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


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chapter 24:

 

The briefing aboard Home One is conducted by Bothan General Laryn Kre’fey who gives them basic information about the first step toward taking Coruscant. They will hit a world codenamed “Blackmoon” which is not valuable for resources but has an Imperial base there due to it being a good launching off point for the Corporate Sector.

 

It is defended by four ion cannons and two squadrons of TIE fighters which Wedge feels is odd. It’s really too much for an out-of-the-way planet, but not enough for a planet on the stopping point to Coruscant. Wedge really doesn’t get the idea that it’s a trap, though. It’s possible the forces may be able to call in support, though.

 

The plan is to use the Emancipator, a Star Destroyer captured at Endor, to bombard the shields, then send the Y-Wings in on bomber runs covered by Rogue Squadron. Then ground troops will move in.

 

The operation should begin in two weeks.

 

Salm is concerned about the short amount of time they have to prepare. Kre’fey offers to use other Y-Wing Squadrons if his own Defenders are not ready. Clearly, neither has any love for the other, but Salm agrees that his men will be ready.

 

Wedge, however, has some questions. He is concerned that the commander of the base might reduce his shield’s diameter to below where the bombardment could have an affect. Kre’fey notes that they don’t have enough power to do that. When Wedge asks if they would if the ion cannons were not online, he is not convinced in Kre’fey’s confident answer. In fact, he’s also worried because they don’t have a breakdown of the Imperial starfighter opposition they will be facing.

 

Kre’fey notes Wedge’s displeasure which is moot anyway as the Provisional Council has approved the plan. As for Wedge’s concern that his men are at risk, the general himself will be on the first transport down and he’s sure Wedge does not doubt Bothan courage.

 

Wedge can’t possibly as the Bothans never cease to remind people of it. However, Ackbar shares Wedge’s concerns and insists that the Provisional Council may have approved the retaking of Coruscant, but there are many ways to that. He insists that Rogue Squadron have the information they need or he will cancel the mission.

 

Afterwards, Salm, Ackbar and Wedge are left alone. Wedge resents that Bothans are so quick to trumpet how they discovered the second Death Star and the Emperor’s presence on it, but forget to mention how it was all a trick by Palpatine anyway.

 

Ackbar explains that Bothans prefer to believe that the Emperor plotted to trap the Alliance only after the information had been uncovered. In any event, they have only his word that he had planned a trap from the beginning. While he doesn’t think Luke would lie, it doesn’t mean Palpatine didn’t.

 

He does give Wedge a couple of bits of information such as where their first jump will take them and that they will be working with Salm’s Defenders again. Ackbar suspects Wedge wants to discuss the charges against Corran.

 

Salm tells him to forget the charges. The upcoming mission could very well be a nightmare he’s hoping won’t happen if Rogue Squadron, despite his misgivings, is along for the ride. He’d be a fool to let Horn sit out the assault.

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  • Ah, so the Bothans are getting big heads about getting the Death Star information, eh? If that’s the case, it’s a good point that Wedge makes about them basically being dupes for Palpatine’s ambush. But I find it intriguing that Ackbar points out the Emperor could have lied. I don’t think he did, but it’s a good point.
  • So I guess the Eridain did have a purpose there. It just didn’t seem to fulfill it much.
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chapter 25:

 

Loor compliments General Derricote on his base’s unique preparedness and computer security. Then he confronts the man over the resources he’s had diverted here so that he can operate the Alderaan biotics plant that was a tax loss for its owners for years until the loss of Alderaan created a huge market for products from it.

 

Derricote’s specialty at the Naval Academy was biology and botany so he is uniquely suited to running this plant.

Loor also notes that there is some evidence that the Alliance is tampering with his HoloNet messages. Derricote blames the Bothans who often run hits. He sometimes feeds them messages.

 

Loor believes that the increase in hits maybe indicative of an attempt by the Rebels at an action in this system. Derricote tells him that he doesn’t know much about them. He may have a side job here, but he’s a loyal son of the Empire who fought at Derra IV.

 

He has a plan for the Rebels to crush a similar blow to them, regardless of whether or not their best is there.

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chapter 26:

 

The briefings on the mission to the unknown world code-named “Blackmoon” have been high on the morale-building, low on the detail. The Emancipator holds position to help with the strike force’s exit, so obviously some trouble is anticipated.

 

But Corran is still getting a bad feeling about this.

 

When they reach their destination, the shield is up and there are no enemy fighters in sight. As the bombardment begins, Corran tells Whistler to let him know when the shield is shrinking as that will mean that it is coming down.

 

In a command bunker deep below the foundations of the base, Derricote and Loor survey the bombardment. Derricote assures Loor that the rebels are quite credulous in believing nothing can survive this. The shields are still holding at 100%.

 

He gives orders to lower the shields slowly in increments over time until it reaches zero.

 

Loor isn’t sure he approves of this plan, but Derricote reminds him he doesn’t have a choice. Besides, the rebels want this place as a base so they are not going to level it. He’s going to make them pay a price for it. Though the shields begin to fade fast, there is something Corran doesn't like about this. Any more than he can understand why Tycho is directing operations from the Eridain when he could be using his superior flying skills in Lujayne’s X-Wing.

 

Further, they are stunned when the Y-Wing Defenders are called back without doing their bombing run so that Rogue Squadron can escort the troop transports down. Kre’fey insists all resistance has ended from the base and, if their ion cannons could shoot, they would have done so already.

 

The Rogues hesitantly begin escorting transport ships down. Corran can’t shake the feeling that this is just like the day his father died. Everything was perfect, but Corran had let his guard down and that’s when things went wrong.

 

His answer comes soon enough when an ion blast hits the first landing shuttle and causes it to drop, not into the planet, but onto the newly-reinstated shield with much greater strength than before. TIE fighters begin pouring out from the sides.

 

The Rogues engage as much as possible while trying to protect the landing shuttles and dodging the ion blasts, one of which hits the Emancipator. They lose contact with Peshk when another ion blast hits something other than the shuttle it was heading toward.

 

Then Andoorini is vaped with Corran wiping her attacker out after that. Ooryl’s ship disintegrates right after he ejects, but a piece of his S-foil cuts through his arm. With the battle zone hot, rescue operations are nearly impossible. He hears that Erisi and Nawara are out of the fight, too.

 

Tycho shows up in a shuttle to grab the wounded and needs Corran to get rid of some interceptors before he does. Corran does his best before needing help himself and is told Ten is coming to help him. Knowing that Rogue 10 is Ooryl’s call sign and that the voice is not his friend’s, he wonders what’s up.

 

Once the TIEs fly off, Salm orders no one to celebrate as it only opens the ion cannons back up again. Sure enough, more blasts follow. Ignoring orders to return to the Mon Valle, Salm’s Defenders help clear the way with Rogue Squadron. The ion blasts soon destroy the Mon Valle. The Eridain will pick up escape pods on the way out of the system. Ten minutes of fighting has cost them almost half the squadron. Someone made a mistake somewhere.

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  • At one point, Corran, who is Rogue 9, asks for help and Tycho responds. Confirming it’s him, Tycho calls Corran Ten. Since it’s specifically pointed out later in the chapter that Ooryl is Rogue 10, then Tycho called Corran by the wrong call sign.
  • Too bad we didn’t get to know Peshk very well. They took a little time to explain Andoorini the Rodian somewhat, but we didn’t get anything really about the Bothan.
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chapter 27:

 

On their base at Noquivzor, Corran is approached by a soldier named Page who buys him a drink for getting Imperial fighters off his shuttle’s path. Rogue Squadron took a bad hit. Andoorini and Peshk are dead. Erisi, Nawara and Ooryl had to eject and are being treated with bacta for exposure, but the droids don’t know what to do about Ooryl’s missing forearm as they don’t have Gand prosthetics. Shiel flew wounded and was pressured to get treatment by Gavin.

 

They both know that Kre’fey was blind to the possibility of the ion cannons being able to shoot even if they hadn’t done it so far. Page thinks he pushed this too hard because he wanted to be put in charge of the invasion of Coruscant.

 

Page had wanted to use the planet’s annual meteor shower to use as cover to bring his commandoes in and do a recon, maybe even bring down the ion cannons first. They might have even found the hidden base where all of those fighters came from at the last minute.

 

There was some risk involved there which is why Kre’fey didn’t approve it. Obviously, the Bothans didn’t do well this time. Corran wonders if perhaps the Bothans didn’t find the extra forces in Imperial records because they aren’t part of the officially-designated defenses here.

 

He remembers someone they suspected of being a glitterstim dealer who’d never been caught until they’d found some in a warehouse sweep. She insisted she knew nothing about it and it turns out she didn’t. One of her aides was responsible. So these extra defenses could be something the Empire doesn’t know about.

 

This is why a recon mission and more detail about what to expect here would have been useful. As it is, the terrible defeat here will likely be classified until they are all dead.

 

Corran gets a com from Emtrey who lets him know that Whistler has information on the wind currents that Corran had asked for. He’s found something interesting. Corran explains to Page that he wanted to learn more about the world they just left and would like to find a way to pay the Imperials back. Page decides to come along.

 

As it turns out, the mission to Blackmoon was likely going to be doomed even if it had gone as planned. Salm tells Wedge that the Eviscerator – A Star Destroyer II – was on a course to Blackmoon and would have arrived within six hours.

 

Wedge is stunned that the operation was approved under those circumstances. Salm points out that Iceheart has been moving forces around at random. Wedge points out that she could have anticipated where they would strike, too. Salm adds that someone could have told her.

 

He cautions Wedge that he’s not referring to Tycho. He may not trust the man, but he knows he’s innocent this time. He’s examined all chatter and determined that there was a lot of it, but nothing incriminating. He himself didn’t even know where they were going.

 

He breaks open a bottle of liquor and offers a drink to Wedge. Then asks what he’s going to do about what Salm did out there. Wedge believes he’s referring to saving the Rogues toward the end, but Salm actually means disobeying Kre’fey’s orders to leave.

 

He’d been afraid that Kre’fey would not give him credit for this operation, since they are often at odds so he’d held back in the hopes that he could just claim that the Emancipator’s mass acted as an interdictor. The sensor logs would show differently.

 

Wedge tells him that, in doing so, Salm and his unit saved the Rogues. It’s exactly what Wedge would have done. Salm tells him that’s the problem. What Wedge would have done is not what the Defenders have been doing. They are used to strict discipline and Salm disobeyed orders. Wedge needs to write him up.

 

They are interrupted by Corran and Page who let them know that Whistler has been analyzing data from the battle and has been able to pinpoint the location of Blackmoon along with some interesting features that leads them to believe they have a chance at taking it for certain. Salm believes that, even with the threat of a Star Destroyer II, they have options open. First he wants to know how many know about this new information. Besides the four of them, only Emtrey and Whistler. Salm wants it kept that way for now.

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  • No offense, but I’m not sure why Salm wanted credit for the Blackmoon operation considering how badly it turned out.
  • What, exactly, is a Star Destroyer II? Is is a Phase II Destroyer? Is it a Super-Star Destroyer?
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chapter 28:

 

As Loor prepares to leave , Derricote gives him a bottle of Whyren’s Reserve whiskey in thanks for giving him notice of the imminent rebel attack and for bringing in a squadron of TIEs from the Eviscerator to replace the ones lost in battle.

 

Though he knows that his operation here won’t stay secret forever, he trusts that Loor will use his knowledge for his own personal gain in a way that will not result in Derricote’s easy disposal. Even Isard is shrewd enough to recognize a good thing when she sees it.

 

However, he does want to suggest to Loor that Imperial Center is about to get hot. No one knows whether the rebels or the other Imperial warlords will do it, but the Empire as they knew it is gone. If Loor needs a safe haven when that happens, he is welcome to come back.

 

Wedge and Salm meet with Ackbar and explain that a droid within Rogue Squadron had forensic examination circuitry and included a star chart when it gathered information during the battle. They’ve narrowed down the planets in the area and believe they know why the battle went as it did.

 

Many years ago, a facility was set up by Alderaan Biotics that included a generator and spaceport that very likely explains where the extra power to supplement the shield came from. Most of the facility is underground and there is a tunnel linking it to the Imperial base built there. The facility itself was shut down years ago but they believe that the current base commander had it refurbished in order to sell Alderaanian foodstuffs on the black market.

 

Obviously, he would not want his superiors knowing he is comforting the enemy, so to speak, while lining his own pockets, so its existence and operation is not included in the Imperial records the Bothans found.

 

If they can cut the connection between it and the Imperial base, the base’s strength will be what it was in the original Bothan report. They are planning to send their Star Destroyers to Jagga-2 where the Eviscerator is stationed. The Defenders will go there along with another wing of fighters, but act like they are trying to avoid engaging them before jumping to hyperspace. The Destroyers will go to Ord Mirit while the fighters will go to Borleias.

 

It will take time for the Eviscerator to recall its TIEs which cannot go to lightspeed like the rebel fighters can. The trick is getting the ship to follow the Star Destroyers to Ord Mirit. Ackbar tells them that there isn’t anything of value there.

 

Wedge explains that they believe the Bothans will want to make up for the incomplete information they gave before by slicing information into the Imperial network that Ord Mirit holds the key to the location of the Katana fleet.

 

Long before the Clone Wars, the Katana fleet had been a group of a hundred ships slaved together that jumped into hyperspace and was never seen again. It’s now moved into legend. No Imperial commander would seriously believe he could find it at Ord Mirit, but will not want to take the chance that someone else could either.

 

That fleet could make the difference to either side in this war. The Eviscerator will certainly go there and it will take at least 16 hours for it to get to from there. By that time, the planet should have fallen.

 

Rogue Squadron will open the conduit and Page’s commandoes will disable both the base and the Alderaan Biotics spaceport. By the time the TIEs return, they won’t realize what has happened. The Rogues and Defenders will create enough of a distraction so that what’s going on at ground level isn’t noticed.

 

Security will be tight. The pilots won’t know where they are going, but they will have more information about what they are facing. While Ackbar thinks it’s a good plan, he is concerned that the four-hour distance from Jagga-II means that the pilots and commandoes hitting the conduit first have that long before more help arrives. Whoever is left behind will die since flight suits don’t last that long in space.

 

Wedge knows that and, since he has only six operational ships, this will be a volunteer mission only. Ackbar agrees that, with more planning, this could be presented to the Provisional Council as the next step to Coruscant.
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  • Let me get this straight. They are concerned, and rightly so, about the Eviscerator jumping from Jagga-2 and destroying the Imperial base even if the Rebels take it. I understand that. However, they are planning this feint to get the ship to go to Ord Mirit instead. While that will certainly delay it from showing up during the battle itself, what’s to prevent it from showing up afterwards and still destroying the base? Even if it will be 16 hours away, doesn’t that just delay the inevitable? Or are the rebels planning to make sure there are Star Destroyers in system by that time to protect the planet? After all, the Emancipator and the Liberator are jumping to Ord Mirit, right?
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chapter 29:

 

Wedge tells his pilots that they are hitting the planet Phenaru Prime where a ferrocrete pipe 40 meters meters long is their target. They will be entering the system into a meteor shower and will have to account for maneuvering through it before getting to their target, in all having about half-an-hour to take it out. That doesn’t allow for expending a lot of time or fuel.

 

They are surprised when Emtrey lets them know that he’s managed to get some auxilliary fuel pods even though requisitioning some is nearly impossible. He’s learned to scrounge (read: bargain) for them. He’s traded some spare parts and gear they aren’t using here for six pods, pointing out that scrounging can get something fast, in good condition or cheap. Wedge can only pick two of those. The chief mechanic, Zraii, is ready to put them on the ships.

 

This will give them 45 minutes instead of 30.

 

He also warns them that whoever goes will run the risk that, if they slip up, there won’t be a rescue coming. Ooryl cannot fly because his prosthetic fit isn’t correct. Nawara, Erisi and Shiel all want to go so Wedge has Emtrey randomize their names and pull one to fly Lujyane’s fighter. He picks Nawara. The other two will help Tycho run simulations on this run. Wedge is going to make the first run down the proverbial trench and Corran wants to be his wingman, as he hasn’t had the opportunity to fly based on another ship’s telemetry.

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chapter 30:

 

The simulation runs inspire competitiveness among the pilots that Wedge doesn’t want to discourage as it keeps their edge up, but he reminds them that their job will be hitting that conduit, not TIE fighters, for their contests. He doesn’t want anyone to die.

 

Corran sees the age in Wedge’s eyes. For a man of only 27, he’s seen more death than most and probably relives the deaths of his squadmates many nights. Wedge reminds them that they may not be fighting for the survival of the Rebellion like those who went at the Death Star, but they are fighting for its future. This mission is just as important.

 

Corran puts away his misgivings, knowing that he is helping to make the galaxy a better place for people like Diric and Iella Wessiri, Gil Bastra’s family and even Booster Terrik. It’s odd to think that hitting the Empire makes it easier for criminals to operate, but he cannot deny that people like Han Solo and Mirax Terrik help the Rebellion.

 

And what is the evil of a smuggling operation versus a government that wipes out planets?

 

Wedge and Tycho talk about the pilots. Wedge thinks they’re so young; Tycho not so much. Wedge just thinks that the end of an era happened when the Emperor died and all these guys joined up after that, possibly seeing the romance in Rebellion. Tycho points out that Wedge thinks that after every watershed event. Tycho himself joined up after Yavin which Wedge thought was the end of an era, too.

 

Tycho doesn’t remember Biggs or Porkins. They are legends to him, but friends to Wedge. These guys are no different. They’ve lost friends and they know the odds of surviving this mission are slim.

 

A female security officer reminds Wedge that Captain Celchu cannot leave this area without being under guard unless he’s on an exercise. Wedge tells her he’s with him and to log her protest with Salm.

 

He notes Tycho’s face and asks if he actually interrupted something more personal. Tycho mentions the woman spent some time on Alderaan and they talk about the planet sometimes. But he’s not involved with her and won’t be with anyone until he finds out the status of his current relationship. He’s been involved with someone attached to Alliance procurement that spends a lot of time on covert missions. Finding her location is difficult even for someone who isn’t constantly being watched like he is.

 

They talk about their age versus their ranks and note that Luke, Solo and Calrissian have all been generals while they are content just being part of a squadron. Wedge often wonders if he’s doing the wrong thing by passing up promotions, but Tycho reminds him there are TIE pilots who go to sleep at night and worry about having him on their tail.

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  • Okay, so Wedge is 27. That makes sense. He’s about Luke’s age. The chapter also mentions that Tycho is a little less than a year older so he’s about 28.
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chapter 31:

 

The Rogues break up to record messages for their families, leaving Erisi and Corran to walk alone to her quarters. Erisi is worried about Corran dying on this mission. The worst thing would be surviving. She asks if he doesn’t mind fighting over a world that hasn’t been named to him.

 

He doesn’t tell her that he knows exactly where they’re going, instead explaining that fighting Imperials is what he does and it doesn’t matter where. She says it does to her because, if something should happen, she won’t know where to set up a memorial.

 

Corran tells her it will be fine. Wedge was wrong when he said that they will never be as legendary as the original Rogues. He thinks they will because they are the future of the Rebellion.

 

Because Rhysati isn’t going to be here tonight, she invites him to stay. He refuses. She’s very beautiful, but he needs to make sure he gets some sleep lest he crash tomorrow of fatigue.

 

He heads toward his quarters, remembering that Ooryl won’t be there and nearly going back to Erisi. He hasn’t spent much time alone since his father died. They had been very close, even more so after his mother’s death.

 

He’d always measured his moral compass against his father’s. After Hal’s death, Gil Bastra had been an effective mentor. But now, he struggles to know if his father would be proud of him. He fingers his medallion and thinks the old man would be supportive of his flying for the Rebellion.

 

Inside, he finds Mirax Terrik in Ooryl’s bunk. Her ship is full of coolant fumes so Ooryl offered her his bunk. She assumed she be in here alone since Corran would be with the bacta queen. She saw the possessive look on Erisi’s face the last time they’d met. Mirax assures Corran that Erisi’s all wrong for him.

 

He asks if she thinks she’s better for him and her quick denial pains him more than he is willing to let on. He tells her he’s had a long day and wants to get some sleep. She admits she’s picking on the Thyferran because the price of bacta has gone up. They blame an Ashern rebel attack so now she’s moving food which isn’t as profitable.

 

He wishes he could help her and she jokes that the best way to kill her father would be to call him up now and tell him Hal Horn’s son wants to help her make some runs. He laughs and agrees that his father’s ashes are coalescing now to stop him.

 

She knows it will get nasty out there tomorrow. Corran mentions that they only have the element of surprise on their side and fingers his medallion again. She notices it and asks about it. He tells her it was his father’s and he keeps it on a chain around his neck as a good luck charm.

 

She identifies it as a Jedcred – a Jedi credit – which was a commemorative medallion cast when a Corellian Jedi became a master. It would be given to his closest family and friends, his own master and favorite students. Since the Empire restricted Jedi memorabilia, it gets a good price for those who collect them.

 

Corran doesn’t know much about it. His grandfather knew a Jedi very well who later died in the Clone Wars. Mirax hopes he has better luck with the coin than the Jedi did.

 

They agree it’s time to sleep, but she flirts enough with him to make her tempting. In the end, her questioning how warm he’ll be tonight is enough to get him to toss her his extra blanket.
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  • Understanding of course that this book was written well before the prequels, we know now that the concept of Jedi credits is unlikely. The Jedi eschewed personal glory and possessions. They also didn’t have families. So the idea that a group of Jedi, such as Corellian Jedi, would be allowed to have medallions made celebrating themselves and give them to close friends and family is not what we know now about the Old Republic Jedi.
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chapter 32:

 

The next morning, Wedge watches Mirax and Corran walk in together. After she gives him a quick kiss on the cheek, Wedge wonders if the two of them would be more or less compatible than Han Solo and the princess.

 

Wedge kids her about it and she explains she slept in Ooryl’s bunk last night and nothing happened between her and Corran. Wedge has left a message for her and her father if he doesn’t come back from this.

 

After Rogue Squadron leaves, Mirax pulls Corran’s flight jacket over herself to cover the chill and realizes that some of that must be coming from Erisi Dlarit who is nearby. Erisi notes the flight jacket and chastises Mirax for seducing a Rogue pilot on the eve of a dangerous mission.

 

Mirax insists that nothing happened last night except sleep. She could consider Corran a friend, but nothing else because there is too much history between their fathers. Erisi insists it stay that way or she will make it impossible for Mirax to smuggle bacta. Conversely, an understanding between them could make Mirax’s business much more profitable.

 

Mirax gives a vague offer of consideration to this and the conversation is left there. Internally, she is seething because Erisi has made certain aspects of Mirax’s business contingent on her personal life. The principle of the thing is bad enough, but she is also confused herself as to her feelings about Corran.

She’d been prepared to hate him and has given him every opportunity to make her hate him more, but he hadn’t behaved in any manner other than a gentleman.

 

Her co-pilot, the Sullustan Liat Tsayv, asks where they are going and she isn’t sure. She asks him to pull up the unit’s want list and goes over the prices. The consumer list contains a bunch of items she would expect to find, but then finds some odd ones, too. She asks him to confirm the prices of a certain grouping of items, then tells him to negotiate a contract with Emtrey for all of those items. She has to go find Tycho because something is terribly wrong and some of her friends may die.

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chapter 33:

 

On the final jump, Wedge tells his pilots that they are going back to Blackmoon and explains the minor differences between the simulation and what they will actually see. Their only mission is to hit the conduit and get out; they have three hours to Borleias.

 

Wedge knows that the commandos will likely be coming in around the same time, but can’t be certain as the exact details have been kept from him. However, it will likely be necessary for the Rogues to keep any TIE fighters at bay while the commandos do their job in anticipation of the arrival of the Defender Squadron.

 

Mirax pleads with Tycho to tell her where the Rogues are going because she thinks they’re walking into trouble. Tycho can’t tell her because he doesn’t know himself. The only one here who does is Emtrey.

 

She tells him to get Emtrey up here. She’ll explain her reasons and, if Tycho doesn’t believe her by the time the droid gets here, he can just send him back. A list of items that the Squadron needs to buy or is willing to sell contains a number of items exclusive to Alderaan. Mirax is concerned because such goods should be very high-priced as Alderaan doesn’t exist anymore. However, the list has very low selling prices and no buy prices.

 

It would seem then that Emtrey has come across a source for these goods at a low price. Since no one in Rogue Squadron has mentioned uncovering a cache of consumer goods from Alderaan, she assumes that he is projecting the likelihood of them having these things after their current mission.

 

There is a source out there selling Alderaanian goods at a high price. Mirax had thought that the Empire opened up a storehouse of them in the hopes of draining credits from homesick Alderaanians who might otherwise use their wealth to fund the Alliance.

 

But, what if it’s also a tempting target for a Rebel raid? It’s possible this has been set up to lure the Rebels in. Tycho knows he would be tempted to get a piece of his homeworld. When Emtrey arrives, he refuses to tell Mirax or Tycho where the Squadron is going. She confronts him about the list of goods and he refuses to divulge his sources. But they do notice a voice change when he does. He stops protesting when told to shut up.

 

Tycho had noticed that Emtrey goes dormant after being told to shut up three times. It had happened during the battle when they’d encountered Mirax’s ship on the way to Talasea. The droid wouldn’t stop talking, so Tycho had silenced him. He thought that was odd. He’d learned that, until he is reset, Emtrey’s memories are open while in this dormant state. This is odd about a military droid and not particularly safe.

 

Getting into his workings, they order him to tell him where the attack is occurring. He tells them. He answers that Mirax was the only one who saw the list of goods, but cannot say it is impossible for someone to have sliced into it.

 

Mirax urges Tycho to send a message warning them. They cannot, however, risk the Empire picking up on the message and compromising the mission that way. Even going there themselves won’t make it any less dangerous to contact the Squadron. Fortunately, Tycho has an idea.
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  • I have read through chapter 13 – the chapter in which Rogue Squadron encountered Mirax’s ship and fought a battle – and I can find nothing about Tycho having this experience with Emtrey. In fact, I’ve skimmed through several chapters with battle scenes in them and still cannot find this exchange there or in any earlier chapter of the book. The only notations I can find of Emtrey behaving oddly was in chapter 14 when he turned on his “scrounging” program and in chapter 20 when Wedge noticed the droid was quieter than normal.
  • Wedge tells the Squadron they have three hours to get to Borleias. Did he just tell them the name of the planet? Wasn’t that supposed to be secret? It was on the last mission and they weren’t even told it after the massive failure.
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chapter 34:

 

The Rogues encounter Interceptors and Fighters with Wedge and Corran taking the run first. Corran is forced to eject his fuel pod early because of a slow leak caused by debris.

 

When the first run doesn’t get the job done, Wedge orders him to pull out as he has less fuel than the others. He knows Corran feels just as he did at having to leave Luke to destroy the Death Star alone. But the Imperial forces have a set-up to defy just any pilot and Rogue Squadron isn’t made up of just anyone.

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chapter 35:

 

Loor is unhappy at being recalled to Imperial Center, especially after a week’s delay on Toprawa, because he is certain he will be chastised for failing to destroy Rogue Squadron.

 

Ysanne Isard greets him and asks how he found Toprawa. The people there had conspired with the Rebel Alliance to transfer the stolen data tapes to the first Death Star. As punishment, their world was reduced to a pre-industrial state with no mechanized vehicles or energy sources outside of fire. Additionally, a festival has been instituted which requires the villagers there to squirm on their bellies and weep, convincing the stormtroopers of their genuine sadness over the loss of the Emperor, in order to get grain.

 

This is the example that must be made of those who do not believe in the strength of the Empire. Loor apologizes for not completing his mission.

 

She knows already that only half of Rogue Squadron is gone. She’s read the report and commends him for uncovering General Derricote’s operation. It couldn’t have been left out of the report anyway as the victory against the rebels was, in part, due to the extra defenses. She doesn’t fault him for his attempt at Talasea as it was tampered with by Admiral Devlia.

 

However, she’d also wanted him to spy on Derricote. The man has useful skills, as is proven by his ingenuity in restoring the Biotics facility. She has already sent for him and had him brought in by forced invitation in a Super Star Destroyer.

 

As it happens, part of the problem with the Rebel Alliance is finding them. Since the death of the Emperor, there are at least two dozen systems where they might be using as a stepping stone to Imperial Center. However, she is not worried so much about that. Soon, they will come here and she plans to have both Loor and Derricote work on a plan to make sure they feel welcome when they arrive.

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chapter 36:

 

Wedge makes the run and destroys the conduit. When he’s done, he orders the Rogues out, telling them to meet Corran at the exit and he will lead them out. Nawara informs him that Rogue Nine is not on his forward scans.

 

Corran had wanted to disobey orders, but realized he wouldnt last long if he did, so headed out, only to spot some Interceptors. They weren’t going to interfere with him. He did, however, notice a couple of them making threatening moves toward one of the shuttles. Wanting to repay Page, he takes out those Interceptors before joining the Rogues.

 

Wedge is concerned about how little fuel Corran has left. When additional Interceptors appear, the Squadron wants to take those out. Wedge reminds them they had a mission to accomplish and that was it. However, that doesn’t mean there can’t be some leeway. He tells them to go sunside and orders Corran to go to the darkside of the planet and ground himself until they can return for him.

 

They all compare kills before Corran heads off and tells Whistler to find a nice hole to fly into and prepare to ambush whatever Imperial pilots head that way.
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  • At best, they had 45 minutes to do their job due to fuel constraints. It doesn’t say how long it took them to actually destroy the conduit, but staying behind to kill some more Imperials doesn’t seem like a good idea, especially since Corran’s maneuver is forcing him to land and wait.

 

chapter 37:

 

The Rogues obviously did a good job as fewer Interceptors arrived on the darkside than before. He sits for half-an-hour while they continue to search for him. He has Whistler perform the calculations and then arms two proton torpedoes.

 

Once he confirms they are on autopilot, it becomes easy to predict where they’ll be. This means they’ll be dead sooner than he will be. The idea of dying angers him. He knows his job is to destroy Imperials even though he doesn’t know if the pilots up there are clones, volunteers, conscripts or mercenaries. He just wants to stop them from taking lives.

 

That’s what the Horns have been doing for a long time. His grandfather, father and himself all joined CorSec to safeguard lives, so it makes sense that he would be doing it for the Rebellion. He triggers the torpoedoes which hits one Interceptor off the bat and dings another.

 

He pulls up his ship and goes after the other and then flies out to take on the rest. When his X-Wing is grabbed by a tractor beam, he tells Whistler to bring sensors forward so they can prove that trapping a Rogue doesn’t make him dead, just deadlier.

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  • While I certainly believe that there could be conscripts or volunteers in those TIEs, I have a hard time believing that they could be clones or mercenaries. For one thing, the Empire takes a dim view of mercenaries, so, unless they are desperate, there probably aren’t mercenaries flying the ships. On the other hand, they hired Mandalorians in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, so maybe they are desperate! Of course, if they were, then they wouldn’t consider stormtroopers to be a renewable resource. As for clones, I would guess there really aren’t too many clones left in the Empire’s service. My guess is that, unless the Empire came up with a solution to the rapid aging of clones, those like Group Captain Klick from Shadows of Mindor are aberrations.
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chapter 38:

 

On the way back to Noquivzor, Wedge tries to think of any way Corran might have survived. If not, he was found a minimum of an hour-and-a-half ago. He puts together a good rescue plan while in hyperspace, knowing that Admiral Ackbar will likely not approve any rescue attempts. Corran volunteered like everyone else and knew the risks.

 

Still, after emerging from hyperspace, he contacts Emtrey who reports that Jace has a message waiting for him. Brushing that aside, he orders Emtrey to have Zraii set up to refuel them as quickly as possible. Emtrey also has news from Borleias, but is hesitant to give it to him over subspace.

 

After Wedge orders him to do so, he receives a holographic recording from Corran.

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chapter 39:

 

Corran prepares to fire, but is surprised to see an Interceptor destroyed without him actually hitting the trigger. It turns out that the Pulsar Skate is here and pulls him in with the tractor beam while taking care of the rest of the TIEs.

 

On board, Corran and Mirax joke about their fathers’ reactions to the Skate hauling an X-Wing with CorSec markings. The shooting was done by Tycho. They explain they’ve found a possible security breach, but couldn’t risk sending a signal without compromising the Rogues. So they sat in system on comm. silence to make sure everything went well, watching the Rogues arrive and then leave.

 

When they realized Corran wasn’t with the others, they cut through Imperial chatter and waited for him to emerge. Likely the others think he’s dead. Which gives them the idea to have some fun with that.
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  • The Pulsar Skate must be very fast if it was in system when the Rogues arrived because the Squadron left before they did, remember?
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chapter 40:

 

Corran’s hologram assures his commander that he harbors no ill will toward being left behind. Wedge wonders how he knew he would be. Corran goes on to say that, to prove it, he has some whiskey and ryshcate waiting for them when they arrive.

 

They are joking about later on over whiskey and ryshcate, although obviously they’ll have to get him back for it. Tycho explains that the Alliance security guards were unhappy to be locked in his quarters, but he and Mirax didn’t have time to explain everything to them if they were to arrive in time. The security breach still isn’t completely locked down, so they’ll have Corran spend some quality time with Emtrey in pursuit of this.

 

As it is, however, the number of kills Bror Jace has exceeds Corran’s. The latter isn’t sorry for that. Jace admits the news helps offset what he’s learned from home. His great-uncle, the family patriarch, is dying of old age. Tycho tells him they can arrange a recruiting run to Thyferra so he can be there.

 

The unity and support Wedge feels now reminds him of the base at Yavin IV right before they attacked the Death Star. He offers a toast to them all.
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  • Again, that ship is fast. Let’s go back to chapter 38. Wedge considers that Corran might’ve found a place to hide and live, otherwise, he was found a minimum of an hour-and-a-half ago. Since Wedge is still in hyperspace en route back to Noquivzor, that means it’s been at least an hour-and-a-half since Corran went to hide and the Rogues spent whatever last few minutes they had before they only had enough fuel to fly home shooting TIE fighters…that wasn’t a whole lot of time. So Corran must’ve sat down there on the darkside for a long time, according to chapter 37, at least half-an-hour.
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Epilogue:

 

Agent Loor contacts Isard who asks if Derricote has made progress yet. That hasn’t happened even though she notices Loor approved a requisition request for more Gamorreans. He mentions Derricote is upset because he was brought here while his facilities on Borleias are being held by Isard’s agents. He was promised he could have the place back if he cooperated here.

 

She assures Loor that the Alliance being hold up there now won’t change her promise to Derricote. He also mentions that their spy in Rogue Squadron has passed along some news. The Alliance is establishing a base there in their quest to move Coreward. This was not unexpected. However, one of the pilots, Bror Jace, is returning to his homeworld of Thyferra. Due to the tenuous nature of politics these days, he doesn’t think it is wise for him to be allowed to arrive home and be displayed as a symbol of the Alliance. He has arranged for the Black Asp to intercept him and destroy him.

 

Isard thinks there is a better way. She wants him captured and sent to Lusankya where she thinks he can be useful.

 

Loor agrees and mentions he has made arrangements for the Black Asp to intercept him in a system where smuggling goes on so that this will seem routine. Isard isn’t sure that the former investigator Corran Horn will not be suspicious. Loor assures her Horn isn’t so single-minded that he cannot be distracted.

 

She tells him she’s leaked information that Loor killed Gil Bastra and is on Imperial Center. Loor realizes Horn will come here with Rogue Squadron and be distracted from his main mission. They had never liked each other, especially after Horn had gone to the trouble of bringing in the Trandoshan, Bossk, who’d killed his father, Hal Horn. Loor had released the bounty hunter, who had been working for the Empire at the time, claiming the shooting death was accidental and intended for the smuggler Horn had been speaking to at the time.

 

So, he knows Corran will do what he can to hunt him down when he gets to Imperial City.

 

Isard tells him to stop reporting Derricote’s tantrums and keep working on their plan. Horn may not have been to Imperial Center before but his first trip will be his last.

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The End

 

  • For a first book in the series, this is a good job taking an established character and putting him among some lesser established names in order to bring in some new names!

 

Leaving on vacation this morning. Will pick up with book 2 when I get back.

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