|Star Wars Battlefront 2: A Story of Galactic War
Author: Quane PM
I wrote this on a message board. It's still in progress.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Words: 6,320 - Reviews: 4 - Published: 03-20-06 - id: 2854076
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The massive AT-TE lumbered forward over the dry landscape that was Geonosis.
Many clone troops took refuge beneath it, firing out from under it. The sounds of battle were muffled and distant from the cockpit of the monstrous vehicle. I sat in the pilot seat, observing the battle from my safe vantage point. I flicked a switch on a panel in front of me and observed the display that appeared on my screen. All vital systems green. I turned the display off and looked at the visual display of the battle in front of us. Shots flew in every direction. Massive spires of rock jutted out from the earth. Turrets were mounted at strategic points, mowing down our troops. I looked at my targeting display and adjusted my aim. I fired and shot a glance at the visual display. A smoldering crater lay in place of a turret. Several geonosians landed near it and attempted to repair it but were gunned down by a clone regiment.
A hailfire tank rolled across my field of vision and launched several rockets into the sky, which connected with an LAAT. Several bodies flew like dolls from the side of the ship as it spiraled down to the ground. I activated my comlink and instructed the main cannon to destroy the hailfire. A few seconds passed, and the AT-TE shuddered with the force of the cannon fire. A glowing blast flew through the air and connected with the hailfire, which burst apart and crushed infantry near it, droid and clone alike. I picked up a radio and checked in on the other AT-TE pilots in various other parts of the battle.
"Heavy Support, unit J-35 closing in on Techno Union headquarters. Status?"
"All clear. Making progress," crackled the reply. Similar messages echoed in from the other units. I set down the radio and resumed what I had been doing. I checked my radar and saw several other hailfires scattered around the area. I began to adjust my aim to fire on one.
"Look out!" yelled my copilot. Startled, I quickly glanced at the visual display. A swarm of rockets were flying straight towards us. I had no time to react, and they struck the AT-TE head-on. The giant machine quaked, rocking in every direction. The display went black. Cursing, I pulled myself off the floor and flicked a switch. The status display came up. All front legs were damaged. Com and visual systems were down. I cursed again and helped my copilot up. We couldn't help from here anymore.
We exited the cockpit and walked down a hallway. The floor was slanted towards us so that we were walking uphill. The lights flickered and sparks flew from the ceiling. We reached the main body room of the AT-TE and looked around. Clones lay around, injured or recovering. I walked over to a supply room and took out a few bacta tanks and blaster pistols, handing one to my copilot. I returned to the large room and did what I could to help the injured. When we had done what we could, I gathered a few men and we gathered around the hatch leading to the outdoors. I punched in a few keys on a panel in the wall and the hatch began to open. Immediately droid shots rained in through the growing crack. I stopped the hatch and the men crouched down and fired out, tossing detonators as well. When the shots slowed I reactivated the door and it opened. We walked out. The sun glared into my eyes and dust filled my lungs. I quickly realized that my pilot suit would not be of much use on the harsh geonosian planet.
Shots from afar reached us, a droid sniper outpost. Two men fell around me, and my copilot was wounded in the arm. We scattered and took cover behind boulders or the damaged AT-TE. I got my first look at it. The legs had been destroyed; it was still supported on its hind legs, but the front slanted down and met the ground. Black char marks were all over the front of it where the rockets had struck. The main top cannon was skewed at an awkward angle, the clone manning it hung out of the seat, dead. I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Looking around, I crouched and held my pistol out over the stone I was leaning against. I fired into the distant dust and stone, but I couldn't keep it up long before I was coughing and squinting again. This was going to be a long battle.
Knowing I was useless in the battle with no vision and just a pistol, I retreated into the AT-TE. I approached an injured clone and asked him if he could lend me his armor, and he agreed. In return I fetched him some more bacta tanks from the storage room. I removed my pilot uniform and stepped into the armor. It was heavy and unfamiliar. I moved awkwardly at first, struggling to put my pistol into a holster at my belt. The soldier would not let me take his rifle, as he feared that the droids might somehow break into the AT-TE. I nodded and turned away from him. I made one last trip to the supply room, taking a rifle from the wall and two thermal detonators.
Walking back into the open, I surveyed the field through my helmet's visor. We were still pinned down, and I had to crouch and hurry to cover when a sniper beam sizzled by right next to my head. I stopped next to a sniper and another clone trooper crouching behind a large boulder. The sniper turned and exhaled heavily, the air rasping through his breath filter. He reloaded his rifle and resumed his sniping. The trooper next to me raised his head over the boulder and immediately fell back, a smoking hole through his helmet. I recoiled from the corpse, shuffling away, but I restrained myself from going too far and meeting a similar fate with no cover.
The battle seemed to be moving away from us. The heavy fighting was happening farther up the battlefield, near the Techno Union main outpost. I got down on my stomach, putting just a small part of my head out from the boulder. I looked through the limited scope of my rifle, and, following a beam trail from a sniper shot, located the sniper nest. My hand felt too large in the heavy cloth and armor that I was in. I squeezed the trigger heavily, and the blaster jumped back slightly. I adjusted my position to limit the movement and fired again.
I couldn't see what I was shooting at, but I shot in the general direction. My bullets spread over distance so it was highly inaccurate. I knew I was just wasting ammunition, so I stopped and crouched behind the boulder again. Best to leave this job to the snipers. I sat and looked into the sky, where another intense battle was raging. Explosions dotted the sky, and even higher up, a space battle was being fought. A large frigate fell from the sky far off in the distance and descended behind a hill, followed by a large explosion a moment later.
"So much death…" I mumbled. The sniper next to me tossed a small object into my lap. "Make yourself useful," he said. I picked it up. A recon droid. I had basic training with them. I thanked him and deployed the droid. It hovered in front of me and I moved it around the boulder. I reached the snipers with the droid. They were in a small bunker with a slit opening and a door on the side. I sent my droid in through the top of the doorway and turned it from side to side. There were about ten snipers and a few battle droids, as well as a few dead droids on the floor. A tunnel led out from the back of the bunker. I landed the droid on the floor and activated its self-destruct function.
My remote control screen went blank. I peered over the rock into the distance. An explosion resounded and the sniper fire ceased. The clones near me cheered and stood. We headed out towards the bunker. When we reached it, smoke was billowing out from the openings and the stone around it was charred. I entered with the men and they exchanged a brief word. They decided to head into the tunnel, as it could only lead to more enemies. They began to file in, and I joined them, still uncomfortable in my armor.
The tunnel was lit eerily by soft lights spaced evenly along the rough stone ceiling. We came to a wider open room in further down the tunnel and the first clone stepped out into it. Something nudged me sideways from behind. Startled, I jumped and watched as a clone pushed his way through our line and pulled back the first soldier.
"Fools!" he exclaimed. "Do you want to die?" We watched him in silence. He spoke with the voice of someone experienced, and the colored pauldron of rank on his shoulder reflected that. His rifle was different from ours, more sleek and dangerous looking.
"Well?" he asked again. He huffed and pointed his rifle into the room, up at the ceiling.
"Do you see those?" He fired his rifle. Three energy bursts flew through the air in rapid succession and struck on object on the ceiling. There was a small explosion and a hunk of metal fell to the floor.
"Autoturrets…" one of the men mumbled. The man pointed out and destroyed several other turrets before he allowed us to continue. He took the lead, walking out of the tunnel with his rifle hefted. We filed out after him; I was three men behind him. There were about twenty of us.
Abruptly, I was thrown several feet through the air into the clone in front of me. An explosion shook the cavern, and pebbles fell from the ceiling. I sat up and looked back. A crater was smoldering in the ground and about five of our number lay dead around it. Cursing, we gathered ourselves up and huddled together.
The sergeant with the pauldron instructed us to calm down. He stepped forward and shot into the ground all the way towards the exit of the chamber. Nothing detonated. We followed him, stepping gingerly, towards the exit. When finally we reached it, we all breathed a heavy sigh of relief, although it was short lived.
The tunnel sloped upwards from where we were. We trekked through it and at last reached a point at which we could see light. Unsure of what awaited us, we rested for a second. Our sergeant removed his pack and opened it, removing a recon droid. He deployed it while we steeled ourselves. Moments later, an explosion resounded from the room above.
"Everyone arm a detonator and when I tell you to, throw it up there," instructed the sergeant. We did as he said and waited nervously. He listened intently, and several moments later yelled, "NOW!"
Fifteen thermal detonators flew through the air, and fifteen explosions echoed down the tunnel. We rushed to close the distance and emerged into the smoking room. Droid parts were scattered everywhere, and more droids were flooding into the room. We opened fire on them, screaming. Shots flew by me, the clone to my right fell, followed by the clone to my left. I panicked.
Firing wildly into the mass of droids, I screamed and scrambled away, searching for an exit out of the corner of my eyes. The sergeant yelled to hold our ground, but I was too far gone. A distant clicking noise reached my ears and it dawned on me that my rifle wasn't firing anymore. I cursed and flung the weapon down, clawing at my waist for my pistol. I grasped it and turned in time to see a thermal detonator go off under the feet of the sergeant. He flew into the air, torn apart by the explosion. My eyes widened and I whipped around, running. I saw a door and ran towards it, emerging into a corridor. I ran down it and through another door
I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I had to get out of this place. I ran into a droid, which let out a surprised noise. I yelled in fear and fired repeatedly at it until its head was a smoldering pile of melted metal. I ran over the corpse and continued my mad flight. At last I reached a large hangar, with open doors leading to the landscape of Geonosis. Then reality hit me. The hangar was full of droids, and what was out on the battlefield beyond? Disheartened, I breathed heavily into my helmet. What was I going to do? I was just a pilot.
I stood at the doorway, paralyzed with indecision. I spun at the sound of footsteps behind me, pistol raised. I relaxed slightly when I saw a clone trooper running towards me. He stopped next to me, breathing heavily.
"Where did you come from?" I asked, immediately realizing what a stupid question it was.
"I followed you," he replied. "And they followed me."
He gestured down the hallway where heavy metallic footsteps were sounding around a corner. Growing fearful again, I asked him, "Are we the only ones left?"
"As far as I know," came the dreaded reply. A red beam flew through the air next to us, and we jumped, startled. He pulled me into the hangar and bashed a panel on the wall with his fist until a heavy door slid down and closed us off from them. He shot out the console with a single blast. "That should hold them for now…" He said, turning around and observing the hangar we were in. He cursed. "Out of the frying pan…"
"And into the oven." I finished for him. A droid making an adjustment to a defense turret noticed us and gave off a warning.
We broke into a run towards the open landscape of Geonosis, but only one of us made it. A shot caught my comrade from behind and he fell with a cry. I started to panic again, and scrambled back to his body. I picked up his rifle and ran again, blaster fire chasing me out of the hangar. I passed under the exit and saw how that battle had been progressing.
Smoke was thick in the air, droid and vehicle remains smoldered on the ground. In the distance I could see my wrecked AT-TE. I wished I had never left the thing. That thought was quickly remedied as it suddenly exploded, sending shards of metal flying into the air. I shuddered and looked around for any allies. An AT-TE lumbered on in the far-off distance. A group of clones walked up a pathway on a spire, firing into the air at airborne Geonosians. I was alone at a large enemy outpost.
The hairs on my neck prickled and I fell to the ground and rolled left, narrowly avoiding a shot from a Geonosian hovering high above me. I knelt and hefted my rifle, sending a hail of blue blasts at it. They tore through its legs and wings, and it dropped to the earth with a dull thud.
A fresh volley of shots came at me from the hangar, and I ran as fast as I could away from them. I ran out of breath about 300 yards away, and collapsed to the ground on my knees. A few super battle droids followed me from the hangar and increased their speed when they saw me fall. As they closed in I gave up hope and prepared myself to die. I felt a blaster shot pierce the armor above my left elbow, an intense burning pain, but no other shots came at me. After a few moments, I dared to stand and look. The droids were dead; an IFT-X tank had arrived near me and destroyed them. Several clones walked over to me and helped me up. They brought me to the IFT-X and gave me a bacta tank. I injected it into my arm and the pain melted away.
"What are you doing on your own, and running that way?" They asked me. I told them my story. They gave me some supplies and directions to an outpost where I could find a tank to pilot or join another group of soldiers. I thanked them and left them, walking across the desolate battlefield. I stopped to watch the tank move off towards the hangar, firing into it. I hoped they would get revenge for my fallen comrades. I was out of the battle for now, but it wasn't over. There was still fighting to do.
I trekked through the smoking wasteland, following the directions the tank squad had given me. Corpses lay scattered all around, and the sights and sounds of battle emanated from far-off areas. It was about forty minutes before I saw the outpost looming in the distance.
It was an elevated bunker with a lookout tower jutting out of the ground next to it. An LAAT lifted off in front of it and flew away towards the battle. As I approached, I walked through a field of droids, each disabled with a single shot through the head or chest. There must be some skilled sharpshooters at this outpost, I thought.
I reached the bunker and walked up a steel grate walkway. A mechanical door slid open for me and a clone with blood-red pauldrons on his shoulders met me. His right shoulder plate had an indentation to mount a chaingun on. I briefly explained my situation to him.
"Well, another LAAT wont be back for a long while, but we have a few IFT-X's ready to go within a half-hour. You could pilot one or join the ground forces with them."
I thanked him and restocked my ammunition from a chest on the wall. I also grabbed a bacta tank and attached it to my belt. I left the bunker and looked around. There was a hangar carved out of a spire a short distance away, and I set off for it. When I arrived, I saw about thirty fresh clone troopers milling around three IFT-X tanks. I walked over to a group of pilots discussing their mission.
"The Heavy Arms unit in the northeast sector was destroyed about an hour ago. We should reinforce them."
"But the main Eastern advance unit has been halted short of their destination. We need to help them break through."
I interrupted them, introducing myself. "I am an AT-TE pilot, but my vehicle was destroyed. I was given permission by your commander to pilot one of these tanks. Is this acceptable?"
They mumbled an affirmative response and began again to argue about where to go.
"If I may suggest," I piped in, "One of the tanks should reinforce the Northeast sector. Once there you can radio in more help from a nearer outpost. Mine and the other tank can assist the Eastern advance unit." They agreed and we dispersed to our tanks and announced to the troops the plan.
I opened the top hatch of my tank and climbed in, and one of the soldiers joined me. Another climbed onto the manned tank turret. That left seven men to reinforce from the ground. I dropped down and closed the hatch, taking the pilot seat. The other clone, whom I assumed had basic copilot skills, sat at the other control panel. I activated the targeting and visual display and activated the engine. The tank rose a foot off of the ground and drifted slowly forward. I activated my comlink and spoke to the pilot in the tank accompanying me.
"Everything ok?" I asked. "Yes sir," crackled the reply. "Then let's move out."
The seven troops hopped on to various parts of the tank, sitting on the edges or the top, and I accelerated, heading east. The tanks sped across the dusty landscape. My squad were all connected by a communicator in our helmets, which we had calibrated to each other before we set off. A cry of pain sounded into my ears, and a clone fell from our tank into the dust. "What happened?" I demanded. Muffled beam fire sounded from outside, and the tank slowed for a second as the turret fired a heavy beam.
"Some Geonosians, sir. We took care of it." I accelerated again and adjusted my course directly east. Heavy fire was being exchanged ahead of us, and I spotted clones taking cover behind rocks and destroyed tanks. We had arrived at the Eastern Advance line.
I drove my tank up to the front line and fired the front guns of the tank, sweeping from side to side into the enemy lines. On my visual display I saw small arms fire from my troops and a heavy beam from the other tank fly into the ranks of the enemy. A rocket impacted a few feet away from my tank and a bloody clone flew across my field of vision. My instincts and reflexes took over. I was back in the battle.
The clones riding on my tank jumped off and joined the other clones behind cover. I flicked a switch on the panel in front of me and my visual display zoomed in. I saw a large stone formation with a hangar built into it, much like the one I had escaped from earlier. I reverted to the normal view and fired on the enemy.
I brought the tank to maximum speed and drove into the front line of droids, crushing several beneath my tank. Firing my light blaster cannons, I searched for an important target. A heavy blast from a turret found one for me. The impact shook the tank, and an explosion followed. I glanced at the system status screen, and the main turret had been disabled. I cursed and activated my targeting monitor. I moved the crosshairs onto the turret and fired 2 rockets; one flew harmlessly past, but the other made contact. The turret exploded and rained metal onto the battlefield.
My tank rattled, shaken by the explosion of a thermal detonator under us, but the heavy plating prevented any severe damage. I was mowing down droids with lasers and rockets in front of me. The clone in the tank with me spoke: "We are running low on rockets and energy…" I nodded and he went back to monitoring the main systems. A grating, sizzling noise reached my ears and I looked up in time to see the top hatch of our tank open and a droid point a shotgun into the cockpit. I hunched up in my seat and reached for my pistol as the droid fired.
Most of the shot went straight into my copilot but the rest ricocheted around the cockpit, damaging the panels and burying itself into my armor. I fired my pistol into the droid and shoved it out of the tank. I poked my head out of the hatch and looked around. I was surrounded by droids, about 50 yards from where the clones were held up. The droid had sliced into my vehicle with a fusion cutter.
I cursed and dropped back into my tank. I glanced at the control panels. The targeting and display screens were damaged beyond repair. The tank was useless now, so I activated the EMP system with a hidden switch under the pilot chair. The tank sent out a shockwave, disabling itself as well as any droids within a 30 foot radius. I opened a panel on the wall and grabbed a shotgun, looked around once more, and climbed out of the tank. I jumped down and crouched, looking for somewhere to go.
My efforts, combined with the other tank had freed the clones from their position. They were charging up the field, firing towards the hangar. I stood and ran with them. Some were already ahead of me. The other tank led the charge, and a heavy blue beam fired out from its turret into the hangar. Abruptly a hail of rockets flew out from the hangar and annihilated the IFT-X, as well as the front row troops. A hailfire tank rolled out of the hangar and through our ranks, crushing and firing into the clones.
I kept pace with the charge and joined up with another clone. I motioned for him to follow me and he nodded. We ran diagonally towards the hailfire. Another hail of rockets descended from the skies, smashing craters into the ground around us. As I neared the giant vehicle I armed a thermal detonator and tossed it towards the thing, but it rolled out of the way of the explosion. It left char marks on the right wheel cover, but did no damage. I looked to my fellow trooper who was looking around in a panic.
"Give me your detonators!"
"What!" he yelled back, confused.
"Just do it!"
He tossed two thermal detonators at me and I caught them. I had three now. The hailfire tank turned around and began to drive back towards me. I stood in its path. As it rolled right over me, I dropped onto my back in the dust and tossed up all 3 detonators. I quickly raised my shotgun and fired after them. The shot clipped all three and detonated them. The hailfire flew into the air and fell apart, and the explosion crushed me into the ground. My head reeled from pressure and I was blinded from the blast.
I stumbled to my feet and quickly fell again, only to be helped up by another trooper. "That was amazing!" he exclaimed. I was unable to speak. How was I alive? He dragged me over to a smoldering piece of hailfire tank and propped me up against it. He took a bacta tank from my belt and injected it into my arm. I relaxed and asked him how the battle was going. He looked over the wreckage towards the hangar.
"Most of the clones made it into the hangar. They should have taken it by now. The battle's over for us, man! We made it."
For my actions on Geonosis I was raised to the rank of Sergeant. I was given command of a group of four other pilots, a medal for bravery, and orange shoulder pauldrons, which I wore proudly. After the post-battle operations in the desert world, we were transported to a massive star cruiser where we could relax until we were called back into action.
It didn't take long. I was in the mess hall when the loudspeakers went on. "All pilots report to briefing hall 4G. Battle alert set to code Orange. That is all."
I stood up from my table, saying goodbye to a few friends who were still eating. I picked up a small roll from my plate and made my way to the briefing hall, eating it on the way. I reached the entrance and paused, watching a few other pilots walk up the corridor. One of them was in my unit. I nodded at him and entered.
The thin metal doors slid shut behind me as I walked down the aisle searching for a seat. I ended up in the third row. Looking around, I saw the other 3 pilots under my command in various seats around the large hall. The seats were around a podium, each row slightly higher than the one in front of it. You might think we were waiting for a concert.
After about five minutes the stream of pilots entering the room slowed to a trickle, and the lights dimmed and brightened again. We turned our attention to the front of the room.
A man in officer's uniform walked out to the podium, several medals and stripes decorating his chest. He cleared his throat and began:
"Pilots! We have just received new orders. The CIS are staging an attack on Kashyyyk, the home planet of the Wookies, who are an important ally of the Republic. Several cruisers like ours are heading for the planet to help defend it, and we are one of them. As pilots, your duty is to secure the space above Kashyyyk while the ground forces defend several key areas on the surface."
He looked in my direction. "Unit J-35, you will be assaulting a CIS star cruiser stationed above a beach oil refinery. At all costs you are to destroy or disable it before it can launch an orbital strike bombardment."
I looked over to each of my pilots and they nodded back at me, showing they understood. The officer read out various other units and their assignments, and they each nodded. After the tasks were given, a small hologram projector in the floor activated, producing an image of a CIS star cruiser. The officer then pointed out all of the vital systems, and they lighted up on the hologram when mentioned. Sensor array, command bridge, life support systems, autoturrets, engines, comm station, all were pointed out to us.
"I hope you all understand your mission," the officer concluded. "We will arrive in Kashyyyk-controlled space in around one hour using the hyperspace drive. Good luck, and fight well." He walked away from the podium; the hologram deactivated. We all stood and dispersed, talking animatedly about the mission.
I gathered my unit and we headed towards the hanger. "You and you," I pointed to two of the pilots, "With me, in ARC-170's."
"And you," I said to the other pilot, "I want you in a V-wing bomber. I'll be using my Republic starfighter."
We arrived at the hangar and walked to a fighter garage. We logged in our mission and what we needed and they towed them out to the launching bay and began pre-flight diagnostics. I leaned against a wall and watched my fresh, inexperienced pilots. This was going to be hard for them. They hadn't been shot at before, hadn't fought the cold, merciless droids. I closed my eyes and played out the battle in my head, waiting for the real thing.
A young clone in an engineer's uniform came up to me, wiping a rag across his forehead.
"Everything's ready sir. You can board your ships."
I thanked him and walked over to my men.
"This will be your first mission," I said. "Show no mercy to the droids because they are incapable of it. Stay alert, always on your guard. There will be a lot going on out there so it is easy to lose yourself. Just follow my orders and you should be fine."
"Yes sir!" They all saluted and dispersed to their ships.
I climbed up a few steps to my starfighter's cockpit and hopped in. The cover descended over me and sealed me in. I flicked a switch and the panels and lights all activated. A display popped up in my center computer with a small picture of my ship, and small text flew across the screen. "Yeah, yeah," I muttered, pressing a few buttons on a panel to my left.
The display minimized and I sat back in my seat, waiting to be deployed. I put my hand to my helmet and turned up my comlink volume. "Everything okay?" I asked into my build-in microphone.
"Yes sir," came four responses. A blue light flickered on and off above my main computer, meaning that a message was being patched through to my cockpit.
"Attention. We are nearing Kashyyyk. All pilots report to your craft. All others able for combat, report to the transport docking bays in the H level hangars."
The light went out and came back on shortly thereafter. A voice crackled through.
"J-35? You will be accompanied by the J-36 and 37 Fighter squadrons, as well as a K-2 Bomber squadron. We are nearing your destination. When the hangar doors open, you are to launch and engage in your mission. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir." The blue light flickered out.
A loud siren came on in the hangar, the sound barely reaching my ears through the thick metal of my starfighter. The gigantic doors started to open, sliding apart from each other into the walls. The empty void of space showed through the widening crack, distorted by the pale green glow of the cruiser's shield. I activated the fighter's propulsion system, and it flared to life. My ship hovered and shot out of the hangar, followed closely by my squadron.
I stared out of my cockpit. The massive planet Kashyyyk loomed up in front of us. Over it, what could only be the CIS star cruiser. Far off in the distance were other Republic star cruisers, and, according to my sensors, other squadrons were approaching the CIS ship. I flicked a switch to activate my targeting computer, but we were still too far away for it to lock onto anything.
I spoke into my comlink. "ARC-170s to my sides and behind me; V-wing, stay behind us, but close."
My squad quickly got into formation and accelerated. A turret on the CIS ship fired a few test shots, which allowed my targeting computer to lock onto it.
"Bad move, metal-head," I said under my breath as I launched a homing photon missile at the turret. I watched its progress until it slammed into the turret and detonated. The turret was still there. "Shields…" I muttered.
We were in range now, and the turrets that were firing at us became a hazard. "Bomber, I want you continuously bombarding the command bridge. We'll do what we can to take down the shields." The V-wing broke formation and headed towards the bridge but it suddenly exploded, and a droid Vulture spiraled through the wreckage straight at us.
"What the hell!" I shot a glance out the other side of my cockpit. The CIS hangar doors were open. I accelerated and rolled, slowing down to come back around at the fighter. My computer locked on and I fired another missile. It made contact and left smoldering wreckage hurtling through space.
The squadrons from the other cruisers had converged on the CIS cruiser by now, and they were engaged with the defenses as well. I radioed to them, "J-36 and 37! Enemy fighters are flooding out of the hangars. We need assistance!"
The response came crackling through my comlink. "Roger."
About thirty fighters broke away from the K-2 Bomber squadron, leaving about forty as an escort. We were in a full-fledged dogfight now. I rolled and changed speed every few seconds, dodging missiles and beam fire. I narrowly missed an oncoming droid recon fighter. A Vulture got on my tail and I couldn't shake him off.
My craft shook as it took a heavy beating from the Vulture's weapons. "I've got your back!" I heard one of my pilots say through my comlink. An ARC-170 sped by me and fired 2 photon torpedoes into the Vulture, which fell apart and exploded. I turned my craft around and instructed him to cover my back.
We flew straight at on oncoming Vulture and at the last second I turned my fighter straight down and the pilot behind me loosed a full beam-round into it. The destroyed Vulture spiraled out of control and slammed into the ARC-170, causing them to explode.
"Dammit! I've lost half my squadron already." I punched my controls. Vultures were still pouring out of the CIS hangar. I leveled myself with it and accelerated to full speed. I shot through the hangar, firing photon torpedoes and laser cannons at all the inactive fighters and craft.
I clipped the top of the exit and spiraled out of control for a few seconds, but recovered. The wreckage in there should keep them from launching anything else for at least twenty minutes, I thought. I returned to where all the dogfighting was taking place. It didn't look good. About twenty ARC-170's were still left, against about twice as many vultures.
My computer locked onto a few and I fired my last photon torpedoes, which homed in and killed one Vulture, but the other rolled at the last second and avoided it. I checked my status display. One of my engines was damaged and the frame of the ship was slightly impaired.
I looked over at the other fighters and the K-2 bomber squadron, flying up and down the body of the CIS cruiser, bombing every inch. Shockwaves shimmered across the shield and it got slightly dimmer with each volley. I took out another Vulture with my beam cannons and looked over at the bombers again. Another volley of bombs struck and exploded on the surface of the ship. The shields were down!
"Great work!" I radioed in to the bombers. "Target the bridge!"
I did a barrel roll and two rockets narrowly missed my craft. A Vulture crossed my line of fire and I took the opportunity. The explosion faded away into space.
A republic cruiser was coming nearer to us. Another fighter squadron flew out of its hangar, coming to reinforce us. Long-range heavy bombardment blasts rained out of it and struck the CIS ship. Moments later, the droids returned fire.