The mottled blue-white backdrop of hyperspace stretched into star lines, then resolved to individual pinpricks of light.
“Lock s-foils in attack position,” came the command from the boss.
“Roger that, Black Leader. I feel like I could take on the entire Empire mysel…”
“Cut the chatter, Black Four.”
Fine. Flying Officer Tomaas Hardeen toggled the appropriate switch, then rolled his X-wing to the right to follow her into the turn. He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face completely, even as the four ship contingent, Black Squadron, Aurek flight from the secret Rebel base on Tierfon, accelerated to combat speed.
Hardeen felt lucky to be flying for the Alliance. On this mission he was Squadron Leader Kareene Argent’s wingman. I think she’s falling for me. Something about the way she said “Not a chance” gave him hope. I guess I’m a romantic, he mused.
“Black Two, roll left and fire at will,” Squadron Leader Argent said.
“Copy that, Black Leader. Form on me, Black Three,” came the reply.
Hardeen’s scope was filled with clutter. The asteroids for one. Then there were the supplies. Thousands of tons of military grade transparisteel sheets floating in space, awaiting pick up by Alliance Ordnance and Supply, according to the briefing. This was an out of the way storage rendezvous location. It shouldn’t have been found by the Imps. But there they were. Two Gozanti-class transports and eight TIE fighters.
One of the Gozantis was attached to a crippled light freighter. That must be the Wandering Soul. Those poor guys were locked in a light fight, trying to repel a boarding attempt. Unless Black Squadron had arrived too late, in which case the crew were now Imperial prisoners. Or worse.
The TIEs formed up into two teams of four and streaked toward the approaching rebels. The unattached Gozanti began maneuvering for a defensive stand. The two pairs of X-wings diverged, moving to bracket the stricken freighter.
“Stay close, Black Four,” Argent said calmly. The TIEs were moments from firing range.
“Always,” muttered Hardeen, his thumb hovering over the firing stud.
Green laser blasts erupted from both sets of TIEs, answered immediately by a fusilade of red from the X-wings. Two explosions marked the first crossing, as both Argent and Hardeen got a kill.
Hardeen hauled back on his stick and feathered the throttle, trying to keep Black Leader at his two o’clock. Craning his neck around, he spotted the remaining pair of TIEs just over the dome of his R2 unit.
Squee boo beep blap!
“Yeah, that was close, R2,” Hardeen said, “How are the shields?”
Bleet bleet blat.
“That good, huh?”
“Wandering Soul, this is Black Leader, come in,” Kareene’s voice entoned.
“Blac…..eader…...is…...Soul….ice to see you…..”
“Those Gozanti’s must be jamming us. They probably heard the Soul’s distress call. We’re likely to run out of time real soon here, guys. Let’s get these eyeballs so the Clean Up Crew has clear skies.
A distant explosion lit the viewscreen as Black Three claimed a kill. Hardeen struggled to to keep in formation while Black Leader worked her magic, trying to get a firing angle on their pair of TIEs.
“Watch those guns, Three,” Black Two warned. The Imperial transports opened up with their turbolasers, filling the area with green streaks.
“Torpedo away,” Black Three called. A blossom of red-orange fire lit up against the free Gozanti’s shields.
“Looks like they’re running,” came the call from Black Two, just as Black Leader stitched red lasers through another pair of solar panels. The TIE came apart in a shower of sparks, and Hardeen just avoiding hitting a twirling chunk of wrecked starfighter.
Reeeeeee flat! Boo boo pffft!
“That wasn’t my fault,” Hardeen argued.
The Gozanti attempting to board Wandering Soul appeared to have had enough. It was moving again, trying to get some distance between it and the X-wings.
“Black Squadron! This is Wandering Soul. We’re stranded and we’ve got wounded,” the signal from the damaged freighter now came in crystal clear.
“Understood,” Black Leader replied, “do you have any personnel on that Imp vessel?”
“Negative, Black Squadron; thanks to you!”
“Black Squadron, focus on my Gozanti,” Argent called to the group, “Black Four, let that TIE go.”
The last TIE fighter from their quartet had decided to test his luck out among the asteroids rather than come back around for another pass. Hardeen pushed the stick to the left and rolled into position for a firing run on the Imperial transport. In the distance, Black Two and Three could be seen turning back from their pursuit as well.
“Torpedoes away,” Black Leader called, and four streaks of blue shot toward the slow moving Gozanti. Three small explosions in quick succession were followed by a massive blast of light and debris as the cruiser’s reactor went critical.
Hardeen watched as three TIE fighters from the other group made it back to their Gozanti and docked up, just before the ship made the jump to lightspeed.
In moments, another light freighter dropped out of hyperspace.
“Did we miss the fun?” came a new voice over the commlink.
“Rescue the crew and let’s get moving. This storage site is officially closed,” called Squadron Leader Argent.