Star Wars: Darkness Rising: The Threat Within Chapter 23

Chapter 23
Poe couldn’t believe the firepower that he saw the Star Destroyers unleash.  They had not needed to destroy the task force with turbolaser fire, the weapon could have done that.   BB8 whistled over the comm.  Poe looked down at the scanner.   Over one hundred Tie-Fighters were heading toward them.   He had no doubt that they were the new ones that they had been fighting.   BB8 gave a low tone of dismay. 

“What do you mean?”  Poe asked as he adjusted the sensors.   The gravity field was wrong.   “There are interdiction fields.”  He slammed his fist on the arm rest 

“Rogue Leader, Arclight.” 

“I read you Archlight.” 

“We have to buy the ships time to get away,” Wedge said. 

“They have interdiction fields,” Poe said. 

“I know.  We will figure something out.”

“Where is our backup?” Poe asked. 

“I don’t know, they will be here soon.” 

Poe cursed and rolled the X-wing over.  “Rogue Leader to Rogue squadron.   We have a target rich environment.  I expect you to come out aces.” 

“Roger Rogue Leader,” came through his comm from the pilots. 

A lone modified YT-1300 freighter burst out of the jungle just a head of the wall of plasma fire sweeping over the surface.  Its nose pulled up and the ship shot into the sky, rising out of the atmosphere and the danger the plasma posed.   “You could have tried to hurry more,” Greeze said from the pilot’s seat when he heard Saint come up behind him.  

“I have faith in your piloting, Greeze,” he said.  

“Hey, don’t patronize me,” Greeze snapped.  “I am too old for this crap as it is.” 

Saint stood behind the pilot’s seat and looked out the canopy.  Unlike most freighters, the pilot had lone seat with the co-pilot above and behind him to his right and the engineer’s station to the left.  It gave the feel of a more combat oriented ship.  

“Not good,” Mysdia said as he looked at the scanners from the co-pilot’s station.  “There are interdiction fields.” 

“So, now we are stuck here?” Greeze asked. 

“You wanted to fight the good fight,” Saint said with a laugh.

“Yeah, by finding information, not going head to head against the Empire, again.”

Saint shook his head.  “Fly, Greeze.  Keep us alive.   Renoka and I will take the turrets.   Who knows, we might help even up the fight.”   

“There is an interdiction field,” Finn called back.  “We can’t jump.” 

“I am getting so tired of this,” Rae said.   “Come on Lowie.”  She held out an arm to him and he helped her down the hall.   Lowbacca pulled the ladder out to reveal the turrets.  

Lowbacca lowered Rae into one and started to climb the ladder when Luke laid a hand on his shoulder.   “No.  Go help Finn.  He is going to need assistance,” Luke said.  

Lowbacca looked at Luke then nodded.   Luke watched him go to the front of the ship and looked around.   Rose was up in the ship’s lounge helping a few of the older padawans care for the youngest of the younglings.   He turned his attention to K7 and C3PO.  “Please keep the younglings calm, it is going to get rough.”  

“I am not designed as a childcare droid,” K7 said.  

“Neither is C3PO,” Luke said.  He started to say something to R2D2, but the droid had turned and headed back toward the engine room.  

Luke mounted the ladder to go up.  “Master Skywalker,” Rae said from below him.  “We’re in trouble, aren’t we?” 

“Trust in the force, Padawan,” Luke said and smiled.  

She watched him climb into the gunner’s seat and close his eyes.   She felt a spark in the force then the spark became a flare and the flare became like the fire that burned their home below them.  She closed her eyes and began to focus on her own task at hand. 

Master Chagee stood in the bridge of the Fortunate One next to the Twi’lek captain.   The freighter was making its best speed away from the fight.   “Master Chagee, do you think we will be able to make it out of here?” the captain asked.  

Chagee tilted his head as he felt the force change.  “I am not sure,” he said but offered a smile.  “But it seems that Master Skywalker has decided to take an active role in things.”

“What is Master Skywalker doing?”

“Trying to even the odds.  Please order your gunners to leave their stations,” he said and pulled out his comm.  “Padawans, report to the bridge.” 

“Why would I do that?” the captain asked confused. 

“Because the Padawans are going to be your gunners,” Chagee said.   He knelt on the deck and put his hands on his knees.  “When they get here, tell them to man the guns.”   Chagee closed his eyes and reached out with the force.  While not as skilled as Master Skywalker, he sought to work in concert with the Grandmaster. 

Kylo’s eyes narrowed and he sneered.  Even with Luke using battle meditation, the pitifully few ships were outnumbered and out gunned.  There was no way that they would survive this.   Kylo was still surprised at the sheer amount of force that Luke was using.

“Is there something wrong, Lord Ren?” Hux asked.   He had stepped away from the holographic display letting the ships follow the last orders given.

“Master Skywalker was not on planet,” Kylo said. 

Hux nodded and sipped a cup of tea that his assistant had handed him.  “You didn’t expect him to be on planet, did you?” he asked.  

“Of course not,” Kylo snapped.  “It would have been much more convenient if he were.”  

“We don’t always get what we want.  The fighters should take out the stragglers including Master Skywalker and our mission will be a success,” Hux said. 

“Be mindful that they do that,” Kylo said.

Admiral Holdo stood on the bridge of her fleet flagship, a Starhawk class battleship, The Burning Dawn.  Her lavender hair was pulled back in tight braid which added to her own severe look.  Her uniform was crisp and neat though she wore the jacket open rather than buttoned.  The holographic display in the center of the bridge showed the rest of the fleet arrayed behind the Dawn.  Two Nebula class Star Destroyers, two Imperial II class Star Destroyers, an Endurance Class Carrier and a dozen smaller corvettes and frigates.  

Two small figures appeared at the edge of the hologram.  “Admiral,” one of them said.  “Are you sure about this?” 

“Yes, Captain Tomor.  You and Captain Jasp will follow the course.  When you are pulled out of hyperspace, launch everything and cover the freighters,” she said.  She understood why he was worried, taking the carrier away from the fleet would leave them open to potential attack by star fighters, but they were not equipped to go into the slugfest that awaited.  That and the refugees needed the star fighter protection.  “We engage in thirty seconds.” 

She tapped a few keys and brought up the fleet wide comm.  “Attention fleet, this is Admiral Holdo.   We are too late to stop this new Empire from destroying Yavin 4.   However, they are still there so we will make them pay for their arrogance.   Follow the battle plan, keep your nerve and may the force be with you all.”  

She looked to her tactical officers.  “Give the order, jump now.”   She stared out the forward viewports as orders were relayed.  She watched as a few of the corvettes jumped then the stars became streaks as they jumped.   Five seconds never seemed both so long and so short as they did then. 

As the ship came out of hyperspace, the jolted hard, staggering Holdo into the railing.  Without missing a beat, she called out, “Find your targets and fire.  Twenty seconds until we jump to hyperspace again.” 

Hux and Kylo watched the ships out of the view port when a corvette and a second one came out of hyperspace inside their formation, moving fast toward the rear of it.   Neither had time to react before Holdo’s fleet dropped out of hyperspace.    The Star Hawk battleship slammed into one of the light cruisers and tore it in half, not even slowing down.  

No order could be given in time before the intruding ships opened fire on the fleet.   Several of the smaller escort frigates and corvettes were crippled or destroyed as the fleet moved through.   Some of ships began to return fire as the fleet moved through, but not enough to do more than damage the Republic ships’ shields.

Just as quickly as they arrived, the ships jumped back to hyperspace leaving a trail of destruction and a final volley of proton torpedoes in their wake.   Hux dropped his cup and ran his holographic display, pulling his headset on.   His tactical officers were coordinating the response, not that there was time for one as the ships had already left.

Captain Tomor was yanked against his restraints as the Endurance class carrier, Brightsong, was pulled out of hyperspace when it ran into the interdiction field.  He saw the engineers station’s screens turning red showing the damage to the ship from that maneuver.   “Launch all fighters,” Tomor called out.  

The Guardian class cruiser, Tarkin’s Folly, was also yanked out of hyperspace with the Brightsong.  Captain Jasp smiled.  “Let’s give some cover,” he said.  “Helm, best speed toward those corvettes, we have Jedi to rescue.” 

Wedge watched as the overwhelming wave of Tie-Fighters closed on the fleet as it tried to escape.   He wasn’t scared but oddly calm.  He began issuing orders to the remaining fighters and to the freighters, herding them ahead of the oncoming fighters.   He wanted to have the few remaining Y-wings take out the corvettes, but he knew that they would be almost instantly destroyed by the ties if they tried. 

Wedge almost jumped out of his chair when the Brightsong and Tarkin’s Folly came out of hyperspace a few kilometers away.   Tarkin’s Folly’s engines flared to life as the Brightsong began to disgorge its fighters.  “Admiral, incoming comm,” one of the officers said.

The holopanel lit up and Captain Tomor appeared.  “Admiral Antilles, Admiral Holdo sends her regards,” Tomor said and smiled.  “Let’s see if we can get you some breathing room and get these refugees out of harm’s way.”

“Captain, I am very glad to see you,” Wedge said.  “These Tie’s are nothing like the old models.  They are faster, have shields, and missiles.” 

“We have relayed that information to our pilots, Admiral.”

Hux frowned as he reviewed what had happened and the massive dogfight going on near the moon.   “So, that is what the corvette was for,” he said. 

“What corvette?” Kylo asked as he stepped into the field next to Hux. 

Hux moved the map to center on the corvette that was holding in orbit above Yavin prime.   “Reconnaissance ship. It showed up a few minutes before the surprise attack by the fleet,” Hux said.   “My best guess is that it provided exact coordinates to the rest of the fleet.”   He tapped the headset he wore.  “Interdiction crews, the moment that those ships reappear, raise interdiction fields around the fleet.”   His eyes tracked as the ships with interdiction fields turned green acknowledging their orders.

“Do you think that they are going to be back?”  Kylo asked.  His head tilted as he felt into the force.  He knew that the Admiral was right. 

“Of course.  And they will appear behind us this time.  They will do two jumps, maybe three, though I doubt they will take that many.  This way they can get turned around to approach us from behind and be able to jump away from Yavin.” Hux put his hands behind his back and watched as the dogfight unfolded.  The rate at which the newcomers were taking out tie-fighters was disturbing.  The pilots were clones of some of the best pilots and trained exclusively to pilot.

“Shouldn’t we turn to face them?” Kylo asked. 

“No.  If we execute a turn as a fleet, that corvette will just relay that we are.  The fleet will just change the angle of attack will change.”  He frowned and touched the headset again.  “Raxis, Slash, Trident, Sornel, launch all of your Ties & Interceptors, send them to help the first attack wave.”  The Star Destroyers turned green and almost immediately he saw fighters launching.   “Either our pilots are terrible or the Republic has been training their pilots more thoroughly than our spying has indicated.” 

Kylo snorted.  “Neither.  Master Skywalker is using a force ability that Emperor Palpatine used against the Rebel forces at Endor.”

Hux gave Kylo an inquisitive look.   “Did you notice from the vids of the battle how just before the Death Star blew up that the Imperial forces seemed to become disorganized?”

Hux nodded.  “The theory is that the Executor’s destruction was such a motivational hit that moral began to plummet.” 

“No,” Kylo said flatly.  “When Lord Vader turned on Emperor Palpatine and killed him, the cohesive force that the Emperor was weaving through the battle fell apart.” 

“Well, then we will have to see which is better, our clone pilots or the Jedi Master,” Hux said. 

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Shawn Bennett

When I was 7, I saw Star Wars: A New Hope in theaters a week after it opened. My parents were nice enough to take me and I have been a fan of Star Wars and almost all science fiction in general. I am an amateur writer who has been published for contributing flavor text to a RP game. I also have a copyright on a novel I hope to be able to publish sometime soon.