Max and his men sat in the passenger bay of the YG-4210 freighter, the Shooting Star, that they'd just been brought to Obredaan in only a couple hours ago. Sparks had to stay behind because of his injuries, but every other member of the Renegades was present and accounted for. They took up the majority of the passenger area, but filling in the rest of the space were Stec's men and Delta Squad. They'd been in hyperspace for almost an hour without so much as a peep from Stec regarding that briefing he'd promised.
Finally making good on what he said, Stec stood up and walked to the holoprojector in the middle of the bay, "All right, guys. I understand that you're wondering why we've been brought out here in such a hurry, so I'm going to tell you. As of 1830 hours today, it has been confirmed that the Empire knows where Yavin base is. As of 1832 hours, it has also been confirmed that they are sending their new toy, the Death Star, to make an example of Yavin base to the rest of the Rebellion. Based on the Death Star's schematics, General Dodanna and a few other high officers have scrounged together a plan to actually destroy the Death Star. Something about a thermal exhaust port; I didn't pay attention to that part. They're gathering the necessary resources and personnel at Yavin base to pull it off. We're on our way to Yavin to bolster the base garrison so they can pull some extra pilots from other duties. Sorry it's not the harrowing combat everyone was hoping for, but it's just as necessary, all the same. Right now, we're two hours out of the Vergesso system. We'll be making a waypoint jump there. Everyone just sit tight until we get there."
On the way out, Stec walked over to Max's seat and knelt down, "Max, I've been thinking about your idea, about a clone platoon, and I'm all for it. I'd be operational command, you'd be field command, keep 'Renegades' for a name. What do you think?"
Max mulled the idea over for a moment. It had been a long time since he'd been under anyone's command. He'd have to get used to taking orders again, but it was nothing he was unfamiliar with.
He nodded, "Sounds good by me."
Stec nodded and stood without another word to leave the compartment. Max rose to his feet and headed toward the cockpit. As he walked, he thought to himself. There was a lot to take in from the last couple of days' worth of activity. A fixed mission gone sour, losing half of his men, throwing in their lot with the Rebels, it was a lot for one brain to soak up. Max didn't know how to catalogue all that had happened recently, but he did know one thing. He knew he owed Jen an apology. Back on Felucia, she'd just been trying to offer a sympathetic ear and Max had treated her like she'd been insulting his parentage to his face. Which would have been a really neat trick since, considering he was a clone, he didn't have any parentage. She didn't deserve that kind of treatment.
Max walked into the cockpit to find Lt. Haran in the pilot seat and the corporal in question leaning on the back of the copilot seat. She looked back at him, but simply catalogued his presence as she went back to looking out the viewport. Max walked up behind Haran and crossed his arms over his chest, watching the hyperspace tunnel swirl around them. He stole a glance over at Jen, who was still looking forward with a stern look on her face. Max breathed a quiet sigh. It was now or never.
"Corporal." He broke the lingering silence and got her attention. He jerked his head back toward the corridor, "Could I have a word?" He disguised his intentions with the use of her rank, making it sound more official.
She looked at him and shrugged, "Sure." Max led the way and Jen followed him into the corridor. Once they were out of earshot, Max turned around and addressed her.
He cleared his throat before speaking, "Listen, uh, about before, on Felucia. I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. You were just trying to offer a sympathetic ear, and I about bit your head off." He broke her gaze and looked at the bulkhead, "I just…I just wasn't myself at that moment. I'd just lost a lot of men. Good soldiers, the lot of them, too. I practically grew up with those men. We'd served together for a long time. Losing them was like losing a little bit of myself." He looked her in the eye again, "You were just trying to help, and I appreciate that."
Jen just looked at him for a long moment with her arms crossed, a pensive gaze in her eyes as she thought about what Max had just said. Finally, she nodded and broke his gaze, "Apology accepted, and…" she looked at him again, "I understand. I can't begin to understand the kind of camaraderie you had with those men, but I do know what it's like to lose someone you're close to." She looked away at the bulkhead and breathed a deep sigh before continuing, "My parents…my sisters…my family was on Alderaan. Mom and dad never really approved of my joining the Alliance. They said if we have to fight the Empire, we should do it on the grounds of shrewd politics and diplomacy." She took a shaky breath and closed her eyes, "Our last words in this life were…spoken in anger. I never had a chance to reconcile with them." She hung her head and rubbed her eyes with one hand as unbidden tears began to flow, "I'm sorry, it's just…"
Max put a hand on her shoulder, "Hey, it's all right. I don't know what was said when you spoke to them last, but in spite of it, I'm sure your parents were proud of you. They would've been proud that their daughter was willing to take a stand for what she believes in."
Jen wiped her eyes and looked at Max, "Thank you. It's nice to hear someone say that."
A wry grin tickled Max's mouth, "Just be thankful you had parents in the first place."
She giggled lightly at his comment, lightening her mood a little, then glanced back at the cockpit briefly, "Well, I need to get back to, uh…you know…what I was doing."
Max nodded as she turned around and headed back into the cockpit. He turned and walked back toward his seat, feeling like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He didn't know what to call it, but there was something he liked about Jen. He saw strength in her, something that a lot of natural-borns didn't have without facing some trials during their lives. Max admired that strength…strictly as a soldier, of course.
Max slid into his seat. He could tell Deuce had seen his conversation with Jen, and in spite of his wearing a helmet, Max could see the nexu-that-ate-the-jubba-bird grin on his face.
Max checked the ammo on both his pistols as he spoke, "So what're you all smiley about?"
Deuce looked over at him, "Who said I was smiling?"
Max holstered his pistols and held up fingers to mark his points, "The way your voice sounds on the comm, the way you're sitting back like that, the way your hands are fidgeting on your lap, and they way you're tapping your right foot."
Deuce's head jerked back in a startled motion, "Am I that easy to read?"
Max just nodded, "Like an open book, Deuce. Like a bloody open book."
The rest of the trip went on with the soldiers in the passenger bay trying to keep themselves occupied. That meant several incidents of Max yanking Hype out of the ship's systems. Max didn't like waiting, but he knew this trip was necessary in this case. This was a high-stakes and extremely high-risk situation. If Gen. Dodanna's plan failed, it meant none of them would live to see the next day. They all had a right to be nervous, even scared, but they all knew what had to be done.
They arrived in the Vergesso system on time and without incident. Max and Boss were up in the cockpit with Jen and Lt. Haran.
Stec turned around to his console, "Alright, Garyt, I'm sending you the next leg of the jump."
Haran nodded, "Got it. Stand by for…" he trailed off and looked at the sensors, "Um, Stence? We have a problem."
Stec's shoulders slumped as he turned his seat toward the front of the cockpit, "What is it? The hyperdrive on the fritz again?"
Haran shook his head, "We could only be so lucky. An Imperial Star Destroyer just dropped out of hyperspace right along our exit vector."
"What the…?" Stec scrambled out of his seat and leaned over the sensor board. He stiffened when he saw it.
"By the Force. Engage stealth systems now."
Haran nodded, "Way ahead of you." After pressing some buttons on various panels, he sat back and looked up at Stec, "So now what? They're blocking our exit."
Stec looked out the view port at the Star Destroyer that was now in front of them, "We can just recalculate for another jump, but I'm more concerned with why that SD is here in the first place. This system is in the middle of nowhere and of fairly little strategic value. So why would the Empire send an SD here at all?"
Boss shrugged, "Why don't we slice into their system and find out?"
Haran shook his head, "No can do. The Star's got enough sensor stealth systems to hide a small moon, but with how close we'd have to be to slice in, it wouldn't take them long to find us."
Max looked out the cockpit window and at the Star Destroyer. As he looked at it, an idea came to mind.
He looked back at the others, "We could attack them."
Lt. Haran looked at Max with wide eyes and a slack jaw, "Please tell me you didn't just say that. A frontal assault on an Imperial class Star Destroyer in a ship with barely a token array of guns? You'd have to be crazy, stupid, and suicidal to even consider it."
Jen settled Haran down with a wave of her hand, "Hold on, lieutenant. Hear the man out."
Max shook his head, "I didn't mean attack the ship from the outside. I meant from the inside." He leaned against the bulkhead and crossed his arms as he explained, "Back in my Republic days, when me and my men were stationed on Felucia, we often had to fight off these nasty bugger critters called acklays, a big six-legged bug with a mouthful of teeth and a bad attitude to match. The hardest part about killing them was getting through their exoskeletons. But in that time, I discovered that they don't really enjoy it when you put thermal detonators under their hard shells." He gestured to the Star Destroyer, "We get a bomb underneath that thing's hard shell, stand back, and watch the body parts fly." He pointed his thumb at his chest, "And by a bomb, I mean me and my men."
Boss nodded and looked at Stec and Haran, "He's got a point. The Renegades can hold the hanger and provide a diversion while the Deltas make a quick slicer run through one of the ship's computer cores. Then we wire the reactor to go up and get out before the fireworks start."
Haran cocked his head quizzically, "I'm not so sure. Do you have any idea of how many Stormtroopers there are on an ISD?"
Jen looked pensive for a moment before speaking up, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't ISD's have detention bays?"
Stec nodded, "Interrogation cells, yeah."
"So we hit the cells and bust out any Rebel prisoners they have. Get them to an armory and you've got instant reinforcements."
Haran muttered to himself while he thought, "Attack inside…detention cells…nuke the reactor…" He looked up at Stec, "This might be possible."
Stec smiled, "Of course, it is." He looked at Max, "And he's just daft enough to pull it off, too." He turned his seat toward his console and started working furiously, "You guys head back and explain the situation to your men. The Deltas make the slice and do the demo wiring, the Renegades hold the hanger and hit the detention bay. When you're ready, we'll make our move. Jen, you take the turret and cover them when we get in."
Max turned to follow Boss out of the cockpit. He was stopped in the corridor by a hand on his shoulder. He looked and saw Jen standing there.
"Be careful, Max. Who knows how many Stormtroopers there are in there."
Max just nodded to her, "Don't you worry about me. If we all do our jobs, we'll all live to tell about it after."
Jen just looked at Max for a moment before turning and ascending the ladder to the turret. Max stood there for a second, trying to figure out why she'd singled him out like that before turning and heading back to the rest of the troopers. As he went through the corridor, he thought to himself about this impromptu mission. There were several factors that could cause problems. Could they completely avoid detection on the approach? Would the shields be down? Would there be enough room to land in the hanger? There was a lot that could go wrong with this operation.
Max was slightly startled at the scene when he arrived in the passenger bay. The Deltas were all decked out in full armor and weapons, an imposing sight to say the least. All of the Renegades, including their recent additions, were sitting in their seats, full armor, and patiently waiting for the drop Boss had just briefed them on. Max shook his head. Everyone was right. They did look like a bunch of Mandalorians. From his position, Max pointed out Snipes, Dodge, Hype, and Ears for the team to go with him to the detention bay. All four of them were fully cross-trained and experienced in assault tactics and he would very likely need their skills. Deuce would need to stay in the hanger to direct the defensive action. After taking the time to inform each soldier on his team of the plan, Max sat down and slipped his helmet on. No sooner had he secured it did he hear Stec's voice over the comm.
"Max? Come back if we have a good connection."
Max nodded, "I hear you, lima charlie, Stec."
"Good. We're five minutes out from landing. Just sit tight. I'll update you as we go."
He nodded again, "Roger that." That was definitely one thing Max had missed in their mercenary years. Having an advisor calling instructions in his ear always came in handy when things didn't go according to plan.
Max took a moment to look over some of the data about the SD on his arm console. When he called it up, he started to snicker and shake his head. The ISD's registry data showed the name as the Prosecutor, a recommissioned version of the Acclamator class ship he and the Gammas had rescued over twenty five years ago. Back then, he had fought desperately to keep the ship from being destroyed. Now he was going to be destroying it.
A short while later, Stec came on the comm again, "Two minutes out."
Max looked at his men, "Get tactical, Renegades!" In compliance with his order, all the Renegades checked and rechecked their armor and ammo in preparation for the drop.
The ship began to rock with what Max recognized as laser blasts as Stec came on again, "Thirty seconds out. Stand by for drop." The 'Gades and Deltas all stood and assembled by the two doors on either side of the compartment.
Max felt a rumble through the deck at the same time Stec called down the comm, "We're down! Hit it, boys!"
Max slapped the door button and looked back at his men, "You heard the man, Renegades! Let's get to it!" He stormed down the ramp with weapon ready and came out into a mess of gunfire. The hanger was very large with a glossy black floor dotted with piles of crates, ribbed walls, and a high ceiling with catwalks and TIE Fighter racks across it. The guards were moving in on the ship when soldiers started pouring out. The Stormtroopers were taken by surprise and started a hasty retreat when Max and his men opened fire on them. Several of the first ranks fell to the combined fire and the rest fell back to the cover of some crates. The Renegades had no cover to speak of, but they didn't need it. The Star's dorsal turret rotated and opened up on the Stormtroopers' position, sending the crates and several troopers flying. A pair of heavy repeating blaster turrets extending from hidden panels on either side of the Star' ventral section added to the fight. Max looked around and stabbed two fingers at another group of Stormtroopers that was firing from the front of the hanger. The forward ranks of Renegades dropped to one knee while the second rank stood behind them, creating an effective wall of guns. They opened up a hailstorm of blaster fire that took down several Stormtroopers and sent the rest scurrying for the nearest exit.
Max looked around and assessed the situation. They'd secured the hanger, but that was very temporary. Once the word got out that they were here, they'd have every Stormie on the ship breathing down their necks.
Max looked at Deuce and motioned to the hanger, "You know what to do. Dig in here and fortify your position as much as possible before reinforcements show up." He opened his unit wide channel, "Jailbreak Team, come to my position and get ready to move." As his team assembled, Max checked his arm console and looked over the data Stec had given him on the detention bay's location. There was a high security lift between here and there, naturally, and the bay itself probably had enough Stormtroopers to take a small city. This wasn't going to be easy.
Once his team was assembled, Max waved them toward the door that led where they were going. They opened it up and secured the hallway beyond. It was devoid of life, probably due to the mess in the hanger. The team moved down the hallway and ducked into a smaller one. They moved down the hall and came to a landing with several elevators and Stormtroopers guarding them. Max dropped to one knee and pegged a three-shot burst into one trooper's face while the others fired at the rest. Once the guards were dispatched, Hype went to work on one of the lifts. Before Hype could get anywhere on the controls, another lift door opened with a pair of startled officers in it. One officer drew his weapon and was appropriately shot in the chest for it. Max grabbed the other officer by his collar and kicked his legs out as he threw him to the floor.
Max kept his rifle trained on the officer's face while pointing to the lift controls, "Open it. Now!" The officer tried to resist until Max shot the floor next to his head. The officer blanched and carefully stood to type in the code to work the lift.
Once the lift door was open, Max nodded to the officer, "We appreciate your help." He nodded to Ears, who promptly belted the officer across the back of the neck. After tossing the officer's unconscious form into the hallway, Max's team piled into the lift and brought it down to the detention area. When they arrived on the right level, rather than open the door, Max set a breach charge in the middle and had everyone stand back.
A quick glance out the recently made hole in the door revealed exactly what Max was expecting. There were six Stormtroopers at various posts around the central area and several more patrolling each hallway. Max tossed a grenade into the room and hopped out through the hole after it went off. Three of the Stormies in the center were removed, but there were still the other three, and the ones in the halls. Max ducked and rolled to avoid a shot from one trooper before taking aim on him while coming to his feet and firing. Max and Dodge both planted a blaster bolt in the second trooper's chest while Ears and Hype both dispatched the third. Snipes put a precision shot down the hall into the head of a fourth trooper and everyone took up defensive positions around the center. Hype immediately went to work on the console. Max dropped to a crouch in a position where he had a good view of one hallway and started returning the incoming fire from the Stormtrooper guard. Snipes and Dodge both covered the other hallways and started returning fire while Ears knelt down near Hype and started scanning the area.
Max looked over his shoulder at Hype between shots, "Got anything yet?"
Hype kept moving from one console to the next, "System's too fidgety. I think they're trying to counter slice me. Give me a second here." He typed a series of commands into one panel and looked at another, "I think I have something here. Let me see…Pirate, pirate, pirate…Ah! Here. I found the Rebel prisoners. Clear those hallways while I crack the locks"
Max returned his attention to the hallway and the trooper he was shooting at. He ducked away from a bolt before sighting down his rifle and firing a shot that clipped the trooper at the neck. Once all the hallways had been cleared for the moment, a series of cells opened up and the prisoners started filing out curiously.
Max started waving them over, "This way! Over here! This is a jailbreak. We're getting you out of here." The prisoners didn't ask questions as they assembled around Max and his team. Max did a quick head count. They'd pulled twenty three prisoners out of the cells, a number of humans, several Bothans, two Ithorians, and a Wookie.
He turned around to Hype, "Where's the armory?"
Hype was still bent over consoles, rapidly making adjustments on several panels at the same time and sounded somewhat agitated, "Still working, one second, please…" He input another command code and clapped his hands together in celebration, "Yes! They tried to lock me out, but they messed with the wrong slicer." He pointed as he spoke, "Armory is down that hall and to the left."
Max nodded and motioned for everyone to follow him, "This way. You guys need guns before we can get out of here." The group of people followed him to the armory, which was lightly guarded and nothing Max and Dodge couldn't handle by themselves. After the prisoners all cycled through the armory, they all made their way back to the detention center. Hype had removed the lockdown from the other lifts and everyone piled in to head up. Once they were on the right level, they assembled outside the lifts and, stepping over an unconscious officer, started making their way back to the hanger.
When they moved into the main hallway, they intercepted a group of Stormtroopers en route to the detention bay. Dodge snatched a grenade from his belt and tossed it toward them before diving back away from the blast. Max pulled the trooper to his feet as he shot at the survivors. Once the Stormtroopers were taken care of, the prison break group double-timed it to the hanger.
They came into the hanger and Max assessed the situation. The whole hanger was now alive with blaster fire from the Stormtroopers, the Renegades, and the Star's guns. Deuce was hollering out orders and trying to make sure they didn't get in over their heads while Splint was now busy seeing to three wounded men.
Max pointed at the fray and looked back at everyone, "Get in there, pick a hole, and fill it. We need to hold them until the commandoes are done." He followed his own order and ran to the line. He took up position between two of his men and switched his rifle to full auto. He laid down a sweeping arc of fire that took out several Stormtroopers and made several more dive for cover. Conner tossed a grenade over their cover and several more Stormies fell. The casualties were simply replaced from one of the doors behind their line. More Stormtroopers moved into the hanger and took up firing positions. Max cursed under his breath and took a grenade from his own belt that he lobbed at the troopers. It didn't do much, just landing in front of the Stormtroopers' cover and blasting some crates away. He switched his rifle to semi-auto to save ammo. He could tell they were going to need it.
Max's comm popped and he knelt down and pressed his helmet closer to his ear to hear over the din, "This is Delta Squad. We've got the data and the charges are set. We're on our way back now. ETA, five minutes."
Stec came over the line, "Copy that. Max, you heard them. Five minutes. You've got to hold them for five minutes. Make it happen. Stec out."
"Will do." Max nodded as he reloaded and stood back up, "Heavy weapons to the line. Now!" His order was followed as Deuce and Buster came to the front carrying their respective heavy weapons. Deuce was wielding a modified R-21 heavy repeater. He'd added an extra cooling unit to allow extra long bursts of full auto fire. Buster was packing a non-tripod E-Web heavy repeating cannon with backpack generator, the kind of weapon you take out tanks with. They took their positions and laid down a sweep of heavy suppressive fire that dropped the first ranks of Stormtroopers like a bad habit. The second ranks took casualties and dove for cover. A grenade flew from the Stormies position and Max ducked as it went off just shy of their cover. He looked up and cursed the doors that were puking out more Stormtrooper reinforcements. These were going to be the longest five minutes of their lives.
It was time for a bold move. Max looked around the hanger for something, anything they could use to stem this never ending tide of white-armored soldiers. He looked above them and noticed a TIE Fighter on the gantries above the Imperials. Max raised an eyebrow. A TIE fighter likely with a tank full of volatile fuel.
He leaned around one of the troopers and looked at Conner, "Con, I need a detpack."
Conner pulled the explosive from a thigh pouch and tossed it to Max, "It's my last one. Make it count."
Max caught the device and slapped his jetpack button, "Cover me!" He jumped into the air and rose steadily toward the TIE, with blaster fire zipping by him from every direction. He rose above the fighter and throttled his thruster back to idle to save fuel but stay ready. After landing on top of the TIE, Max punched in a ten second timer on the detpack and tossed it up to the brackets holding the fighter in place. The explosive magnetized itself to the metal brackets and started counting. Max didn't wait around for the fireworks and jumped from the TIE into the open air above the Renegades. He let himself fall for about half a second before throttling up his jetpack and catching his fall. He set down and spun around to face the Stormtrooper line, counting silently to himself. The detpack went off on time, blasting one bracket completely off and ripping the other up. The TIE Fighter leaned downward before falling, the damaged bracket unable to support its weight. At the same time, Max threw his last grenade over the Imperials' line and landed it under the TIE as it fell. The grenade exploded when the TIE landed on it, causing the desired effect. The fighter exploded in a bright cloud of thick fire. The Renegades all dropped behind their cover as the shockwave of heat and debris washed over them. When Max came up, one of the doors had been blocked, burning debris was all over the place, and not a single Stormtrooper had survived.
Max smiled and stood up, "That's for Abregado Rae!" He knelt back down as more Stormies started filing out of the one door that was still intact. The two sides began the fire/return fire game again as Max noticed a door on the other side of the hanger open and three commandoes come running out at full tilt. The fourth backpedaled his way out the door, laying down suppressive fire behind them. He chucked a grenade through the door as it closed, then turned and bolted for the ship.
Stec's voice came on the line, "Max, we're out of here! Pull back to the ship! I repeat, pull back to the ship!"
Max nodded and looked around at everyone, "I want a dozen volunteers to hold the line with me. The rest of you, get the wounded to the ship." Max and fifteen other people covered the escape while the rest assisted the wounded into the ship. Once they were clear, Max and his cover team ran to the ship as fast as they could. Max made sure the last of his men were in and had barely ascended the ramp himself before they lifted from the deck. The ramp closed as they rotated into position and took off out of the hanger like a borgle bat out of a cave. Some of the turrets tried to get a shot in on them, but with the sensor stealth systems running at full, they couldn't target accurately if they wanted to.
Max clambered through the ship to the cockpit to find Stec and Haran, the lieutenant pushing on the throttle levers like they could go faster than they were.
Stec turned and looked at Haran, "Get us as far away from this thing as you can before it goes up. I don't think they can target their tractor beam accurately with the jammers, but I don't want to wait around to find out." The lieutenant wasted no time in following the order and jumped to hyperspace as soon as they were clear.
Stec sank down in his chair and let out a relieved sigh, "Thank the Force that's over with." He looked at Max and gave a sloppy salute, "Well done, lieutenant. I'm going to get you and your men a round of medals and some long R&R once all this blows over."
Max nodded in appreciation and turned around to check on his men in the passenger bay. He glanced over everyone to get a general sit rep. Most everyone had managed to get out of that mess unscathed, but heavily fatigued. Flip and Snipes had both taken a hit and were resting on some of the gurneys in the back. Crater had taken a mild graze, but was none the worse for wear.
Max's attention was called over to Splint, who was kneeling over someone on the floor next to the bulkhead. Max walked over to find him treating Scuff. He looked at the trooper's chestplate lying on the floor next to him. There was a series of blaster holes playing up from the lower left to the upper right. Max leaned over Splint's shoulder to see that the medic had patched all the wounds, but the damage had been done. Scuff's breathing was shallow and wheezing and his heart rate was becoming erratic.
Max nodded toward him, "What happened?"
Splint kept working without looking up, "Tried to do a one-man hole-plug against a squad of Stormies. They worked him over pretty solidly."
Scuff sputtered through shallow breaths, "Had to…be done…sir."
Max nodded, "Well, I'm glad someone did it. Now you hush up, trooper. Save your strength."
Scuff turned his head to look at Max, "Sir…Let the Imps know…It was worth every second." With a final word said, Scuff's eyes rolled back and his head fell to the floor. Splint's monitors sounded a monotone alert as the heart monitor went flat.
"No, no, no! Stay with me, soldier. Stay with me!" Splint dropped his tools and put his hands on Scuff's chest, pumping downward rhythmically. He alternated heart massages and a defibrillator for nearly three minutes until the alert tone ceased in silent resignation. Max closed his eyes and looked away. Another one marching far away, a new one at that. All the more reason to put an end to the Empire for good.
Splint wasn't so concealing of his anger at losing another trooper. He shouted a curse as he ripped his helmet off and threw it across the compartment, nearly hitting Scorch. He hung his head and rubbed his forehead with two fingers.
"I'm sorry, sir. He was too far gone by the time I got to him. I did the best I could."
Max put a hand on Splint's shoulder, "You did your job. He did his. Don't beat yourself up for it. We'll give him a proper burial when we get back." Max took a moment to lay Scuff's rifle across his chest and salute a fallen brother before turning away. He turned and walked across the bay and took a seat next to Deuce before pulling his helmet off.
Deuce just looked toward Scuff and nodded subtly, "Shame. I really didn't know him that well."
"None of us did, Deuce." Max just shrugged and sighed, "It's war. This happens. You'd think we, of all people, would be used to it by now, but it still hurts to lose a comrade." He laid his head back against the bulkhead, "In fact, I think it gets harder every time."
Deuce nodded, "You got that right."
Stec came back into the passenger bay and looked around, "Where's Fixer? I want to shake his hand."
The comment brought Max's head up, "Why? What'd he do?"
Stec held up a small data disk, "Not only did he get the Prosecutor's current orders, but he also snagged a good chunk of the local Imperial military network. Force deployment, weapon research, ship assignments, a whole bunch of really good stuff. He needs a bucket of medals for that."
Max laid his head back again as Stec found Delta Squad and regaled Fixer with congratulations. As Max closed his eyes to get some rest, he thought about what had happened that day. A brother had been lost, but a victory had been gained. They'd bloodied the Empire's nose and lived to brag about it. They all had good reason to be a little proud. And what the devil was up with Jen's behavior today? She seemed particularly observant of Max and what he was doing most of the time. That was just another question in this new life with the Rebels. Max smiled to himself. It had been a good day.
It had been a good life. Max and his men had been through the thick of it. Since their creation on Kamino, the Gammas had been bred for war. War had been their life. Their lives had had meaning and purpose back when they served the Republic. But the Republic was dead now, stabbed in the back by the insidious Empire that replaced it. Since their years as mercenaries, unfulfilling as they were, the Renegades had found a new purpose in throwing in their lot with these Rebels. They had a cause to fight for, and a cause they were willing to die for. The cause of freedom was always a cause willing to die for. Max opened his eyes and stood from his seat as they dropped out of hyperspace near Yavin IV. Even with the Death Star breathing down their necks, for the first time in a long while, the future looked bright and hopeful for a Republic Soldier.