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"Rogue Squadron": Book 1 in the X-Wing Series


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chapter 1:

 

Pilots Corran Horn, Nawara Ven, Ooryl Qrygg, Bror Jace and Rhysati Ynr participate in the Rogue Squadron Redemption simulation in which several X-Wings try to protect medvac ships from an Imperial frigate sending TIEs and bombers their way.

 

It had stung when Wedge Antilles told Corran that he was a good pilot, but no Luke Skywalker. Though Corran wants to be the best, even he knows that he is not at Skywalker’s level. A pilot in a TIE fighter who has to be Antilles is causing considerable trouble for the X-Wings out there. Still, with the help of his comrades and his loyal droid, Whistler, Corran manages to win the simulation.

 

As the pilots meet afterward, he is surprised to see that the one who’d caused most of the damage to the X-Wings is not Antilles. He’s not Skywalker either. In a black flight suit with tabs indicating he was at Hoth, Endor and Bakura, the pilot is sent off to meet with Admiral Ackbar. Though the man’s identity is a mystery, it doesn’t dissuade Corran from keeping his promise for drinks and dinner to those who helped him win.
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  • According to the book flap, the time is now 2 ½ years after the Battle of Endor. It is 6 ½ years ABY. Luke Skywalker and Leia should be 26 ½ years old; Han Solo around 36 ½.
  • This is the first appearance of Corran Horn, Nawara Ven, Ooryl Qrygg, Bror Jace and Rhysati Ynr. Oh, and Whistler, too. You can read more about Corran Horn prior to this adventure in Dark Horse Comics’ Rogue Squadron series and in the short story, “Side Trip” in Tales from the Empire.
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chapter 2:

 

Wedge Antilles meets with Admiral Ackbar and General Salm and explains some of his dissatisfaction with how Rogue Squadron is being filled with political appointees. It’s not that these are not qualified pilots or that they are less-qualified pilots than others, but he feels that the propaganda machine is already making his squadron seem larger-than-life. Adding aliens to the squadron just because their homeworlds are or have been beneficial to the Alliance is not helping.

 

As it is, he’s already losing Hobbie Klivian and Wes Janson who are going to be training new recruits. As for the current roster, it will do with two exceptions. He doesn’t want Lt. Deegan as Rogue Five. Deegan is Corellian like Antilles himself and Corran Horn. Three Corellians in the Squadron may seem unfair. He wants to replace Deegan with Gavin Darklighter.

 

Salm is concerned because Darklighter is only a 16-year old farmboy from Tatooine. Wedge points out that his age isn’t an inhibitor to him flying and the Alliance has had good experiences when it comes to Tatooine farmboys. Gavin’s cousin was Biggs Darklighter who died above the first Death Star. He came to Wedge personally and asked to join this squadron.

 

His executive officer is another concern. Captain Aril Nunb is the sister of Nien Nunb and a good pilot. He’d love to have her in his squadron, but not as his executive officer. For that position, he prefers Tycho Celchu.

 

Salm vehemently objects to this. Wedge argues that Celchu has done nothing wrong. He fought valiantly at Hoth, Endor and Bakura. The general’s only concern seems to be that, on a covert mission to Coruscant, Celchu was captured and then escaped.

 

Salm points out that his concerns are that Captain Celchu could have been released deliberately. He feels that the man could be a danger to the squadron. Wedge explains that he will be flying in simulation runs with powered-down lasers that only shoot paint and with failsafe devices to keep him from ramming another ship.

 

He will also be confined to house arrest when not instructing the members of the squadron.

 

They ask to locate Celchu and are not pleased to find out that the man has already run a simulation with Rogue Squadron today. Antilles admits he tooks some liberties, however, he feels that Celchu is the best person to be able to challenge people like the arrogant Thyferran Bror Jace and the impatient Corran Horn.

 

Celchu reports in and they ask him if he’s willing to accept the restrictions imposed upon him. He confesses that he is. He volunteered to join the Rebellion and everything that came with it, including the mission that caused all of this trouble. He would do it again because Imperial captivity is still worse than anything the Alliance can do to him.

 

Salm doesn’t think that someone in his position would say anything different. Ackbar thinks it just makes him sound like a true son of Alderaan. He warns Celchu that he will be treated no better than Ackbar himself was when he was a slave of Tarkin’s.

 

As for Antilles, he wants regular reports from him and is assigning an M-3PO droid to help him in this. Antilles would rather do without the droid, but Ackbar points out that this decision is made by those who do not refuse promotions repeatedly.

 

Then he asks Celchu what he thinks of the pilots. Tycho explains that this squadron should be ready in a couple of months to become the scourge of the Empire.
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  • At one point in the chapter, Ackbar refers to Han Solo as a General. Han resigned his commission, again, during the The Truce at Bakura. Did he change his mind…again…and take it back? Do you think the Alliance/New Republic might get tired of someone who keeps taking commissions and giving them up?
  • Let me understand Tycho’s predicament, as outlined in this chapter. He volunteered to join the Rebel Alliance and flew in several dangerous missions from Hoth to Bakura. Then, he volunteered for an assignment on Coruscant, was captured and then escaped. Because of this, he is viewed as a danger to the squadron. Why? Do they think he’s been brainwashed or something? Look at this logically. Princess Leia was captured and tortured by the Empire…twice. Yet no one thought to restrict her movements once she returned even though we know for a fact that the Empire didn’t try very hard to keep her the first time so they could track her to Yavin IV. Han Solo keeps getting offered commissions despite his being captured by the Empire. I’m just seeing a lot of problems involved with refusing to trust people who were captured and then got away.
  • First mention of Gavin Darklighter.
  • Of course, Nien Nunb flew with Lando in Return of the Jedi during the Death Star attack.
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chapter 3:

 

Imperial Intelligence officer Kirtan Loor prepares to visit a prisoner being held aboard the Expeditious. Loor had always been told he looked like a taller Grand Moff Tarkin and he’s done little to dispel that impression.

 

He confirms with an officer in charge that the prisoner has had a medical evaluation and hasn’t been told the results yet. Brushing off the man’s concerns about a contagious or dangerous disease, as well as the danger posed by just the man himself, Loor enters the cell of Gil Bastra.

 

Bastra used to be in Corellian Security while Loor was the Imperial Intelligence attaché on the planet. In fact, Bastra often went out of his way to make things hard on Loor who, admittedly, didn’t try hard to fit in.

 

But Loor has the last laugh now as they found Bastra’s ship, Starwind, surprisingly easily.

 

Furthermore, he tells Bastra that the medical exam he went through shows a large amount of lotiramine which is often used by the Rebels to metabolize interrogation drugs, sometimes resulting in chemical amnesia or death.

 

Bastra has blastonecrosis. This is a curable disease aboard an Imperial cruiser. He knows that Bastra has spent time crafting new identities for his colleagues. Whatever happens, Corran Horn, Iella Wessiri and her husband will be his.

 

He plans to interrogate Bastra to the brink to find out this information. If he doesn’t, it really doesn’t even matter as Horn is too volatile to be able to handle wherever Bastra has put him. Loor knows that Bastra would have stuck Horn in an extremely uncomfortable situation because he is a vengeful man who hasn’t forgotten the falling out he had with Corran who resented being protected by the man who’d been his father’s partner in Corellian Security.

 

Bastra thinks this is amusing. He’s vengeful enough to have made sure Loor has spent his career running all over the galaxy chasing three people who once worked with him and escaped right under his nose. He only captured Bastra because the older man would leave a clue every time Loor lost the trail badly enough to consider giving up. As long as Loor chased him, Bastra knew that the others were safe.

 

This revelation only makes Loor even more intent on making Bastra reveal what he knows.
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  • So this lotiramine is supposed to make the rebel resistant to interrogation or is it supposed to act like a suicide pill? And, obviously, not everyone uses it as we’ve seen many rebels under interrogation and none of them have died!
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chapter 4:

 

Corran tries to work on his green X-Wing which still bears the colors and markings of the Corellian Security force when he’s approached by another pilot named Lujayne Forge. She wants to talk to him about the simulation when there was a moment he seemed to really come after her.

 

She believes that, because she’s from Kessel, he lumps all people from there as prisoners and smugglers who deserve to be there. He assures her that her being from Kessel has nothing to do with it. He may have wanted to see how well she could fly, but not because he felt she didn’t deserve to be treated any better than anyone else.

 

She explains that her father volunteered to go to Kessel under an Old Republic program to teach work skills to inmates so that they could find legitimate jobs after their sentences were up. While there, he fell in love with one of his students and they had a family which included Lujayne. Some of her siblings still live there.

 

While her homeworld is part of the reason she’s coming to him, she also wants him to know that other pilots have noticed how standoffish he is. He doesn’t join them for downtime meals or other activities.

 

Corran explains that he has had to go through a number of identities and positions for a long time for his protection. His last position was working for an Imperial governor in a Rim world and required him to be very careful who he trusted or else risk compromising himself. He learned that relaxing around other people, especially beings he’s just met, increases the likelihood that he will be more open than he should.

 

It’s particularly difficult to get used to having aliens he’s never heard of flying with and rooming with him. As an example, he calls Ooryl Qyrgg over. The Gand refers to himself in the third person only and alternates calling himself by his first name and his last name. Corran asks him why this is.

 

Orryl explains that Gand who have accomplished nothing are called merely Gand. Once they have made their mark, they are called by a surname. This is how he received the surname Qyrgg. Only after he mastered astronavigation and flight did he receive the personal name Orryl. He alternates because name reduction is a way to reflect humility when a Gand has given offense. It’s better to use the last name in this fashion, than the first.

 

She offers Corran help with his ship if he agrees to some downtime relaxation with the rest of the gang.
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  • Remember when Aurra Sing was in the spice mines of Oovo 4 and had been there while it was still being run by the Republic? I had wondered then if the Republic really would send prisoners to the mines to die. Obviously, we are sure that the Empire would do such a thing, but the Republic? I suppose we could point to the increasing corruption in the Republic as an indicator that the treatment of prisoners might not have been a priority. However, now we find out that there was an Old Republic program that taught skills to prisoners mining spice on Kessel. This would indicate that not all sentences were for life and that the prisoners were generally treated well enough to allow them some training. However…this program must have gone on under the Empire, too, because Lujayne Forge was born and raised there and she doesn’t seem like she was born long enough ago to remember much of life under the Republic. Remember that it is now 26 years after ROTS. The idea that the Empire would continue to send prisoners to the spice mines of Kessel and allow them to learn skills for a post-prison life is astounding and somewhat difficult to believe. Of course, we don’t know how long the program went on after the Empire took power, but Lujayne offers Corran assistance based upon what she learned in one of her father’s classes and, like I said, she doesn’t seem to be a middle-aged woman to me!
  • Additionally, it’s a little silly to think that someone would assume that a person from Kessel is a criminal or a smuggler. If I were to say that I’d worked in the spice mines of Kessel, then yes, but to say my homeworld is Kessel is quite another thing. Obviously, there had to be people there in administrative/security work who were not criminals. And would someone who’d been imprisoned at Kessel really refer to it as their homeworld? Wouldn’t they instead mention the planet they were actually from rather than where they’d spent some time?
  • Certainly, the entire galaxy has not yet been liberated by the Alliance/New Republic, so I suppose that’s why Corran has had to be careful about being exposed. But I can’t imagine why putting him in a job working for an Imperial governor was a good idea. Getting him to Alliance-held space would have been a better idea.
  • The bounty hunter Zuckuss was also a Gand who had no problem using the pronoun “I”. J
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chapter 5:

 

Corran’s first indication that he’s made it into Rogue Squadron is his invitation. He hadn’t been too concerned about it because he always throws his all into everything he does, having broken records at the Corellian Security Academy that his own father, Hal Horn , had set twenty years earlier.

 

He compares notes with Rhysati, Nawara and Orryl who all got in. Lujayne Forge, Gavin Darklighter, Bror Jace and Erisi Dlarit did, too. In fact, Darklighter, who looks quite young, beat Jace for a higher score. An ego-driven pilot like Jace probably wasn’t too happy about that.

 

Commander Antilles comes in and gives them a brief history of Rogue Squadron from before Yavin to Bakura.

 

Corran’s father had investigated the deaths of Antilles’ parents by pirates and had kept an eye on young Wedge, pronouncing him a lost cause when he began smuggling weapons for the Rebellion. Corran wonders what his father and grandfather would think of him now, flying for the Rebellion. At least, he’s not an Imperial.

 

Antilles goes on to tell them that Rogue Squadron has lost pilot after pilot since Bakura so Ackbar would like some of the old school Rogues to teach the newer pilots what they know to reduce casualties. For this reason, Rogue Squadron is being reorganized into a fighting unit with more independent opportunities than other fighter units.

 

He warns them that just being in Rogue Squadron will put an Imperial mark on their heads; two of them already have one. Each of them has filled a position that hundreds have applied for, but that doesn’t mean they will ever be as good as Biggs Darklighter or Jek Porkins or anyone else who died fighting the Empire. In time, the dead will be as famous as the Old Republic Jedi.

 

He introduces Captain Tycho Celchu who went to the Imperial Naval Academy and defected to the Alliance after Alderaan was destroyed. He is a top-notch pilot and will be helping to instruct them. He also points out the protocol droid he calls Emtrey, who will be responsible for administrative work.

 

They will be given room assignments in their new complex shortly. They will be flying in simulators until the last two X-Wings they are waiting on arrive. He warns his group that they can expect endless boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Their life expectancy is not long, but increases after their first five missions. Some of them won’t live to see the Empire completely defeated. They can take heart that they will at least see parts and bits of it break off.

 

After the meeting is dismissed, Corran, Rhysati, Ooryl and Nawara wonder who the two with the death mark already are. They assume that the Shistavenan, Riv Shiel, is one of them. They are tough customers normally. Andoorni Hui is a Rodian, many of whom work for the Empire. She might have angered someone in it.

 

Ooryl points out that she is a Huntress and joined the Rebellion so she could further her hunting reputation by joining the Alliance’s premier hunting band, Rogue Squadron. He doesn’t think she is the one.

 

Emtrey approaches and confirms they are correct that Riv Shiel is one with a death mark, but not for anything they might think. A stormtrooper patrol confused him with Lak Sivrak and he defended himself.

 

Emtrey introduces himself and they ask about the other person. The droid explains that Shiel mentioned his death mark himself but the other person didn’t. He is not certain he should disclose that information. Corran doesn’t know for certain so they turn to Nawara who was a lawyer. The Twi’lek advises that Imperial death marks, by their nature, are a matter of public record so they are really not a matter of privacy. Besides, the Alliance would consider an Imperial death mark praiseworthy. Corran decides to ask Emtrey to tell them who the other person is and, after confirming with the droid that he’s sure, is surprised to find that he himself is the bearer of the death mark for murdering six smugglers on Drall in the Corellian sector.

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  • Lak Sivrak was the Shistavenan in the Mos Eisley Cantina the day that Luke and Ben came there.
  • You can read about Hal Horn in the short story “Interlude at Darkknell” in Tales from the New Republic and in “Side Trip” in Tales from the Empire.
  • So Rogue Squadron is made up of twelve pilots who are now:

1)Corran Horn (human male from Corellia)
2) Orryl Qrygg (Gand male)
3) Tycho Celchu (human male from Alderaan)
4) Nawara Ven (Twi’lek male)
5) Rhysati Ynr (human female from Bespin)
6) Bror Jace (human male from Thyferra)
7) Erisi Dlarit (human female from Thyferra)
8) Peshk Vri’syk (Bothan male)
9) Gavin Darklighter (human male from Tatooine)
10) Riv Shiel (male Shistavenan)
11) Lujayne Forge (female human from Kessel)
12) Andoorni Hui (female Rodian)

And, of course, they are commanded by Wedge Antilles

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• Let me understand Tycho’s predicament, as outlined in this chapter. He volunteered to join the Rebel Alliance and flew in several dangerous missions from Hoth to Bakura. Then, he volunteered for an assignment on Coruscant, was captured and then escaped. Because of this, he is viewed as a danger to the squadron. Why? Do they think he’s been brainwashed or something? Look at this logically. Princess Leia was captured and tortured by the Empire…twice. Yet no one thought to restrict her movements once she returned even though we know for a fact that the Empire didn’t try very hard to keep her the first time so they could track her to Yavin IV. Han Solo keeps getting offered commissions despite his being captured by the Empire. I’m just seeing a lot of problems involved with refusing to trust people who were captured and then got away.

 

The problem isn't so much being captured but where he was captured, though.

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I do get that they freaked out about Lusankya being where he was held, but there's still something that doesn't seem quite right about his situation.

 

chapter 6:

 

Corran laughs and explains that there were no murders. He, his former boss, Gil Bastra, and a couple of their colleagues, Iella Wessiri and her husband, Diric, worked for CorSec – Corellian Security – under the Empire.

 

The Imperial Intelligence officer, Kirtan Loor, didn’t particularly like them and made things more difficult after Palpatine died.

 

Many Imperials fled to Corellia and are helping to prop up the Diktat there. Since Imperial officers now had the muscle to back up their authority, hunting for Rebels became a priority over investigating real crimes.

 

Knowing that Loor would eventually consider them Rebel sympathizers, Bastra arranged for them all to get assumed identities and places to hide out. He even arranged a public falling out between himself and Corran to make Loor think that they weren’t in cahoots with each other. The falling out involved a fake mission that allegedly caused the deaths of six smugglers, none of whom actually existed. Corran provides proof of this by showing Emtrey how to note a pattern in the birthdates of the dead smugglers and explaining that other details about the smugglers, such as their hometowns, are not real.

 

As part of the ruse, Bastra had accused Corran of killing the smugglers which he denied, of course. However, Loor believed Bastra and held the killings over Corran’s head to keep him in line. As the time drew near for Corran to take off, he became more defiant until Loor finally decided to get rid of him by setting up a trap.

 

Corran evaded it and got away with his X-Wing, all of the information Bastra had set up for him and Whistler. It appears that Loor has put the death mark on him in retaliation.

 

Unfortunately, while Emtrey is verifying this information, he comes across an Imperial HoloNet report filed on the death of Gil Bastra. Nawara reminds them that an Imperial report may or may not be true. Emtrey suggests that, if he can get access to Corran’s files on his false identities, he may be able to correlate them with other files to find Bastra’s new identity and they can verify whether or not the report is accurate. Corran’s files are in Whistler.

 

In the meantime, Emtrey assigns their roommates and takes friendly banter a little too seriously which begins a discussion about protocol droids in which Nawara explains the legal profession uses them, as well, though they were fitted with restraining bolts in court. A judge once threw his gavel at one, in fact.

 

However, Nawara Ven was not a lawyer that was welcome in Imperial Courts so, if he’d been able to afford a droid, he expects it wouldn’t have been allowed in. No, it wasn’t just, but justice and the law are not often synonymous.

 

That’s probably why he joined the Rebellion. They all have their reasons for doing so. Nawara wants justice for his clients, Rhysati for the family displaced from Bespin, Corran for those oppressed under Imperial officers and Ooryl…

 

Well, Ooryl’s reasons are a bit complicated, but the Gand settles for telling them that Imperial prejudice makes the Alliance a more welcoming place.

 

Corran asks if they are really after justice or revenge. Nawara admits he thinks both are aspects of the same thing.

 

They dealt a blow to the Empire at Endor, but the fight isn’t over with. Palpatine may not have intended his system of Moffs and Imperial governors to be a path of resistance should he die, but that’s exactly what’s happened. They are digging into their systems against both the Rebel Alliance and each other. While some worlds are rebelling and some support the idea of the Alliance, there are still at least half the planets in opposition to them.

 

While politics was ignored during the war, during which only the most oppressed planets turned to the Rebel Alliance, it’s a must now to convince other worlds that the New Republic is an attractive alternative.

 

The news that Luke Skywalker may reinstate the Jedi Order will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

 

Rhysati doesn’t remember the Jedi Knights, but her grandmother told her stories about the Clone Wars. Corran’s grandfather worked in CorSec during the Clone Wars, too, and worked with many of the Jedi, one of whom was his best friend. When the Empire started hunting down Jedi, CorSec resources were used and his grandfather didn’t like it.

 

Nawara explains that that type of resentment is what the diplomats hope to play on to get worlds to join them. But even they can only do so much which is why Rogue Squadron is being reconstituted and with representatives of many worlds. For example, Thyferra produces 95% of the galaxy’s bacta. Having two members from that world sends a signal to that neutral world that they are valued. Having a Bothan assures the Bothan Spynet that they are important, too.

 

Though it’s humorous to think of them all as symbolic tokens, Nawara tells them that, in all seriousness, a symbolic unit will eventually have to take the biggest symbol of all: Coruscant.

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  • I have to laugh at the idea of Nawara Ven the lawyer in an Imperial court. Remember in The Last of the Jedi #5: A Tangled Web when lawyers were allowed on board an Imperial prison ship? I thought it was odd then, but dismissed it because, in the Empire’s early days, I’m sure Palpatine tried to keep at least the pretense of justice. However, I cannot imagine what someone actually trying to practice law under the Empire could have gone through. And he’s a Twi’lek, too. Wasn’t the Empire prejudiced against Twi’leks?
  • Just want to point out that both Rhysati and Corran mention their grandparents when relating stories of the Jedi. Both of them are adults, probably having been born around the time the Clone Wars ended (remember, it’s been about 26 years). Yet, neither mentions their parents telling stories of Jedi. It’s almost as if the parents have no memories of Jedi…as if…the Jedi were wiped out before the parents were born, too! J In all seriousness here, this is an example of the early EU writers believing that the Clone Wars had taken place further back than they did.
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chapter 7:

 

At Rogue Squadron’s new base on the far side of Commenor, Wedge does a pre-flight check of the X-Wing that’s served him well over the last seven years. He meets his new astromech, an R5 called Mynock. Tycho will be using a Z-95 for instruction purposes and his ship checks out, too.

 

He thinks of all the things that could go wrong when a pilot is in battle and how he will have to teach these newcomers to anticipate them. After chastising Corran for bashing the Y-Wings, he takes off and communicates with Tycho about doing something during this testing exercise to bring Corran down a notch or two.

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chapter 8:

 

Corran flies better than his best and completes the course with hitting 3250 out of 5000 targets. He lands first and waits for the others to arrive. Though he doesn’t have Bror Jace’s arrogance, he really feels he should be congratulated here.

 

Until the others start coming in and reporting scores of well above his. Corran goes to Whistler and asks about a communication the droid had made from the ship at the beginning. Whistler shows a holo of Commander Antilles who had asked for Corran’s sensor data.

 

When Wedge lands, Corran approaches him and accuses him of giving everyone his targeting data and setting theirs to start at 3250, making him look like a worse pilot than he is and them a lot better than they are.

 

Wedge admits he did and for a reason. Corran is part of a squadron and that means that the squadron has to be good, not just one pilot. Today, that squadron learned how to follow up on data done by a reconnaissance scout.

 

Someday, Corran may be asked to do a scouting run and send information back to a squadron of Y-Wings. Being a good pilot isn’t as important as keeping his squadron alive. And he isn’t more important than any other Rogue because he’s a good pilot.

 

Corran realizes that Wedge just demonstrated what Lujayne was trying to tell him. Wedge does admit that Corran has a right to be angry, but he can’t risk letting anger on the battlefield get himself or someone else killed.

 

When Tycho finds out Corran is still walking and talking, he notes that Wedge must be getting soft.
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chapter 9:

 

Corran disagrees with that, but Tycho points out that Corran is used to being a loner, so being part of a team is uncomfortable to him. It’s necessary, though, because his team needs to know when they need to help him and if he can be relied upon to help them. They need to know that he defines them as friendlies.

 

The people he’s flying with are the kind that he was previously hunting while in the Corellian Security Force. Corran admits that this very base obviously started off as a smuggler’s base. He and his father would have loved to have busted a smugger’s hovel like this.

 

In fact, he was in the academy when the Imperial warrants were issued for Han Solo and Chewbacca for the murder of Grand Moff Tarkin, conveniently omitting the Death Star. The young man had felt that he would have been able to purge this blot on Corellian honor if he were already a CorSec officer.

 

His opinion on Solo is still not great. The man may have freed the Wookiee, as Corellians really don’t approve of slavery, but he still smuggled spice for the Hutts. Tycho asks if Corran thinks that Solo should have been able to make better choices than Corran himself did when his life fell apart.

 

Corran asks if Tycho is just relating to a man who had served the Empire just as he did. Tycho believes that Solo, like many men serving the Empire, forgot that honor can be found outside Imperial service. But he seems to have remembered it now.

 

Two Alliance security officers approach them and ask if Tycho is returning to his quarters. They offer to escort him. At first, Corran thinks it’s a courtesy, then notes that it seemed more like an order. He’s always been fairly perceptive at reading people, able to know when a subject he’s interrogating is lying, for example. A security escort required to escort Celchu to his quarters could mean he’s a threat to the Alliance somehow and they just wouldn’t let him teach pilots if that were the case.

 

Erisi Dlarit approaches him and invites him to join the rest of the Squadron for downtime. They’d all gone into the testing scenario thinking they were supposed to be learning to use data from a scout. It wasn’t until afterwards that Commander Antilles told them why he’d done it and they’d all felt bad about it.

 

She’s come to get him in the hopes they can all make it up to him. He is surprised she would leave her fellow Thyferran Bror Jace to come see him. Erisi explains that Bror is hardly a friend as he is from one of her family’s corporate rivals.

 

Corran realizes this is why there are two Thyferran pilots in the Squadron, to keep things even. She admits that bacta production is very important to the Alliance and that Thyferra’s position is controversial. For now, they are neutral.

 

At the tapcafe named DownTime by the pilots, Corran sees a place he might’ve raided while in CorSec. Bror Jace approaches him and says he would not have used Corran’s data had he known why it was being done. He offers to be the first to sign a letter of protest regarding Commander Antilles’ cruel treatment.

 

Corran finds that several of the others feel the same way. He explains to them that the experience wasn’t pleasant, but he learned something from it. After all, they have voluntarily joined an insurgency to take down the government controlling most of the planets in this galaxy. Should they really be criticizing the way one of their most celebrated pilots conducts his training exercises? Nawara had thought the protest would be ineffectual, but had bet that Corran would be reasonable about it. And wins the credits to prove it.

 

Corran offers to buy Erisi – who’d bet that he would challenge Antilles to a death duel by X-Wings – a drink to make her happy. When Jace mentions that making her family’s corporation more profitable will do that, Corran notes that he does plan to be shooting at Imperial pilots who will need the bacta.

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  • Just to stay current. If Corran was still at the CorSec academy when the Death Star blew, then he was at the academy almost 7 years ago. This gives us an idea how long he was in CorSec and how old he was. We were told he’d gone in right after secondary school. However, we do not know how long students study at the CorSec school or if Corran was at the beginning, middle or end of his studies at the time of the Battle of Yavin. If we assume he went to the Academy at age 18, then he is probably within one or two years of Luke’s age, maybe even on the older end depending on how long he went to the Academy and how far into his study he was when the Death Star was destroyed. Establishing Corran’s age is a little important and, unfortunately, is going to cause some problems later.
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chapter 10:

 

Kirtan Loor had hoped to get some information from Gil Bastra before he died. The little bits he did get will have to lead him to Corran Horn somehow. He’d put off sending the report as long as he could, but no sooner had he finally done so, when he received orders to come to Imperial Center as soon as possible.

 

His transportation was arranged with irritating ease and he finds his way to the capital now on a shuttle ferried by a pilot and co-pilot. They note his unease and joke that the Empire cannot afford to waste ships by destroying them with the agent still on it.

 

He asks how they know he is not here to observe them. The pilot advises Loor that he is not the first agent he’s flown to his death. They are generally not worried until they are given clearance to land at a particular vector. Their reactions do not bode well for Loor’s future. When he demands to know what’s wrong, the pilot tells him that the last time he was asked to land there was when he was ferrying Darth Vader to the Imperial Palace after the Battle of Yavin.

 

Loor instantly wonders if Vader had faced serious repercussions that day or if he’d stayed the Emperor’s hand by giving him news of the existence of another Jedi. He is stunned by the size of Coruscant which is a true city-world.

 

He is met by Royal Guards with black sewn into the hems of their red robes, a sign of the devotion they’d had for their late master as the designated year of mourning was over a year prior. Inside the palace, he is met by Ysanne Isard who heads Imperial Intelligence and rules now.

 

She doesn’t want an explanation from him. She brought him here because she thinks he can help bring down this Rebellion.
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  • Ysanne Isard’s first appearance in a SW novel. She did appear in “Intrigue at Darkknell” in Tales from the New Republic, however.
  • Her father was Armand Isard whom we have definitely met before, however. He was one of Palpatine’s early cohorts and helped his rise to power as early as Darth Plagueis. He also appeared in Jedi Trial, Labyrinth of Evil and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. He was mentioned in Clone Wars: No Prisoners, Imperial Commando: 501st, several webstrips and the comic Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse. He died in 0 BBY after the Darkknell incident. His daughter took his place as Director of Imperial Intelligence.
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chapter 11:

 

General Salm is unhappy that his Y-Wing Squadron was beat thoroughly in a training exercise with Rogue Squadron and even less when some tampering with the comm. system resulted in the Rogue crest being displayed on the viewscreens of the defeated Ys.

 

He explains that Rogue Squadron's lack of discipline is bad for the morale of the other squadrons based here.

 

He's also concerned about the lack of security that tampering reflects, especially while Tycho Celchu is working here. Neither Wedge nor Ackbar think that Tycho was involved in the tampering anyway.

 

Ackbar does tell Wedge that he's planning to make the Rogues operational within a week. Wedge doesn't think his group is ready yet, but they are more ready than other groups and the Rebellion doesn't always have time on its side. They are moving to Talasea which is coreward.

 

Wedge wonders if that's indicative of a plan to seize Coruscant. Ackbar explains there really isn't a choice. While some Moffs are sitting back to see what the New Republic is going to do, others are taking an active role and solidifying their territories. They don't need one of them to use the opportunity to make a grab for power and put themselves on the Imperial throne.

 

Wedge suggests letting one of them try so that "Iceheart" can put him in his place. The general consensus is that leaving someone in Ysanne Isard's mercy is inhumane. It is rumored that she was the one who killed her own father, the former Director of Internal Security, after accusing him of being a rebel traitor. Though it's not verified, she might also have once been a lover of the Emperor's. One thing that is known is that she has held the Empire together well in his absence.

 

Ackbar explains how Rogue Squadron will escort ships setting up supply depots and bases further and further into the Core. This will determine at what point Isard will respond to this incursion and give them the opportunity to try to disrupt Imperial supply lines.

 

Wedge asks if they are using the Rogues because they are the best people for the job or because of the political momentum. Ackbar explains the Council sessions have covered the importance of the Rogues as a symbol of the commitment the New Republic has to liberating the people of the galaxy. Wedge balks that a serious mission like this is compromised by such publicity.

 

Ackbar knows this but Councilors, such as Borsk Fey'lya are very persuasive, too. To make up for the lack of confidentiality, no one will know where the Rogues are going, not even the pilots, until just prior to their jump.

 

When they get to Talasea, they will land on the largest island where there had formerly been a farming community that is gone due to children moving off the planet for a more exciting life and the destruction of the remnant by Lord Vader after they'd harbored a Jedi after the Clone Wars.

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  • First mention of Borsk Fey'lya.
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chapter 12:

 

Isard is an attractive woman with white streaks in her black hair, one ice-blue eye and another red one with golden highlights. She discusses how Loor had not used skirtopanol on Bastra because he'd dosed himself with lotiramine; Loor's excellent memory knew that he would risk killing Bastra if he did. However, what he had not known was that Bastra's medical condition developed when he was exposed to contaminated bacta tampered with by the Ashern rebels on Thyferra. Two millions citizens and soldiers were affected by the bacta which essentially makes them allergic to it.

 

Isard herself had made sure that a lot of the contaminated bacta, which had been ordered destroyed, instead found itself on the black market. She has been able to crack open Bastra's records and determined that the dead man knew Loor well enough to know that he would never look past the surface and realize that putting the man in the bacta tank after an interrogation would kill him.

 

Realizing that he'd been played the fool, Loor now understands that many things he took for granted are not true. For example, Bastra and Horn really didn't have a falling out, after all. She doesn't fault him for this as the Imperial mentality cultivates superiority complexes. Even the late Emperor was not immune to having one.

 

He assumed that, if he got rid of all the Jedi Knights, then using the Force-sensitives and the one Jedi on his side, that he could control the galaxy. He dismissed the idea that any Jedi could still be alive or that a new one would arise. By focusing on the Jedi and not on ordinary leaders, he has allowed opposition to develop which is breaking the Empire apart.

 

Loor will be instrumental in helping her prevent that. He is going to bring about the destruction of Rogue Squadron. Loor admits he knows nothing about them and is not a fighter pilot. She tells him that he will, nevertheless, bring them down. Further, he has a personal stake in it as the Squadron now includes Corran Horn.

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  • Emperor's lover? Ewwwwww
  • And we all know that Palpatine knew perfectly well that Jedi survived the Purge and probably would still be living in hiding. It is true, however, that he dismissed any notion that they could arise again.
  • And Isard refers to the Emperor having a Jedi. Is she just guessing or is she referring to Vader and knows that Vader was a Jedi? If it is the latter, does she know Vader was Anakin Skywalker or has Luke revealed that information yet?
  • And I was really confused why Loor was fooled by the so-called falling out. He seemed to think it would make Bastra put Corran someplace really awful. But, if they didn’t like each other, wouldn’t Bastra just not have helped Corran at all?
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chapter 13:

 

Corran feels that there is something else going on during this mission. They have been told to pack their personal gear in their X-Wings for one. He would have hoped Wedge would trust him with more information but, as a former security officer, he can respect discretion.

 

The bulk of the trip goes well until he makes some last minute course adjustments that bring them out of lightspeed near the Chorax system into a firefight. An Imperial Interdictor is pursuing a star yacht. Rogue Squadron goes into action. After a brisk fight, Wedge orders them to pull out. Ooryl turns quickly but into Corran's flight line which knocks his X-Wing out of control causing it to be hit a couple of times by Ion blasts from a TIE.

 

He has lost his sublight engines. He will have to restart and hope the cruiser doesn't put a tractor beam on him. After the restart, nothing happens and he spins in space. He decides to do a manual landing maneuver that brings his monitor back online, but restarting doesn't do anything else for him.

 

He calls for help and has to sit while the Rogues help the space yacht chase off the Interdictor. Then Tycho tells him to clear his sensors. Once he does that, his targeting computer comes back on and he's able to bring down a few TIEs before it's all over.

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chapter 14:

 

The space yacht attaches landing claws to his X-Wing and tows Corran to the primitive base. He waits and watches a Sullustan and a Verpine disembark and then the beautiful female captain who thanks him for the save back there. He introduces himself and she asks if he's related to Hal Horn.

 

When Corran says it was his father, she tells him her father was sent to Kessel by Hal and she would've left Corran out there if she'd known it was him in the X-Wing. That's when Corran recognizes the yacht as being the Pulsar Skate which belongs to notorious smuggler, Booster Terrick.

 

Wedge admits he didn't tell Mirax Terrick who was aboard the X-Wing, but does point out that Corran was the one responsible for them being there to save her anyway. Wedge got some of his earliest experience on Booster's ship and the man hunted down the pirates who killed Wedge's parents, something CorSec didn't do.

 

Wedge asks Emtrey to help Mirax determine if there's anything on the ship they can use here at the base. While they are alone, Corran asks him about Tycho's ship. The Captain had only given Corran advice on getting his targeting computer going instead of shooting at the ships himself.

 

Wedge hesitates and explains that Tycho's shuttle doesn't have weaponry on it. This concerns Corran who saw the Captain being escorted by Alliance security.

 

He refuses to discuss more saying that he has the utmost trust in Tycho and that what is going on is a personal matter. Wedge doesn't want the other pilots being distracted. If Tycho wants to talk about it, it's up to him.

 

Corran can accept that, but also wants to add that his father had tried to pursue the pirates who'd killed the Antilles family. He didn't have the same connections as Booster Terrick. If Hal had known Terrick was pursuing the criminals, he might have gotten a deal cut for less time on Kessel. Wedge tells him Terrick isn't a saint, but he's also not the worst person out there either. In any event, being imprisoned for five years got him out of the smuggling business.

 

Mirax was like a sister to Wedge growing up and she often said those five years were the best thing that happened to her father. Wedge thinks that the two of them could be friends, despite the fact that their fathers hated each other.

 

Emtrey reports that Whistler is fine, but the X-Wing needs a new stabilizer. They don't have one here so he'll have to requisition one from Command which will take a couple of months so long as Corran is considered a priority. After all, he's not turned his personal X-Wing over to Alliance Command yet so working on it could be problematic.

 

Corran is determined to get to flying again and an administrative droid isn't going to force him to sit on the ground. He orders Emtrey to scrounge. Emtrey pauses for a moment and goes into what he calls scrounging mode. Then heads off.

 

Ooryl approaches and is sorry he didn't notice Corran wasn't following him when they pulled off. Corran offers to let him lead him to his billet so he can get some sleep and they can call it even.

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chapter 15:

 

When Loor learns that the Imperial Interdictor cruiser Black Asp ran into Rogue Squadron recently, he goes to speak with the Captain Uwlla Iillor. Admiral Devlia has come out of retirement to assist the Empire during this difficult time and advises Loor that he is not comfortable with Intelligence meddling in fleet affairs.

 

They both agree that security is paramount right now, but Loor doesn’t take Devlia’s assertion that he will stop any questions he deems inappropriate very seriously. Devlia is probably not comfortable either with having to deal with a female captain, one of several who have risen to status since Endor.

 

Having been stuck on the Empire’s so-called Non-huMan track which kept back aliens and women, she’s made quite a name for herself after being stuck serving under Colonel Thrawn and other aliens before being given a ship of her own. Endor’s wake had at least allowed some promotions based on merit.

 

The captain explains that her ship had been positioned near the edge of the system with a shuttle waiting for confirmation that a smuggler ship called the Pulsar Skate was going to be delivering supplies for a Rebel base. When the Skate arrived, she jumped her ship to that location to prevent it from re-entering hyperspace. The X-Wings came out right on top of her very quickly. They cannot be certain it was Rogue Squadron, but the use of Rogue call signs and a unique crest on their ships certainly gave that impression. These pilots were also very good.

 

Loor believes this was less an ambush than an accidental pulling out of the squadron from hyperspace. If the Rogues are in this area, he plans to stay here until they are destroyed.
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  • How times have changed since Imperial Intelligence ran things on ships. Now, its agents are openly questioned rather than just merely tolerated.
  • Well, it’s nice to know that Group Captain Thrawn is doing very nicely. He’s been working the Imperial cause for at least 34 years now since Outbound Flight.
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chapter 16:

 

After only a couple of weeks, Emtrey manages to find a different stabilizer in the supplies delivered by the Skate’s second run, so Corran is now in the air running escort.

 

Alliance operatives have been reviewing nearby areas for Imperial strength and the political climate. When they ran into the Imperial cruiser Havoc, they landed on a jungle planet and hid the ship. The Havoc landed ground materiel to search for them.

 

Then left the system.

 

Rogue Squadron is hoping this window of opportunity will help them get Dirk Harkness, his other operatives and the Battle of Yavin out. The Corellian Corvette Eridain and the Pulsar Skate are being escorted into the system.

 

Everyone is clear when they get there until a cruiser enters the system with the same specification as the Havoc but now includes two fighter bays. It launches TIEs. Rogue Squadron holds them at bay to protect the Eridain while the Pulsar Skate retrieves the operatives. When they leave the system, their entire Squadron is still instact.
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  • So what was the Eridain there for? Pulsar Skate apparently grabbed the operatives. Once the battle began, the Eridain did nothing besides require the Rogues to help protect it.
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chapter 17:

 

The pilots are enjoying telling their stories which makes Wedge glad because now they know they are all the same. Captain Afyon of the Eridain isn’t dismissing their spectacular job but points out that it will take a lot more than vaping TIEs to take Coruscant.

 

Wedge understands where this is coming from. He tells Afyon that he remembers how hard the Eridain fought at Endor, too. Afyon counters that he and his crew haven’t been paraded around the New Republic like heroes, though.

 

He is aware that Rogue Squadron was involved in the destruction of both Death Stars and that being a fighter pilot is a dangerous job, but he wants them to know that his crew is just as important to the Rebellion as they are.

 

Wedge does tell him that they appreciate the Eridain being there to prevent the Havoc from wiping them out. Afyon isn’t naïve. He knows they would have taken on the Havoc even without him.

 

Wedge tells him that he has two priorities: vaping Imperials and keeping his men alive.

 

Two X-Wing pilots survived the Battle of Yavin, six survived Hoth and four survived Endor. The New Republic may want them to be seen as symbols who are invincible but Wedge knows they are not.

 

And a battle like this in which all of his pilots come out alive deserves to be celebrated.

 

Afyon admits he’s probably just still stinging from the Clone Wars when the hero label was stuck to a dozen Jedi and a couple of dozen fighter pilots who might as well have won the whole thing single-handedly.

 

Ironic that Afyon had pushed for the disarmament of his own world Alderaan so that he could enjoy peace there, but still wants credit for his role in the Clone Wars.

 

Tycho points out that thinking of themselves in general terms is as bad as thinking of the Imperials that way. They are not united any more than the Rebels are. This conversation proves it. Afyon appreciates having a philosophical discussion with another Alderaanian. It’s been too long.

 

Nawara approaches and asks them to decide a matter. It has been determined that Gavin is the worst pilot in the bunch because he got no kills today and they believe an appropriate punishment is to apprentice him to the best pilot in the squadron until he is no longer the worst one.

 

The disagreement is how to determine who the best pilot is. In terms of sheer number of kills, Corran got the most, but Bror Jace believes percentages should be used in which case he had the highest percentage of kills today.

 

Corran is willing to go on percentages if Bror wants a real contest. He will averages his kills to now with Gavin’s which gives them each five. From here on out, his and Gavin’s will count together and be averaged. Jace agrees to this but also that he and Corran will share the mantle of Best Pilot for right now. Straight kills will determine the count from here on out.

 

Of course, since Gavin now has five kills, this means he’s not the worst pilot. That falls to Nawara who only has one.

 

His sentence of being apprenticed is suspended for today’s celebration.

 

Having looked over the tapes of the battle, Loor compares it with data from the previous battle and determines that it likely was Rogue Squadron this time, too. Comm. transmissions included the name “Wedge” and he’s sure he heard Corran Horn’s voice, as well as spotting a classic Horn flying maneuver.

 

He begins tracking the X-Wings’ multiple jumps through hyperspace, assessing fuel needs and the specs of a standard X-Wing. Then he eliminates worlds both loyal to the Empire and in open rebellion, narrows the final list down to planets with abandoned ruins which the rebels tend to prefer – probably because they are so intent on restoring the Old Republic that they subconsciously pick places older than the Empire – and settles on Talasea.

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  • Interesting that this book was written well before the Clone Wars series which gives a style that certainly implies a liberal use of media to elevate people to the status of heroes. I could very well believe that a dozen Jedi and a bunch of fighter pilots won the war single-handedly the way the show is done!
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chapter 18:

 

Corran wakes up and finds Ooryl gone. He gets an odd feeling that he used to get when interrogating suspects or when his cover was blown. His father had always told him to trust those feelings. So he gets dressed, laments the lack of a weapon, and wanders around, searching. A feeling of malignancy follows him.

 

When he spots the muzzle of a blaster and the tell-tale armor of a stormtrooper, he fights the man and overpowers him, shooting him with the trooper’s own blaster. Another one appears but is quickly dispatched by Ooryl from behind. There are silver cylinders on the belts and Corran realizes that the troopers have come down with explosives. The Gand explains that he’d been for a walk when he noticed the two troopers. The rebel sentries are gone and there are no rebel soldiers here anyway. There are at least four more stormtroopers and probably more than that.

 

Corran doesn’t want to wake the others and risk them wandering around and getting shot while trying to get to their gear. He and Ooryl make their way slowly to the flight center. He tries not to imagine himself as a hero of the Rebellion because those tend to be dead heroes. However, being a potential dead man makes it easier to try to save his friends.

 

He makes himself believe there’s a trooper ahead of him, but it’s hard to see in the fog. He finds Ooryl over the body of one. Corran puts on some of the body armor and they go back to the barracks where he quietly wakes up Gavin and Shiel. He explains what is going on. The flight center is rigged with explosives. He gives both of them blasters.

 

The lights go out and stormtroopers enter the room. The pilots fire back and Gavin takes a shot. Corran heads out, firing, surprised at the emotional detachment that allows him to shoot well. The doors open, the other pilots run out and learn what is going on. Then Corran gets hit in the chest and falls on a crate.

 

The pain in his chest is severe and he tries to will himself to sink into the ground, but it doesn’t work. The smell of death is the Corellian whiskey he and his rookie friends in CorSec used to drink after a hard day’s work. Odd that this is what dying feels like.

 

A stormtrooper stands over him and tells him it’s time to die. Corran pulls an explosive and tells him they both die in that case. The stormtrooper tells him he’s holding it the wrong way. Then dies from a blasterbolt to the back.

 

Wedge gets to Corran and asks how he is. Corran thinks he’s dying because he smells Corellian whiskey. Wedge tells him that’s because the crate he fell on was full of the stuff. He’s lying in a puddle of it. Gavin is injured, too. They are both going to have to be treated while the others evacuate the planet. The explosives have been found and are being disarmed now.

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chapter 19:

 

Wedge watches the bacta units and remembers his own experience in the tanks aboard Ackbar’s ship Home One. As if by cue, Ackbar himself appears and mentions that Wedge’s report was a bit brief so he took the opportunity to flee the Provisional Council strife and check on the well-being of his pilots.

 

They have evacuated Talasea, leaving booby traps behind, captured several stormtroopers who are now in detention and confiscated the ship they arrive on. Not all the news is good. All six sentries are dead. Three of the pilots have sustained serious injuries, Andoorini Hui the worst of it. One pilot, Lujayne Forge, was killed in her sleep by the stormtrooper interlopers.

 

It’s an ignominious way to die for a fighter pilot. And Lujayne wasn’t one to take chances either. They would have expected someone like Bror or Corran or Shiel to go out first.

 

Ackbar orders him to get some rest as General Salm will be arriving soon. Someone has hit one of Ackbar’s forward bases and they cannot allow it to go unpunished lest that someone be encouraged to do so again.

 

Salm’s bombers should do the job and Wedge thinks Rogue Squadron should be able to provide escort for that.

 

Corran and Gavin are in beds now, trying to recover from both their injuries and the bacta immersions when Wedge arrives. He explains that they’ve evacuated and are planning a retaliatory strike against the Imperials. Examination of some of the dead troopers’ bodies has given them an idea of where they came from.

 

However, they lost six sentries and Lujayne Forge.

 

Gavin is stunned as this is the first real loss he’s experienced. He’s known people who died, of course. Mr. Owen and Aunt Beru died when he was a boy. He’d met them a few times and his dad bought their farm after his uncle attempted a hostile takeover of it from the alien, Throgg, who was running it at the time. Gavin’s Uncle Huff wanted the land for himself, but Gavin’s father didn’t like the way his brother went about it and ended up buying it for a fair price from Throgg. Gavin knows that his cousin Biggs died, but Biggs was eight years older than Gavin was and, since he wasn’t there when Biggs died, it really didn’t hit him the same way this does.

 

Wedge talks about how death isn’t always easy and tells some stories about Biggs that shows the kind of man he was. They are going to have a memorial service for Lujayne and the others before giving the Imperials what they deserve.

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  • Alright then: if we are 6 ½ years after ANH, then Gavin was about 10 when Biggs and the Larses died. If Biggs was 8 years older than Gavin then he was 18 when he was killed in the Death Star attack. I never really got the impression that Biggs was that young. In his early twenties, maybe, but not 18.
  • The story of Throgg and his ownership of the Lars homestead appeared in Marvel’s Star Wars 3-D comics.
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• The story of Throgg and his ownership of the Lars homestead appeared in Marvel’s Star Wars 3-D comics.

Owned that. That's how desperate we were then for licensed material.

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chapter 20:

 

At least, Emtrey is not being annoying as normal so Wedge appreciates that as he and Tycho make their way with Ackbar to meet with General Salm. The general thanks Wedge for having his M-3PO droid send his Y-Wing defenders a gross of new flight suits as an apology. Wedge, of course, did nothing of the sort but takes credit anyway.

 

They go over the details of the forensics examination of stormtrooper causualties and found a rash on three of them that is exclusive to Rachuk – a system where many ships pass through and is within distance of many of the areas the Rogues have been to recently. The only question is how the Imperials knew the Rogues were on Talasea.

 

Salm believes they have a spy in their midst. While they cannot dismiss the possibility out of hand, it’s unlikely. No messages were sent out from Talasea before the attack. Ackbar believes that there were passive sensors left after Vader wiped out the colony years ago and the sensors picked them up.

 

Tycho suggests that recon units might have been sent out by Imperials in the hopes of finding them and the one that ended up on Talasea got lucky.

 

They decide that they are going to hit the base on Vladet in the Rachuk system to send a message to the Empire. The base is protected by an energy shield over a mountain, but they should be able to punch through the mountain and get their bombers in.

 

They are out two pilots right now but Salm refuses to consider letting Tycho fly in the place of one. In fact, he wants Tycho on his ship coordinating tactics there along with one of his own men.

 

In the meantime, he and Ackbar will attend the memorial service along with the Y-Wings. If they mourn together now, they may have less to mourn after Vladet.

 

Loor hears the detached report of more stormtroopers dying in the rigged explosives the rebels have left behind. Though he hardly thinks of stormtroopers as people, he’d been angry when Devlia had sent them down first instead of a probe droid. After all, stormtroopers were not the renewable resource like probes or shuttles.

 

However, the action had been botched. Now, he’s been told by additional stormtroopers that Devlia is relaying orders from Imperial Center that he return to Vladet immediately. He knows that Iceheart must have read the report and Devlia will certainly pay for this.

 

To the rebels, however, their people are not replaceable and so Forge and the six sentries are honored for their sacrifice before their caskets are ejected into space. It’s never easy to lose people. If it ever does, then they become like their enemy.

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  • It says in this chapter that stormtroopers are brought up to be fanatically loyal to the Emperor. Brought up? I never got the impression that, after the use of clones, the conscripts and volunteers for Imperial service were brought up. We’ve run into many stormtroopers from Death Star to Allegiance who were living, thinking beings with wills of their own.
  • There’s a theory out there that Darth Vader was the one who wasted the lives of stormtroopers. Yet we see a sentiment here from a mere Imperial agent, echoed by an Imperial admiral, that stormtroopers are replaceable. If the Empire can’t afford to lose probe droids or troop transports or, as the pilots who flew Loor to Coruscant in the earlier chapter said, blowing shuttles out of the sky just to kill an agent, then I would think that they would think long and hard about how their supply of stormtroopers might thin out eventually.
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chapter 21:

 

Rogue Squadron flies with Salm’s Defenders to Vladet and punch a hole in the mountain that would allow for a bombing run by the Ys. Unfortunately, a Lancer-class vessel arrives, designed to fight snubfighters like them.

 

Corran gets the idea to get close enough to it to relay sensor data to the Ys which can then pound the ship from the appropriate distance with their torpedoes. He’s got enough altitude to do it and since one of the Y-Wing Squadrons, Warden, is flying with him, he wants the squadron released to him to do the job.

 

Salm vehemently objects to this, but Wedge agrees, advising the general to have Champion Squadron form up with him in case Corran fails.

 

He weaves close enough to have Whistler transmit the sensor data to the Ys. Their missles lock onto Corran’s beacon and he pulls away. He feels that same sense of calm he did on Talasea. The Y-Wings pound pound the Ravager with 24 torpedoes and bring the ship down. Twenty-two blink out. Two of them reaquire his beacon and come after him.

 

His stick begins moving of its own accord and he yells to Whistler to cut it out. Still trying to gain control of the stick, he realizes he made a terrible mistake with his last order and doesn’t have time to correct it judging by the distance between himself and the last two torpedoes.

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chapter 22:

 

Loor, in a shuttle, comes out of hyperspace in enough time to see the Ravager go down. The pilot is in a hurry to get them both to the Expeditious, but Loor does have him send out a probe to collect data on the starfighters out there.

 

He’d known Rogue Squadron would retaliate for the strike against them which is why he’d wanted a probe sent to Talasea first, followed by a full-scale assault. If Devlia would have listened, he would be a hero now, rather than dead.

 

Then he starts correlating in his mind the type of world the rebels might strike next. They cannot hit a Core world like Corellia or Kuat and primitive worlds don’t offer much. He begins narrowing down the list when he boards the Expeditious and is greeted by Captain Rojahn.

 

Rojahn asks about escape pods from the Ravager. Most are headed down to Vladet while others are still in space. He would pick them up but strict orders have arrived from Imperial Center to depart for the Pyria system.

 

As it happens, that system is one of the places Loor had been contemplating. There’s an Imperial base there commanded by Evir Derricote that might be a tempting rebel target.

 

Loor orders him to prepare to leave the system but to pick up any pods they encounter along the way. After all, they are in this together. He’s learned much about loyalty since his time on Corellia.

 

Learning makes him more dangerous to the Rebellion and more valuable to the Empire. And that translates into the type of power worth having.

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  • Evir Derricote was first mentioned in The Force Unleashed II.
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chapter 23:

 

Rhysati, Erisi and Nawara come to see Corran in his quarters where he is confined while Salm considers bringing him up on charges of insubordination, despite his scheme to take down the Ravager working.

 

Corran is angry, but not like he was after his father’s murderer was let go without even an arraignment. He knows that his plan might not have worked. Nawara presses on that the general cannot ignore a pilot who comes up with a crazy scheme that could cost lives.

 

It turns out that the two torpedoes had been fired late by one of the Y’s and lost Corran’s beacon until after the Lancer-class enemy had been hit. Then they picked up on it again. He had found himself unable to fly any direction but straight because he had a jiggle program set up for Whistler to randomize his flight and he hadn’t killed it. When he told Whistler to cut it out, the droid interpreted that to mean the beacon. The torpedoes lost their ability to track him and exploded in space.

 

But since Corran didn’t actually hit anything, he doesn’t get credit for the kills. So Bror Jace is toasting his own two kills down the rec center.

 

Nawara and Rhysati head down for drinks, but Erisi stays and talks to him about how close she feels to him. He knows what she means and relates a story about how he and his CorSec colleague, Iella Wessiri, took down a spice warehouse and things got bad enough there that he thought he would die. She saved him.

 

Afterward, he had strong feelings for her that she felt, too, as if they wanted something positive to come out of a negative experience. However, the Imperial liason officer separated them both for debriefing and, when they saw each other again two days later, they both recognized that the feeling had been due to the hazards they’d faced.

 

Besides, he isn’t convinced that becoming involved with someone within the squadron is a good thing. She points out that Rhysati and Nawara seem to have no problem with it. She gives him a quick friendly kiss and starts to leave only to run into Mirax Terrick.

 

Her warm demeanor cools even after Mirax points out she has permission from Wedge to visit. After she leaves, Mirax makes a joke about fighter pilots always thinking about sex and tells Corran she thought he might like some reminders of home.

 

He finds she’s brought some datacards with Corellian magazines on them, some smoked nerf, Whyren’s Reserve whiskey and a special ryshcate cake…also made with whiskey. He learns she got some of the whiskey from Emtrey and it doesn’t even really bother him that most of this is smuggled goods. With the Diktat controlled by the Imperials, Corellian goods are in demand now and it’s expedient for smugglers to move them.

 

She’s headed Coreward and, since she’s only been ambushed once while the Rogues have been twice, she thinks she’s safer without them than with them. After she leaves, he muses that they can be friends, fellow Corellians but there’s probably too much history between their fathers for anything else to develop.

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