day 10.
The ceremony took place in the military hangar bay.
All the military personnel who were off duty were standing in ranks at
parade rest, wearing they best dress uniforms. All the surviving pilots
made up the first rank, even the wounded Ensign Polkis was present with his
chest and arms swathed in bacta bandages.
Before them, near the magcon field, were three closed coffins, which
contained the mortal remains of three of their comrades.
Commander Honka walked up to the coffins and turned towards the arrayed
crew members.
"Spacemen and officers of space station Kialla." He paused to sweep the
assembled men with his gaze.
"Today we bid farewell to three of our friends. Ensign Horb, Lieutenant
Junior Grade Reiflyn and Lieutenant Junior Grade Gallay lost their lives in
battle. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten." Honka nodded to Vokcha who
stood at a right angle to the rest of the men. The Lt. Commander barked.
"Company! Ten-HUT!"
As one five hundred boot heels hit the durasteel deck, producing an unholy
racket. After the last echoes faded away the mournful notes of "Some Gave
All" sounded from overhead speakers and the three coffins silently slid
forward through the magcon field.
Lel stood ramrod straight in his place as he watched his commanding officer
leave the hangar for the last time. _He was a good man. I only knew him
for... Maker, was it only nine days? But he was my friend and I'm proud of
Approximately 1500 hours, Day 16.
"Are you sure you wish to do this, Ensign." Honka was sitting behind his
desk eyeing the datapad in front of him.
"Yes, sir." Lellan, sitting in the chair before the desk, sounded more sure
then he felt. Then he reminded himself that he always wanted to serve on
board a ship.
"I will endorse your request, but it will hurt to lose you. But I suppose
now that the "Harrier" destroyed the pirate base and caught the pirate
Blockade Runners flatfooted blowing _them_ out of space, this assignment
will become boring, heh? I hope you'll still be around for the ceremony,
"Ceremony, sir?"
"Well it wouldn't do to hold an award ceremony without the men who is being
awarded. One and a half kills in battle, coupled with your excellent
reconnaissance work convinced the SectorHQ that you're worthy of the Order
of Merit. Your friend, Ensign Shuler will also receive one, for his
detective work. CPO Brux will be Court Martialed as soon as the people from
Judge Admiral's office will arrive."
"Yes, sir. I heard. Thank you, sir."
"I believe that is all Ensign. Dismissed."
Approximately 0900 hours, Day 25.
From: Manpower, Wistril Sector Fleet.
To: Ensign Lellan Angaur.
You are hereby ordered to report to Depot W7 ASAP for reassignment to
Victory Star Destroyer "Bombard".
The message was short and to the point. Lel carefully re-folded the
printout and put it inside his inner pocket. Whistling tunelessly he picked
up his bergen and boarded the supply shuttle waiting to take him to his new