No sooner than the Millennium Phoenix blasted clear of the Death Star, it was surrounded by a squadron of Imperial TIE fighters.
"We're not out of the woods yet!" Atlas yelled, running to the one of the gun turrets and motioning for Astro to man the other one. Blue Bon was at the helm of the ship.
Atlas and Astro powered up the laser cannons and started targeting the incoming fighters. The Phoenix's shields were holding for the time being as Atlas and Astro had their hands full at the gun positions. A TIE fighter zoomed across Astro's sights firing its turbo lasers at the ship. Astro worked the gun position levers at his feet and got a target lock on the enemy ship. He pulled both triggers and a dual blast of laser fire erupted from his gun position, hitting the TIE fighter. The Imperial ship exploded from the impact.
"I got one!" Astro yelled.
"Good work" Atlas yelled back, adding "Don't get cocky!"
Between the two of them, Astro and Atlas managed to defend the ship against the onslaught of fighters until Blue Bon had the light drive powered up and the navi-computer locked in. The ship jumped into hyperspace as the stars turned into lines and blue shifted.
"That was too easy!" Uran said.
"What do you mean easy?" Atlas demanded.
"They let us get away. They must be tracking us!" Uran replied.
"Not this ship!" Atlas yelled back.
Darth Shadow watched out the view port as the Millennium Phoenix blinked out into hyperspace. Duke Red walked over to him.
"You've got the tracking device on their ship?" he asked.
"Yes. We'll be able to find out where they are heading and the real location of their rebel base." Shadow replied.
"Our advance scouts just got back from Armpitt. There was a base there, but it has been abandoned for some time. I knew that Princess Uran would never give up the location of the rebel base." Duke Red said. "I hope this works. I'm taking a risk letting her get away."
Astro sat in a melancholy mood.
"I can't believe O'Shay is gone." he sobbed.
Uran sat next to Astro and put her arm around him.
"Ochanomizu was a great man. We'll all miss him." She said. "Right now I hope that the information contained in that little 'bot can help us find a weakness in that battle station, or we are all in trouble."
The Phoenix landed on the large moon of the fourth planet orbiting the star Kalvin. Kalvin IV was a gas giant, but it's outer most moon was a class M planet suitable for life forms. The rebel base was hidden under the bottom of a small mountain next to a forested area. As soon as they arrived, Trashcan was unloaded and rushed to the computer center where his memory core was downloaded into the main super computer so the data he had been carrying could be analyzed to find a weakness in the Death Stars defenses.
Inside the fighter hangar, Astro was introduced to the fighter pilots that would be defending the base from the Death Star. He was surprised to find that many of his old friends from back home had made their way to the rebel base. There were Kenichi, Tamao, Rock, Kennedy, Hosuke, Shibugaki, Abercrombie, and Reno. He shook hands with his old and new friends just before the base commander started up the briefing for the pilots.
"We've identified a potential weakness in the defenses of the Death Star." He began. "The Empire doesn't consider an attack from a small fighter craft as dangerous, so the battle station's defenses are geared to large laser cannons to defend against the battle cruisers. If you fly your ships low enough, you can dodge the turret mounted laser fire easily enough. Your target will be this exhaust port that leads directly to the main reactor. A direct hit will start a chain reaction that should destroy the station. The exhaust port is about two meters in diameter and is located at the bottom of a narrow canyon that circles around the station."
Shibugaki moaned "Two meters, that's impossible!"
"No it's not!" Astro yelled back. "I used to bull's eye Wumpuses in my T28 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters in size!"
The meeting broke up and the pilot's scrambled off to board their ships. Astro had volunteered to fly one of the X-wing fighters. He ran into Atlas on the way to his ship. Atlas had several large boxes that he was loading onto the Millennium Phoenix.
"I see you got your reward." Astro said curtly. "You're a good pilot, why don't you help these people out. You know what there are up against!"
"Sorry kid, what good is a reward if you're not around to spend it." Atlas replied. "Besides, I have some debts I have to pay off with this stuff to some people that I'm a bit more afraid of than the Empire."
"Well take care of yourself." Astro said. "I guess that's what your best at doing!"
Atlas ignored Astro's attitude. As Astro walked away he yelled.
"Hey Astro! May the force be with you!"
Astro turned around and simply said "Thanks!"
Blue Bon gave Atlas a dirty look.
"Hey, Blueie. I know what I'm doing!" Atlas replied.
The Death Star came out of hyper space and went into orbit around Kalvin IV. Duke Red stood in the command center and looked at the computer display.
"We'll be in range of the rebel base in about twenty minutes sir!" the weapons officer reported.
Darth Shadow was pleased. His plan seemed to be working as expected.
Astro climbed into his X-wing fighter and started to run though his check list. Trashcan was lowered by a traveling crane into the R2 compartment behind him.
"We can get you a newer R2 unit if you'd like." A flight lineman told Astro.
"No thanks! That little 'bot and I have been though quite a lot together1" Astro replied.
"Hey Meatbag!" Bender yelled up at Astro trough the cigar clamped in his teeth. "You better take good care of my friend! And you Rustbucket, you take good care of Astro, you hear!"
Astro gave Bender a thumbs up sign, which the tall robot returned. "Barkbark bark!" Trashcan yelled down to Bender who flipped him the bird.
"Hey you! Put out that cigar!" the lineman yelled at Bender.
"Aw shit!" Bender sighed and he opened his chest panel and threw the stogie inside!
Astro completed his checklist and started his engines. The lineman monitored the engine parameters on the starting panel connected to the fighter and gave Astro the thumbs up as he disconnected the fighter from the line instrumentation.
Astro inched the throttle forward and advanced the vertical thrusters just enough to lift the machine's landing pads off the ground. He joined the line of ships advancing to takeoff position. One by one the X and Y wing fighters reached the end of the line, and advancing to full throttle took off to join up in orbit. Finally it was Astro's turn. He felt the Gee forces as his X-wing leaped into the air and climbed through the atmosphere into orbit. As the craft was entering orbit to meet up with the red squadron he could hear Ochanomizu's voice in his head. "The force will be with you, Astro!"
The attack groups advanced toward the Death Star. Astro's group was in the rear, and he monitored the first groups attack runs on the radio.
"Green Group, this is Green leader! Start your attack run now!"
The first group took their position and started diving toward the Death Star.
"Watch out for those laser turret towers!"
The ships dodged laser fire, rocking back and forth down the narrow depression in the surface of the Death Star, racing toward their target.
"I'm hit! I've lost and engine!" "Pull back, I'll take the lead!"
The second and third attack wings took up their position and dived toward the battle station.
Darth Shadow pointed a finger at Governor Duke Red.
"Analyze their attack strategy, there is a danger." Shadow said.
"Nonsense, this battle station is impregnable." Duke Red said, brushing Shadow aside.
"The laser towers are no match for that many small ships coming in at once. We will have to destroy them ship to ship" Shadow replied. "I will take command of a squadron and lead the counter attack myself."
Astro's fighter stood in a ready position as he kept track of the battle taking place. Kenichi was almost in position. "I'm almost there, target lined up! Fire away!"
"Did it go in?" Tamao asked.
"No, it impacted on the surface!"
Darth Shadow's squadron dived into position to dogfight with the attackers.
"I've got a boggy on my tail" Rock yelled, "I can't shake him!"
There was the sound of his ship taking fire and exploding against the surface of the battle station.
One by one the fighters tried to nail a shot. Some of them were taken out by Shadow's squadron, others by the tower mounted guns. They were down to just a few attack groups left.
Now it was Astro's turn.
"Red leader, this is Red seven. I'm joining the attack" Astro radioed.
He dove his X-wing toward the surface of the Death Star, into the canyon leading up to the exhaust port. As he came up to the gun tower placements he skillfully zig-zagged back and forth to miss their fire. The target showed up on the radar of his targeting computer.
"I've got your tail" Abercrombie yelled over the radio.
"I'm right behind you!" Reno added.
From behind the sun, Shadow's squadron zoomed down.
"Look out Abercrombie! You've got a boggy on your tail!" Reno yelled.
Abercrombie zigged and zagged. Reno lined up the TIE fighter on his targeting computer and fired.
The enemy ship took a hit and zoomed out of the area. But a second TIE fighter nailed Abercombie and he crashed into the canyon.
The target was getting closer. Suddenly Astro's ship took a hit in the compartment behind him.
"Trashcan got hit!" Astro yelled into the radio. "I think I still have control of my ship. I'm OK"
He was almost to the target. Shadow lined up on Astro, but Reno's ship got into the line of fire.
"I'm hit in my port engine!" Reno yelled as he pulled up. "I can't help, not enough power"
"Get back to base!" Astro yelled. "I'll take care of this!"
He was almost in target range.
Shadow tired to get a lock on Astro. "The force is strong on this one." He thought out loud.
Astro was about to lock in the target on his targeting computer when he heard Ochanomizu's voice in his head again.
"Trust your feelings Astro! Use the force!"
Astro shut down the targeting computer and engaged manual weapons control. Back at the fighter base they saw his action on the telemetry read back.
"Astro, you've shut down your targeting computer, is everything all right?" the flight leader asked.
"I'm fine!" Astro replied.
Duke Red had been watching the radar display showing the position of the Death Star in relationship to the planet and the moon.
"The rebel base in now in target range!" the weapons officer told him.
"You may fire when ready!" Duke Red replied.
The main weapon of the battle station came on line. The main reactor powered up to full and the weapons officer activated the primary ignition sequence. In ten seconds the weapon would fire and destroy the moon.
Darth Shadow got a lock on his targeting computer. "I have you now!" he yelled as he pulled the triggers to blast Astro's ship.
Suddenly the Millennium Phoenix dived from out of the sun. Atlas fired a volley of laser blasts and knocked Shadow's engines off line. The TIE fighter bounced off of the valley walls and into space. Shadow restarted his engines and got control of his craft. But not in time...
"OK kid now blow this thing and let's go home!" Atlas yelled over the radio.
Astro concentrated on the task at hand. He hadn't realized that his own brain was more powerful than the ship's targeting computer. In his mind he saw a heads up display, and the target was clearly located in his field of view along with the exact position and timing information. Astro pulled the triggers and released two projectiles. He pulled up on the stick and climbed out of the canyon just as the bombs hit the target dead on.
Two seconds before the Death Star could release it's deadly shock wave to destroy the moon, the reactor went critical. A titanic explosion resulted, instantly vaporizing the station into rings of debris.
From every radio, and every voice on the moon a cry went up! Astro had done it!
As Astro flew back to the moon base he again heard Ochanomizu's voice, "Astro, the force will be with you, always!"
Astro landed his fighter and shut down the engines. The flight crew were already removing the carbon scored body of Trashcan from the fighter as Bender ran up to the craft.
"You guys can fix him, right?" Bender asked.
"We'll get right to work on repairing him" the line chief replied.
"You better, Meatbag!" Bender complained through the cigar clamped between his teeth.
"Put out that Cigar, You Idiot!" the line chief yelled at him.
Bender spat out the stub of cigar and ground it out on the floor with his foot.
The next day there was a ceremony to honor the heroes. Trashcan had been repaired, and he and Bender had been cleaned and polished. Princess Uran placed a ribbon with a medal over Astro's head, then she also gave one to Atlas Solo and Blue Bon. Bender and Trashcan also received medals.
After Uran placed the ribbon with the medal over Bender's head and walked past him, Bender gave her behind a little squeeze. Uran turned around quickly but Bender was already pointing to Trashcan, as if to blame him. "BARK BARK!"
Uran looked at Bender and said, "You do realize that I understand what that R2 unit is saying don't you?"
"Oops" Bender said.
Astro and Uran had the last laugh.
For those that were wondering if Astro in this story was playing the part of a human, or if he is a robot version of Luke Skywalker, well I dropped enough hints in the last two chapters to answer that!
I will write crossovers for the Starwars episode V and VI movies, because I have a few more Tezuka characters to turn into StarWars characters. (Like can you guess who the Emperor is? Well you'll just have to wait!) I still have to figure out who or what to cast as Jaba!