The War for the Spartan Sector, First Report

Forward:

I have mixed feelings about fan-fiction. Some of it is very good, some of it not worth wiping your butt with and it doesn’t really stand a chance of being published. The below is a narrative battle report of an X-Wing Epic game (four players aside, 250pts a player). I was on the Imperials so it’s written from that perspective.  All characters are based pretty loosely of real life people who were involved in the game in some way. If nothing else, I hope it’s enjoyable.

 

Commodore Ivan Chadrock stood at rigid attention in his ready room, impatiently waiting for the new sector governor to begin his review. Moff Tarkus was an old man, wizened and creased by years of service to the Empire. Since being tasked with clearing the Rebellion out of the Spartan Sector in the Outer Rim, Ivan hadn’t suffered the presence of a system governor due to the nomadic nature of his command and the lawless nature of the area. The Empire simply didn’t have the man power to occupy and control – to actually govern – the Outer Rim, but nor did it have the inclination. He had been here to uproot and destroy any Rebels found, not civilise the systems he passed through. Moff Tarkus’s arrival signalled a change in that.

“You are probably wondering why a Moff has been assigned to this system, Commodore – what an unusual rank that is, by the way. Where did you get it?” Moff said slowly without looking up from his data slate.

“It was assigned to me based on the temporary and transient nature of my command in place of a full admiralship, sir,” Ivan replied tightly, quoting the text attached to his promotion orders. He was quite attached to the title and prefered to keep it if possible.

“And how long has this temporary and transient command been?”

“Six years, four months and seventeen days, sir. And everyone a pleasure.”

“I can see you’ve found some success out here – not a remarkable amount, but perhaps finding any Rebels in this backwater is worth remarking on. A small base at Coulsdo, a flotilla travelling through the Espilio system and…a CR-90 that refused Imperial investigation?” Tarkus raised his eyebrows and gave Ivan an enquiring look. “You’ve labelled it a ‘probable Rebel corvette, definitely illegal’. You haven’t even listed designation for the ship. Explain?”

“It refused to answer our questions or allow us on to inspect it, sir. When we closed and tried to identify it the ship opened fire on us. I was not able to do complete the identification process before it’s destruction and there wasn’t much left of it for us to trace afterwards,” Ivan stared at a point on his office wall roughly a foot above the Moff’s head. The corvette in question had near definitely been a smuggling craft, if not a transport for the Rebellion – at least, that’s what Ivan told himself. He hoped it hadn’t been some overly proud settler’s or merchant crew, but they had opened fire on his ships first so his conscious was clear. Mostly.

“I see. I think we can excuse your…lack of clarity in this case. However, six years is a long time for a temporary command – and the Impunity is woefully lacking in modern weaponry,” Moff Tarkus put the data slate on Ivan’s desk and steepled his fingers. “I have never encountered a Raider class anti-fighter corvette so inadequately equipped to deal with star fighters.”

“With all respect, sir, the TIE escort for the Impunity has been-” Ivan didn’t get to finish his defence.

“Scrap for the last three months. I can see your requests for replacements going back almost a year.”

“The turbo-lasers are-”

“A ridiculous weapon to attack one man fighter craft with.”

“But wholly suited to destroying the frigates, corvettes and freighters that-”

“More modern and less clumsy alternatives would be equally efficient at destroying. I have three other options for which corvette I name as my flagship in the Spartan sector – those not chosen will be reassigned to other systems or for refit. Unless you give me a good reason, then your Impunity will be sent back to the shipyard or the scrapheap. Currently it is only your slightly above average success rate that has kept you in the running – and the fact you are already here. I will be looking for reasons to keep your ship and rank in situ, Commodore. I suggest you help me find some, understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Ivan took a deep breath as the Moff turned back to the data slate.

“I would also like to question your contract with this mercenary, Alexander Marcus. He appears to have been under your command for six years, four months and twelve days. Would you care to explain why he is apparently a permanent fixture of the Imperial pay roll?”

“The TIE fighter wing needed mobile support from a hardier vessel, and Marcus’s Firespray is much less notable on reconnaissance missions than Imperial fighters. His loyalty is not in question, and is only paid a minor stipend – most of his pay comes from Rebel or criminal bounty,” Ivan had been ready for this question. “I requested upon assignment to the Outer Rim that a Decimator be assigned to my command to fulfill a similar fighter support roll and was informed it would join me shortly.”

“Six years is not a short time – yes, I can condone your choice on hiring the mercenary. I was not always a Moff, Commodore, and I can appreciate the issues present in…getting support from High Command,” Moff Tarkus nodded. He opened his mouth to speak again but was interrupted by the ship communication system.

“Commodore Chadrock, this is the bridge,” came the clipped tones of Lieutenant Stevenson, the Impunity’s comms officer. Ivan couldn’t remember the last time he had been so grateful for an interruption from the Lieutenant. “Your presence is required on the command deck. We are receiving a distress call from Major Doran of the Gozanti Carrier Archer.”

“I’m on my way,” Ivan gave a small triumphant smile as he looked at the older man. “I’m afraid this review will have to be continued later, Moff Tarkus.”

“Understood. Perhaps this may be an opportunity to prove yourself, Commodore,” Tarkus nodded and stood. Ivan followed him from the room, parting ways quickly to go to the command deck. Fortunately it was only a short distance from the office; Moff Tarkus would be walking for a good twenty minutes before he reached the officers’ quarters.

Ivan marched onto the command deck and walk up to the main view screen. While not as large or overwhelming as that of a Star Destroyer, Ivan always found the Raider command deck an inspiring place to be. The bridge crew were busy tapping away and checking systems, the air humming with a calm but constant productivity, and the viewing windows gave a tranquil view of the endless expanse that was the void. Ivan allowed himself a few seconds of contemplation before addressing his comms officer, “Lieutenant, that was the best interruption you’ve ever made. Was it an actual distress call?”

“I didn’t hear yours, sir, but the one from the Archer is a hundred percent legitimate,” Stevenson brushed her crimson curls to one side as she read from her screen. “They’ve detect a rebel corvette in the system and their hyper-drive is out of action.”

“Just the one corvette? Can you triangulate its location off the bomber sentry?” Ivan walked to the window-wall that formed the view screen and tried to catch a view of his one TIE Bomber. With some effort it was possible to make out the sleek grey and black craft against the backdrop of space off their port side. Most of the ordinance systems had been remove and replaced with complex sensor arrays, making it a terrible craft for its original purpose but by combining its sensor data with that of the Impunity the accuracy of the Raider’s weapons was increased impressively – part of why Ivan had met so much success with the outmoded weapons. “Wing Commander Barrett, can you co-ordinate the advanced fighters Moff Tarkus kindly brought as reinforcements?”

“Yeah,” Wing Commander Barratt nodded, apparently surprised to be addressed, and began to fiddle with his console, making contact with the fighters and organizing them into a flight order. “Are you sure they won’t mind?”

“They were brought as a replacement fighter wing for this corvette, so it’s their job. If they give you any lip, say they are under my command as of now due to a possible Rebel threat. That should put them in the right mood,” Ivan grinned. “You need to worry less. We’re about to become the Imperial flagship in the Spartan System!”

“Is that..what the Moff was talking to you about?” Barratt replied uncertainly. “I thought that…well…”

“We were out of date? Yeah, Tarkus said something along those lines,” Ivan turned back to his bridge crew who were all looking at him with concern. They’d all enjoyed serving under his command, or at least no one had mutinied or filed dissatisfaction, and Ivan suspected this was in part due to his more relaxed approach. They weren’t the sharpest dressed crew, and far from the image of Imperial discipline that the Empire advertised, but as long as they obeyed orders and did their jobs well Ivan didn’t see it necessary to make them spit-shine their boots and iron their uniforms onto themselves. If the Impunity was set for refit, it would most likely be decommissioned and that would mean a new placement for everyone on board. After six years of constant contact they’d become, in an awfully clichéd way, a family as well as a crew. None of them wanted that to be broken apart.

“But he also said we’d outshined every other modern contender for the title,” Ivan embellished the truth a little for the sake of his crew’s morale. “Our service record made Tarkus consider us, and we might now have the opportunity to prove that a newer, more conservatively armed ship is not what the Empire needs in the Outer Rim. Here, far from the waters of Imperial space, we sent to prowl as sharks with other Raiders. To hunt and scavenge and eat away at the Rebels. Impunity is a dragon, ladies and gentleman; let’s show Moff Tarkus how she roars!”

A cheer went up from the bridge crew – except Lieutenant Stevenson. Ivan exchanged smiles and celebrations from the other men and women there as he walked over to her. She blushed and stammered apologetically, “Great, er, great speech, sir. But…um…we’ve got the sensor reports. There’s good news and bad news.”

“Bad news first, always,” Ivan said quietly.

“The corvette is a CR-90, designation Antilles’ Heel. It’s been involved in a few engagements, sir, and…well…”

“It’s still in one piece,” Ivan grimaced. “Wasn’t she at Catham II?”

“Yes, sir,” Stevenson coughed and continued quietly. By now other members of the crew were listening however. “So were-”

“A number of our fellow officers, I know. Maybe it’s time for some payback?” Ivan looked around the bridge, trying to keep the good mood alive. Aside he continued his discussion with Stevenson, “I assume it gets worse?”

“Um, sir, yes, sir. Three freighters, a large number of X-Wings. Identification them lists them as…well, some of the best Rebellion pilots in the Outer Rim. We’re…outnumbered, two to one. At least.”

“Plenty of targets then!” Ivan held a brave face as identification tags lit up on the view screen. The Archer was only a short hop at light-speed from them, but quite far from any Imperial bases. “Get a line out to Major Doran, find out what he’s doing so far from a station.”

“That’s the good news, sir,” Stevenson perked up a bit. “His distress signal says he was on a training exercise – here’s the list of pilots with him.”

“I thought you said we were outnumbered two to one?” Ivan asked, forgetting to keep his voice hushed. The command deck crew turned to look at him.

We are, sir. With Major Doran’s forces we have at least as many ships as them,” Stevenson smiled. “You told me to save the good news for last.”

“Looks like we outnumber them then – seems we have a chance to ambush the Rebel ambush! Okay everyone, battle stations! Calculate the jump to light speed, we want to come out on the far side of the Rebel forces from that Gozanti. We know Major Doran likes to get in the thick of it, so let’s not keep him waiting. Oh, and someone get Wing Commander Parish up here!”

“But he’s off shift, sir,” Barratt said.

“Not any more he’s not! I’ve got some good news for your advanced fighter wing – they aren’t going it alone!”

—-

Wing Commander Parish entered the command deck just as the Raider dropped out of light speed. His uniform was untucked and officer’s cap attached to his belt – a sign of his haste or lack of concern for presentation. “I thought you said you wanted me off duty while the Moff was on board?”

“That was before I had a job for you. Get to your station,” Ivan responded from the command seat without turning round. “And smarten up in case the Moff graces us with his presence.

“You didn’t even look!” Parish took his seat beside Barratt. They exchanged greetings before Parish continued, “I could have been as smart as the Moff for all you knew!”

You couldn’t,” Ivan couldn’t stop a small smile spreading on his face and a chuckle rippled across the command deck.

“All right, Commodore,” Parish rolled his eyes and sorted his uniform out. “Why have I been dragged out of my beauty sleep?”

“Because it never works,” one of the tactical officers, Lieutenant Angel, muttered.

“We have a second fighter wing for you – TIE fighters and a couple of specialist models. Barratt can fill you in on the particulars,” Ivan cut in before the officers began bickering.

“So Barrat gets all the sweet new ships and I get – oh,” Parish cut off as he read through his command roster.

“That’s right,” Ivan grinned. “You get the very best TIE Fighter pilots the Outer Rim has to offer.

“This might work out all right,” Parish said with a look of excitement.

“Glad you on board. Stevenson, report?”

“The Antilles’ Heel is about sixty thousand kilometres ahead. She’s scrambled her fighters and the freighters – four freighters! – ahead of her to close around the Archer. Archer reports precious cargo on board – roster coming through now!” Stevenson called from across the deck.

“What the Hoth are all these pilots doing out here?” Ivan exclaimed as he read the data being sent through to his chair.

Archer says she was assigned them for a training exercise,” Stevenson replied.

“One hell of a training exercise – this is literally all of the best Outer Rim pilots the Empire has!” Parish shared a look with Barratt who just shrugged.

“Practice makes perfect I guess,” the other Wing Commander replied.

“Message from the Archer,” Stevenson reported.

“Put it through to me,” Ivan looked down at the screen in the arm of his chair as Major Doran appeared.

“Thanks for coming, Chadrock,” the other officer grinned and gave a quick salute. “Glad to have you along. Hope you don’t mind if I dive right in?”

“I don’t think it would stop you if I did,” Ivan grinned ruefully. “We’ll scramble some of those TIEs you had on training to cover you. I’m about-”

“A hundred thousand kilometres,” Tactical Officer Angel provided from her place next to Stevenson on the lower command deck.

“-A hundred thousand klicks out from you but I’ll move to support. We got some new fighter escorts that’ll handle that corvette. Seems she sent her pups to hound you.” Ivan finished.

“That she did! It’s looking a bit hot over here, so we can catch up more after we mop these scum up. Archer out,” Doran waited for Ivan to nod confirmation before he cut the channel.

“Okay everyone, let’s get down to business,” Ivan called out. “Barratt, get your fighters to flank that corvette – what has Moff Tarkus kindly left in our care?”

“Three Defenders with secondary cannons, two interceptors with sensor scramblers, one advanced with refitted targeting systems and a Phantom with…well, everything it can have,” Barratt listed off the ships under his command.

“That’s a lot of firepower – too much for that corvette I’ll wager. Angel, Stevenson; co-ordinate the crew to get us moving towards the Archer. We’ll strafe what we can as we go. Parish, go mess up the middle of their fighter line.

A chorus of affirmative answered the string of orders. Confidence filled Ivan as he stood and went to the tactical display. The Antilles’ Heel had made a bold move with her all-out attack on the Archer, leaving her unprotected from a fighter assault. His only concern was whether the Impunity could reach her carrier counterpart before it was destroyed.

Parish moved his TIE Fighters in perfect formation towards the enemy lines; the precise flying of the elite Imperial pilots faced off against a miss-matched line of different ships on the Rebel side. An asteroid field separated the two forces, providing a dangerous barrier for the corvettes to cross; the Impunity’s course took her parallel to it towards the Archer which, as predicted, dived in towards the enemy.

“Advanced Fighter Wing moving up to flank the corvette,” Barratt reported just before Parish gave his own.

“TIE formation moving through the asteroid belt, opening fire.”

“The Archer’s scrambed her fighter assets – four TIE Advanced,” Stevenson chimed in.

“Where are they going?” Ivan asked, trying to track everything on the tactical display. “Is that…right at the enemy?”

“Affirmative, sir,” Stevenson confirmed.

“Bloody gung-ho – no, that’s fine. They’ll tie up that side of things long enough for us to get there I hope. Can we hit anything? And launch the Moff’s shuttle – it’s got a combat retrofit and right now I want as many deterrents to enemy fighters near us as possible!”

“What if Moff-” Stevenson’s concern was cut off almost before she could voice it.

“I don’t care what the Moff says of thinks! If it’s us or his shuttle, then I choose his shuttle!”

“Brave words, sir,” Parish muttered, but further comment was held back as he designated targets and manoeuvres for his TIE Fighters.

On the tactical display elite pilots cruised comfortably into the asteroid field, completely unaffected by the dangerous space debris. The Rebel ships weren’t so confident and broke their formation to engage them. The advanced fighter wing bore down on the Antilles’ Heel as the Impunity showed the other corvette her flank. In the viewscreens the bridge crew saw the giant turbolasers rotate to track their targets.

“Locked on nearest enemy freighter, Commodore!” Stevenson reported.

“Open fire,” Ivan nodded. The massive guns of the Impunity kicked back silently and sent their supercharged payload of super heated plasma into the dark. The target was only visible from where it eclipsed distant stars; Ivan turned to the tactical display, grinning as the reports came through.

“That’ll teach them! Get Matthews charging them as fast as he can!”

“Request sent to the Engineer-Captain,” Angel acknowledged. After a second the response came back and she laughed, “He asks you to stop distracting him.”

Ivan nodded and focused on the tactical display. The nearest freighter has lost its shields, but she and her two X-Wing escorts were turning towards the Impunity, probably to cover their own corvette from the advanced fighters. The Antilles’ Heel was gunning forwards directly towards the Impunity, apparently ignoring the fighters closing on it.

“Barrett, get those fighters on that corvette! She’s not scared of them yet!” Ivan called out. The Archer was under heavy fire on its side of the field, its Decimator escort having been blown out of the sky. The carrier had limited weaponry and the damage report showed most of its power was being spent to keep her shields up. Several of her decks had been blown open and-

“Commodore! Massive energy charge on the corvette! I think-” Stevenson began but a sudden, overwhelming dread gripped Ivan.

“BRACE! BRACE FOR IMPACT!” he yelled into the ship comms just before the ship shuddered and sirens wailed up and down its length. That was bad; atmosphere had to have been vented to make it shake – huge amounts for them to feel it on the bridge. Ivan stumbled into his chair and one of the communications officers crashed to the ground after colliding with a console, head bleeding. Angel and Stevenson yelled out a damage report.

“Aft shields down!”

“Decks twelve through fifteen sealed!”

“Fire on decks ten and eleven!”

“Engines damaged! Sensors damaged! Reserve targeting baffles destroyed!”

“Fire in Engineering! They – they’ve got it under control, weapons still online!” Angel finished the list as she read out the message from Matthews. Ivan breathed a sigh of relief and stood, straightening his uniform.

“Barret?”

“Yes, Commodore?” the wing commander answered.

“Ram those fighters down that corvette’s throat.”

“Yes, Commodore.”

“Redicrect turbolasers to that corvette, get the mercenary and the shuttle to target it too – we’ll show those scum what messing with the might of the Empire gets them!” Ivan growled.

“Er, Marcus says he’s paid to shoot fighters not capital ships,” Angel mumbled.

“Tell him he can shoot that corvette or he is never getting paid again!”

“He says he’ll find another employer…”

“I’ll blow you out the sky, Marcus!” Ivan roared while Angel still had the comm-line open. After a second of silence she nodded.

“He’s targeting the corvette.”

“Good, now-” Ivan turned as the comm on his command chair bleeped. He gave Stevenson a confused look.

“It’s the Moff, sir,” she explained. Ivan nodded and she put him through to the bridge speakers.

“I understand you’ve requisitioned my shuttle, Commodore,” the old man’s dry tones echoed around the bridge. “I appreciate the necessity but in return I request that I come aboard the bridge.”

“It’s going to be just as safe in your quarters, sir,” Ivan tried.

“Doubtful – if I look outside my door there’s a team of engineers trying to weld the blast doors shut. From what they say, there’s only atmospheric shields on the other side.” Ivan looked at Angel who nodded confirmation.

“Accepted, but I cannot promise normal etiquette is followed,” Ivan said.

“Acknowledged, Commodore,” the comm cut out.

“Barratt! Report from that fighter wing!” Ivan went back to yelling.

“Corvette’s shields down, I’ve lost both interceptors to return fire. She, er, the Moff’s shuttle is also destroyed. The corvette’s almost down though, sir.”

“Can you finish her?”

“In two minutes, maybe more.”

“She’ll fire again first! Send out a brace command, reinforce the rear shields! Status on our turbolasers?”

The bridge crew scrambled about their tasks in a frenzy, Ivan shouting orders and marching between screens and displays as he tried to keep a handle on the situation. The Archer had passed through the rebel lines but her TIE Advanced escort were half gone. Most of the TIE Fighters were damaged or destroyed but Parish was keeping them mobile and dangerous; the Rebel lines were in confusion as they tried to track their targets through the asteroid fields, and many of their own ships had taken hits too. Into this whirlwind of activity marched Moff Tarkus – it took a moment for Ivan to notice him.

“Moff! Welcome to the bridge!”

“I’ll try not to be underfoot, Commodore,” his tone was still dry but it lacked the hostile chill from before the engagement. “Save the report for afterwards. Can I make myself useful?”

“I, er – do you have any sensors experience?” Ivan was taken aback but looked around the bridge for something for him to do.

“Indeed, I-”

“Great, there’s a console by Angel, see what you can do to jam their comms,” Ivan gestured to where the fallen officer’s chair was. Tarkus blinked at being interrupted but bit his tongue and nodded. He went to the seat and, after dragging its former user to one side, sat down. He began to talk to Angel and Stevenson, although quietly enough that Ivan couldn’t hear him. As long as he wasn’t causing problems, Ivan didn’t care what he was doing, “Turbolasers!”

“Ten seconds!” Stevenson called. “Corvette charging weapons!”

“As soon as they’d charged, unleash all hell on that thing!” Ivan stalked to his chair and sat, chin in one hand as he glared at the tactical display. There was no countdown on the system but the bridge grew quiet as everyone looked up and counted inside their heads. The star-fighter sized cannons rocked in silence in the viewscreen, throwing the last hopes of the Impunity into the distant, barely visible hulk of the Antilles’ Heel.

“Four seconds til collison,” Stevenson spoke in barely more than a whisper but it was the only sound among the collected officers. A glimmer on the tactical display showed the CR-90 being hit; its symbol flickered as the sensors retrieved their damage report. No one so much as breathed. After a short eternity, the symbol winked out.

Cheering exploded among the bridge crew. Hands were shaken, backs were patted and hugs were exchanged. Ivan made sure to be involved in the celebration, and even the Moff shared congratulations with some of the officers.

“All right so we’re not dead – plenty of targets still out there!” Ivan called after a minute or so. The officers froze and then hurried back to their places.

“Permission to engage X-Wings on this side?” Barratt asked.

“Granted – Stevenson, Angel; co-ordinate firepower on their freighters.” Ivan turned to Parish, “Report?”

“Well, I’ve got a few TIEs and plenty of escape pods. Three of them on the same asteroid – they must have arranged a party,” Parish quipped. “Realistically I can annoy their fighters for awhile, not much else.”

Ivan looked at the tactical display; there were still a lot of Rebel fighters flying around and the Archer was almost alone. The advanced fighters were too far to provide any realistic support, which left Ivan with one choice, “Get Doran on the line.”

“Commodore! Good to see you!” Major Doran’s face appeared on the communications console beside the tactical display. Behind him several consoles were unmanned or broken and one had been blackened by fire. “Sorry I haven’t called, spot of bother over here.”

“I can see you’re pretty beat up – need a hand?” Ivan replied.

“Thanks but…I think it’s better that…that you leave us here,” Doran tried to grin but barely worked. “Don’t you worry, I’ll take as many with me as I can.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Oh, well, if I had a day or too to give her a lick of paint she’d be good as new!” Doran laughed drily. “But I’m all out of arrows and everything’s a bit close over here – I know the Impunity likes her personal space, pardon the pun. Not too good when fighters get in her intimate areas, you might say. Plenty of other carriers out their, not so many Raiders though. Not worth the risk, really – but no hard feelings, eh?”

“A very tactical analysis, Major,” Ivan looked away from his friend – they’d been at the Officers’ Academy together and been sent to the Spartan Sector at the same time. Their ships had seen a lot of action together and for most of the last half decade the crew of the Archer had been the only real friendly contact the men and women of the Impunity had; losing them would be like losing a limb for Ivan and his crew. Ivan had never wanted to lose a limb. “But I’m ignoring it. We’re only-”

“Sixty-four thousand,” Angel supplied.

“Sixty-four thousand kilometres away, we’ll be there soon. Keep those shields up, you blackguard,” Ivan grinned at the display.

“Order received, sir!” Doran broke into a broad smile and cut the comm line.

“Right, you horrible lot, let’s not look stupid now! Turbolasers?” Ivan addressed the bridge.

“Locked on a freighter, it-” Stevenson was interrupted.

“Blow ’em up,” Ivan said, looking at the targets symbol on the tactical screen. Stevenson said nothing, but seconds later it was gone. “And the next one – cycle the cannon fire, keep them hot and firing. We don’t need a full-charge on these smaller ships. Bring Marcus round to cover us.”

The Firespray passed close over the front of the hull as it took up a vanguard position. A second distant freighter was locked and the hangar-sized turrets moved to target them. Barratt’s fighter wing enveloped and destroyed the two X-Wings near them and took up a wide line formation, flying fast to catch any Rebels trying to flee. True to his word, Parish’s remaining TIE Fighters kept the Rebel fighters busy so while they were whittled down the X-Wings and Y-Wings were too distracted to cover their remaining freighters. Moff Tarkus was working feverishly at his console, murmuring to Stevenson or Angel – from what Ivan could hear it was regarding target priority. What he was targeting the Commodore didn’t know but as long as it was fired at the Rebels he was happy. The second freighter was pummelled by the mighty turbolasers and was ripped in half as the guns fired in sequence.

“TIEs all gone, ‘cept one lonely fucker,” Parish reported and sat back in his desk. There was nothing for him to do now except label targets for the sole star fighter remaining under his command.

“I’m coming around the far side of the asteroid field,” Barratt said beside him. “Do you want me to risk flying through? These ships are fancy but the pilots are new.”

“Nah, this guys got it handled,” Parish clapped his hands as a Y-Wing disappeared from the tactical display. “Anyway, I reckon that’s too far really to get your guys to him in time.”

Barratt nodded glumly and the two wing commanders lapsed into silence. The two remaining Rebel freighters were turning towards them, trying to take advantage of the Impunity’s alck of short range firepower. The mercenary Firespray sent a targeting priority – and a pay request – as its pilot moved to intercept, lasers firing into the darkness beyond what the bridge crew could see through the view windows. While he managed to interfere with them, he couldn’t stop them despite his best efforts and laser fire; after a couple of close collisions the two freighters closed on the Impunity.

“Last volley, sir,” Stevenson reported as the turbolasers fired. The symbols on the tactical display for both freighters flickered but then returned; neither was destroyed. An X-Wing was getting disturbingly close as well.

“Shields at full,” Ivan grunted, briefly checking the report on his chair’s computer. “We’ll be fine. How’s the Archer?”

“Shields full but she’s heavily damaged,” Stevenson replied.

“Still alive though,” Ivan grunted again. “Engines full, we’re going to push through and come about to broadside them.”

“Into the asteroid field?” Angel asked hesitantly.

“Into the asteroid field,” Ivan nodded. “We won’t have to be their long, don’t worry. We won’t need to know what the odds are. Keep that bomber close, see if it can’t shoot something – there’s a first time for everything. Target the fighters with the turbolasers, maybe we can do the same.”

The Raider lurched as she increased speed. In the viewscreen ahead the two Rebel freighters appeared – first as dots, then oblong smudges and then in ever increasing details as they hurtled towards the Impunity and it did the same right back at them. Lasers flickered but wildly as the freighter pilots dragged their ships out of the path of the Raider corvette; they had no doubt who would come off worse in a collision. Almost in their engine wake, the mercenary Firespray snapped at their heels, lasers blazing from its forward guns.

The Raider’s shields rippled as the freighters made their last, desperate pass. Warning lights appeared but no sirens sang; the shields held despite the firestorm. The Rebels swooped silently over the bridge so close that the crew saw the shields of one flare and fizzle under the onslaught of the Firespray – and then they were gone.

“Swing the aft round, lock on to those freighters!” Ivan roared.

“Firespray reports one destroyed, one remaining – it’s trying to jump to hyperspace.”

“Bring it down,” Ivan said triumphantly. “Their fighters?”

“Almost gone, we’re mopping up sir,” Stevenson reported with a nod from Angel.

“Let’s clean up then! Good work everyone!” breath exploded from Ivan’s chest as he sagged back into his command chair. There was a hum of triumphant activity in the bridge as the crew relaxed, victory and joy swelling inside each of them. Moff Tarkus stood up and approached Ivan; the commodore hurriedly stood to attention, “Apologies about your shuttle, sir, I-”

“The cost of victory; I wasn’t always a Moff, as I said,” the old man smile, his face creasing with the unfamiliar expression. “A good show, both of this ship and your ability. I think the scrapyard might have to wait, Commodore.” He shook Ivan’s hands and left the bridge.

As soon as the doors slid shut there celebration erupted on the bridge of the Impunity. Ivan didn’t do a thing to stop it.

 

 

 

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