Author's Note: Nothing stays dead forever…


CHAPTER 16:


Leia stared out at the blue tunnel of Hyperspace as Han studied the navigation computer. He took a deep breath as the displays indicated that they'd left the Gordian Reach Sector behind. "Well princess, we're clear of the interdictor patrols that they filled the sector with, it should be smooth sailing from here on out."

She nodded before shutting her eyes and leaning back in the rather plush seat of the cockpit. As she did, Han frowned at her. "Okay, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, Solo, just..." Leia sighed. "I'm still trying to process it. Luke and her just chewed through those fighters like they were nothing." She shifted in her seat. "I'd heard stories but..."

"Yeah, after Kenobi I didn't think much of Jedi, the man just seemed like an old hermit, but he did manage to get those tractor beams down without getting caught, but compared to Jade and Luke..." Han shrugged. "I've seen a lot of stuff in the Galaxy princess, but nothing quite like those two. If that's what Jedi really are like, you got to wonder how the Empire ever beat them."

Leia frowned. "My father told some stories about them in the Clone Wars, but nothing really compares to seeing them actually in action."

Han stopped and glanced at her, "Oh... I get it now. You're scared of them."

"No, just worried," Leia said. "Luke's got a good heart; I think... but Jade, well... She's a former Imperial. How many others does the Empire have like her? Like Starkiller?" She shook her head. "That's something to think about."

[It is worth considering,] Chewie rumbled. [Jade is powerful, if the Emperor trained one agent that way, there seems little reason they wouldn't train others.]

"Now you're getting me worried. Let's just worry about this mission first." Han said as he glanced back at the controls.


Dantooine, a world that was filled with empty plains and rolling hills. As Tycho looked out over the grassy plains he felt a shiver run down his spine. The comlink which sat on his lap chirped and he thumbed it on. "Tycho here—"

"It's Hobbie, we're in system now... ETA forty-five minutes."

Tycho felt a slight smile play across his lips at those words. Suddenly there was a burst of static coming through the comlink, and he gaped as the scream of twin ion engines began to fill the air. To the east a massive block of metal painted in imperial white floated over the hillside, its onboard turrets tracking. Swearing under his breath, Tycho pulled out his service pistol and watched as a lance of speeder bikes screamed over the windblown grasses. Atop each of the bikes was a figure clad in a dark grey set of armor similar to a scout trooper's, and the sunlight seemed to glimmer of it as he watched.

Tycho thumbed the comlink. "Hobbie! Hobbie!"

"Break— –ammin— we— on –r way."

"Hobbie! Abort the mission, the Empire on their way!" Tycho snapped at the comlink in his hand. "Abort!"

"Neg— –'ll find –u. Esc— –nd evade."

"Kriff!" Tycho snapped before twisting the comlink activating its distress transponder. Then he glanced over at the advancing Imperial troops. "I hope you know what you're doing."

Then he bolted for the tallest grasses, his pistol clasped in his hand.


"Damn it!" Hobbie snapped as he started to advance the throttle of his X-wing. "Come on Wedge, we don't have much time."

"I hear you, Four." Wedge muttered as he kept up with his wingmate. "Falcon, can you speed it up?"

"We can keep pace with you, Wedge." Han Solo's voice answered back. "What's the situation?"

"Tycho has got the local Imps on his ass, looks like they're deploying from the remains of our old base." Hobbie answered as he studied the displays. "He activated his local distress beacon."

Leia's voice filled the com-channel next, "Rogues this is the Falcon. We're picking up multiple sensor contacts rising from the local garrison. Profile indicates eyeballs, at least eight on our scopes."

"Set S-foils to attack position," Wedge called out.

Hobbie studied the displays for a moment before scowling flicking the switch deploying the S-foils. Ahead he could see the blood red contacts on his sensor display rising up from the surface. Immediately he shifted the deflector shields to double front and the lasers to dual fire. As the TIEs began to become visible specks against the blue and green backdrop of the world, he rolled onto one of them.

"Only eight, well... they have no idea just how much of a handful we are." Solo muttered across the channel.

"In range!" Wedge called out.

The two X-wings opened fire, spitting red laser fire at the oncoming mass of TIEs. Two of the unshielded foes exploded immediately and Hobbie rolled around the expanded cloud of debris and plasma that were all that remained of the TIE that had been in his sights. As the enemy TIEs broke formation to engage them, the Falcon shot into the middle of the furball. A volley of concussion missiles from the Falcon's nose caught one of the TIEs and blew it to pieces as the two Jedi at the transport's guns opened fire.

Two more TIEs disappeared almost instantly and Hobbie pulled around the Falcon in a wide turn that brought him into flanking position. Another TIE jittered in his sights and he pulled the trigger.

The fighter's port radiator panel ripped free as his laser shots blew through the connecting rod and the TIE spun freely, its engines sparking as a cloud of blue gas shot from its side. In the distance there was an explosion as another TIE met its end.

"I got another one!" Wedge called out.

"Don't get cocky!" Solo answered across the channel. "The last one is pulling in on your six, Wedge."

"I've got it!" Luke yelled and suddenly a burst of laser fire shot from the Falcon, framing the last TIE fighter before one of the laser shots pierced its canopy. The TIE exploded, sending its radiator panels spinning through space like tossed cards.

"We're in the clear, reentry in twenty seconds," Han said.


Tycho swore as he heard speeder bike's scream overhead. His comlink was pinned to his jumpsuit, and he kept crouched as he ran through the tall grass. As he stumbled out into a patch of shorter grass, a dozen horned Iriaz froze before him, their mottled green fur and horns glinting in the light. Then they bolted as Tycho scrambled forward.

"Contact on sensors, your grid TK-1382," An imperial comlink crackled. As Tycho spun toward the source of the sound he found himself facing a speeder bike, its occupant turned away with a scanner in his hand.

"Negative, I don't see any-" The blaster bolt struck the Imperial in the back and burned through his armor. He dropped with a scream, but at that same moment the sound of bike engines filled his ears and he spun just in time to see three more speeder bikes shoot past his position. Swearing Tycho dropped down beside the speeder bike and gritted his teeth.


"Altitude, one hundred meters," Han's voice crackled through the intercom as Mara scrambled through the halls and skidded to a stop beside the boarding ramp. "I'm getting weapons fire on my scope. Looks like a damn HAVr A9, that thing could punch through our shields. I'm not going to be able to put her down."

She tapped the intercom button, "Just give me—"

A familiar hand grabbed hers. "Just give us ten seconds over the transmitter."

"Fine."

Mara scowled for a moment before nodding. Then she tapped the boarding ramp controls. As the ramp lowered the two of them stepped out onto it, grabbing the spars for support as the Falcon suddenly spun on its axis and burned its engines hard. Mara smiled as she recognized the maneuver, a smuggler's reverse and glanced down to see a single figure clad in the grays of a civilian shooting at a circling trio of speeder bikes. She scowled. "Luke!"

"I'll get him, you deal with the speeders." Luke said.

Mara nodded before she lifted the DLT-20a to her shoulder and let loose with a shot that caught one of the speeder bikes in the center. It exploded from the impact.


Tycho gaped as the speeder bike exploded and spun around just before he felt some invisible force grab him around the waist. He yelped as the ground suddenly dropped from below him, and he saw red blaster bolts frame a second speeder bike before burning it down. Then a set of arms wrapped around his middle and hauled him up onto some metal ramp.

"Han, we've got him!" A voice yelled as the boarding ramp he found himself on slowly shut. As it sealed he felt the arms let go and he staggered for a moment before glancing over his shoulder.

A woman with bright red hair and green eyes was holding a smoking Blastech DLT-20a, but she wasn't alone. A second figure stood beside her, clad in a simple jumpsuit. That one wiped a bead of sweat from his brow and glanced at the woman. "Whew, that's a lot of work..."

"We'll have to practice." The woman said before turning to point the weapon toward Tycho. "Now, are you Tycho?"

"Yeah..." Tycho muttered. "You, alliance?"

She nodded once then lowered the rifle. Beside her, the blond man turned and held out his hand. "Commander Luke Skywalker, Rogue Squadron. This is Lieutenant Mara Jade."

Tycho swallowed a lump in his throat. "Umm... where's Hobbie?"

"Flying top cover," Luke said, "Come on... let's get you strapped in. We can debrief you on the way back to Yavin."

An intercom crackled overhead. "Luke! Get that guy strapped in. We've got a Victory-class dropping into the system, and I want to be out of here before he can even think about launching fighters."

"Roger that," Luke said.


Leia flinched as the sensor board lit up; glancing up through the viewport she gaped as a dozen ships dropped out of hyperspace dead ahead. "HAN! It's not just that one destroyer."

"Of course not, sweetheart, you ever hear the Empire sending just one of anything?" Solo answered as he grabbed the controls. "Jade, Luke, get on those guns!" Beside him, Chewie turned and flipped a switch, redirecting power to the shields. "What's the composition?"

"Two Vigil-class Corvettes, two Assassin-class Corvettes, and three Skipray blastboats," Leia called out. "They're sitting right on our escape vector."

[That is a lot of firepower,] Chewie growled. [Han?]

"Nothing else for it, bud. Stay evasive." Han turned to Leia, "Get me targeting locks on those boats, will you Princess?"

"Right," Leia said before working the sensor board. "That Victory-class is starting to accelerator toward our position."

"We've got time, they're slow." Han muttered before flicking another switch. "Rogues, we've got incoming, I want you to keep those Skipray's busy. The last thing we need is for them to shove a concussion missile up our tail-pipe."

"Roger that, those are tough nuts to crack though Solo... and we didn't bring torpedoes," Wedge answered instantly.

Han scowled and glanced over at Leia who shrugged. "Supply shortage."

"All right," Solo muttered. "Just typic—"

The door to the cockpit hissed open and Luke pushed a blonde man inside before pointing him to one of the seats. "Strap in, we'll handle this."

"Luke, get on those guns will you!" Han snapped over his shoulder just as the sensor display lit up once again. He turned back to the controls as Luke scrambled out the door.

"We're being targeted, they're interrogating the ship's transponder," Leia said.

Han and Chewie glanced at each other before snorting. "That won't do any good since the ship's black boxed." Han mused as he looked over the formation of ships that were closing in. He pushed back and reached over to the navicomputer, "Take the controls, I'll start doing jump calculations."

[Right.] Chewie muttered. Then he flipped a set of switches. The dull chirp of the Falcon's targeting computer filled the cockpit as the Wookie maneuvered to fire on the lead Vigil-class Corvette. Then as a solid tone filled the cockpit, Chewie slammed the firing stud.

Four concussion missiles screamed out from the prow of the Falcon and slammed into the front of the angular Vigil-class Corvette, punching through the shields and tearing into the hull. The damaged Corvette rolled, as its own guns answered the Falcon's shots and Leia gripped the seat to keep steady as Chewie threw the Falcon into a barrel roll, maneuvering out of the line of fire.

The Falcon's guns spat crimson bolts of laser fire as the ship roared past. A Skipray Blastboat that had dove on them was caught by a full barrage of fire that tore through its shields before scoring the small ship's reactor. Instantly the vessel exploded, sending debris flying in all directions.

The lights flickered as a burst of ion fire from a second Skipray rolled over the ship's shields. Beside her, Chewie growled as he jerked the Falcon's controls and narrowly avoided colliding with the oncoming Skipray.

Then the two Assassin-class Corvettes opened fire. The ships, a military derivative of the classic Corellian CR90 corvette filled space with green turbolaser fire and Leia gasped as she watched Chewie artfully maneuver the Falcon through the storm of weapons fire. Then one of the turbolaser shots connected, causing the lights to flicker and throwing the lot of them against their restraints from the impact.

"I've got the coordinates!" Han shouted. "Give them to the Rogues and let's get the hell out of here."

Leia nodded and quickly transmitted the data before Chewie leveled out the Falcon. Then with a flip of a switch the old hunk of junk surged forward, jumping into hyperspace and leaving the Imperials in the dust.