Location: Andromeda Galaxy
Tallasa stood up and started shouting orders. "Red alert, all hands to battlestations! Thorin, activate the cloak! Helm, evasive!"
I barely registered the maneuver or the shouting. I only watched as New Republic ships dueled with Imperial Star Destroyers.
"Captain. Captain!" Tallasa repeated, but I didn't hear her until she took me by my shoulders and shook me. "Wedge!" I focused on her face. She was worried, but she was thinking straight and knew what she was doing. "Starfleet protocol allows me to relieve you of duty if I think you are unfit for duty. So I'm asking you sir, are you able?"
I nodded uneasily. "Yeah… Yeah, I'm here."
She smiled. "Good. Now, I need you in the Chair. You are our only intel on this galaxy, so we need your help."
I nodded and stumbled my way into the main seat. Taking a moment to organize my thoughts, I pulled up the tactical hologram.
"Shit." I mumbled. Republic forces seemed to be on the defensive, taking fire from a numerically superior Imperial force. There were Golan II platforms there to defend the planet, but there were just too many Star Destroyers, and they were laying waste to the area.
Even so, Mon Calamari ships were made to take enormous amounts of damage, and they were holding their own very well. Even as I watched, I saw what looked to be a new Mon Cal capital ship-probably the MC90 from the New Class-put a killing barrage of fire into a ISD's command tower.
I was torn. On one side, I had a duty to uphold the Prime Directive as a Starfleet flag officer. On the other, I was a Rebel. I had fought and devoted my life to liberating the galaxy, protecting those innocents who were terrorized by the Empire.
I growled and pounded the side of my head. I could feel the worried stares of the crew and decided to give them something to focus on. "Stand down to yellow alert. Tallasa, Nelen, work on a threat analysis. I want to know how badly every ship out there can damage us. Marlin, work on getting me IFF codes on the ships out there. Ensign Muse, I want a full systems check, and have all systems battle ready by the end. Work with Thorin on that."
A chorus of yes sirs and ayes carried across the bridge as I stood. "I'll be in my ready room."
I managed to the room and let the door close before I slid to the floor, more or less in shock.
"What is going on?" I muttered, holding my head and trying to get get a grip on my thoughts.
I needed to find out what was going on, but that meant putting my ship and crew in the crossfires of a massive war.
"Force help me." I pulled myself up and made my way over to my old helmet. I stared at it for a long time, thinking, unsure.
The door slid open and I startled. Tallasa walked in unannounced and fixed me with a glare.
"Commander…" I started, but my voice cracked.
"No." She walked over, grabbed my shoulders and forced me to sit on the couch. "Sit. You need somebody to talk to." She sat beside me.
I shrugged helplessly. "What do I do, Tal? I find myself back home, with a galaxy under attack again, yet I have a duty to uphold the principles of the Federation and to protect my crew. But how can I set back and watch? To do nothing?"
She was silent for a moment. "I think… I think you should do what you think is right." I opened my mouth, but she cut me off. "Don't worry about the crew. Most of us have been with you for a while, and they'll stand by whatever decision they make."
I nodded. She smiled and wrapped an arm around my shoulder, bringing me into a friendly one-armed hug. "I'll be with you the entire way, Wedge."
Before I could reply, I was cut off by the comm as Nelen's voice came through. "Admiral, Commander, you need to get out here."
I shot the Andorian a look, then paced out the ready room. "Status report."
"Two Imperial Star Destroyers disengaged from the battlespace and closed to distance on the planet. They're currently bombarding one of the major population centers. The city's shields are currently holding, but under concentrated attack from those weapons, they will fail."
I growled as I looked at the tactical holo. "And the Republic forces can't force them off without compromising their own defense line. From the looks of it, they can only spare that wing of fighters."
I watched as the green specks of E-Wings, A-Wings, B-Wings, and X-Wings dueled with TIE Interceptors and some strange looking TIE variant, trying to get through and force the ISDs off.
"Shannon, move us into weapons range of those Destroyers. Be ready to position us between them and the planet." I nodded towards my comm officer. "Marlin, shipwide."
The young brunette nodded. "You're on."
I steeled myself and began speaking. "All hands, this is the Captain. As you may know, we are no longer in the Milky Way galaxy. We are in the Andromeda galaxy, my home. WE have ended up in the midst of a battle between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire. Normally, I would follow the Prime Directive and make contact diplomatically, but inaction is no longer an option. Imperial starships have begun firing on civilian population centers, killing indiscriminately. I cannot let this stand. I have decided to intervene on behalf of those on the planet below. I will give the Imperials one chance to back off. If they do not comply, I will destroy them. My actions may lead to a court-martial, and as such, if… when we return to the Milky Way, I will assume all responsibility for this ship's actions." I paused. "All hands, stand to battlestations."
"We are in position, Captain." Shannon informed me. I could see the Destroyers and the flashes of green from their main guns as the fired relentlessly at the planet.
"Commander, prepare to decloak and raise shields, but bring the ECM systems to full power. Make them work for information, and map their hulls for good measure. Switch the tubes out for photon torpedoes, we can easily reproduce those, we can't reproduce quantums. Marlin, you'll open a channel to both ISDs."
"Good." I took a deep breath and centered myself. "Commander, bring us out of cloak."
"Karabast!" Wing Commander Bardara swore as he blasted away a TIE Droid with a triple-linked blast from his laser cannons. "Ironclad Squadron, what's your status?"
"Tied up!" The B-wing commander yelled back. "The Rogues are keeping the Interceptors and Droids off us, but we can't make a run on the Destroyers without getting torn to shreds!"
"Blast! A-wings, help out the Rogues, get those B-wings free. E-wings, try and get clear to fire on the Scorpion, I'll get you targeting data, just get in range!"
Blasting an Interceptor and clipping another, Bardara switched to proton torpedoes and settled his targeting reticule over the Scorpion.
"If you can, slave your targeting systems to mine!" Bardara shouted over the comms as the green reticule turned yellow and his R7 gave a intermitente tone.
"Come on, hurry up…" The box went red and the tone went steady.
"Fire, fire, fire!"
Two proton torpedoes left the tubes and Bardara was happy to see six more pairs of torpedoes from the E-wings and X-wings, four concussion missiles from the A-wings, and six more from the B-wings, in total over twenty four projectiles.
Defense fire came from the Scorpion, but it was ineffective against the swarm of quickly moving objects. All but two hit the ISD, weakening and, in some places, puncturing the shield bubble to destroy weapon emplacements, wipe out external equipment, or opening pressurized rooms to space. One lucky torp even managed to take out one of the portside octuple turbolasers.
The pilot opened his mouth to order another barrage, but as he watched, the Destroyer rolled, presenting her belly towards the Republic fighters and bringing all her weapons to bear on the planet below.
Bardara couldn't do anything about it, because two Droids started firing at him. Snap rolling, reversing his thrust, and slamming it back forward, he clipped one and shucked the other, but as he did so, he saw different lights out of the corner of his eye.
The commander had to put that out his head as another Droid fell under his guns, at least until his R7 squeaked at him.
Glancing at his screen for the translation, he frowned. "Whaddaya mean there's an open channel?"
"At the Star Destroyers? Put it up!"
"- is the Federation Starship Redemption. You are firing on a civilian target. Cease your attack or you will be removed from orbit." The comm distortion took most of the humanity out of the voice, but it was a human speaking, and it sounded… vaguely Corellian.
The voice that replied was doubtlessly Imperial, with enough arrogance and ego that it could probably fill a Super Star Destroyer. "I do not recognize a Federation, Rebel scum! Die with your precious Republic!"
"Captain, wait!" The Halfbreak's commander tried to stop it's sister ship, but it was too late. As Bardara swung about, he saw a full broadside erupt from the ISD, impacting a small, strange-looking ship with a saucer section and nacelles.
It was small ship, anywhere from three hundred to four hundred meters long and it had absolutely no business challenging two Imperial-II Star Destroyers that were designed for fighting capital ships.
The barrage ended, and Bardara was amazed to see that the ship's shields were holding strong.
"You were safe." The voice came back, cold and dangerous, sending shivers down the pilot's spine. "If you had left, I wouldn't have done jack shit. That's all it was, an empty threat. But all that changed when you fired on my ship."
As Bardara watched, the ship vanished from view.
"But I must thank you. I can stop you murderers without being court-martialed."
BGM: BSG Deadlock Soundtrack - Skirmish 3
A flash of orange fire slammed into the Scorpion's damaged portside shields as the new ship reappeared again. Three red projectiles emerged from the mystery vessel. The first hit the shields and stressed them, the second nearly broke them, but the third slipped through and a tremendous explosion erupted from the Scorpion's forward section.
The Halfbreak and Scorpion retaliated, again sending green sheets of fire at the ship, but it wasn't there anymore. It rolled and shimmied out of the way in an expertly executed maneuver, and fired again on the Scorpion, this time breaking the weakened shields and allowing the orange bolts to burn at the Destroyer's armor, tearing great wrents into the vessel.
Scorpion's crew seemed shaken as her gunners returned fire again, but the fire seemed ineffective, most missing by wide margins, trying to roll again to bring fresh shields to bear, and in response the strange warship raced by, rolled bow for aft a hundred and eighty degrees, and, still going the direction she now had her aft pointed, fired again with two strange missiles that seemed to be firing smaller missiles.
The Scorpion's captain realized his mistake and tried to roll again, but he was too late. As the smaller missiles wreaked havoc across the hull, and even managed take out a squadron of TIE fighters that were scrambling to save the ship, the heavier missiles struck home, one-two, the first one blowing away the entire portside turbolaser bank, as the second struck home, actually managing to penetrate far enough to catch the main reactor in the blast.
Scorpion lost engine power, sending the ship drifting as the internal computer performed an emergency shutdown, but it was too late. Moments later, a massive hypermatter explosion erupted that cut the mighty Star Destroyer in two.
Halfbreak opened fire as her own TIE Bombers fired missiles at the unknown. She evaded the turbolaser blasts, while bursts of orange light intercepted the missiles and the Bombers themselves.
The ship erupted with orange energy again, this time from her side, wiping out half the TIEs that Bardara was tangling with, giving them a clear path to move on the Halfbreak.
"What the hell was that?!"
"Help!" Bardara replied. "Come on, let's pull our weight. Bombers, move in!"
"Attack pattern Pinkerton Zeta. Let's knock these bastards around a bit."
"Firing photon torpedoes."
Dispersal Pattern Sierra was used, sending five torpedoes to points around the Halfbreak, but instead of exploding like they normally would, Redemption's phaser banks lit up, the blasts targeting the torpedoes themselves, causing them to detonate and send out shockwaves, throwing the ISD out of it's orbit and relative down towards the planet.
"Shannon, get us close. Commander, target her engines, force her down into the atmosphere, let's give them burn damage."
Redemption bolted to life again as her engines went to full burn, new engines screaming their cry like banshees.
Shannon expertly maneuvered the battlecruiser in for a clear run at the Star Destroyer's massive drive cluster. The main cannons thundered, pounding at the larger ship's shields. Another two torpedoes left the tubes and hit the ISD, weakening the shields even further. The Imperial shipreturned fire, but we were at such a angle and position that only a few guns could depress far enough to get a good shot, and even then, the fire was inaccurate due to the ECM interference. Only some of the bolts did manage to hit.
"Shields down to eighty-four percent."
"Chroniton VATAs, now."
Two of Redemption's most powerful projectiles launched and in short order they slammed into the Destroyer, slowing it and allowing some phaser fire to bleedthrough and damage the engines.
Then a swarm of torpedoes hit the ISD, fired from the Republic fighters that had been freed from the TIE swarm by Tallasa's precision fire.
I smiled as the warship's engines sputtered and her orbit started rapidly deteriorating, with her dorsal shields beginning to spark and burn red as she scraped the planet's atmosphere.
"Commander, one last barrage, then we leave."
Since I had not given a specific target for the guns, Tallasa chose the target: the back of the command tower. Nadion energy played havoc with the tower's hull, blowing apart both bridge deflector domes, opening the trash compactor to the rapidly heating air, and damaging the central turbolift shafts, effectively sealing in the command crew on the doomed ship's bridge.
"Alright, that's enough." I glanced at the tactical hologram and whistled. A Imperial Star Destroyer, three Victory-II Star Destroyers, and a swarm of TIEs had broken off and were headed our way. "Thorin, engage the cloak. Shannon, get us out of here."
The battlecruiser shimmered from view and rolled, cruising away from the assault group.
I smiled as the Republic fleet started moving out of their defensive posture and into breaker formation, with the lead ship- an MC90- driving straight down the Imperial assault, flying between ships and broadsiding them, pulling the Ackbar Slash.
"And yet again, overcompensation has screwed the Imperials over." I shook my head. Having sent so much firepower to deal with the threat that what just taken down two ISDs and vanished, they had left their lines open to counterattack, and the Republic commander was capitalizing on it.
"Incoming signature!" Nelen called out. "I'm reading something big coming out of hyperspace."
"Come about, bring us to face." I ordered, danger sense tingling. "Load quantums, I think we'll need them."
There was a flicker of pseudomotion, and a sphere appeared.
I jolted for a moment, but the weapon wasn't big enough to be a Death Star. It didn't look right.
"Shit, that's a Torpedo Sphere." I muttered.
Designed as a planetary assault platform, they were meant to bombard and penetrate planetary shields with their massive barrages of torpedoes. Most were not equipped for combat, but a few were, such as the one Grand Admiral Pitta used, and presumably, this one.
My assumption was proved correct when a barrage of one hundred proton torpedoes slammed into an Impstar Deuce, utterly shredding the vessel.
"Sithspawn." My mind worked quickly, formulating a plan. "Nelen, I need you to prepare a directional EMP and aim it in our rear arc. Tal, prepare three VATAs, two tachyon, one quantum." I rose and started making my way to the helm. "Thorin, transfer auxiliary power to the shields and warp power to the engines."
"Captain, I'm not sure if the new engines can handle that much power yet."
"Well then, might as well let all those torpedoes hit us."
I heard him grumbling and I couldn't help but smile.
"I'll see what I can do."
"Shannon, you're relieved." The pilot gave up his seat and the bridge crew shifted, knowing they were in for a wild ride.
I slid into the seat. "Computer, activate control pattern Antilles-Alpha."
The LCARS console changed to a different configuration and a control stick popped out to my right. This configuration gave me a control scheme very similar to that of a X-wing, with throttle, precise thruster control, and shields on my left, and ship status on my right. I gripped the stick with my right hand and slid the throttle forward with my left.
"Commander, give me control of the main guns." She compiled, and the stick's trigger lit up.
Taking a deep breath and readying myself, I decloaked the ship.
"All ships," Admiral Ackbar's gravelly voice rang out over the comms. "Fall back. We shall leave the Torpedo Sphere to deal with the Imperials."
Bardara heard someone protest. "But that means leaving the planet open to attack, Admiral."
"I am well aware of that, Colonel." Ackbar sounded tired. "My orders stand. Fall-"
"New contact!" Bardara heard the sensors operator shout. "Power levels are off the charts!"
He could see the new ship. It had suddenly appeared in front of the Torpedo Sphere, as if challenging the enemy battlestation.
It was. It's front lit up with orange fire, sending rounds into the shields of the Sphere, and as he watched, the Sphere's shields strained against the assault.
The weapons platform was not helpless, however, and it opened up with over five hundred proton torpedoes, all heading straight towards the new player...
I threw the throttle forward and flipped the ship over, throwing the Redemption motion. She accelerated roughly, shoving me back into my seat and sending any standing crewman stumbling.
I brought the ship into a wide circle, making sure that every torpedo that was launched was behind us. The engines strained with the effort, unused to handling the amount of power running through them.
"Nelen!" I called out over the rumbling. "On my mark, fire that EMP!" The Sphere creeped into view as I completed the turn. "Commander, VATAs!"
The two tachyon VATAs launched first, followed shortly by the quantum projectile. The first two tore down the shields like they were meant to, and the third blew a hole in the side of the platform, tearing off the armor and leaving its soft innards exposed.
I aimed straight at the tear and pulled the trigger, sending a barrage into the tear, widening it further.
Tallasa saw what I was doing. "Uh… Captain?"
"Don't worry Commander." The range closed to twenty five kilometers. "All hands, brace for sudden deceleration!"
Torpedoes splashed against the shields as some caught up, not really doing much against the strengthened barrier.
"Wedge!" Tallasa called out.
I didn't reply.
Nelen set off the EMP, frying all of the guidance and targeting systems on the projectiles following. As that happened, I threw the engines into full reverse and pulled the ship's nose backwards, ending up pointing one hundred and ten degrees from our original path of flight and killing our forward thrust.
I gunned the engines forward and hit the retrothrusters, throwing the ship out of the way.
Just in time.
While their electronics were disabled, the torpedoes still had their considerable speed behind them, and all of it was aimed at the hole in the Sphere's side. Hundreds of torpedoes slammed and detonated into the platform, shredding and slagging the vessel's interior, until, finally, the vessel's core lost containment and set off.
The explosion was bright, but nothing next to the detonation of a warp core or the destruction of the Death Stars.
I laughed as adrenaline left my body. "Restore normal power levels and reduce engine power to eighty percent. Thorin, status?"
"Few blown out conduits, but other that that, we're fine." I heard him grumble. "Just don't pull what you just did with the engines for at least six hours."
I nodded. "Copy that. Commander, find me a Star Destroyer to shred."
"Uh, Captain." I could hear amusement in her voice. "The Imperials are leaving."
I glanced at the sensors, and sure enough, the Imperials were pulling back and jumping to hyperspace.
"Huh. Well, let's give them a bit more of an incentive."
I flew past as Star Destroyer, giving her a good view of the Redemption's name emblazoned on her side, then brought her around and aimed the battlecruiser at the Destroyer's bridge.
The gunners tried to stop the ship, but they just splashed on the shields. At the last possible second, when I could see the warship's commander in it's viewports, I rolled the warship over the Star Destroyer's bridge, grazing the larger vessel.
I don't think I've seen a ISD run faster.
"All hostiles have cleared the area." Nelen called out.
I nodded and stood up, shaky. "Oh, adrenaline crash." I stumbled over to the replicator. "Caf, black."
A mug materialized. I grabbed the mug and downed it all in one go.
"Captain?" Marlin asked, trying to get my attention.
"Mm?" I lowered the mug and felt some of the drink dribble down my chin.
She couldn't help up snicker. "Heh… Uh, we're being hailed by the Defiance."
I swallowed, then nodded. "Alright. Commander, could you take this? I don't want to reveal myself yet. Tell them the Captain will meet them on their ship."
She nodded. "Copy that."
I stepped onto the turbolift. "Main hangar."
"Green squadron, you are to escort a shuttle from the vessel identified as Redemption to the Defiance." Bardara heard his flight controller order.
He saw a ship launch from the saucer section of the new warship and curve towards the Defiance. Settling on it's wing, he frowned at the strange craft. It was larger than his E-Wing, angular and pointed, but painted all black, with a gold and green checkerboard pattern covering its nose and most of the ship's bow.
Bardara could have sworn he had seen the color pattern before somewhere, but he couldn't place his finger on it. As the vessel slowed to enter the Defiance, he put the thought aside and moved on to the task at hand.
Colonel Tycho Celchu looked up from his X-wing as he heard the hum of unfamiliar engines. A large, angular and boxy shuttle entered the hangar, rotated so it's bow was facing space, and settled down on a designated spot.
He jolted as he saw the paint scheme. Spotting Admiral Ackbar and his staff, he ran over to them.
"I know that paint scheme."
Ackbar blinked his large eyes. "Where, Colonel?"
Tycho took a deep breath. "It's the same scheme that Wedge used on his starfighter during the Bacta War."
Ackbar's eyes rolled, but he was prevented from answering as the shuttle's rear ramp lowered.
Walking down in formation, were two armored figures, one massive, the other smaller and feminine but no less intimidating. Two more security escorts hung back inside the shuttle.
They were shielding a form from view, Tycho could tell.
"Alright, that's enough, Commander." A voice from behind the massive man said in amusement.
Tycho's heart jumped into his throat.
A hearty chuckle rumbled from the armored man. "Ves, sir."
The two stepped aside and Tycho stopped dead.
"Emperor's black bones…" He heard Ackbar swear.
Wedge Antilles smiled. "Well, Rogues have been known from coming back from the dead, so this really should be no surprise for you."
Author's Notes: What? It's true. Hell, in Isard's Revenge, almost the entire squadron was declared KIA and then they came back in TIE Defenders! But anyways, Wedge has revealed himself to the New Republic, and next chapter will give some perspective on the status of the Andromeda Galaxy.