View Full Version : Wings of Fate: Chapter Two

Nova Spice
13 June 2002, 10:48 PM
Starfighters raced towards the forest-covered world of Rodia. Gavin knew the Yuuzhan Vong would meet them in the skies half-way and it was his intention to give them the fight they wanted. Rogue Squadron was leading the push with the Yellow Aces, the Wild Knights, and the E-wings from Diamond Squadron right behind them. Their goal was to escort the dropships filled with New Republic troops and Yuuzhan Vong Hunter droids to a safe landing area outside Equator City, then proceed to the Vong’s coralskipper growth fields where K-wings from Shadowfire Squadron would drop their payloads. The rest of the fleet would maintain a blockade around the system, making sure no Vong vessels escaped. The plan was simple, and more than likely would prove effective long enough for the starfighters from Fleet Group Three to execute their mission. Then again with Luke leading Group Three’s fighters, it probably won’t matter what we do here anyway, Gavin reminded himself.
“Lead, this is Seven, I’m picking up enemy signals inbound from the far side of the planet.” Captain Myn Donos spouted over the comm channel.
Gavin checked his sensors and as sure as the stars, gravitic signatures flashed red over his HUD. He checked his computer and found that the Yellow Aces and the Wild Knights were veering away to intercept the coralskippers. What a great way to get the rest of us killed, Gavin cursed.
“Rogue Lead to Ace One, Wes, what the hell are you doing?”
“We have you covered Gavin.” Wes said confidently. “Although for how long I can’t say.”
“Ace Squadron, Wild Knights, fall back into formation.” Gavin ordered. “We’ll pounce on them when they reach our entrance vector.”
“This one wantz the coralskipperz now.” Saba Sebatyne hissed.
“Wild One, fall back or we’ll be forced to shoot you down!” Rogue Nine said bluntly.
Immediately Wes Janson and his fellow Aces maneuvered back into formation, yet Saba and the Knights continued to speed towards the Vong.
“I repeat, Saba turn back or I will place a torp in your engines!” Corran repeated.
There was complete silence over the channel as the Barabel Jedi contemplated Corran’s words. Gavin waited a few tense seconds, began to pull off to force the rogue Knights back into formation, then saw Saba’s Skipray Blastboat sharply pull back towards the E-wings in Diamond Squadron. The rest of the Wild Knights followed their leader as well, bringing their Z-95 Headhunters and X-wings back into the dropship formation. Gavin knew Corran would never have opened fire on Wes and his pilots, and more than likely wouldn’t shoot down his fellow Jedi, but the sheer iciness in his voice belied any doubts in the minds of the anxious Aces and Knights. After all, Corran had been forced to shoot down friendlies before and no one doubted he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if he felt it would save lives in the future.
“This one understandz Corran.” Wild One reluctantly admitted.
“You’re a Jedi Saba, you must be at peace and show patience.” Corran reminded.
“Master Skywalker would not have approved.” Mara added over the Shadow’s comm unit.
“I have disgraced myself.” the Barabel said mournfully.
“Only if you had gone through with it, Saba.” Gavin informed the reptilian Jedi. “Now, cut the chatter and protect the dropships and transports. I don’t want a single plasma bolt to get through our defenses!”
“Copy Rogue Leader.” Diamond One responded in thick Basic.
“You got it Sand-Lover.” Wes chimed, amusement evident in his reply.
“This one compliez.” Saba agreed, doubt creeping into her words.
“This is Alpha-Five to Rogue Leader, better make good on that order Colonel!”
“Those coralskippers will be vaped, by the Force I swear it!” Gavin promised.
Alarms blared throughout Gavin’s cockpit as the Vong closed the distance with the New Republic forces to within two and a half kilometers. The Republic pilots were within range of the skips’ deadly magma missiles and everyone knew the battle was going to be hectic. By the time Admiral Kre’fey’s voice crackled over the comm channels, Gavin was beginning to give the order to lock S-foils to attack mode. Gavin knew this was the signal to commence with yet another alternative tactic to confuse the hostile invaders, so he held off on his order.
“All starfighters and transports prepare for hyperspace jump to the beacon appearing on your nav computers. Jump in five, four, three, two, one!”
Without hesitation Gavin pulled the hyperspace lever and punched the astrogation node, leaping towards the unknown beacon. The jump didn’t last long; a mere three seconds later his X-wing reappeared, still near the planet Rodia. Gavin realized exactly where he was as he glanced at his HUD. The enemy coralskippers were now eight thousand kilometers behind Gavin and his starfighter group. The jump brought the New Republic fighters to the opposite side of the planet, clearing the way for all forces to enter the atmosphere without being impeded. And sitting to Gavin’s starboard was the vessel that had made the jump possible. His scanners identified the ship as the Stellar Web, an Immobilizer- 418 Interdictor Cruiser, and Gavin immediately remembered the ship from the Ciutric campaign years back.
“Admiral Kre’fey is a genius!” Rogue Eleven declared.
“That was some trick!” Jaina Solo said, as she piloted the Jade Shadow between the rows of dropships.
“So long scarheads.” Inyri added.
“Wonder which god they will attribute that one too?” Ace Seven said, mockery dripping from his voice.
“The Trickster Goddess of course!” Janson laughed. “Nice move Jaina.”
“Hush up.” the reply came from the Shadow.
“All forces, we’re going in full throttle!” Gavin ordered. “Shadow, you have sensors until we hit the landing zone. Then you’re to get back to the Mon Mothma.”
“Copy Rogue Leader.” Mara replied. “I won’t have a problem complying with that order. We’ll take Lensi back with us to Fleet Group Three.”
“He’s your responsibility Mara.” Corran laughed.
“Responsibility, now there’s something that scares me.”
The starfighters entered Rodia’s atmosphere at full speed. Gavin was confident that the Rodian guerrilla fighters in the jungle below would think the New Republic forces as meteors or more Vong forces, much less a relief fleet. It didn’t matter, soon they would be free and the Vong would be knocked out of Rodia forever.
“Ten, how far away are we from Equator City?” Gavin asked.
“About two hundred klicks south, Lead. I’d give us an estimated time of about four minutes before we arrive.” Alinn replied.
“Alright Rogues, break into flight groups and spread out to cover your dropship groups. One Flight on me, Five you have Two Flight, and Ten you have Three Flight. Keep your sensors up and try to find a suitable landing zone for your troop transports. Understood?”
“Copy Lead.”
“Copy One.”
“Rogue Leader, orders?” General Molis asked, his heavily-accented Rodian voice crackling over the channel.
“Diamond Squadron, escort Alpha-Six and Alpha-Seven to the west. Three Flight should be tagging along with you and your boys.”
“Roger Colonel.” the Rodian General acknowledged.
Normally I wouldn’t be giving a General orders of any kind; these really are strange times, Gavin reflected briefly.
“Gavin, if you’d like, I can crash my fighter into the jungle for you. It’d probably make things easier.” Wes commented.
“Come on now Wes, you know that wouldn’t be fair to the jungle.”
“I was more concerned for the wild life, but now that you mention it, I suppose trees are living things too.”
“Actually you’re with One Flight, where we can keep an eye on you. Bring Alpha-Four and Alpha Five along for the ride. I wouldn’t want Colonel Bril’nilim to get grouchy.” Gavin decided.
“I heard that.” a bitter Twi’lek voice resounded.
“Copy Rogue Lead, Plasma Fodder out.” Wes resigned.
I swear, that Janson has more energy than a nexu. Now I know why Wedge always had his blaster set on stun when Wes was around, Gavin silently laughed.
“Wild Knights, you there?”
“This is Wild One, Rogue Leader, we’re here.”
“Take Alpha-One, Alpha-Two, and Alpha-Three with you to the east. Two Flight will be joining you.” Gavin announced.
“This one understandz.” Saba hissed, resignation still traceable.
Spreading out like an approaching thunderstorm, the fighter groups soared over the dense jungles , cruising towards their designated vectors. Plasma blasts and magma missiles fired out of the jungle canopy in a vain attempt to slow the New Republic forces down, but the fighters were simply moving too fast. One Flight and the Yellow Aces spear-headed the assault, as the motley assortment of A-wings, X-wings, and E-wings plunged towards their objective. If Alinn’s estimation was correct, the New Republic forces would arrive at Equator City in two minutes. First priority is finding Alpha Four and Alpha Five a suitable landing zone, then it’s the skip growth fields. If a landing zone isn’t found quick enough, a lot of Alpha Group’s troops could get killed, something I refuse to let happen, Gavin silently promised.
Behind the New Republic starfighters and dropships, the anti-air plasma fire stopped altogether. Gavin noticed that a few of the pilots in Diamond Squadron and the Yellow Aces were cheering over their communication channels. They were obviously rookies, because when the “guns” stopped firing, it usually meant an enemy intended to destroy you in ship-to-ship combat, or in this instance ship-to-skip combat.
“All groups keep alert.” Gavin warned. “The ground fire has stopped which means we more than likely have incoming skips.”
The cheering ceased over the comm channels and Gavin could have sworn he heard a whimper from one of the “green” pilots. He checked his starboard side and saw Kral situated neatly behind and under his S-foils. Rogue Three and Rogue Four were off to Gavin’s port, hanging back in an escort position for the assault transport designated Alpha Four. One Flight was ready, it was all Gavin could do to hope that the same could be said for the other groups. On the horizon, the façade of the cityscape came into view. Though dusk was falling, Gavin noticed that very few lights emanated from the capital city. No doubt the Vong have terra-formed the capital. This could be ugly, Gavin admitted.
“Lead, we have enemy contacts at zero-four-nine-seven!” Rogue Eleven yelled.
“General Molis here, skips are everywhere!” the leader of Diamond Squadron exclaimed
“Three Flight protect the dropships!” Alinn ordered. “Diamonds have the first wave!”
“This is for my brethren!” General Molis cried.
Gavin was listening intently to the whole transmission, but was also keeping his visual senses about him. He knew General Molis personally volunteered to participate in this assault to bring retribution to the invaders that had claimed his homeworld. Gavin worried he would do something irresponsible and the brave pilots in Diamond Squadron would get killed. I can’t worry about what I can’t control. I have to be heads up for the sake of the Rogues, for Three Flight who is already engaging the enemy, Gavin whispered to himself.
“Attention all groups, Three Flight and the Diamonds have made contact with the Vong! Remember your priorities and stick to them!” Gavin instructed. “We play by our rules, not theirs.”
“This is Five, Two Flight copies.” Inyri said, confidence bolstering from her voice.
“Wild Knights copy.” Saba hissed.
“This is Ace One to Rogue Leader.” Janson interrupted. “Gavin we have skips outbound from the city, heading in at an attack vector!”
“Lock S-foils in attack position!”
“Heads up, they’re coming in fast!” Rogue Three blared.
Red blips swarmed Gavin’s HUD, lightning it up like a Liberation Day parade! Untold numbers of enemy skips darted from the dead towers and skyscrapers towards the New Republic attack force, their plasma cannons erupting like fiery volcanoes!
“Pick your targets and go!” Gavin ordered.
Rolling his X-wing on his port stabilizer, Gavin inverted and hit the thrusters, shooting above the swarm of skips as plasma blasts zipped past him, lighting up the dusk sky and burning into the jungle beneath him. Gavin turned his fighter hard to port, realizing that he had overshot the entire skip formation. Kral was still tucked under his starboard wing, staying with Gavin as only a veteran wingman could.
“Two, auxiliary fire mode. Splinter shots on the dovin basals.” Gavin said calmly.
“Copy Lead.”
Tightening up on the secondary trigger, Gavin released dozens of miniature lasers through the sky at the rear of the coralskipper formation. Kral joined in, combining his fire at the clusters of skips, not intentionally picking out a specific target. Dozens of the Vong craft pulled up and away, scattering like womprats in a Tatooine sandstorm!
Gavin heard comm chatter increase ten fold as the Republic pilots engaged the belligerent invaders in all drop zones. Plasma shots and laser bolts crisscrossed through the orange sky at a mind-numbing pace as the New Republic battled for air supremacy. The distinct sound of one voice, however, brought a sense of relief. Jaina and Mara were protecting Alpha Four and Five while he and the rest of One Flight and the Aces engaged the enemy.
“I repeat, we have Alpha Four and Five, One Flight and Aces are free to engage.” Mara said sternly.
It’s a good thing those two tagged along; gives me a chance to vape some Vong without having to worry about babysitting! Gavin said to himself.
Breaking around to port, Gavin redirected himself back towards his original course towards Equator City. Kral imitated the maneuver and the two Rogues sped towards their destination. Ahead Alpha Four and Alpha Five continued their flight path, the Jade Shadow flying escort as its quad lasers cannons lit up the darkening sky. The black and yellow A-wings and E-wings in Janson’s Ace Squadron darted back and forth providing perimeter defense for the two assault transports and the Shadow. Gavin noticed that the towers and skyscrapers were clearly coming into view now as they sprawled across the horizon, stretching into the sky. Many of the lights Gavin saw earlier were actually brilliant flames, consuming the towers and buildings in a horrific cacophony of destruction. Smoke and fungus-like algae clung to the buildings of Equator City like mynocks on power cables. The Yuuzhan Vong not only were terra-forming the structures, but were burning them as well. I knew this was going to get ugly, Gavin mumbled somberly.
“Three, take Four with you and form up to the west.” Gavin said. “See if you can take a few of those skips with you. We’ll meet up at three klicks and execute the Antilles maneuver.”
“Copy Lead.” Rogue Three’s Bothan pilot replied.
A mere two klicks in front of Gavin and Kral’s X-wings, the coralskippers continued their attack runs on the dropships. Gavin knew he had to find them a landing zone in the city and had to find them one fast. Janson’s squadron was defending the transports, dog fighting like veermoks. They couldn’t hold out forever though and eventually they would begin to fall.
“Two, break off and join the Aces. Find a landing zone in that cemetery of towers so those transports can get groundside!” Gavin ordered his wingman.
A double-click resonated from Kral’s comlink as his X-wing sped ahead of Gavin towards the skirmish. Checking his sensors, Gavin saw that Rogue Three and Four were heading west towards Three Flight’s zone. And if his eyesight wasn’t failing him, Gavin swore a half dozen skips were trailing them! Immediately he turned to his port, heading straight towards Huth, as the Bothan and Gyrl turned back towards him. The Rogues were heading on a collision course and Gavin was sure the skips would take the bait.
“Catch, switch the torpedoes over to premature detonation and increase shields fully forward.” Gavin instructed his astromech.
The little droid tweeted an affirmative as Gavin thumbed over to his proton torpedo launchers. Huth and Gyrl continued their high-speed course straight towards his fighter. The skips were still behind them, blazing away with their plasma cannons. The range-finder had Gavin at one and a half-klicks when he gave the order.
“Execute now!”
Huth and Gyrl turned up on their opposite S-foils and veered away just as Gavin would have collided with them and just as Gavin launched his torpedo! Gavin was already diving his fighter towards the jungle as the torpedo shot out of its launch tube, exploding right in front of the coralskipper’s dovin basal, lighting up the sky in a magnificent cloud of fire!
Pulling up and looping back towards the stragglers, Gavin was met with cries of joy from Huth and Gyrl, who formed up on either side of his X-wing.
“Nice shot Lead!” Huth exclaimed.
“Gyrl is amazed!”
Indeed, even Gavin was impressed as he saw the results of his pre-det torpedo. Yorik coral scattered into the canopy of trees below as Gavin’s HUD showed all six bogies neutralized. Six kills with one shot and Gavin hadn’t even been hit. Too bad scarheads, Gavin said silently, a grin broadening under his helmet’s visor.
Evening out his shields, Gavin joined Huth and Gyrl and sped back towards the city where One Flight and the Yellow Aces continued to battle it out. Over his comlink, Gavin heard the amusing tone of Janson, chiding him as the Rogues rejoined the fight.
“Gavin, so nice of you to join us. We were wondering if you had gotten bored?”
“Confused is a better word Wes.”
“Will you just find us a landing zone!” Colonel Bril’nilim shouted.
“This is Two, I’ve found a perfect landing pad. The sixth tower to the left of your current trajectory has a large docking bay atop it. It should be perfect for Alpha Group.” Kral responded.
“It’s about time, our shields are at twenty percent!” Bril’nilim chastised.
“I think you mean nineteen Colonel.” Wes corrected.

* * *

Corran looped around, his laser cannons chewing away at the yorik coral that covered the Vong skip. Bits and pieces of the craft eroded as more and more of the scarlet energy bolts pierced the fragile vessel. Eventually the skip could no longer absorb the beating and succumbed to the damage that Corran continued to inflict upon it. Finally, the skip broke apart, crashing into the streets below.
Three Flight had managed to find a landing zone for Alpha Six and Alpha Seven just as the coralskippers made their ambush, so luckily no one had to provide the dropships with any more cover fire and could concentrate on the enemy fighters.
Below, hundreds of New Republic troops charged into the city, their blaster rifles discharging along with dozens of Lando Calrissian’s YVH-droids. Corran smiled as he watched several Vong warriors collapse from the intensity of the assault. I couldn’t protect Ithor, but I sure as hell can protect Rodia! Corran said quietly.
“That’s the last of the coralskippers in this sector.” General Molis muttered over the comm channel.
Diamond Squadron had been reduced to seven members after the ambush, leaving just ten out of the fifteen original fighters in this drop zone still functional. Corran knew that Tiara had taken damage as her ship was pulverized by plasma early in the battle. Yet she still managed to keep her X-wing in the fight long enough to vape a skip or two off Alinn’s aft. Corran had suffered minor damage to his port stabilizer from a lucky magma missile hit, but his shields managed to absorb most of that damage. Looking out his cockpit viewport, Corran saw the other two members of Three Flight cruising before him, scouring the city for more skips. The new generation of Rogues were good, but Corran doubted that they would ever be as talented as the Rogues he had flown with when the squadron had been reformed. I wonder how Ooryl is doing these days? A question I will be sure to ask Gyrl when this is over, Corran reminded himself.
“Rogue Nine, Rogue Eleven, form up and proceed to One Flight’s quadrant.” Alinn’s voice commanded over the comm channel. “They’ve found the skip growth fields.”
“Here we go again.” Corran replied.

* * *

Standing on the bridge of the Bothan Assault Cruiser Ralroost, Admiral Traest Kre’fey monitored the tactical situation. The four fighter groups had managed to successfully protect the dropships long enough for them to unload their troops. Eight starfighters were unaccounted for, but Admiral Kre’fey considered that a victory taking into consideration the overwhelming numbers that had ambushed the squadrons. Now, more starfighters were heading towards the city, along with another wave of dropships. Drifting behind them, the K-wings from Shadowfire Squadron prepped their weapons for their runs on the coralskipper growth fields. Kre’fey knew it would be another eight to ten minutes before the K-wings even arrived at the fields. Hopefully Colonel Darklighter will have cleared a path by then. The Rogues seem to be in decent shape anyway, he decided.
“Admiral, we’re receiving a message from an arriving transport. Its broadcasting as the Millennium Falcon and it is requesting clearance to land in one of our docking bays.” a young Bothan lieutenant said.
Kre’fey walked over to the communications station and glanced at the visual display of the ship. The jagged and rough lines of the transport gave away its identity, reassuring Kre’fey that it wasn’t somehow a Vong trick. No ship in the galaxy could be so ugly, yet so gorgeous. Besides, Han Solo’s voice was unmistakable and Kre’fey hated to think how the old-smuggler would react if he denied his request to land.
“They’re who they saw they are Lieutenant. Let them through the blockade.”
“Yes sir.”
The young Bothan gave the clearance to the YT-1300 and within moments, it proceeded towards the Ralroost. Turning his attention back towards the tactical readout, Kre’fey noted that the Yuuzhan Vong flotilla protecting Rodia was finally coming around the other side of the planet to engage Fleet Group Two. At their current rate, it would be well over thirty minutes before they could exchange broadsides. Of course it wouldn’t matter anyway, they would be defeated. Kre’fey had one more skifter up his sleeve and the Vong were going to feel it all the way back to Coruscant, where they would lick their wounds. Perhaps with the Solos here, Kre’fey had multiple skifters, in which case the Vong would never be able to recover.