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"The Bacta War": Book 4 in the X-Wing Series


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chapter 26:

 

Vorru watches Isard and Erisi Dlarit hide their antagonism behind civil tones and diplomatic statements until Isard blames Dlarit for Teradoc yanking the Aggregator back from her. Even more humiliating, Teradoc told her he wouldn’t lend her any more toys if she cannot return them unbroken.

 

Erisi argues that she had wanted her Elite Squadron of pilots sent on this mission, not her trainees.

 

That decision was made by Isard. Sending a squadron of green pilots after Rogue Squadron was doomed.

 

Vorru decides that he can risk Isard’s wrath by intervening on Erisi’s side and potentially make an ally in the Dlarit family that could be beneficial if Isard were ever removed. He notes that the unexpected presence of the Alderaanian warship, even an antiquated one, means that Antilles anticipated trouble.

 

Isard turns on him and points out that, were that so, it means that a spy within their organization is operating under Vorru’s nose. Vorrus points out that, while it’s a possibility, it’s one that cannot be proven and may not be true, especially considering Antilles’s normally cautious nature. He may have brought the warship in as insurance against being betrayed by Karrde.

 

Remembering the smuggler, Isard demands that Karrde be dealt with. Vorru refuses because treating Karrde any differently would alert him to a spy in his midst. Karrde can be bought so they should just continue to treat him as normal and take care of him at their leisure. He also points out that blaming Erisi for the rout at Alderaan is placing blame on the wrong person. Clearly Convarion assumed that the presence of his ship would send the starfighters fleeing as it had before. For this reason, he didn’t insist on the best pilots for this mission since he assumed they wouldn’t be necessary.

 

Frustrated at being told everything she is doing is wrong, she demands from Vorru what he thinks she should do. He explains that Antilles will keep up his hit and run attacks, causing minimal damage. They cannot do anything to him until they find his base. He suggests that they lower the price of bacta.

 

Though Isard and Erisi strongly oppose this plan, Vorru believes that Antilles’s base of support will be gone if bacta is abundant. They will not be able to trade bacta for supplies so Karrde won’t deal with them. They will lose funds. They will lose allies who no longer need him. If they offer a reward for his capture, it’s more likely someone will take them up on it.

 

He knows Isard won’t go for it and she doesn’t. Her desire for revenge is such that she wants the Rogues to know she was behind their deaths, not the ups and downs of the market. Vorru cautions her that the only alternative is to wait until they find the base and then pounce on him, which will take time.

 

Isard refuses to wait that long. She wants Erisi’s elite pilots to make another hit on a vulnerable world. Despite Vorru’s warning that she will be wasting more valuable resources and instilling more fear than she wants, Isard insists that she will prove to Teradoc and Harssk and the others that she has the power in this galaxy. After all, she has the bacta.

 

She orders Erisi, though, to hit the Ashern rebels here on Thyferra to show them what happens when they defy her.

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chapter 27:

 

Booster and Mirax meet with Talon Karrde who already knows that they are here to confront him about a leak in his organization. He hadn’t been aware of it before but he thinks it’s obvious that Melina Carniss was the culprit.

 

Karrde insists she has to die because she’s endangered his customers and sullied his reputation. He offers severals means of execution, including a Sith lavnarok which Mirax wants to purchase for a collector she has in mind. Booster wants her to live because they can watch her instead of figuring out who the next Imperial spy will be. Mirax also suggests passing rumors that Carniss is a double agent: telling them about the Imperial ambush after setting up an ambush with Isard. Karrde still insists that this threat to his business has to be eliminated.

 

In order to get what he wants, Booster threatens to take his business to a smuggler named Billey who is working with a fairly good one named Dravis. They aren’t as good as Karrde is, so Booster offers to make huge purchases from Karrde, including a gravity well projector, taken out of future bacta shipments. Karrde also insists upon being allowed to have the Coruscant market on bacta deliveries. He assures them that he will make certain that the majority of it is donated for fighting the Krytos virus and that less of it will end up on the black market than what already does. In fact, he’s putting Billey and Dravis in charge of that part of his operation on Coruscant.

 

In exchange, Karrde will leave Carniss alive. Booster plans to keep using her but in a way that she can’t betray them. They are going to utilize rendezvous circuits instead so that there is no way to know where the transfers will take place. Isard cannot cover all possible locations so it will serve to frustrate everyone.

 

Karrde is rather glad that Booster is retired.
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chapter 28:

 

Iella and her team are still in hiding on Thyferra. Elscol arrives to let her know that they are getting more volunteers every time they pass through a village. The Vratix are not fighters at heart, so it’s a very solemn choice for one to become a warrior. Those who volunteer sharpen their claws and paint themselves black for camouflage.

 

Eventually, Isard will come for them, but hasn’t come as soon as she should have because she needs to keep the human population of this world happy. In other news, the Corrupter is no more.

 

Iella takes this as evidence that this mission is not going to be suicidal after all. Elscol reminds her that they still have work to do and getting shot up will not reunite her with Diric. Elscol has been where Iella has. She became so determined to go after the Imps when her own husband died that she became a danger to herself and others. Wedge kicked her out of Rogue Squadron.

 

She knows Iella is thinking of sacrificing herself so she can avoid the pain of living without Diric. She thinks that, whether one is remembered only in the real world or reunited with loved ones in the afterlife, neither she nor Iella would want to be remembered as a quitter.

 

Iella realizes how much she was going to give up to the Imperials so that she wouldn’t have to live without Diric.

 

They don’t get to continue this talk when TIE Fighters begin flying in, making strafing runs at the village. The Vratix begin to flee, but many of them huddle together, making them bigger targets. With only blasters, Iella and Elscol can’t do much, but they start shooting from their hiding place when stormtroopers arrive.

 

Elscol points out that they are only THDC in stormtrooper armor. The armor is too big for many of them and they are wearing white armor which real stormtroopers don’t do now in jungle settings, having learned the lesson of Endor.

 

She and Iella blast the troopers to give the others time to run. Then, noting that the THDC is fairly easy to frighten, rush out and fire madly, causing many of them to dive for cover. Iella, however, is hit in the leg by one more confident trooper and drops. He stands over her and is killed by the claws of a blackened Vratix behind him.

 

Sixtus shows up and tells her that Elscol’s got a twisted ankle. They are moving the villagers elsewhere but will have a makeshift bacta tank ready for her. Iella suggests moving the bodies of the dead, too, will work psychologically on the Thyferrans who will wonder what happened here.

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  • The white armor for stormtroopers must have been an Imperial thing. We know that clone troopers had access to camouflage armor to hide them in jungle settings.
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chapter 29:

 

Captain Sair Yonka of the Avarice is on Elshandruu Pica deciding which outfit to wear: the black which looks more military or the blood-red which will remind people of Isard. He sends his protocol droid, Poe, away for the time being.

 

Yonka hadn’t taken any sides after the death of the Emperor because he didn’t want to slave himself and his people to the whims of someone like Zsinj. He’d continued doing what he’d been sent out to these regions to do: fight pirates. That rebels were sometimes classified as pirates didn’t mean a thing as pirates often call themselves rebels in order to justify their actions.

 

But he’d decided to go with Isard because she was trying to restore the Empire and seemed like the best chance to succeed. Then she lost Coruscant. He hadn’t heard about the Krytos virus until after he’d helped set her up on Thyferra. The fact that the virus targets species who have never even thought of supporting the rebels means that she is unpredictable and capable of anything. This frightens him.

 

For the time being, though, there’s no point in challenging her. After all, he’s only doing convoy escort duty, not wasting worlds like Halanit. She probably has agents on his ship anyway. While his ship hasn’t destroyed any Rogues, his crew is better than the Virulence’s whose fighters are slow.

 

Besides, he’s down here for relaxation. He’s been carrying on an affair with an old love who happens to now be the wife of the local Moff Riit Jandi. These encounters usually take place at the hotel where Yonka is currently staying and are covered up by the owner, Kina Margath, who benefits from a supply of liquors Yonka brings into the system, as well as favors encouraged by the Moff’s wife.

 

Deciding to throw caution to the wind, he decides to wear his red outfit.

 

Corran and his team are waiting for the limo to arrive. Kina Margath is a rebel agent and Poe had once been part of Rogue Squadron’s staff. So, it’s fairly simple to keep track of Yonka’s movements.

 

Right now, Corran is waiting with Ooryl and Rhysati while Wedge, Gavin and the Gand Vviir Wiamdi wait on the other side. They are wearing blue stormtrooper armor gotten off of Huff Darklighter which hides them well in the dark. At the spaceport, Inyri and Bror are waiting to cover them in case they need to get away, but the Avarice will surely scramble fighters from orbit if that happens.

 

Corran knows that most missions don’t go as planned, but what he used to think of as hunches may be traces of his Jedi heritage. He needs to be careful not to put too much credence in his untrained feelings. After all, he’s been wrong before and could endanger everyone else, too, if he tries to use what he has without knowing what he’s doing. That’s especially true if others use his connection to the Force as a reason to put too much trust in his leadership.

 

He hopes the only surprise tonight will be the look of it on Yonka’s face.

 

Inside the cottage, Yonka is greeted by his lover who only has a moment to register the blue-colored stormtroopers entering the room before they stun her. Yonka is surprised to see that one of them is Wedge Antilles. Antilles tells him they didn’t kill her because they don’t believe in unnecessary bloodshed.

 

Yonka warns him that his ship really doesn’t require him to captain it in order to be a threat. Wedge agrees which is why he’s not here to kill Yonka but to offer him a deal that will make him a very rich man.

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chapter 30:

 

Vorru lands in a shuttle and is greeted by Erisi who knows just how to flatter him. They have both been summoned by Iceheart and Erisi is hoping that he can shield her again from the woman’s rage.

 

It seems that the convoy protected by the Avarice showed up missing three tankers. The Avarice didn’t return with the convoy so they have no idea what Yonka’s explanation could be. Vorrus fears the rebels could have taken Avarice but Erisi doesn’t think so.

 

Up to this point, the Avarice had never had any problems. Going over its itinerary, Vorru determines that everything went according to schedule, up to and including Yonka’s visit with his mistress.

 

He asks Erisi if she’s noticed that Director Isard doesn’t seem to be operating in the same reality as they are. She agrees. Isard is obsessed with getting Antilles which puts Thyferra at risk along with everything else. She is as committed to seeing the Bacta Cartel survive without Isard as Vorru is.

 

With that understanding, they determine to face whatever rage Isard can throw at them this time so long as they put contingency plans in place for the future.

 

However, Isard is clearly not angry with them. When they arrive together, she shows them a holo-transmission from Captain Yonka who explains that he can no longer serve under someone who is impulsive and irrational. He doesn’t quite think she is as evil as the Emperor, Vader or Xizor, but the billions of lives she has affected probably think otherwise so he is resigning from her service, along with his crew and ship. Her agents objected to this and tried to steal a shuttle which he destroyed.

 

He warns her that he’s spent his life in the Outer Rim so attempts to hunt him down will be fruitless.

 

Isard turns to Vorru and tells him that extermination of the crew’s families began when she received this holo. She wants him to make certain that Yonka’s mistress is killed along with her entire family.

 

Vorru privately considers that Yonka’s mistress is likely outside her reach. Aloud, he asks how she is planning to guard convoys with two of her ships gone. She could send the Lusankya out to help the Virulence, but Isard considers that as mad as Yonka thought she was as it would leave Thyferra undefended.

 

She has a plan that will allow Thyferra to remain secure and get rid of Antilles. She is going to force him to come here. In her analysis of Bacta production, she has learned how many Vratix are needed to keep production at 100%. The rest of population is just excess so she is rounding up a 1000 per day for thirty days at which time she will execute them all, then begin rounding up 2000 per day.

 

The deadline will require Antilles to act which could expose his base. Erisi suggests not announcing it lest it give Antilles a reason to think over whether or not to rush here. They should let the news creep out through locals so that he will think this is just another way to suppress the Ashern.

 

Isard approves of the plan and tells them the Empire will be able to rise within a month.

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  • Knowing that Isard threatens the dependents of those who cooperate with him, I’m very surprised that Wedge did not arrange for the families of the Avarice’s crew to make their escape before Yonka sent his holo.
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chapter 31:

 

Corran reports that his and Ooryl’s mission to Thyferra to monitor transmissions confirms that Isard is rounding up 1000 Vratix per day in order to execute 30, 000 in retaliation for terrorist attacks by the Ashern. Though no transmissions mentioned the Rogues at all, both Booster and Wedge think that this is an attempt to draw them out.

 

But, even if it isn’t, they cannot allow thousands of innocents to die.

 

The final weaponry ordered from Karrde will be available soon and Wedge wants Corran to head out and lead the convoy here. Corran is astounded that Wedge would risk their base’s location becoming known, especially with a spy in Karrde’s organization.

 

Booster explains they are counting on that. He, Wedge and Tycho have been working on a contingency plan in case Isard forced their hand. Now that she has, they will be enacting that plan now, but none of the pilots are going to be told so that they cannot reveal it in case of capture.

 

Corran would prefer to be certain which Booster finds hilarious. He thinks Corran took the coward’s way out by joining CorSec. All he did was prop up an Imperial-directed government. Corran dismisses the notion that smugglers like Booster were real rebels just because they didn’t pay taxes and broke the law. Their criminal activities meant that unpaid taxes deprived citizens of better roads and schools, on top of opening up Corellia to Black Sun and the Hutts.

 

Booster blames him for leaving Mirax vulnerable on Thyferra. Corran points out that leaving her for a few seconds to save her life is better than abandoning her for five years because his criminal activities forced him to serve time in Kessel. Besides, he should be glad his daughter isn’t dating someone with his same values.

 

Wedge intervenes at this point and lectures both of them. Booster should know the kind of man Corran is. His ability to escape from Lusankya and endure Imperial interrogation proves how brave he is. Mirax was able to stabilize him and he was able to be there for her when her father wasn’t. And Corran needs to stop making his father’s fight his own. Booster is not his enemy. The two of them have more in common than they know. Both consider Mirax the best thing that ever happened to them.

 

Corran, however, is determined not to agree with Wedge until he remembers his father. A man who knew he was the son of a Jedi and marked for death did not run and hide but committed himself to justice. Hal Horn had no personal grudge against Booster. He only pursued him because he was a lawbreaker. Corran knows he’s made this personal as he had also held grudges against Kirtan Loor and Zekka Thyne. This betrays his father’s memory and the Jedi heritage he inherited from him. He tells Booster he does not consider him an enemy anymore, even though they will doubtless argue again.

 

Booster agrees he may have misjudged Corran. Wedge reminds them that the Imps call two Corellians a conspiracy and three a fight. Corran corrects that notion: three Corellians are a victory so they should go show Iceheart what they’ve got.

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chapter 32:

 

Corran is nervous waiting because Karrde’s people are late. Inyri, Rhysati, Gavin and the Skate are out here, too.

 

Mirax asks him what he said to her father because his last message was much more conciliatory about Corran than usual. He admits they had it out but have agreed to put aside many of their differences for now.

 

He tells her how he’s realized that he’d carried over his father’s rivalry with Booster and made it more personal than his father ever did. She asks if he’s bothered by the fact that his father never told him about his real grandfather.

 

Corran acknowledges that he should feel betrayed by that, but he knows his father was protecting him and, possibly, other Corellians families if his grandfather had helped other Jedi, too. But he knows that his father must have had a great deal of pride in his Jedi heritage since he’d passed along some of what the Jedi believed to his son. Still, he wishes his father had gotten the chance to reveal the truth to him. Corran believes that, once the Emperor was dead, he would have told him the truth, but Bossk killed him before that happened.

 

It’s possible that he can get information from his grandfather, who is still living on Corellia under the Diktat, but he hasn’t been able to communicate with him for awhile. Besides, it would be nice to have gotten his father’s impressions about his own father.

 

Whistler tells him all he has to do is ask. The droid has an encrypted holofile that Hal Horn had put in the droid after Corran had joined CorSec but had recorded much earlier. He must have anticipated Corran needing answers. The encryption is password accessible if Corran can provide the password and asks Whistler directly for the information. He assumes the password is either the name of his real grandfather or his father’s real name.

 

But that opens up a great many possibilities. Hal Horn could not have known that the Jedi would reemerge or that Corran would have been invited to become one, but he may have wanted Corran to learn more about his heritage.

 

Mirax thinks he should play it now while they have time, but Corran wants to save it until he can focus on the inevitable questions that result. For example, should he reconsider Luke Skywalker’s offer? If he does, that changes his life in a great many ways, such as being apart from Mirax while he studies, leaving Rogue Squadron and his duties here, as well as abandoning the prisoners on Lusankya. His father would never have put such security on information he had to hear, so he arranged it so that Corran would play it when he himself was ready to hear it.

 

When the convoy arrives, Corran has Whistler analyze the mass of the ships to make certain they match what was supposed to be here. The others are to do life scans to make sure that the ships don’t contain more people than they should.

 

When everything checks out, they make preparations for the next jump. He wonders what Carmiss, on board the Empress Diadem, thinks of this. The exit vector will take them on a straight line to Yag’duhl but the speed and distance project a location well past it. Any strikes she calls in should be arranged for what she believes will be a later location. As it is, Booster’s gravity well projector will pull the convoy out at Yag’duhl for the transfer. Hopefully, maintaining the aura of secrecy will give them some advantage when it comes to whatever Wedge and Tycho have planned.
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  • Assuming that the password really is Nejaa Halcyon or Valin Halcyon, this means that the security Hal Horn put on the holotransmission was created with the assumption that Corran would find out some information about his Jedi heritage. Unless Rostek Horn has that information, it was a long shot that Corran would come up with those names himself. And, if Rostek did have the info and died before communicating it to Corran, that would have made it even more of a risk that what Hal wanted Corran to know would die with him.
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chapter 33:

 

Melina Carniss assures Mirax that she doesn’t mind being kept company the last two days and knows Karrde won’t mind her being kept here awaiting payment. At least, that’s what she says.

 

Inside, she is seething at the delay and at Mirax’s hovering. When she is finally able to leave, she makes sure to keep up the charade until she boards her ship because it would be just like Booster Terrik to have holocams everywhere.

 

She didn’t have a chance to send a message to Iceheart when she arrived because Mirax insisted she stay and enjoy the amenities of the station, but she’s rather glad she didn’t. If she had, she’d have been here when the attack came and she doubts she’s that valuable a resource to Isard to be spared.

 

On board, she activates a sophisticated probe droid that is launched into space, transmitting the location of this star system to Vorru.

 

Wedge tells his pilots that the station is being evacuated with the freighters remaining at the edge of the system to give the pilots an exit vector to Thyferra when the Lusankya shows up within 24-36 hours. The attackers will assume that the rebels are cut-and-running toward Thyferra in retaliation.

 

Since Imperials are used to seeing rebels run at the sight of them, they’ll believe this.

 

The Lusankya moves slower than their fighters so they’ll have 12 hours lead time at Thyferra before it returns. He advises them to get their affairs in order and prepare any holos to relatives before they leave. This will be messy and not everyone will come out alive, but it’s necessary as it’s the best chance they have to get rid of Isard.

 

On Thyferra, Vorru and Erisi note that the Yag’duhl station is an obvious choice, especially as it had been reported destroyed in Pash Cracken’s report. Erisi knows that Iceheart will blame her for which Vorru agrees is an unfair likelihood. However, he has a feeling that his days here are numbered. The New Republic will have to come here eventually, especially once they realize the firepower she has at her disposal. They need to be gone before that happens.

 

He invites her to join him on an inspection tour he plans to take on the Virulence when it returns.

 

They will arrange for an accident that will allow them to disappear to a world Vorru will purchase with his substantial credits. Knowing that Iceheart will eventually destroy her homeworld, Erisi accepts the offer.

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chapter 34:

 

After dinner, Corran tells Mirax how he’d worried on the Lusankya that she thought he was dead.

 

They haven’t had much time to spend together the last few months and he wants more, so he asks her to marry him. She warns him that she is not changing her life. He knows this and isn’t changing his, either.

 

She accepts and he gives her his Jedi medallion as a pledge until he can give her a ring. She doesn’t want to accept it as it’s his good luck charm, but he thinks her acceptance has drained whatever luck was left in it.

The only detail left is when and how she is going to tell her father.

 

Vorru watches Isard completely intimidate Captain Lawii Varrscha of the Virulence. Varrscha is competent but has only risen because she’s attached herself to the bars on Joak Drysso’s uniform.

 

After Isard tells them they will take the Lusankya and the Virulence to the Yag’duhl system and wipe out the Rogue base there, Drysso believes the Virulence’s presence is overkill and leaves Thyferra vulnerable.

 

The Lusankya is more than enough to wipe out the station. Twelve squadrons of TIEs will overwhelm Antilles’s small group and the Alderaanian warcraft has minimal firepower compared to that of a Super Star Destroyer. If the rebels decide to leave the system and hit Thyferra, it will be twelve hours they will have before Drysso can return.

 

They could do a lot of damage in conjunction with the Ashern rebels.

 

Isard believes that any damage they do will just be undone when Drysso returns and that the THDC will deal with any problems here in the absence of the two ships until they come back. She cautions him not to underestimate Antilles the same way Convarion did.

 

She turns to Varrscha who confirms that she will obey Drysso’s orders instantly. That is not good enough for Isard who knows that she was Drysso’s subordinate for years. She wants to make sure Varrsscha can take the initiative if Drysso is not available. The Virulence is to stand between the rebels and the Lusankya and make sure nothing happens to that ship. They have no evidence that Antilles knows they are coming but, even so, he will not be helpless. Desperation creates heroics that have been the downfall of many commanders who assured her of victory.

 

Elscol reports that leaves for the Lusankya and Virulence have been canceled. This means that the strike is happening and Wedge should be here within 48 hours. Sixtus and his team are headed to their target and awaiting the signal.

 

The signal being a bomb flown into the Xucphra Administrative facility that will precipitate the liberation of the detention center. Iella isn’t happy about this because she feels Isard should be brought to justice.

 

Elscol doesn’t disagree but thinks that a bomb does that just as easily as trying her. Iella debates that killing Isard invites conspiracy series that question her death or speculate that she knew too much. It also causes people to forget who she really was. In the future, some may look back on her time as not being as bad as it was.

 

Elscol knows she needs a vacation when Iella starts making sense. They agree to go to a resort after this is over. In the meantime, Iella will stun Isard, Vorru or Dlarit if she has the chance. But only if they do not pose a threat to her or someone else.

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chapter 35:

 

Captain Drysso had taken his Virulence away from Endor the minute he realized the battle was lost as the Super Star Destroyer Executor crashed into the Death Star. He’s relished the chance to get back at the rebels since then.

 

Isard likes to deal with subtlety which is why she’s a politician and not a warrior. Clearly, she doesn’t realize that Antilles and his team are not outcasts at all. This is merely a ruse by the New Republic to distract her so that she won’t create a unified Imperial force to come after them. As controller of the galaxy’s bacta, she should have no problem bringing all Imperial warlords under her banner.

 

Her use of military might is constantly wasteful. He wouldn’t have used the Corrupter at Halanit when a few shuttles and fighters could have done the job. All that did was anger Antilles. Drysso would have seized Corellia and toppled the Diktat so it would have the Corellian shipyards. He would have done the same to Kuat and the Sluis Van. Access to all of those resources would have brought the New Republic to its knees.

 

She is a powerful position now, but this ship is the key to it. Now the Lusankya is under his command. They come out of lightspeed at the Yag’duhl system and he relays orders for the Virulence not to power up weapons except on his order.

 

He dispatches fighters when a scan shows snubfighter activity at the station and confirms the Alderaanian warship is nowhere in sight. The fighters deploy at a defensive position to keep the Destroyer from falling victim to volleys of proton torpedoes. However, when he is told that the rebel fighters have gone to lightspeed, he verifies that they are headed for Thyferra.

 

The pilots will arrive there 12 hours from now with low fuel and no sleep. His job is to make sure there’s nothing left here for them to come home to.

 

That’s when he’s contacted by Booster Terrik who takes exception to this huge ship headed toward his station. Drysso doesn’t think Terrik has much to fight with. Then the ship is hit with a gravity well projector. It doesn’t damage the ship but does prevent it from leaving the system.

 

He orders a scan of the system to find out what else is going on here. The scan reports several freighters and snubfighters outbound toward Thyferra. Drysso understands that Antilles did anticipate an attack so sent part of his force on to Thyferra first. There’s little damage they can do once they get there, though, so holding the Lusankya here only delays the inevitable.

 

He contacts the station where Terrik wants to give surrender terms. Muliple tractor beams hold the Lusankya in place and even putting the engines in full reverse will not break the ship away. He orders weapons fired on the station until he is told that at least 300 proton torpedoes and concussion missles are locked onto him.

 

He cannot hope to destroy all of them before being left with a seriously crippled ship. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to make a decision because the Virulence moves in front of Lusankya, breaking the tractor beam locks on the larger ship but trapping itself in the station’s grips, propelling Lusankya backwards as a result of the full reverse of engines.

 

Knowing he cannot take the station with those armaments, he orders course set back to Thyferra and thanks sent to the Virulence for their sacrifice.

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  • So, did the Virulence’s action also break the gravity well projector’s hold on the Lusankya? I ask this because I’ve never gotten the idea that those things’ ability to hold ships in systems was dependent on a direct lock.
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chapter 36:

 

On the way back to Thyferra, Drysso comes up with his cover story. He has sensor scans that prove the weapons on the station would have destroyed the Lusankya which Isard had emphasized was to be protected at all costs. He left his TIEs behind to help the Virulence destroy the station once they’d eliminated enough launchers and missles. The size of the force heading to Thyferra is also much larger than she’d speculated so he was certainly justified in returning there to help.

 

But, when he returns to Thyferra, he finds no X-Wings or fighters of any kind. He’s furious to have been had by Antilles who clearly moved his ships to another base where they’ll hide again and conduct more attacks against the Imperial forces.

 

The presence of another Star Destroyer startles him, giving him pause as to how the Virulence got back so quickly. It turns out that it’s not the Virulence but recently-renamed Freedom captained by Sair Yonka.

 

The two stormtroopers, or rather THDC troopers in stormtrooper armor, are positioned at the door that Iella’s people expected to be unguarded. Fortunately, they are distracted by the flight of several starfighters in the atmosphere which gives her a chance to shoot both of them before the team enters the Xucphra administrative building. The Vratix take care of any security before one of the Zaltin resistance fighters uses the same system he used to use in his job to shut the place down.

 

Erisi gets no answer when she calls to demand why her Elite squadron was scrambled last while the green trainees were sent out first. She uses her own discretion to scramble her fighters but cannot get the earlier squadrons sent out to take her orders. With an Imperial Star Destroyer and an Alderaanian warcraft engaging the Lusankya, the THDC are not forming up to engage the enemy fighters.

 

She warns her own squadron to form up and hope that Rogue Squadron gets tired picking off the others.

 

Wedge asks his R5 if he knows what the tactical feed from the Valiant is all about. The droid had been modified and its memory wiped after the last mission, so Wedge renamed it Gate. Gate reports the transponder is in working order.

 

Wedge reminds his team that they are to take down the Lusankya, so try to avoid dogfights where not necessary.

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chapter 37:

 

Corran and Ooryl deal with TIEs in space, with Ooryl shooting a fair number out of the air. When they get the go-ahead, they move onto Lusankya.

 

On the Lusankya, Drysso orders his crew to make sure to take the Freedom and shoot down the snubfighters. Their position and the limits of their weapons do not allow for the flexibility of doing all of this, but he is bound and determined that this Super Star Destroyer can handle a few starfighters and a ship a tenth of its size.

 

When the TIE fighters are seen in the sky, Vorru knows his time has come. He heads out of his office, orders his shuttle prepped, tells his secretary to hide and tell the rebels terrible things about him so they’ll protect her and orders the two stormtroopers to accompany him to the shuttle, shooting holocams along the way.

 

It’s obvious they are only THDC but they encounter no difficulty in the corridors. On the stairway, however, he hears his ship’s engines and knows someone is trying to take off in it. Blaster shots from the top of the staircase topples his escort down and trips him over which ultimately saves his life. He sees two Royal Guardsmen walking toward the shuttle and fumes that Isard is stealing his transporation.

 

He jumps up and shoots both guards in the back, but has to duck as the shuttle blasts fire over the hangar. He is irritated but didn’t leave himself unprepared.

 

When the Lusankya begins to roll, Wedge tells his men to stay on target. They will just hit the weapons from below. Multiple lasers barrel from the giant ship, but if it can be defanged, it’ll only be a big box in space.

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chapter 38:

 

When missles head toward the Lusankya, Drysso isn’t concerned as it’s only 20. Then the number increases substantially to 80. As the missles hit, the shields come down and Freedom begins to fire upon the ship.

 

He is told that the freighters accompanying the starfighters shot the extra missles. He orders them to leave the Freedom for now and concentrate firepower on the freighters.

 

Tycho and Nawara fight through TIEs to go at Lusankya. The plan had been to slave the freighter’s targeting computers to the starfighters’ telemetry so that the enemy would not realize that the freighters were a threat.

 

They’d bought huge numbers of torpedoes, missle launchers and sensor units from Talon Karrde. Booster had plugged the latter into the station to make it appear they had more weapons than they did. The starfighters rendezvoused with Freedom and rode the rest of the way to Thyferra in comfort.

 

When the Lusankya begins targeting the freighters, it’s obvious they know what’s going on. Further, a shuttle is leaving Thyferra and it’s certain that Isard is on board.

 

On Thyferra, Iella confirms the destroyed holocams and orders her team to go grab a live one. Two Vratix and two commandoes are killed when they go in before Iella orders concussion grenades. At that point, the blaster is tossed out and Vorru surrenders.

 

Iella orders him to come out, hands raised and for Elscol not to kill him. Vorru is confident that the New Republic will not allow him to face justice. He knows way too much about who have been hoarding bacta and which members have cut deals. Iella is disgusted that he thinks he’ll avoid justice by backdoor bargaining.

 

She points out that she wants Isard because of what happened to her husband but he’ll do and puts her blaster to his head. Vorru reminds her that he’s read enough about her to know she won’t shoot.

 

She admits she won’t, but Elscol can. Elscol stuns him. Iella explains that Vorru likes to be in control. He thought Elscol would kill him which would make her as bad as any Imperial, but changed his mind when he realized Iella was here. Elscol points out that Vorru’s prediction is probably right, though. Iella knows a deal could be cut but only if there’s a chance to do it. After all, Rogue Squadron removed him from Kessel, it can easily return him there.

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chapter 39:

 

The Freedom has taken a huge hit. Yonka muses that Antilles didn’t pay him quite enough for this. Fortunately, the Lusankya is leaving them alone right now. When he’s told that the shields should be largely restored soon, he rejects that the notion that they should use the opportunity to run.

 

They knew they would be dead serving under Isard eventually. She will never stop hunting them now that they’ve abandoned her. Their only chance for freedom is to take down Lusankya and that’s something the freighters and fighters cannot do. So, if they die, they will at least not be running.

 

Wedge readies his fighters for their final run. The Lusankya is damaged somewhat, but not enough. He cannot get any acknowledgement from the others, but will fire off his torpedoes anyway.

 

His missles head off joined by six more which punch a hole into the shields and hit the hangar deck. Out of torpedoes, he switches to lasers and goes after TIEs.

 

Erisi Dlarit confirms orders and tells her squad they will be escorting the shuttle Thyfonian out. The Lusankya will pick them up on the way out of the system. When four X-Wings follow in pursuit, she tells her squadron not to lose their heads.

 

Drysso’s ship has taken 150 missles and torpedoes and still has only 35% damage. When the Freedom heads toward them, he orders weapons fired which ultimately set the other ship adrift. But the last salvo from the Freedom brings down all Lusankya’s shields.

 

A message from Isard orders him to follow the shuttle out of the system, but Drysso will not hear of running now. He will pick up what she is abandoning and the arrival of the Virulence only serves to help rally his crew.

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chapter 40:

 

Wedge’s heart sinks when fighters swarm out of the Virulence. He knew the Rogues would go out in a blaze of glory so this is it. He is confused by the A-Wings, though.

 

When he’s contacted by Pash Cracken, he wonders where they came from. Pash explains that his squadron was pulled out of hyperspace by Booster’s gravity well so they convinced the captain of the Virulence that this was all part of the ambush and to surrender her ship.

 

Now it belongs to Booster so they came out here to help.

 

The Virulence, the Valiant and the A-Wings begin to hit Lusankya, Wedge and Gavin’s flight decide to go in for strafing runs.

 

In the meantime, Corran orders Whistler to unscramble frequencies because he wants to make sure he can talk to Erisi. As they down TIEs, he mocks her and goes after her when she causes Nawara to go EV. He reminds her how she always liked doing things the easy way.

 

He chases her through space and over the moon where she finally crashes without even an explosion. Then he turns to go after whoever is in the shuttle.

 

Wedge opens a channel to the Lusankya and offers to accept its surrender, but Captain Drysso will not allow for it. He declares himself an Admiral and refuses to accept that he has no shields and no chance of making it out alive. He threatens to ram the ship into the planet before the comm. goes silent.

 

Drysso’s second-in-command informs Wedge that Drysso is no longer a problem and they will be glad to accept surrender terms if the Valiant will stop firing on it.

 

When he catches up to the shuttle, Corran opens a comm. and tells it to surrender. Isard tells him she should have known it was him, but she’s not giving up to him. He finds that the shuttle has reinforced shields and modified weaponry that he can thank Fliry Vorru for.

 

He tries to bluff her with the threat of torpedoes which he knows even her shields cannot withstand, but she knows he doesn’t have any more or he would have used them already. He decides to ram her just so that her ship will be crippled when Tycho comes out and destroys the shuttle with two torpedoes.

 

With Isard gone, Erisi gone, the Lusankya adrift, it’s only a matter of making sure Thyferra is now free.

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chapter 41:

 

The tour of the Lusankya is bittersweet. All of the prisoners are gone. Obviously, Isard had them sent elsewhere after she abandoned Coruscant. However, it’s probably for the best as this section of the ship lost atmosphere and they all would have died.

 

A forensics team has already been through here and has identified several of the men who’d been here. Now that there is proof, the New Republic will probably go hunting for the prisoners.

 

Ooryl appears and surprises Corran by using the pronoun, “I”, when referring to himself. He explains that the ruetsavii were so impressed by his actions in the liberation of Thyferra that they consider his life significant enough to allow him to refer to himself that way. He is janwuine now. In fact, they are all considered his hinwuine which means they can speak of themselves that way when they are on Gand for his janwuine-jika and not be considered vulgar.

 

Corran asks if Ooryl has always thought of them that way when they referred to themselves in the first person. Ooryl only offers that he didn’t take offense at their ignorance.

 

He was sent to send Tycho to Wedge and Corran to General Cracken. The latter meets Corran in the hopes that he can talk sense into Booster Terrik who wants to keep the Virulence. Corran assures him he probably has little influence there. Cracken tells him that Booster is teaming up with Talon Karrde who is in system now.

 

In the ready room, Corran is introduced to Karrde who appreciates that the former is no longer in CorSec. Corran is, too, because he gets the idea that Karrde knows more about him than Cracken does.

 

Cracken had hoped Corran would have been able to explain the various problems with Booster’s plan. With the number of capital ships out there under Imperial command, the New Republic has to assume that any ship out there that is not under its authority is the enemy. Booster offers to conquer a planet and bring it into the New Republic to eliminate that problem.

 

That’s rather what they are afraid will happen.

 

So Booster suggests they declare his ship a nation that flies from system to system and belongs to the Republic. Cracken will not allow this either and says that such a ship would be a viable target. Booster doesn’t like the threats he’s hearing and refuses to give up a ship that was surrendered to him.

 

Cracken argues that the captain thought she was surrendering to New Republic forces which gives them a claim on the ship. He offers some compensation but not enough that Booster thinks is worth for this ship. He wants a lot more or he will fly out of the system.

 

Since Thyferra has joined the New Republic, it means that all ships are now under Republic law. His engineering and navigation crews have been taken down for debriefing.

 

Corran suggests that, if Booster really wants a ship he can turn into a spacefaring smuggler’s den, how about the Freedom? Booster and Cracken are both horrified at that. Booster claims the ship needs a ton of work that Cracken will make sure never happens. He thinks Corran should stick to flying rather than dumb ideas.

 

Mirax tells him not to talk to her fiancé that way. Corran would rather she not have mentioned that right now. Booster turns to Karrde and tells him one man wants his ship, the other his daughter and asks what Karrde wants from him.

 

Karrde suggests that he reconsider. After all, a ship in private ownership is allowed to have a certain amount of weaponry even if Cracken doesn’t want Terrik to have a ton of it. He suggests moving weapons from the Virulence to the Freedom to even it out.

 

If Cracken doesn’t like that, then Booster could invoke salvage rights for which he’s already named his price and the Republic refuses to meet, so he can deposit 10% down with the government of Thyferra which comes to 10 million credits. Booster doesn’t have that, so Karrde suggests that he sell the extra military grade hardware he has to Karrde himself for that amount.

 

Cracken isn’t anymore comfortable with Karrde having that weaponry than he was with Terrik having it. Fortunately, Karrde agrees and offers to sell it to Cracken for 25 million.

 

Booster wants 15 million, Karrde offers 18 million for four squadrons of TIE fighters and gives Cracken a total bill of 35 million. Booster will pay him the balance of whatever the Thyferran courts decide he owes after reviewing the case, which isn’t likely to be much considering how the Virulence turned the tide of battle.

 

Cracken tells him he strikes a hard bargain and wouldn't mind working with him again. Karrde himself would mind as he has no intention of being caught between the New Republic and the remnants of the Imperial forces again.

 

Cracken tells Booster the Virulence is his and asks him to change the name. Booster already has the name Errant Venture picked out.

 

After he leaves, Booster decides the time is now to discuss this so-called engagement of his daughter. Corran turns to Karrde who assures him he couldn't afford his fee for help. However, Karrde does point out that they need to get over to the Virulence and make sure Cracken doesn't leave only the weapons that are most likely to break down.

 

Corran isn't sure they will be able to survive the engagement period knowing her father's feelings. Fortunately, Mirax has a solution to this.

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chapter 42:

 

Wedge addresses the assorted comrades, allies and colleagues in the room, promising not to bore them too much. He starts off with some changes. During his EV, Nawara injured his leg which will require a prosthetic that doesn't allow for him to keep up with the others as well as he should. He will be serving as Executive Officer from now on, but Tal'dira will be taking his place in the squadron.

 

Bror Jace will spend some time on Thyferra training a new Thyferran Aerospace Defense Force. As for the rest of them, General Cracken has informed them that their resignations were never officially logged, so they can return to the New Republic if they wish. Wedge, Tycho and Corran are planning to do just that. Aril will do so also as captain of the Valiant. Cracken is also putting together an investigative team which will try to search for the missing Lusankya prisoners.

 

The remaining pilots agree to return to Rogue Squadron, as well.

 

Wedge adds that they've also all been invited to Gand for Ooryl's janwuine-jika ceremony. In addition, he has the pleasure of letting them know that, as the de facto captain of the Lusankya, he married Mirax Terrik and Corran Horn about half-an-hour ago.

 

Booster jumps up with a red face. Wedge points out that they knew he'd be angry about the engagement, so they might as well have him angry about the marriage. Booster isn't so concerned about the CorSec angle since Corran is now in Rogue Squadron, but Karrde had bet him a million credits that they would do exactly what they did.

 

Wedge reminds them all of the sacrifices made and he is very grateful to the pilots here who did not die because he did not join this squadron to lose friends. He offers a toast to Rogue Squadron.

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  • Okay, so Rogue Squadron now consists of:

Wedge Antilles, commander
Tycho Celchu
Corran Horn
Ooryl Qyrrg
Nawara Ven
Rhysati Ynr
Asyr Sei'lar
Inyri Forge
Tal'dira
Gavin Darklighter
Bror Jace

 

The End

  • This was a nice end to the Krytos virus storyline, but since we never saw either Erisi's or Isard's bodies, I do have to wonder if this is just another feint to make us think they're dead when they're not.
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