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(L,F&E #3) Stormhawk

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kalenath
12.16.2011 , 04:16 AM | #1
<18 standard hours after the events of ‘And you think YOUR family is Strange…’>


Nia was dazed. So much had happened so fast. First a whirlwind tour of the ship and every part she saw amazed her more. The weapons bays, the bridge, the Combat Information Center, the engine room, the armory, the fighter bays, everything was new, or well maintained. Then the physical. She was still sore in a number of odd places from where the ship’s doctor, L’trask, had poked and prodded her. And now, after only a minimal briefing, she was seated in a pod, waiting for a starfighter simulation to begin. Where before, the few of the crew she had met had been standoffish or even hostile, now they were kind. Most of them anyway. She winced as the voice of her flight instructor came over her headphones, loudly. The female Zabrak, whose name she couldn’t remember for the life of her, was one of the holdouts. And seemed, even without Force senses, to resent her presence and maybe even her life in general. She had resolved not to use the Force unless there was no other choice.

“Stormhawk Null, get ready for launch.” Her instruments came alive and she could see a simulation of a launch tube ahead of her. Then with amazing realism, the simulator showed her accelerating rapidly through the tube. Per her instructions, she kept her hands off the controls while the ship was launching. The automated systems were designed with such close tolerances that having someone, even force enhanced; trying to launch a fighter manually would probably be disastrous. For the fighter launching and probably for the Stormhawk as well. The voice of her instructor came again and she followed the instructions to the letter. The training regime was grueling, with only short breaks to keep from getting dehydrated. After eight hours she staggered out of the simulator pod and was surprised to see several people standing around. She leaned up against the pod and waited. Her instructor left her own pod and seemed just as surprised to see the group.

“What are you all doing here?” She asked loudly.

“We wanted to see the Jedi.” Nia froze. The tone was…odd. Not hostile, not non-hostile. Something in between.

“Well, unless the lot of you want KP duty for the next generation, clear the bay!” The last words came out with a bark of command and the loiterers scurried away. Nia moved to follow, but the Zabrak held up a hand. Nia froze, unsure. The Zabrak smiled.

“You did good, kid.” And she surprised Nia by clapping her on the shoulder. “I would fly with you anytime.” Nia’s eyes bulged, and the Zabrak’s smiled wider. “What? You didn’t think I liked you? I don’t like any trainee. It’s part of the job. If I like a trainee, well…” Another voice interjected.

“She might be tempted to cut them slack when she shouldn’t.” The both turned and saw Will lounging beside one of the doors to the bay. “Hello, Nia. Eight.”

The Zabrak, Eight, nodded. “If you have any questions, ask him. He knows more about flying than any two or three aces I know. Got to go, see you both around.” She walked quickly out of the bay and was gone. Nia stared after her, dazed. Will also stared after her, fondly it seemed to Nia.

“She does herself a disservice. She is good.” Will seemed sad for a moment and Nia was moved to speak.

“Yes she is. I…” She broke off then continued. “I wondered why you didn’t train me, and then I realized it might be that. You might cut me slack when you shouldn’t.” Will grimaced.

“On the contrary. If I trained you, you wouldn’t get any slack at all. If you think she rode you hard, you have no idea at all.”

“I didn’t. But I am beginning to. I don’t think I will ever be in your class as a pilot…” She broke off as a bleak look came over Will’s face.

“I hope not Nia. Pilots like me, well, I have some advantages, but… we don’t usually last very long. There is always someone trying to take us out. To make a name for themselves. Most pilots retire young if they can. The older we get, the more dangerous it gets. Sooner or later the odds get too much or we take some dumb risk we shouldn’t, just to prove we can still hack it. Then we die.” His voice was flat now and Nia shuddered against her will. “And that doesn’t even count when we get backstabbed by allies.”

“Is that what happened to you?” she asked quietly.

“Yeah.” His voice was almost inaudible. She reached out and hugged him.

“I’m glad you survived.” He looked away from her.

“Sometimes I wonder if I did. Part of me wonders sometimes if this is all just some fevered dream I have concocted while the life support in my fighter fails.” Nia cocked her head then swung a fist at him. Even dodging, it caught him on the shoulder.

“Does that feel like a dream?” She asked acerbically. He grinned at her.

“No it doesn’t.” He laughed. “Let’s go get something to eat, then I will tell you what you want to know.” They walked out of the bay in search of food.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
12.16.2011 , 04:18 AM | #2
Nia followed Will to the mess hall. They ate in silence then Will led her to another part of the ship, one she hadn’t been in before. He opened a hatch and she gasped. He looked at her and smiled. She was transfixed. The view was indescribable. The small compartment was one big window. She tore her eyes from the panorama of deep space and looked around. The small room was cluttered with gear, gear that she recognized as navigation equipment. Will sat on the floor and waved her to the seat. She sat and relaxed, taking in the view.

“I never get tired of this view.” Will said quietly from beside her.

“I can see why not.” Nia agreed. It was beautiful, space in all its terrifying vastness. It made her feel small and alone. But instead of worrying her, it comforted her. The thought that she was insignificant also made her worries seem insignificant. They sat in silence for a moment. Then Nia spoke.

“What happened to you?” Will was silent for a moment, and then he hit his comlink.

“Boss, give us some privacy.” Boss’ voice came from the comlink.

“Thirty minutes enough?” Will sighed.

“Probably.” Nia looked up in shock as the camera that swept the room buzzed once and then stopped its endless swiveling. Then she turned to Will. He spoke. “This isn’t common knowledge. And we don’t want it to become common knowledge. We have enough problems.” Nia waited, silent. “We are mutineers.” Nia’s eyes widened.

“You are what?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“We disobeyed a lawful order from a superior officer.” His voice wasn’t much louder. “And yes, the crew supported us, which is why we can still run the ship, but… according to the Republic, we are all wanted. For mutiny and desertion in the face of the enemy. The penalty is death, if you didn’t know.” His voice was still soft and Nia sat back, shocked to her core.

“I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” She shook her head.

“It’s true.” Nia looked and tears were falling from his eyes. She got up, went to where he was sitting, and took him in her arms. She didn’t say anything, just sat. Finally, he spoke again.

“It was during the attack on Coruscant. We were taken completely by surprise…”

<Coruscant space, 8 standard years previous>


“Stormhawk, this is Dragon lead, we have multiple unknown spacecraft entering the system. Four, no make that five groups. Capital ships. They are deploying fighters now.” The flight commander of the Stormhawk’s fighters cursed soundly. The situation was not good, Ever since the outbreak of hostilities, the Republic had suffered defeat after defeat. And now, the Sith, SITH, fleet had arrived at the capital of the Republic. The Sith had been bogeymen, tales told to children, for a long time. But now they had returned and with a vengeance. Every fleet that had faced them had been decimated, if not utterly destroyed. The few survivors spoke of fighters faster and more maneuverable than any Republic ship, carrying impossible amounts of firepower. And the capital ships, the reports on them had been utterly disbelieved. Not anymore. Dragon lead watched as the two closest Republic cruisers to the emerging fleets just…evaporated. The firepower that the Sith fleet was pouring out now was indescribable. Then he focused on what he could do. He swept up his stragglers and formed a semblance of a tight formation. He snarled again. He had three nugget pilots with him, what a baptism of fire they would receive today.

“Roger, Dragon lead.” He grinned as he heard the calm voice of the Space traffic controller on the Stormhawk. Space traffic controllers were trained to be calm in all situations. “Dragon lead; targets bearing point three range twenty, get on them.” He snarled as he saw the targets outlined on his HUD. Several squadron of Sith fighters had broken off from the main fleet and were heading towards the shipping lanes. Lanes that were full of civilians trying to escape the war zone that Coruscant had just become.

“Roger that Stormhawk. Any word on reinforcements?”

“Negative Dragon Lead, I think we are on our own.” This was a different voice and Dragon swallowed hard as the commander of the Stormhawk came on the line. That made it official; they were up the creek.

Will was dancing through the chaos of the landing bay, heading towards his fighter, when his comlink chirped. He jumped up the ladder and into the cockpit, barely noticing the ground crews scurrying around to finish last minute fueling and arming procedures. He checked his comlink and froze. Then with half of his concentration, he started his preflight and with the other half opened a comlink. His wife’s face appeared on the small holo screen.

“I had to say this. Come back to me soldier.” His throat tightened and he felt his eyes fill.

“I will, milady.” He saw her nod and then the line cut. He refocused on the checklist. He finished in time to see the crew chief give him a thumbs up, which he returned with a salute. Then he was starting takeoff procedures. He hesitated, and then opened his mind the way he had only recently started to be able to. The ship responded, and suddenly… He WAS the ship. Sleek, powerful, lethal. Full of potential. Potential speed, potential death. He grinned, a death’s head grin seen by none as he/the ship shot into the sky of Coruscant. His screens filled with red blips immediately and he grinned again as he tore into the enemies who had come to take everything from him.

On the Stormhawk, her commander had never felt so alone. His ship was still in repair dock after her disastrous shakedown cruise. Once again, he cursed the stupid civilian who had decided, against all logic and common sense to violate restricted space only to come into physical contact with his ship as it exited hyperspace. The damage had been extreme. The dock had been forced to replace the entire bow. Only that morning had the last hull plates been reattached and the internal systems were nowhere near fully capable. He shook his head. The dock workers were pulling out all of the stops to get the Stormhawk into the fight. It wouldn’t be long. He just hoped that something would be left for him to help when he got the ship mobile.

Dragon Lead allowed himself a grim smile as his guns tore another Sith fighter from the sky. Fast and maneuverable they were, but also fragile. His own ship had shrugged of a dozen hits so far and each time he had managed to turn the tables on the attacker. His wingwookiee stayed on his left wing and they spelled death for any Sith fighter dumb enough to get close. But there were so many of them. Quantity versus quality. His formation was down to five damaged birds and…
He never even saw the laser bolt that came from beneath him and blew his ship into a million scattered pieces.

Will climbed into battle. The Sith ships were fast, he was just as fast. They were maneuverable, he was just as maneuverable. They were fragile. He was never where their guns fired. His guns on the other hand, tore through their flimsy armor like a lightsaber through paper. He lost count how many he killed after ten, it didn’t really matter. He was trying to join up with Dragon Squadron when he saw the icon for the leader wink off his HUD. He screamed in rage and killed another Sith. He tore through the scattering Sith formations, heading towards his friends, but watched in horror as all the rest blinked out moments later. Then he saw what had attacked them and snarled. A full Sith squadron banked towards him and he charged head-on at them. Ordinarily that was a suicidal tactic against a full squadron, but…

Space lit up as they fired, he was no longer where they had predicted him to be. He fired, once, twice, three times. His heavy laser cannon blowing he holes in Sith fighters and left them staggering through space. One exploded, the other two drifted, their internal systems slagged, along with their pilots. Then he was through their formation and pushing hard to get distance. The other nine Sith fighters turned to pursue him but in their haste, two collided. One spun away, shedding pieces of itself as it spun out of control. The other turned belatedly to follow him. He judged the distance expertly and dropped one of his surprises. Before the startled Sith pilots could react, the concussion bomb went off in their midst. Three of them were blown to pieces and most of the others were damaged. And then their day got worse. Will arced around in a turn that would have sheared most fighters in half and charged back through their formation. Another Sith fighter exploded, and one of the others went dark, totally disabled. If the pilot lived, he wouldn’t for long. That left three. Those three pilots lost all stomach for battle and turned to flee, but Will was having none of that. Before they could get far, he locked each and fired a single concussion missile at each one. Without fail each missile sped true and sent a Sith pilot to join the Force. He banked away, looking for more targets
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
12.16.2011 , 04:19 AM | #3
Finally, after an eternity, Stormhawk slipped her moorings and headed towards the fight. Her commander and crew were itching for payback. They had all known the pilots who served aboard for a long time. The entire crew had transferred from another ship and worked well together. A few of the yard crews worked feverishly to get the last few weapons on line as the ship swung her ponderous snout out of the repair dock and headed towards the distant fight. Then new orders came from high command and the commander looked up from his plot to see what High Command had in mind. For a moment, his mind refused to process the orders, then…

“Are they insane?” he blurted as he saw that the Stormhawk, the latest and best of the Republic Fleet, had been ordered to the far side of the planet. There were not any Sith on the far side of the planet! He shook his head and contacted high command as he prepared to implement the orders. He went into his small office and activated the privacy field. His commander appeared on the screen.

“Captain? What can I do for you?”

“Admiral Gorna, we just got orders to move to the far side of the planet from the fight.” The admiral sat back.

“I didn’t issue those orders, let me check.” The commander waited, then the admiral came back. Her face was a study, rage and resignation. “Those orders stand Commander.”

“Admiral… that doesn’t make any sense…” The admiral looked as if she had bitten something sour. Of course Mon Calamari looked like that a lot, but the Admiral more so.

“The Jedi have ordered your ship to cover the evacuation.”

“Admiral, there are a lot of civilian ships on this side of the…” He broke off as the screen flashed and another image appeared. A human male wearing Jedi robes.

“You will obey the orders you are given commander or I will have you relieved.”

“Who are you?” He knew his voice bordered on insolent, but at the moment, he couldn’t bring himself to care.

“I am Markus Sigmundson. I hold the rank of general; that means you answer to me.”

“I answer to my commanding officer, and to the Republic Senate. You are not my commanding officer, and you don’t look like the Senate either.” He had never met a Jedi like this before. This guy rubbed him very much the wrong way.

“Commander, perhaps I did not make myself clear. You are under my command for the duration of this emergency, so take you ship to the designated coordinates and do it now.” The screen cut off, then returned showing Admiral Gorna staring at him.

“Admiral…” the commander breathed.

“Do as he says commander.”

“But admiral, my pilots, their dependants, the civilians…”

“You have been given a command. Obey it.”

“It’s stupid.”

“It is still a command, from a legal commander. Even if it is stupid.” The commander put his head in his hands, and then straightened up.

“I cannot obey that order.” The admiral sighed.

“Commander, the Jedi believe that another Sith fleet will arrive shortly in that area. You must stop it.” The commander slumped.

“Admiral, with what? All of my fighters are gone, destroyed or hopelessly out of position. My guns are maybe fifty percent. Maybe.”

“You are all we have.”

“Where are the Jedi? They have ships. If they cover me, maybe we can…” he broke off as the admiral shook her head.

“The Jedi are gone, Sigmundson is the only one left and he will be gone shortly. You are to cover his escape.”

“What?” His voice was soft.

“They felt it was in their best interest to regroup, to avoid fighting the Sith in this system, for fear of some of them falling to the Dark Side…” She broke off as the commander’s expression changed. His face purpled, and then turned a beet red. When he spoke however, there was no trace of anger in the tight, clipped words.

“You tell me that they sacrificed all of the people we have lost, all the people we are going to lose today so that they could run away?” The admiral winced at his words. But then she nodded. He looked her in the eyes and then spoke, still tightly controls.

“Then I cannot give that order. I cannot sacrifice my ship as I have sacrificed my pilots, my friends, just so they can run away.” The admiral sat back, shock exuding from every pore.

“Commander.” He shook his head, reached up and removed his insignia from his tunic. he placed it on the desk. Then he sat back and waited. “Commander, reconsider.” He shook his head. “Very well…” Her voice took on a mournful tone. “…you are relieved of command. Your second in command will take over.” He shook his head again. “What?” She asked sharply this time.

“My second in command and third in command are dead, Admiral. They led their fighter squadrons to where they were promised support. And didn’t get it. You and the Jedi have betrayed the loyalty we gave to you. And since you don’t want our loyalty, you won’t have our lives.” He cut the comlink and strode from his office. He keyed in a new course and the ship shuddered as she turned ponderously. He walked to the communications officer and stood behind him.

“Give me an open intercom, please.” After a startled look, the soldier did. The commander sighed, and then spoke.

“Crew of the Stormhawk. I was just given an order. I was ordered to cover the evacuation of the last of the Jedi from the Jedi temple. They have fled the system, all but a few, rather than supporting us as they promised to. The last of them are fleeing now.” He looked at the plot that showed a few ships lifting from the planet’s surface. “I have, on my own recognizance, disobeyed a direct order from Admiral Gorna.” A gasp went up around the bridge. “She was ordered to order me to cover the last Jedi transport to leave. I refused. Our brothers and sisters in arms need us more than these Jedi do. Therefore by my own order we are engaging the Sith fleets that are attacking from Galactic West. Anyone who wants off the ship can take an escape pod with my blessing. Once the battle is over I will surrender myself to arrest. Until then, let’s kick some Sith.”
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
12.16.2011 , 04:20 AM | #4
Will spun in three dimensions, avoiding fire from at least five Sith fighters. He fired and another Sith exploded. But for every one he destroyed another two or three took its place. He took some damage, the fires surging deep into his skull with each new hit, but he remained resolute. Few and fewer friendly icons showed on his scopes, but he fought on. He dove towards the bridge tower of a Sith battleship, pulled out just in time and slammed the last of his torpedoes through the armored viewport of the command pod. He pulled away and grinned as the Sith battlewagon started drifting, mindless. Escape pods fountained off the ship and then it exploded.

Hmmm… I didn’t do that

Then he saw it. A Republic capital ship. A strange one. It looked like the front end of a cruiser melded to the back end of a carrier. He swooped towards it. He saw a pair of Sith fighters making a run and pulled in behind them. Two quick bursts of laser fire later, the Sith fighters were dust. His comlink lit up.

“Thought you could use a hand.” He grinned; he recognized the voice of his old friend.

“And here I thought I was all alone out here with a clear field of enemies.”

“We are. We are all that is left.” Will froze as his friend’s words registered.

“What about the support we were promised. The Jedi?”

“Gone. They left.”

“What?”

“They left. We are on our own.”

“No… they couldn’t have.” Incoming fire sparked off his shields; he evaded and returned fire automatically. The Sith fighter exploded.

“Transports are clear. Get aboard, we are out of here.”

“I can’t leave… too many friends…the Jedi just left?”

“Yeah. Get aboard.” Will turned his fighter towards the hanger and landed in silence. He opened his canopy, slid to the deck and collapsed. He was unconscious before he struck the deck.

When Will woke he was not surprised to find himself in a sickbay. What surprised him was that his wife was there tending the injured.

“Sharra?” At his soft word, she froze from cleaning a set of instruments and then ran to his berth. She held him tight. Her crimson hair sparkled in the light of the sickbay. She looked beautiful, but then she always did to him. “Sharra…” He broke off in tears.

“Will. Oh my god, Will. I thought I had lost you.” She hugged him tight.

“Sharra, what are you doing here? This is a Republic warship.” Civilians and dependants were prohibited from being on Republic warships by naval regulation, and history.

“Not anymore.” Another voice came and Will stiffened to a semblance of attention in the bed as his friend, the commander of the ship, came close.

‘What?” Will’s voice was flat.

“I disobeyed a direct order to leave you to die.” Will’s eyes widened. “I was ordered to cover the evacuation of the last of the Jedi on Coruscant and then to flee. I told them to shove it. We managed to rescue thirty pilots as well as five escape pods from different ships. Then we ran.”

“They ordered you…to leave us…to die. And the Jedi…left…”

“Yeah.” Will shook his head in bemusement.

“That doesn’t make any sense at all. I have known Jedi, fought beside them they wouldn’t…” The commander sighed.

“They told Admiral Gorna that they feared some would fall to the Dark Side if they fought.” Will froze.

“They sacrificed every republic ship and fighter… They handed Coruscant over to the Sith for their ethics?”

“Yeah.”

“Then you made the right call. They don’t deserve our loyalty if this is how they treat us.” Will’s voice was fierce and Sharra backed away for a moment.

“I’m glad to hear you say that. I need a second officer. You’re it.” Will looked at him in shock.

“What? I’m a fighter jock.”

“Which is what we need. This ship is a carrier. We will need to ah…acquire fighters somehow. Pilots we have.” Will shook his head again.

“You realize, if we don’t return they will hunt us to the ends of the galaxy. And if they catch us, they will kill us.”

“Republic and Sith, and the Jedi as well.” Will sighed and looked at his wife. She slumped and nodded.

“Count us in.” Will extended his hand and the commander took it.

“We are now alone. Beholden to none except our own code. The code of the soldier.“

“So what needs to be done?” Will asked in a mild tone that fooled none of them.

“I’ve got a little list of things that need doing.” The commander handed a pad to Will and walked off quickly. Will looked at the pad and groaned inwardly.

Two hundred and seventeen pages, and here I thought this would be hard…
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
12.16.2011 , 04:20 AM | #5
Nia was crying. She sat with her head pillowed on Will’s shoulder. Will could have been a statue for all the emotion he showed. Finally she looked at him.

“I’m sorry.” She said, tears still streaming down her face.

“You have done nothing to be sorry for.” She hung her head.

“For showing weakness.” Will cocked his head at her, and then grasped her chin in a gentle hand. He levered her face up so she looked him in the eyes.

“Never apologize for feeling emotion. Never give up on being human. Or you end up like me. This is no life for someone like you.” She shook her head.

“I want to be strong.” She jerked back as Will laughed.

“You believe yourself weak? Nai, most people would have blubbered and begged if they found themselves facing down my blaster. You did what you had to do.” She flushed under his regard.

“I know I am. I have failed at so many things.”

“Nai. Nai. Everyone fails at something.”

“Not you.” He laughed again, then his face became hard.

“I failed my oath to the Republic, and I failed my wife.” He bowed his head and she hugged him tight. Olanagychew had told her how Will’s wife had died, cut down by Sith Assassins in a place of supposed safety. To top it off, they had found out the week before that she was expecting a son.

“It wasn’t your fault.” He had been a long way away, on a mission. He shook his head at her words. This time, she grabbed his chin and forced him to look into her eyes.

“It. Was. Not. Your. Fault.” His eyes glistened and hers started flowing again. They hugged again and then Will sat back.

“An hour to Tattooine. Are you ready?”

“What are the odds…?”

“That there are Sith there? 100%. Jedi, I don’t know.”

“If we do run into Jedi…” He sighed, and she stiffened.

“I’ll try not to kill them.” He might dislike the Jedi, but they were better than the Sith, most of them anyway.

“Dad…” He shook his head.

“Nia, the Jedi will try and take us back. We know what awaits us there. We won’t go without a fight.” She could feel his sincerity even without the Force.

“I only found you…was it really only yesterday?” She asked in a tone of amazement.

“Yeah, busy day.”

“I…I don’t want to lose you too.”

“You have my word, Nia. I will do everything in my power to stay alive and protect you.

“I don’t want your word, I want you.”

“We can’t always get what we want, Nia. If anything happens, stay close to Olana. He will
get you out if anyone can.” She snuggled deeper into his shoulder.

“Be careful Dad.” She kissed his cheek. He smiled at her warmly.

“Hey! It’s me.” He grinned at her expression.

“That doesn’t reassure me.” He stood and drew her to her feet.

“Time to get ready.”

“Yeah.” They left the observation bubble together.
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here

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kalenath
12.16.2011 , 04:21 AM | #6
((Meet the Stormhawk and her crew. Do NOT get them mad at you. Comments or suggestions always appreciated. Flames might get left behind to...explain things to the Republic.))
My stories in order:
Love, the Force, and Everything Discussion thread here