by Jev Janson
Part of an alternate continuation of the Legends Timeline. Intro; Chapters 1 & 2.
|A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away….
Allies of the Force
Book 1: Strike from the Shadows
Luke Skywalker (Human Male from Tatooine); Jedi Master
Captain Corran Horn (Human Male from Corellia); Jedi Knight
Mara Jade (Human Female from “redacted”); Jedi Knight
Kyle Katarn (Human Male from Sulon); Jedi Master
Kam Solusar (Human Male from Denon); Jedi Master
Kyp Durron (Human Male from Deyer); Jedi Knight
Cilghal (Mon Calamari Female from Dac); Jedi Healer
Rogues and Wraiths:
General Wedge Antilles (Human Male from Corellia); Rogue Squadron
Colonel Tycho Celchu (Human Male from Alderaan); Rogue Squadron
Major Gavin Darklighter (Human Male from Tatooine); Rogue Squadron (Rogue Leader)
Major Wes Janson (Human Male from Taanab); Rogue Squadron
Major Derek “Hobbie” Klivian (Human Male from Ralltiir); Rogue Squadron
Captain Myn Donos (Human Male from Corellia); Rogue Squadron
Lieutenant Inyri Forge (Human Female from Kessel); Rogue Squadron
Garik “Face” Loran (Human Male from Pantolomin); Wraith Squadron (Wraith Leader)
Kell Tainer (Human Male from Alderaan); Wraith Squadron
Voort “Piggy” SaBinring (Gamorrean Male from Saffalore); Wraith Squadron
The New Republic:
General Han Solo (Human Male from Corellia); Mon Remonda Task Force
Leia Organa Solo (Human Female from Alderaan); New Republic Chief of State
Chewbacca (Wookiee Male from Kashyyyk)
Commodore Willem Brandt (Human Male from Naboo); captain, Emerald Heart
Admiral Gial Ackbar (Mon Calamari Male from Dac); Supreme Commander of the New Republic Military
General Airen Cracken (Human Male from Contruum); New Republic Intelligence
Lando Calrissian (Human Male from Socorro); Businessman
Mirax Terrik Horn (Human Female from Corellia); Captain, Pulsar Skate
The Galactic Empire:
Grand Admiral Thrawn (Chiss Male from Csilla); Imperial Supreme Commander
High Admiral Vetrik Landrik (Human Male from Coruscant); Imperial Mid-Rim Commander
Vice Admiral Gilad Pellaeon (Human Male from Corellia); captain, Chimaera
Admiral Natasi Daala (Human Female from Irmenu); commander, Third Fleet
Admiral Blitzer Harrsk (Human Male from Coruscant); Zero Command Chief Officer
Doctor Edo Moria (Human Male from Byss); Head of Imperial Biological Research
Darth Tyruss (Human Male from Coruscant); Sith Lord
Moff Kiv Zingi (Human Male from Tangrene); Imperial Ubiqtorate Base commander, Tangrene
The war continues. After Thrawn’s resurgence in 12 ABY, only months after the resolution of the Maw incident and Admiral Daala’s defeat at Kessel, the New Republic was sent reeling. Thrawn’s fleet had grown tenfold in size, with no explanation to how or why. Battle after battle has worn down the New Republic fleets, and as they shrink, the Empire’s fleets grow larger.
In an attempt to find a peaceful resolution to the war, the New Republic organized a conference on the neutral world of Abinarr. Weeks of negotiations turned into nothing but a ruse, as Thrawn sent a fleet to the planet to kill the leaders of the New Republic. It was a failure, only in that Luke Skywalker had a Force vision of the attack, and led a Jedi rescue team to the planet.
They once again found trouble when they arrived at Coruscant. They found the planet under siege by another of Thrawn’s allies, Darth Tyruss, leading from his Star Dreadnought the Crimson Cutlass. The Jedi infiltrated the ship, hoping to destroy it, but were forced to retreat when they were overwhelmed by elite Red Guard Stormtroopers, and had to face down Darth Tyruss himself. They managed to disable the ship’s turbolasers, resulting in it withdrawing from the battle. The rest of the fleet followed, fleeing into the Unknown Regions.
From the rebuilt Star Forge, Tyruss studied the dark arts of the Sith, his guide being the remnants of the spirit of Darth Sidious, the dead Emperor, entombed in a Sith holocron. In his pursuit of knowledge, he was led to Korriban, where after a short duel with the planet’s caretaker, he managed to steal several Sith artifacts.
On Yavin IV, the location of Luke’s Jedi Academy, trouble stirs. One of Luke’s students, Kyp Durron, had called for the Jedi to become actively involved in the war with the Empire. Knowing the Jedi were not ready for this, Luke urged caution. He was supported by several fellow Jedi, including Mara Jade, Airven, and Corran Horn, but the others disagreed. Kyp decided to leave, but Luke cautioned him against too aggressive of actions. Kyp challenged Luke to a duel, in order to resolve the dispute, but after a quick exchange, he was defeated. Kyp accepted Luke’s orders, but stated that if the Jedi didn’t do something soon, he would take action.
With the threat of the Sith and the Empire looming greater every day, Luke has begun to wonder if his choice is as wise as he once thought….
A low rumble reverberated through the Star Destroyer Emerald Heart as it reverted to realspace. The ship’s massive engines fired, and it began to maneuver at full sublight speed. The nearby star of the Aurellius System glinted off the gray-white hull as the ship positioned itself between the star and the planet Aurellius III.
Commodore Willem Brandt, a brilliant officer of an age of nearly 5 decades, sat in the admiral’s chair and watched as the crew hurried about, jumping from station to station. He shook his head at the organized chaos. The ship had just been refitted at Sullust, and was already being sent out on a mission from New Republic High Command. Brandt had accepted the mission without question, but that was before he knew that he would only be operating with a skeleton crew. Irritation flew across his face for a moment, but he forced it away. It wouldn’t help the crew any if their captain was in a bad mood.
Brandt turned see a lieutenant approach him, holding a datapad. The lieutenant held it out, his nervous hands shaking. Brandt took the datapad to see what had spooked the lieutenant.
“Sir,” the lieutenant started. He was cut off with a subtle raise of Brandt’s hand. Brandt skimmed the report, and shook his head.
“Are you sure this is authentic?” Brandt asked. Although it appeared to be something sent by High Command, he could never be too careful.
The lieutenant nodded with a quick jerk of his head. “Yes, sir. I was the one who decoded the transmission. All authentication codes matched.”
Brandt nodded, his face grim. “I see. Alert the Mon Karren and have them be prepared to jump to our location at a moment’s notice.” He handed the datapad back to the lieutenant, and then focused his attention out the forward viewport. The shadow of one of Aurellius III’s two moons was just coming into view from the night side of the planet. Beyond it, he could just barely see the glint what he assumed were ships coming from behind the moon.
“Shields up, signal yellow alert,” Brandt ordered. In seconds, the defensive screens went active as a sheet of protective energy engulfed the Star Destroyer. The ships ahead grew closer, and he was soon able to make out the outline of one; another Star Destroyer.
Somewhere up in the crew pits, an officer jumped up from his station. “Sir!” he yelled. “I have the envoy on comm!”
Brandt nodded, ignoring the minor breach of protocol and turned around. The holodisplay behind him lit up to show the life-sized torso of Wedge Antilles.
“Tell me you have good news, Commodore,” General Antilles said, rocking slightly as another shot struck the failing shields of his ship, a modified CR90 corvette.
“I don’t have much,” Brandt replied. “We’re running on a skeleton crew, flying a ship that hasn’t even had its new weapons and shields tested yet.”
Wedge grinned. “I guess we’ll have to make it work.” He turned to an officer nearby, said a few words left unheard, and then turned back to Brandt. “Ops says that our engines have maybe sixty seconds left before they burn out. We’re pushing nearly One-Fifty percent.”
“We’ll try and make it to you before then,” Brandt replied. He turned to the internal communications officer seated along the far wall. “Tell Razor Squadron that they are going to earn their pay today. Have them deploy and head straight for the envoy’s ship.”
The officer nodded silently without turning away from her station. Within seconds she was on the comm with Colonel Wes Janson, temporary commander of Razor Squadron. After a brief discussion, she turned to Brandt. “Colonel Janson reports ready for launch.”
Brandt turned back to the viewport, watching as the distance closed between his Star Destroyer and the enemy one. He silently prayed that he wasn’t sending Colonel Janson and his squadron to their deaths.
Wes Janson watched as the cockpit of his fighter sealed around him, and shook his head. Here he was, being asked to provide cover for a ship under fire from a Star Destroyer, and he had a squadron of rookies. Well, almost a squadron of rookies. Razor Two, who had just got seated, turned to Wes and gave him a thumbs up, which instantly turned into an obscene gesture. Wes expected nothing less from his friend and fellow Rogue Squadron pilot Hobbie Klivian. Wes returned the gesture, and then turned to watch as the hangar deflector screens dropped. He was the first out of the hangar, his Incom T-65AC4 X-wing reaching near-light speed as soon as it was clear. The rest of the squadron followed suite.
Wes watched as the Star Destroyer grew from a small glint of light to an object the size of his helmet in seconds. Green turbolaser blasts lanced out from the ship’s forward guns, attempting to score a disabling hit on the battered corvette it was pursuing.
“All wings, this is Colonel Janson. Let’s give that destroyer something to think about. Symmetric delta-V formation.”
The fighters broke into flights of four, coming low towards the destroyer. The ship, for all its firepower, lacked proper anti-starfighter defense along its underside. Instead, it relied on layers of heavy durasteel armor plates to protect it. Turbolasers roared as shot after shot lanced out towards the fighters and the corvette, most missing, but a couple shots hit home. One of them hit the corvette on the upper turbolaser turret, vaporizing the gun and a chunk of the hull underneath. The second shot hit Razor Eight, eating all of his shields and blowing his port side s-foils apart. The fighter began to spin out of control, and the pilot went EV. Moments later, its fuel cells ruptured and the fighter exploded.
Wes flew straight at one of the bow turbolaser points, dropping a proton torpedo into it, along with a blast of stuttering laser fire from his four cannons. The torpedo overwhelmed the shields, causing them to drop momentarily. In that instant, the lasers broke through and tore through the gun mount, melting it and causing a hull breach. The gun crews, along with some of the debris, were sucked out into space. Wes peeled off to avoid the debris and come about for another run at the destroyer. By the time he was turned about, the New Republic Star Destroyer began to open up with its long range turbolasers. Energy lanced out and pounded the forward shields of the Imperial ship, causing its gun crews to begin a return barrage.
Wes watched, relieved, as the fire directed towards the corvette lessened. Although the ship still took the occasional hit, it was less likely to be destroyed now that the enemy destroyer had to worry about a squadron of angry, determined pilots and the long range guns of the Emerald Heart. Wes turned his focus back to the battle, and managed to score another hit on a turbolaser mount. Although it didn’t explode like the other one did, the gun did fall silent, which was all that mattered. Wes checked in on the other pilots, and was surprised at how much damage the ship had actually suffered. No more fighters were lost, but one, Razor Four, was drifting off, headed back towards the Emerald Heart with only one engine working. Wes chose to reprimand him later, after the battle was over, for not waiting until he gave the order to break off.
As Wes came about to make another pass at the ship, he had a sudden, cold, sinking feeling. He instantly opened his comm to the fleet. “This is Razor One. Where are all the fighters?” he asked, silently cursing himself for not noticing before.
The reply came back quickly, hailing from the corvette. “Razor One, this is the Stellar Envoy. We managed to pick off most of them with the help of the locals when we first started our run. The few that are left got caught in an ion blast that disabled the other pursuing destroyer.”
Wes sighed slightly, but made note to monitor for any enemy fighter that might have managed to restart its engines. The Razors were one of only two squadrons aboard the Heart, the other being a squadron of barely-working B-wings that he knew Commodore Brandt was holding back in the event of enemy fighters attacking his ship.
After a third pass at the ship, he signaled the corvette, which at this angle was a glowing ember of white light, the sign of overtaxed engines that were about to melt.
“Colonel Janson to Stellar Envoy. What is your status?” Wes asked. As he waited for a response, he lined up his fighter to fire on one of the destroyers ion cannons. Although not as powerful as the planetary ion cannons, the ones on a Star Destroyer still had the power to strip the shields off any ship smaller than it, and disable any fighter or freighter unlucky to stumble into the path of the gun. Moments after he turned the gun to slag, his comm crackled to life.
“Stellar Envoy here. Our engines are seconds from failing, but it looks like you’ve taken enough heat off of us that we will make it. The Emerald Heart has already locked onto us with a tractor beam, but at low power. They want to wait until we power down our engines before they pull us in.”
Wes clicked his comm twice to confirm reception, and as he began his switch back to the squadron’s frequency, his R2 unit beeped at him, signaling that the Heart was hailing.
“Janson here,” Wes said. There was a moment of static.
“This is Commodore Brandt. Good job. Recall all fighters. We’ll provide covering fire.” The comm went dead before Wes could acknowledge, then went squadron-wide.
“Razor leader here, all wings, head back home. I’ll recover Eight.” Wes listened as the rest of the squadron clicked their acknowledgement and peeled off, trading parting blows with the destroyer. Wes began scanning for Eight’s life signature, and found it floating near one of the turbolasers he shot up.
“Couldn’t make this easy for me,” he muttered as he pulled his fighter up alongside the destroyer. As he approached, Eight waved his hand at Wes. Wes pointed to his upper port laser cannon, and mimed grabbing it. Eight gave a thumbs up and grabbed ahold. He turned just in time to see two Stormtroopers peek out of the hole Wes had created. Eight shot one in the chest, and caught the other in the foot. A death spasm caused the first trooper to fire wildly at the ship, but the shots bounced harmlessly off of the shields. Wes accelerated slowly, making sure that Eight could hold on as he returned to the destroyer. Several shots from the Imperial destroyer nearly grazed the X-wing, but it was obvious the ship was only delivering parting blows.
Wes signaled the Heart’s hangar controller. “This is Colonel Janson; I’m coming in with extra cargo. Do not engage docking tractor beam.” A single beep from the other end acknowledged his message. As he approached the main hangar he could see the damage the Envoy had taken. The ship was barely holding together. Another stray shot or two would have completely ripped the ship apart. Wes watched Eight shake slightly as the static energy from the magnetic containment field coursed across his barely shielded body. As they passed into the hangar, Wes watched as Eight struggled to stay ahold of the fighter, the artificial gravity field now pulling him down to the hangar floor. Wes brought the fighter to a hover only a couple meters above the floor, and Eight dropped, hitting with unexpected grace and landing in a crouch. Wes brought the fighter about and landed in his assigned spot.
By the time he had his fighter on the deck and powering down, flight crews were headed his way to refuel and check for damage. A grappling device lowered from a nearby crane and plucked his R2 unit from its socket. A technician rolled a ladder over to the side of the cockpit, and Wes climbed down. He was greeted by Hobbie.
“You’re not going to believe who we had to rescue,” Hobbie growled, his usual dour attitude worse than normal.
They walked in silence towards where a docking ring was extending towards the battered corvette’s only remaining undamaged airlock. Wes took off his helmet and slicked back his hair, hoping that if he looked presentable that he might impress whoever they rescued. The ring finally attached to the ship’s airlock, and there was a hiss as pressures equalized. The ship’s door opened, and Wes suddenly laughed. First out of the airlock, uniform ragged and covered in dust, came General Antilles. Following him were two other Rogue Squadron pilots, Tycho Celchu and Myn Donos. As they approached, Wedge glared at Wes, causing him to stop his laughing, and eliciting a mock salute, but Wes could barely control himself.
“After all these missions, it came down to Wes and Hobbie to rescue you.” Wes said, emphasizing the last word. He shook his head and stepped out of the way, letting the other Rogues through. Wedge glared at him and pointed back into the airlock, where two hover gurneys were being pushed through by Republic fleet troopers. Wes strained to see who it was, and went pale as they approached. The lead one carried Garik Loran, leader of Wraith Squadron. The second one had his second in command, Kell Tainer.
Wes looked up at Wedge apologetically, and Wedge’s gaze softened slightly.
“Not so funny when two of your friends are in critical condition, is it, Colonel?” Wedge said, his voice level and cool. Garik managed a ghost of a smile as he passed by Wes.
“Don’t worry, we’re not in that bad of shape,” Garik rasped, the sound of his voice saying otherwise. He grimaced as a jolt of pain went through his body. His hand dropped back down to his side and he clenched his teeth. After a few moments, he and Kell had passed through, and were on their way to the medical ward where they would probably spend the next the few days immersed in bacta.
Wes was caught by surprise again as Corran Horn walked out of the airlock, his left arm held in a makeshift sling. He nodded at Wes and Hobbie.
“Thanks for the save back there,” he said as fell in line with them and Wedge.
Wes turned to Wedge. “What exactly happened back there?” he asked.
“The Wraiths were doing a recon op on the edge of Imperial space,” Wedge replied. “As the mission wrapped up, Garik had everyone except Kell pack up and return to base. The two then proceeded into territory held by Warlord Harrsk. They got ambushed, and their X-wings were destroyed. We went in to pick them near Corvis Dei, but apparently Harrsk had followed us there. We got shot up pretty bad, and our hyperdrive failed near the edge of this system.”
“Sounds like you got lucky,” Hobbie said, shaking his head. Wedge shrugged, and then headed towards the airlock.
“Help me gather the rest of the survivors and equipment,” Wedge said, barely turning back to speak. “And have Commodore Brandt set course for Coruscant. We’ve got some intel on Mindor that Command needs to see.”
Wes lifted an eyebrow. “Mindor? There isn’t much left of that place. What would be going on out there?”
Wedge shrugged. “I’m not completely sure. Whatever it is, it must be worth risking two Star Destroyers to recover half a data packet and a few spies.”
High Admiral Vetrik Landrik stood on the balcony of his palace on Bastion, watching the sunset. The dying light reflected lightly off of the Caninda Sea, while a brilliant fabric of orange, yellow, and red wove through the clouds, signaling the ending of another peaceful day. That is, peaceful for the inhabitants of Bastion. Just under a thousand light years away, battles were raging as the Empire and the New Republic clashed, vying for control of worlds. Brave men and women died by thousands in the name of an idea, perpetrated by the governments they served. Landrik turned at the sound of light footsteps behind him, and saw his wife approach, carrying a miniature holoprojector. She handed it to him, and Landrik noticed a sour taste form in his mouth. His wife turned and retreated from the balcony without saying a word. She knew that, even though his love was deep, his wrath could cut deeper.
Landrik turned back towards the sea, and as Bastion’s sun sank beneath the horizon, he flicked on the projector. Surprise flew across his face, and he knew it was too late to control it before the caller noticed.
“Have I caught you at a bad time, Admiral?” Grand Admiral Thrawn asked, his voice betraying only the slightest hint of curiosity. Landrik knew better than to lie, but at the same time didn’t want to insult the Grand Admiral, his direct superior.
“In a way, yes, but knowing you this is going to need all of my attention,” Landrik replied.
“Yes, indeed,” Thrawn said, his voice cool and even. “Have you heard the latest report from Admiral Harrsk?”
Landrik shook his head. He preferred to never communicate with Admiral Blitzer Harrsk, but since they both served the same Empire, he had to deal with him from time to time. Still, he hadn’t received a message from Harrsk in months.
“I’m sorry, Admiral. I haven’t heard anything from him lately. What is the matter?” he asked.
“It is a matter of security. Admiral Harrsk has reported that he lost a Star Destroyer in pursuit of a group of spies, whom he claims to belong to none other than Wraith Squadron.”
Landrik furrowed his brow. “Wraith Squadron has been a pain for all of us, sir. They couldn’t have found out much, could they?”
Thrawn’s reply tempted Landrik to think deeper about the situation. “They were spotted near Corvis Dei, Admiral. Fleeing Imperial Space.”
In an instant, Landrik knew what Thrawn was talking about. “The Mindor Project…” Landrik said, his voice trailing off as he growled out the words. “How much do you think they know?” he asked after a few tense seconds.
Thrawn only shrugged. “Only time can tell, Admiral. But, I suspect they didn’t get the whole picture. They will be back.”
Landrik nodded, and stood in silence for a long moment. With the security around the Mindor Project, only a select few even knew what was happening, let alone knew all the details. Only himself, Grand Admiral Thrawn, project leader doctor Edo Moria, and the mysterious and deadly Sith Lord Darth Tyruss knew the whole truth.
“What do you need me to do?” Landrik finally asked, his mind calculating all possible actions Thrawn would have him take.
“Take your flagship and an escort to Mindor,” Thrawn said. “Hide them among the ruins of Taspan II. If nothing happens within a standard week, return to Bastion. You may leave tomorrow.”
Landrik’s confusion played across his face. “Admiral, I don’t mean to be insubordinate, but one week doesn’t seem long enough.”
The corners of Thrawn’s mouth drew up into a small smile. “It will all be clear in time.”
Landrik nodded. “Understood, sir,” he said. He knew the conversation was over. “Good night, sir.”
Thrawn nodded, and his hologram disappeared. Landrik turned off his projector, and placed it in his pocket. He spared one last glance at the sunset, and caught the brief flash of color as Bastion’s sun dipped beneath the horizon. “A sign of good luck,” Landrik thought, as he turned and left the balcony. The doors closed behind him without even a whisper. He laid down on the bed, careful not to wake his wife. Landrik knew that she would get a full night’s rest, but he would not get any. Any conversation with Thrawn ended like this. “What is he up to?” Landrik thought, turning to shut off the lamp near the bed. He thoughtfully stared up at the now-dark ceiling, and stayed like that for the next few hours before exhaustion overtook him.
He ran through the gleaming hallways, searching for the exit. The man knew exactly where to go, but not how he would reach the place. He heard loud footsteps behind him, and quickened his pace, almost falling over. Thoughts raced through his head, but the most prevalent one was “Who am I?” The man couldn’t remember his name, or what he was doing before he arrived on the station. It didn’t really matter right now. What mattered were the white-armored Stormtroopers running behind him, trying to keep him from escaping. He rounded the corner... and slammed face-first into an Imperial officer. Running on instinct, he fumbled for the man’s blaster and in an instant burnt a giant hole in the officer’s chest. The man collapsed without a sound, dead before he hit the floor.
The man began running again, and several times had to duck as stun bolts flew over his head. He fired a few wild shots behind him, and heard a clatter as a Stormtrooper took a shot to the leg, nearly blowing it apart. He turned another corner, the one to his left seemingly clear of enemies. He looked up for a moment as the speakers blared to life. “Prisoner XS-2112 has escaped from his confines. Do not let him escape the base.”
The man began to panic. He now not only had to escape the small squad of Stormtroopers following him, but also the rest of the base personnel. Ten thousand Stormtroopers, if his memory was correct. He had only a minute to glance at the base schematics, and only seconds to see the personnel statistics.
Another left turn, and he could see the exit straight ahead of him. A small glimmer of joy shivered through his body, and he found the necessary energy to increase his run to a sprint. Twenty meters, fifteen, ten… He was almost in sight of freedom. All he had to do was steal one of the shuttles on the other side of the door, and he would be free. He skidded to a halt, and pressed a few keys on the door control. It chirped, and the door slid open… to reveal a menacing figure, clad in black armor, wielding a stun baton and blaster pistol. The armored figure swung the baton, and the escapee barely ducked the swing. What he didn’t anticipate, though, was the blaster firing half a second later. Caught off guard, the man only had time to register the sound as a stun bolt shot through the air and caught him square in the chest. He collapsed, his mind rolling through the sea of unconsciousness.
Decades, or maybe minutes had passed in the time between being stunned and reawakening. The man looked around, his eyes unfocused, his hearing disjointed. He tried to move his arms, but found them tied by his sides. He lifted his head, only to find restraints wrapped around the top of his skull. Panic, slow and ever pressing began to seep in. His breathing became more erratic, and his eyes darted back and forth. He knew where he was, and he knew that he had no way out.
A light creaking noise signaled the opening of a door opposite him. The man could hear the light shuffle of someone enter, and was startled as he found another face in front of his, only inches above.
“Ah, prisoner XS-2112,” the newcomer said, his breath causing the prisoner to curl his lip up in disgust. “I apologize for the accommodations, but your escape has made me rethink our security around here. Now, my friend, shall we begin?”