Star Wars - The Tie Fighter
Chapter 1: Battle on the Frontier

Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Mult, Consensual, Science Fiction, Star Wars Sex Story, Science fiction sex story, Star Wars Adult Fiction, Star Wars Adult Fan Fiction

Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: Battle on the Frontier - An addition for the Star Wars Series

This X-wing pilot was good. Real good. I was hanging onto his tail, but he wasn't giving me a shot. He jinked and jerked wildly and unpredictably from side to side and up and down as I diverted nearly all power to my TIE fighter's engines just to try to stay with him. It wasn't easy at that. My craft was shaking and bouncing like a bucket of spare parts rolling down a ladder and I was worried that at any moment one of the large port or starboard solar panels would come apart. Although I couldn't get a lock on the X-wing, I fired off a laser blast now and then to let the guy know I was still here, and so that he would keep his shields up, thereby diverting power he could use to run away from me. The X- wing is the top of the line Rebel fighter. It's bigger, faster, and packs a more powerful punch than my TIE fighter. It also has shields. The TIE doesn't. If the X-wing got far enough away so that he could maneuver, he could turn and, with those nasty quad lasers, blast me into space junk. So, as I hung onto this guy while we raced through space, it occurred to me that I had one very nasty cat by the tail and I had better not let go.

The X-wing jerked violently left and I only barely stayed with him. I glanced at my situation display hoping that one of my wingmen in Gamma squadron might be able to help me. No luck. I had chased this X-wing too far for them to provide support and, anyway, most of them had similar troubles of their own.

Through my headset I could hear Gamma 4 asking Gamma 3 where in the hell these X-wings came from.

It was a good question. When we were briefed aboard our mothership, the Imperial frigate GUSTAV, we were told this would be just another routine patrol out on the frontier- the outer reaches of the Empire. At the most we would encounter smugglers or bounty hunters and the like in old Z-95 Headhunter fighters or modified corvettes. That's what was usually out here. The Rebels and their X-wings weren't here. I'd have to have a chat with Commander Selena, the Operations Officer, when I got back. If I got back.

The X-wing was beginning to pull away! He had obviously diverted some power from his shields to his engines. All of my indicators were beyond redline, the ship was vibrating and the roar of the engines was almost overpowering. I managed to coax a little more speed out of my TIE as I tried to match the X-wing's maneuvers, but I knew the ship couldn't take much more of this. This was a helluva fix. If I hung onto the X-wing, my ship could fall apart around me. If I broke off the engagement, well... that would be letting go of the cat's tail and I had no idea whether this cat would keep running or turn, and I didn't want to find out.

Suddenly, the X-wing jerked sharply up. This move caught me by surprise and I nearly raced past him. I yanked back hard on the maneuvering jets to stay with him just as he jerked his craft down again. I saw a chance. Not waiting for a laser lock I shifted the dual lasers to rapid single fire, squeezed the trigger and held it. The X-wing flew right across my path. The first two laser hits took his shields down. The second two blew the X-wing apart, the debris clattering against my ship's hull as I flew through it. I started to breathe again.

I slowed, and turned back toward the rest of the squadron.

"Gamma Two, this is Gamma Leader," I called to my wingman, Lieutenant Acer. I could see his TIE approaching. He had finally been able to break away and come to my assistance. "Any more X-Wings?" "No, sir," he replied. "Those we didn't get hyperspaced out of here." "We lose anybody?" I asked. We started the patrol with a flight of six TIE's, two of which were flown by new pilots. "Yes, sir. Gamma Five and Six," Acer replied. I could tell he was angry. Those were the new pilots. There was none of the usual cold Imperial resolve in his voice. The new pilots were no match for experienced Rebel pilots in X-wings. Had we suspected that X-wings were out here, those new pilots would have stayed behind until they had received more training and had a chance to get more experience. That isn't exactly Imperial policy, but it's the way we do things in my squadron.

"Let's form up, Lieutenant," I told him. "We're heading back to the GUSTAV."

"Yes, sir." Soon, Gamma 3 and Gamma 4 joined us and we altered course to intercept GUSTAV's projected flight path. When we got within sensor range I notified the ship of our encounter with the X-wings and downloaded my gun camera recordings and sensor data to GUSTAV. By the time we landed in her hangar bay, Commander Selena and her Operations people would have pretty thoroughly analyzed the mission. I was only sorry that I wouldn't be able to see the looks on the faces of Selena and the ship's Commanding Officer, Commander Cibock, when they learned there were X-wings out here. I could see all those intel types scratching their heads.

The GUSTAV was within visual now. An older FOGGER class frigate, she always struck me as looking somewhat awkward, like a goose stuck out in space. She was a tired ship, small by current standards, whose systems were a patchwork of ill-fitting upgrades that had been slapped together over the years to keep her in service. She should have been decommissioned years ago but, because of the rebellion, the Empire needed her and others like her to patrol the frontiers and backwaters of the galaxy while the larger, more modern and prestigious Imperial Star Destroyers took on the Rebel Alliance and received regular accolades from the Emperor. We had been on our own out here. Until now.

"GUSTAV, this is Captain Tallig of Gamma squadron requesting landing sequence."

"Affirmative, Gamma One," came the reply from the flight officer. "Engaging tractor beam." I relaxed my grip on the controls as I felt the GUSTAV's tractor beam take hold of my TIE and guide her into the hangar bay. The operator on duty was good, and set my ship down gently into its assigned stall. Usually you get someone who bounces the ship around a few times before it skids to a halt. I was glad that this was not one of those times.

I went throught the post-flight shutdown checklist quickly. When you've done it as often as I have, it becomes second nature- like killing X-wings. I glanced out of the cockpit and I saw her standing across the hangar bay, staring at my ship, waiting for me.

Commander J'Una Selena, GUSTAV's Operations Officer, was one of the tallest females I had ever known, half a head taller than me. I'm sure I've encountered humanoid females who are taller, but I've never fucked any of them. A native of the Bardin system J'Una had shoulder length black hair, ebony skin and a fine figure by anyone's standards.She was also an exceptionally capable officer who knew her business. This time, though, she had come up short and I was pissed.

As I climbed out of the bottom hatch of the TIE and dropped to the deck, I could see J'Una walking toward me.

"Nice to see you back safely, Captain Tellig," she said with a smile, flashing those brilliant white teeth. "That was a fine bit of flying you did against that X-wing," she added.

But I was in no mood for congratulations. I had lost two pilots whose names I didn't even know yet.

"Thank you, Commander," I said coldly, looking up into her fire red eyes. "Now, just where the hell did those X-wings come from?"

My question, and the tone in which it was asked, bordered on the insubordinate. I've known Imperial officers who have been reprimanded, arrested and worse for questioning a superior. But J'Una seemed unperturbed. She looked at me for a moment and smiled.

"Captain," she said as we resumed walking toward the hangar bay door, "we don't have a clue."

Her candor caught me by surprise. Though our relationship was a close one, and we had screwed more times than I could remember, I never expected a senior officer in the Imperial Navy to admit to something like that. I glanced around quickly to make sure no one was within earshot. Even on an old spacebucket like the GUSTAV out in the middle of nowhere the Imperial High Command had its eyes and ears, and you never knew who might be listening, or for what purpose.

J'Una and I exited the hangar deck and turned right, heading aft along the ship's main passageway. I saw my wingman, Lieutenant Acer, and the other pilots heading forward toward the pilot's lounge. I smiled at them, flashed a thumbs-up signal and told them I'd join them later.

"No idea at all?" I asked J'Una after Acer and the others had passed.

"Not yet," she said, shaking her head. "Those X-wings have hyperdrive, so they could have come from just about anywhere. They could be a long range recon, they could be a raid, they could have been trying to meet with smugglers or weapons dealers, or they could have been scouting the sector for a location for a new base."

"A base way out here?" I asked incredulously.

"Sure, why not," she responded, smiling again. I loved that smile. It could light up a black hole.

"There's been a lot of action lately in some of the inner sectors," she continued. "We've pressed the Alliance hard- smashed some convoys, broken up a spy ring, intercepted a weapons transfer. It could be they want to relocate out here in the galactic wilderness to regroup for a while. There are several systems in this sector that would suit them just fine for that purpose."

"What does Commander Cibock think?" I asked, referring to GUSTAV's Commanding Officer.

"I don't know," J'Una answered. "He's communicating with Sector Flag Headquarters right now. He was as surprised as I was."

Once again that candor. Sometimes I wondered how J'Una had made it this far in the Imperial Navy. The answer in part was, of course, sex. Although J'Una was one of the most intelligent and capable officers I had ever served with, she was female and a Bardin. There were few females and even fewer Bardins serving in positions of responsibility in the Imperial Navy. J'Una was ambitious and knew what she wanted. If it meant fucking some Admiral or staff officer to get it, she wouldn't hesitate. And how she could fuck!

"If the Alliance plans to relocate a base to this sector," I said as we continued walking aft, "it's going to get real busy around here."

"Busier than a couple of squadrons of TIE fighters on an obsolete frigate can handle," she replied, actually looking concerned.

I chuckled. "Commander Selena," I said feigning sincerity,"are you worried about me?"

Her eyes narrowed and she seemed to look right through me. "You're not worth it, Captain," she said. Then she smiled again.

We were approaching the main doors to the ship's Operations Center. This was the ship's nerve center. Intelligence was gathered and deciphered here, the communications network was here, sector scans were maintained here and all flight missions were controlled from here. Next to the bridge it was the most important area on the ship. I assumed that that was where we were going so I started to turn toward the doors. J'Una had other ideas. She grabbed my arm and pulled me along with her as we continued aft past the Operations Center. I glanced at her but she looked straight ahead. I grinned. As Operations Officer her quarters were right behind the Operations Center. This was to ensure that the Operations Officer would be available regardless of the hour. We turned a corner and walked to the door of J'Una's quarters. She punched in her access code (nearly everything on an Imperial ship has an access code) and the door slid silently open.

"Why don't you come in for a drink or something," she said. "You need to relax after your flight."

"Sure," I said, playing along. I stepped inside, expecting us to sit down and unwind before jumping into her bed. Wrong again. The door had barely closed behind us when J'Una grabbed the front of my flight suit and slammed me against the bulkhead, her lips grinding against mine, her long tongue snaking into my mouth almost as far as my tonsils. She bore into me and I could feel her hands fumbling with the snaps on my flight suit, opening me up. Her hands peeled away my shorts and dived in, grabbing my cock which was rapidly assuming its full proportions. She pulled her mouth away and looked down at me, lust smoldering in those red eyes. She licked the tip of my nose, my chin and my neck. Growling deep in her throat she sank to her knees and bent her head down to lick my cock. Her tongue was exquisite. J'Una massaged my balls with one hand while she jerked my cock with the other. She was strong and her grip was powerful. Her tongue bathed the head of my cock as her hands continued to work on me. I leaned back against the bulkhead as my senses were overwhelmed. My knees felt weak but I managed to keep from collapsing as J'Una licked and sucked my dick. She released my cock and my balls and her hands snaked behind me to grab my ass. She pulled me against her face as her mouth swallowed my cock. I looked down at the top of her head as she began pistoning back and forth with her mouth on my cock. The sensation was indescribable. She had an iron grip on my ass and my cock felt as though it were caught in some intergalactic vortex. J'Una increased the pistoning action with her mouth and deep-throated me on every downstroke. My hips began gyrating and I grabbed her head as I fucked her face. She was very, very good.

She moved one of her hands between my asscheeks and stabbed a finger into my anus. My body stiffened and my dick got even harder. She worked her finger into my asshole as her head increased its piston-like movement on my cock. She grabbed my throbbing cock with one hand as she pulled her mouth away with a wet slurping sound. Her hand continued the frenzied pistoning motion begun by her mouth and she looked up at me and smiled and ran her tongue sensuously around her lips.

"How do you like it so far, Captain," she said in a low, sultry voice.

Almost unable to speak, I merely grunted and nodded affirmatively. Her hand kept pistoning up and down on my cock and I knew I was getting close. Clear fluid began oozing from my cock. The head swelled into a blunt battering ram as J'Una's fingers raced up and down the shaft, pounding the velvety, loose skin in a masturbation frenzy. With her other hand she reached beneath the base of my cock and squeezed my balls. She knew I was getting close, too, and she wanted it. Her tongue reached out toward the head of my cock, licking the juice that had leaked out.

"Here it comes," I said, warning her. I grunted and pulled J'Una's face to my cock as it surged to maximum tension and exploded. J'Una's open lips closed around my large prickhead as the first blast of hot cum hit the back of her throat. My hips drove my cock into her mouth as my sperm flowed into her. I could see my cum oozing out of the corners of her mouth like white lava as she swallowed quickly. Her hand wrapped loosely around my throbbing pole, moving slightly, urging me to empty my balls into her.

Finally, I was finished. J'Una released my cock and it slid wetly out of her mouth.

She stood up and wiped the cum off her chin with the back of her hand. Her eyes bore into mine as she began unbuttoning her tunic. She pulled it open revealing those fantastic breasts of hers with their large nipples rising proudly from the ebony towers. She tossed the jacket aside and bent down to pull off her boots and trousers. When she stood up again she was gloriously naked, her black skin gleaming, her turgid nipples reflecting her arousal. She looked down at my now deflated penis and chuckled.

"I hope you're not finished, Vel," she said, "because I'm not." With that she turned, showing me her exquisite ass, and walked slowly and sensuously across the room to her bedroom. J'Una's quarters were more lavish than most, commensurate with her rank and status. She had a large sitting room, an office, a bedroom with an actual bed as opposed to a bunk and a full bath. She paused in the doorway to her bedroom and looked over her shoulder back at me. She was an incredibly sexy sight.

I quickly peeled off my jacket, flight suit and boots, and walked naked toward J'Una, my reviving erection pointing the way. She turned around to face me. I walked up to her and put my arms around her and kissed her deeply, my cock pressing against her stomach, her tits flattening against my chest. She locked her arms around me and pulled me backward with her, almost lifting me off the deck. We crashed down onto her bed together.

J'Una wrapped her lovely long legs around me, reached in between our bodies with one hand and grabbed my now fully revived cock. She jerked it a couple of times then aimed it at her pussy and pulled me inside. I had been there many times before, but each time felt different and each time felt better. Her cunt was hot and grabbed me like a fist. J'Una once told me that Bardin females had a unique muscle structure in their cunts which allowed them to squeeze and manipulate a cock as though they were using their hands. I believed her. I began pounding my cock into her and, on each downstroke I could feel her cunt muscles going to work on me.

As I fucked her I raised myself up so that I could bend my head down and suck on her nipples. I took one into my mouth and licked it and bit it gently. That drove her crazy. She cupped her hands underneath her breasts and pointed them at me like twin missile launchers.

"Do them," she said, almost pleading. "Do them hard."

I knew what she wanted. Shifting my weight over to one arm I continued sucking and biting one tit as my free hand found the other. I squeezed and twisted it roughly, knowing she loved that. She moaned and thrust her cunt up at me even harder. I kept pounding away and mashing her tits, trying to bring her off. I didn't have long to wait.

J'Una's moaning got louder and her thrashing about more intense. She grabbed my arms with her hands, her fingers digging into my flesh. Her head was thrown back, her whole body tensed and her legs damn near squeezed the life out of me. I guess Bardin men are bigger and stronger and better able to handle it. As it was, I kept pumping away and hung on for dear life as J'Una shuddered violently and came. She relaxed her legs but not her cunt which gripped me even tighter than before. I blasted my cum into her like a laser cannon. I kept thrusting as I came, shot after shot pouring into her until it overflowed and oozed out of her cunt around my cock and ran down the insides of her thighs. I collapsed into her arms and we held each other in a sweaty embrace.

An hour or so later, having fucked a couple more times, showered (where we fucked again) and put on clean uniforms, J'Una and I were in a conference room adjacent to the Operations Center with the ship's Captain, Commander Cibock, and several other officers including Major Maarek, commander of the two companies of Imperial Storm troopers attached to GUSTAV. I didn't like Maarek much. He epitomized many of the things I felt were wrong with the Empire and its military: blind, almost fanatical loyalty, ruthlessness, brutal aggression, absolute faith in one's superiority and a dangerous contempt for the opposition. You couldn't argue with his record, though. He had so many combat medals he couldn't wear them all. He had been wounded in battle several times and was personally decorated by the Emperor for capturing a rebel strongpoint during the battle of Cobol 7 a few years back. I don't think I had ever even been on the same planet with the Emperor.

Commander Cibock was relating to us the substance of his communications with Sector Flag Headquarters. It seemed that they, too, were surprised by the sudden appearance of Rebel X-wings in this sector. I'm sure that they didn't admit it outright, though. People on admirals' staffs never admit to anything if they can help it.

Cibock was sitting in front of a large view panel upon which was a 3D holographic presentation of sector CT-38, the sector we were currently patrolling. I don't know why it was called CT-38, since there were no systems in the sector that bore that name, and the sector itself was in quadrant Epsilon 12. I'm sure there was a logical connection somewhere, but it escaped me.

"Sector Flag Headquarters were not anticipating any increased Rebel activity in this sector," Cibock said. That was Imperialese for 'we got caught napping.' "Most of the Rebel activity is currently concentrated in the Beta and Gamma quadrants," he continued. "None of our intelligence sources reported any indications of a major Rebel move out here. The Rebels ambushed an Imperial weapons convoy a while back. I suggested that maybe they're going to set up a base out here and use those weapons to raid some of our remote installations and outposts, or to incite some of the less reliable systems to revolt."

"Do they think that's a possibility, sir?" J'Una asked.

"No, Commander. They don't." Cibock said reluctantly. "They do not believe that the Rebels would make a major move out here. It's too far from their main sources of supply and recruiting. They also don't see anything to be gained by the Rebels in moving out here."

"And, of course, they have access to a much greater source of intelligence than we do here," Maarek offered arrogantly. Once again the blind acceptance of whatever higher authority said. "This sector is too far removed to be an effective base for launching raids," he continued. "And if there are any systems whose loyalty is uncertain, they will be crushed." The cold ruthlessness with which he said this last sent shivers down my spine. This guy enjoyed killing, and he really didn't care who it was he killed. As long as he and his storm troopers could slaughter indiscriminately he was content.

J'Una, however, was unimpressed. She shot Maarek a long, cold look and said, "I believe, Major, that it will be difficult to 'crush' a system with two companies of storm troopers."

Maarek was taken clearly taken aback. He didn't take well to being questioned by anybody, especially a Bardin female whom he detested anyway. Good for you, J'Una, I thought. But be careful. This guy has friends.

Commander Cibock decided not to allow this exchange to get out of hand. "I agree, Major," he said smoothly, "that disloyal systems should be dealt with appropriately." Maarek folded his arms and sat back smugly. "But we have no such orders. There is no evidence of any wavering loyalty among the systems out here, and Commander Selena is quite right when she says that two companies of storm troopers, however motivated and trained, would be insufficient for system pacification." 'System pacification' was Imperialese for 'using overwhelming force to take a planet by storm, exterminate or imprison the Empire's critics and subject the entire population to brutal military rule.' It was not pretty and I was glad that it wasn't a part of my job description. I was just a starfighter pilot and those that I killed had a fighting chance. At least, that's how I justified it to myself.

"So we are not receiving any reinforcements?" Maarek asked, clearly disappointed.

"No," Cibock answered. "Sector Flag Headquarters does not believe that there is a genuine Rebel threat. At least not yet. We do have orders, however, to increase our patrols. They believe the Rebels might have been trying to meet with an arms supplier from beyond the Empire. If that's the case they want us to intercept a transport to see what the Rebels are up to." He turned to me. "Captain Tallig, "he said,"I want you and the other squadron commanders to develop a stepped-up patrol scheme."

"Yes, sir," I responded.

"I want a constant rotation," he continued. "One flight on station, one coming back and one leaving."

That was a tall order. "Commander," I said cautiously. Cibock had always seemed like a decent man, but he was the captain of an Imperial starship and I didn't want to push him too hard. You never knew how these guys would react. "We have two squadrons of Tie Fighters onboard, Beta and Gamma, minus the two craft that were lost earlier. We also have Alpha squadron's Tie Bombers. To operate the kind of plan you want we would need to use the Tie Bombers in a patrol mode, something for which they are not well suited."

Cibock rubbed his chin for a moment, then nodded. "I see your point, Captain," he said.

"I realize that the Tie Bomber is slower and better suited for delivering heavy weapons against enemy capital ships and installations, but I think it's imperative that we get the maximum patrol coverage possible. Use the Tie Bombers to augment the patrols."

"One more thing, sir," I said not willing to shut up. J'Una shot me a warning glance. "If a flight of Tie Bombers, unsupported, runs into a group of X-wings, they'll be slaughtered." I was aware that everyone was looking at me as though I had pissed on the Emperor's portrait. Cibock stared at me for a long moment.

"I understand, Captain," he said quietly. "You have your orders. Make it so."

"Yes, sir," I said quickly. "When do you want these patrols to start?"

"Tomorrow," he said. "In the meantime I will move the GUSTAV to a location on the far side of the sector. If there are any covert weapons convoys coming through," and his tone indicated that he clearly believed there were none, "we might be in a better position to intercept. Also, there are a couple of systems with uninhabited planets. They would make a good place for a base."

He stood up. Immediately everyone else hopped to their feet. "We go into hyperspace in one hour," he said. "That is all." He strode quickly from the room, followed by Major Maarek.

J'Una walked over to me, grinning. "One of these days, Captain," she said, "you're going to get your ass tossed into the brig."

"Maybe so," I shot back. "But if you keep slamming Maarek in public, you'll get yours shot off."

She shrugged. "I don't worry about men like him," she said casually. "They usually talk big, but won't do anything unless they can't be held responsible and they have all the odds on their side. They're basically cowards, and they're usually lousy in bed, too." She added this last with a mischievous grin.

I looked at her skeptically. J'Una was always full of surprises and I was never completely sure when to take her seriously. So, I went for it.

"You mean you and Maarek..." I said as the room cleared out.

"Why, Captain," she said indignantly, "I said nothing of the sort." And she strode past me and out of the room. I shook my head and followed her into the Operations Center. We had a lot of work to do to work out the patrol scheme that Commander Cibock had ordered.

The next few days were a blur. I was flying two and three patrols a day, and the hangar bays, briefing rooms and the Operations Center were constantly abuzz with activity. Weapons systems were manned around the clock, and the ship was placed in a higher alert status. Everyone onboard suddenly seemed taut, alert, poised for action. Only a short time ago we had been relaxing (if one can ever use that word describing life aboard an Imperial starship) in relative obscurity. Now, we were uncertain about what, if anything, we would encounter and we knew that for the time being we were alone out here and that trouble could strike swiftly and without warning.

The problem was, though, that we encountered nothing. Nothing at all. No Rebels, no pirates, no smugglers, no bounty hunters, no merchants, no nothing. Patrols went out regularly, briefings were held two, sometimes three, times a day, intelligence reports were gathered and analysed and analysed again. There was a lot of activity, but not much else.

I saw little of J'Una during this time. She was very busy and spent nearly all of her time in the Operations Center. She and her people were responsible for the entire evolution: planning and scheduling all patrol flights, vectoring the starfighters to their assigned patrol points, scanning for enemy or unidentified craft, maintaining communications with Sector Flag Headquarters, and analysing intelligence reports. The pace was gruelling and the fact that we had thus far come up empty was even more exasperating.

At briefings and in the few conversations we were able to have I slowly realized that J'Una and Commander Cibock were convinced that the Rebels were up to something big in this sector. Why they felt that way, or what they expected to happen, I wasn't quite sure. Neither elaborated due, I'm sure, to the fact that it was contrary to what higher authority had decreed. What I was sure of, however, was that my squadron and I had been flying our asses off for four days, we had found nothing, I was tired and I hadn't been laid since J'Una and I had had our suck and fuck session right after the X-wing episode.

I was also becoming concerned about the toll that this pace was taking on our fighters. For the most part, Imperial starfighters are mass produced on the cheap. That is to say that they are sturdy, competent craft, but not extravagant. The TIE fighter was an older design that had been retained in service longer than anticipated due to the duration and ferocity of the war with the Rebels. This exacerbated the TIE's already stringent maintenance requirements. The twin ion engines, the power plant of all Imperial starfighters, were very temperamental, requiring constant care and frequent adjustments. Although the TIE is unshielded it possesses a sophisticated electronics suite which, in the hands of an experienced pilot, can give the TIE an edge over the X-wing. These electronics were so vulnerable to being bounced, shaken or rattled (frequent occurrences in combat) that they required full time maintenance technicians and robots who did nothing else but fix them after each flight. As the intervals between flights got shorter, the maintenance was less complete.

Yesterday one of the pilots in Beta squadron became stranded in space when his engines failed entirely due to an electronics malfunction. He had to be towed in. I wanted to ground all of my TIE fighters to have their electronics checked, but was told to keep flying.

"GUSTAV, this is Gamma One returning from patrol. Request landing sequence." We were completing yet another uneventful patrol. This time, however, my engines felt rough and uneven.

"Roger, Gamma One," replied the flight officer. "Standby for tractor beam."

"GUSTAV, have some engine diagnostic equipment standing by. I may be having a problem with the engines and I want them checked out."

"We'll notify the duty maintenance officer," the flight officer responded.

The maintenance crews had been working feverishly around the clock to keep our starfighters flying. Although maintenance robots did a lot of the work the crews were beginning to exhibit signs of fatigue. Nevertheless they retained about them an air of competence and reliability that always made a starfighter pilot feel that his craft was in the best possible condition.

Today's tractor beam operator must have been tired, also. He bounced my TIE twice before setting it down heavily into its stall. Maintenance personnel and tech robots swarmed over the starfighter as I climbed out.

"You reported a problem with the engines, captain?" asked the maintenance officer, making notes on a computerized maintenance card. She was Ensign Marina Haarkov. She had been onboard GUSTAV only a short time, but had quickly established herself as a competent leader and a capable technician. She had beautiful blonde hair which draped over her shoulders, and deep blue eyes that you could drown in. She carried herself in a self-assured, professional manner that was due, in part I'm sure, to the fact that her father was Admiral Haarkov, a very successful and senior fleet commander. She exuded confidence and professionalism. She was also incredibly sexy. Though we had spoken often, it was always duty related, and always in the hangar or repair bays.

"Yes, ensign," I said, pulling off my helmet. "The engines felt rough during acceleration and at high speeds. Additionally, I noticed some fluctuations in the power distribution system." My tone was one of professional detachment, but I was looking into her eyes and smiling as I spoke.

Ensign Haarkov returned the smile. "Alright, captain," she said briskly. "We'll run some diagnostics on the engines and the power distribution system and we'll fix your problem."

My smile became a grin. "Ensign," I said,"I'd love for you to fix my problem."

"And what problem might that be, captain?" she asked innocently.

I shifted my gaze downward to the front of my flight suit. Her eyes followed mine. Just standing there talking to her had made my dick hard and it was pushing out against the fabric of my flight suit. She looked at my crotch for a long moment. I was unsure how she would react, but I was horny and decided to take a chance.

Marina looked up at me, her eyes twinkling, her lips slightly parted. "I see your problem, captain," she said, grinning. "I'll come by your quarters later to help you with it." With that she abruptly turned away and began supervising the maintenance team that was working on my TIE fighter. I watched for a few moments, then walked off the hangar deck. A few minutes later I entered the access code to my quarters, the door slid open and I walked in. My quarters were not as extravagant as, say, J'Una's, but they were comfortable. As a squadron commander I rated private quarters, so no roommate.

I stripped off my boots, flight suit, shorts and shirt and tossed the whole wad onto a chair. I rarely upheld Imperial standards of cleanliness and neatness. I padded naked into the bathroom, programmed the computer to give me a nice long hot shower, and stepped into the stall. The hot water felt good and I began to relax and forget how much flying I had been doing and how tired I was.

In my relaxed state my mind wandered and I began thinking about the Empire, the Rebellion, the war, and my role in all this. My home planet of Kuan had endured years of chaos and civil war until the Empire came in and took charge. In a very short time the strife and destruction ended, and an orderly, prosperous society emerged. At the time the price for this welcomed change didn't seem very high. As time went on, the arrangement resulted in Kuan becoming a cog in the Imperial machine, living under a military governor, surrendering self-government. The Kuani people were very well taken care of, however, and in return provided badly needed material and manpower resources for the Empire's ongoing war with the Rebellion. I and many young Kuanis like me, joined the Imperial starfleet not only to serve, but also to get off the planet and see something of the galaxy.

During my years of service I not only saw a lot of the galaxy, I fought my way across it, participating in some of the largest and most brutal battles of the war. The Rebels were fierce, dedicated, extremely capable, and loyal to an idea that was greater than themselves, or the Empire for that matter. Whereas most Imperial starfleet members were fighting because of loyalty to, or fear of, the Emperor, or because they were conscripted, the Rebels were fighting for a cause. That's why no matter how many battles were won- and we won most of them- no matter how many planets we crushed and subjugated, the Rebellion was always there, challenging us at every turn.

All of which led to a question I had recently been asking myself more and more: are we fighting to free the galaxy from chaos, or to bring order in the form of tyranny? I wasn't sure I was liking the answer.

My reverie was interrupted when the water automatically shut off. I had been in the shower longer than I'd planned. Stepping out of the shower, I towelled myself off and pulled on a black robe with the Imperial logo on the back and my name and service ID on the front left pocket. Everything in the Imperial navy was coded. As I walked back into the sitting room my door chime sounded.

"Enter," I called. The door slid open and there was Marina smiling, eyes twinkling. The door closed behind her as she looked at me and said, "Well, Captain, you certainly are a helluva lot better looking than a power converter."

"I'm certainly glad of that," I replied chuckling. "By the way, how's my ship?"

"All fixed," she said as she unzipped her jumpsuit. "The ion exchanger in the engines needed an adjustment and I replaced your power distribution control module. You're all set." She stepped out of the jumpsuit and stood naked before me. Her blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and almost to her breasts, which jutted out firmly. Her waist had a gentle, supple curve to it, her cunt was amply covered by fine blonde pubic hair and her legs were long and shapely.

"So," she said looking down at my crotch, "how's your problem?"

"Still there," I said as I opened my robe. My cock was full, throbbing and erect.

She walked over to me and grabbed my cock with one hand, fisting it. The other hand snaked around my neck, pulling my head down to kiss her lips. She thrust her tongue into my mouth as her grip tightened on my cock. Finally, she came up for air.

"I think I can help you with your problem," Marina said looking down at my cock in her hand. She pushed me back until I sat down on a couch, then dropped to her knees between my legs. Her lips closed over the head of my cock and I could feel her tongue swirling around the tip. She jerked the base of my cock with one hand and fondled my balls with the other. She moved down my cock and I could feel her tongue slide wetly along the shaft. She nuzzled my balls against her face, kissing and licking them. She took my balls into her mouth and sucked gently on them. She ran her hands along the insides of my thighs, sending shivers of pleasure up and down my entire body. She released my cock from the constraints of her hands and it forcefully flipped upwards against her chin, and then bounced up to the side of her face.

Pulling back, she kissed the tip of my cock once, drawing in a string of clear cum, and then she fastened her lips around the taut head and sucked in hard, literally pulling her lips down the long shaft.

Bit by bit, she was drawn down toward my pubic hair. She let her gaze rise up over my hard stomach, my chest, and then all the way up to my face. Her eyes locked onto mine as her suction pulled her lips all the way into the bristly hair at the base of my cock. Her nose was pressed against my pubic hair and I could feel the head of my cock push all the way to the back of her throat.

She brought up one hand to cup and fondle my balls, and her finger tips prodded rhythmically at the root of my cock, in the area between my balls and my asshole. My entire cock throbbed and danced in the hot cavern of her mouth, and the tip of her tongue curled up and massaged the tube-like ridge along the bottom of my cock.

I was getting close to cumming but she didn't seem to care. I guess she had enough faith that I'd be able to fuck her even after she blew me. Marina clamped down harder, and then started to snap her neck forwards and back, so that she was truly fucking my cock with her mouth. Each time she pulled back to the head, I felt her tongue slurp in a circle around the crown, and poke lightly into the pisshole. Then back down to the base again, with an increasingly rapid tempo.

My hard cock was fucking deep into her mouth, she juggled my balls in her palm as she toyed with my asshole. She was sweating with exertion, moaning and rocking on her heels. I could smell her cunt juices flowing in her excitement.

She sped up her pistoning even more, so that her hair flipped around her cheeks and onto my thighs. She anticipated my orgasm and drew back her head a few inches from my cock, and brought both of her hands up to jack the shaft. My cock, covered with saliva and precum, was throbbing. I threw my head back and felt myself let go.

As her hands furiously jerked my shaft, the first jet of my cum shot out from the tip of my cock, splattering over her outstretched tongue. She closed her mouth to swallow my cum, and the next two spurts landed on her nose and chin. She craned forward and rubbed her face into my throbbing, spurting cock. Her face was covered with cum and saliva. She looked at me and smiled as she proceeded to lick my cock clean.

I eased Marina off my cock and pulled her up to me so that her tits dangled above my face. I took one nipple in my mouth and began sucking voraciously. Marina moaned and tried to stuff more of her tit into my mouth. I pulled her close, my mouth working ceaselessly on her tits as my spent cock began to revive itself. She moved against me, her cunt rubbing up and down on my stomach, her ass pushing against my cock.

Marina grabbed my hair and tilted my face up to hers. She leaned down and kissed me, hard. I could taste myself on her tongue. She pushed my head back to her tits and I eagerly plunged in between her mounds, licking and biting her flesh. She reached back behind herself to grasp my cock, jerking it to full erection. My cock throbbed in her hand.

Satisfied that I had regained enough hardness, Marina moved back and eased herself down onto my penis, sliding down to the base in one easy stroke. She shuddered, then smiled down at me.

"You feel good in me," she whispered as she pinched her nipples. Her cunt was like a furnace and I could feel her juices flowing out of her onto my balls as she slowly started to move on my cock.

I grasped her hips and started to move with her. She was a gorgeous sight. Her face and chest were flushed with excitement, head thrown back, nipples jutting out from her tits, her eyes half closed.

"Fuck me," she moaned. "Fuck me."

I was beginning to do just that when I heard my access code being entered outside my door. Besides ship security (who had everybody's) the only person who had my code was J'Una. Sure enough. The door slid open, she walked in, saw us and stopped dead, the door closing behind her. Marina, noticing from my suddenly inert state that something had changed, opened her eyes and gaped when she saw J'Una. She quickly jumped off of me, sitting hard on the couch, covering her breasts with her arms.

"Commander Selena," Marina babbled, clearly upset and fearful of J'Una's response, "I'm so sorry. It's all my fault..." Her voice trailed off.

But J'Una just stood there, looking at us, and smiled that smile of hers.

"Well," she said to Marina, "how good was it?"

Marina relaxed and grinned sheepishly. "It was getting pretty good, Commander."

J'Una walked over to us, bent down and kissed Marina on the lips. "I think for now you can call me J'Una," she said softly. She kissed Marina again, deeply, and her hand moved down Marina's shoulder to softly cup her breast. Marina moaned into J'Una's mouth and she leaned forward, thrusting more of her tit into J'Una's massaging palm. Marina threw her arms about the tall Bardin as the two continued their kiss.

As I sat watching these two very different but very beautiful females I felt my erection, which had deflated somewhat due to J'Una's surprise appearance, return to full vigor. I was ready for some serious fucking, but decided to let J'Una and Marina move things along in their own way.

At last J'Una broke free from their kiss. She straightened and began unbuttoning her tunic, lust smoldering in her red eyes. She looked down at my erection, then flashed a grin at me.

"Don't worry, Captain," she said sarcastically, "you'll get yours." I smiled, slowly stroking my cock. "I'll be here."

J'Una finished unbuttoning her tunic and pulled it off. Marina gasped at the sight of J'Una's firm black breasts with their magnificent nipples. She reached out and cupped J'Una's tits in her hands, palming the nipples.

"You are so beautiful," Marina muttered. She kissed J'Una's belly and then ran her tongue up to the valley between her breasts. J'Una sighed as Marina began kissing and biting the nipples. Marina's hands were fumbling with J'Una's trousers, pulling them down.

Laughing, J'Una pulled away long enough to remove her boots and finish pulling off her trousers. She stood before Marina, who nearly dived at her. Marina grabbed J'Una and pushed her down onto the couch. She ran her tongue over the outer folds of J'Una's pussy as her fingers peeled open the cuntlips. J'Una moaned as Marina's tongue snaked inside, licking her clit. J'Una draped her legs over Marina's back and stretched out sensuously while the blonde maintenance officer buried her face in J'Una's cunt, licking and sucking intently.

I sat mesmerized by the sight before me.

J'Una moaned and began thrashing about on the couch in response to Marina's insistent tonguing of her juicing cunt. Marina slid her hands up J'Una's torso and grabbed her breasts, pinching the nipples. J'Una looked at me through heavily lidded eyes.

"God, Vel," she said. "She's too good. Too good." The last came out in a sigh as she humped her pussy against Marina's face. I could see Marina's tongue snake its way in and out of J'Una's gleaming snatch. Marina bored in, slurping and licking with increased vigor while she worked J'Una's tits over thoroughly with her fingers. J'Una started bouncing around on the couch and I could tell she was close to cumming.

"Oh, yeah," she moaned. "Eat me, baby. Eat me." She placed her hands on the back of Marina's head and pushed her face deeper into her cunt. Marina needed no encouragement. She licked and sucked J'Una's clit noisily, obviously enjoying it.

J'Una arched her back, thrusting her cunt forward and, moaning and shuddering, climaxed against Marina's mouth. Her muscles went rigid, her eyes closed and she cried out in her passion. Then she sank back down against the couch, spent. Marina looked up at J'Una, her face covered with J'Una's cuntjuice, and smiled as she kissed her belly.

J'Una looked over at me and my erection and said, "Get over here and fuck me. NOW!"

Eager to comply, I slipped between J'Una's legs. Marina, having moved to one side, grasped my cock and guided it into J'Una. She kissed my nipples as I rammed my cock home deep into J'Una's cunt. Marina moved up J'Una's body, kissing her belly, her breasts, then her lips. J'Una snaked a hand between Marina's legs and shoved two fingers into Marina's pussy. Marina gasped and began moving against her hand.

I was thrusting hard and fast, excited by the vision of these two females kissing and licking each other's faces while J'Una's fingers dove deeper into Marina's gaping pussy. J'Una's Bardin cunt muscles were working overtime, grasping and squeezing my cock almost painfully. But it was the kind of pain you'd die for. I had one hand on Marina's ass, the other squeezing J'Una's tit. Both females were squirming, and they moaned into each other's mouth.

J'Una looked up at me and could see that I was close. Quickly, she grabbed the base of my cock and pulled me out of her cunt. "Come up here," she said, pulling on my cock.

I climbed up on the couch and straddled J'Una and Marina as they went to work on my throbbing penis. J'Una licked the shaft while Marina took the head into her mouth and sucked noisily. Then they both licked and sucked at the base of my cock, working their way up until their tongues met at the tip. My cock quivered as it was engulfed first by one mouth, then another. J'Una massaged my balls, feeding them into Marina's mouth.

"Fuck her tits," J'Una said to me. "I want to see you fuck her tits."

Marina stretched out on the couch and I straddled her chest, my cock diving into her substantial cleavage. She pushed her tits together, enfolding my cock in her warmth. I started thrusting like a madman, my cock taking on an existence of its own. J'Una bent down and licked and sucked my cock each time it poked out from between Marina's breasts. I exploded.

My cum shot forth with geyser-like force, the first spurt splattering against Marina's neck and chin. J'Una leaned forward and caught the second bolt with her lips and tongue, swallowing fast. I continued to cum, coating the side of J'Una's face, and Marina's tits, with my semen. J'Una grabbed my cock and lowered her lips over the tip, sucking me dry. Finally, I was spent and collapsed onto the couch next to Marina. J'Una, however, wasn't finished and proceeded to lick my cum off of Marina's face and tits. Marina smiled and looked at me.

"How's your problem now, Captain?" she asked, grinning.

"Just fine, Ensign," I replied. J'Una looked up from Marina's tit. "What problem?" she asked.

Marina and I both laughed, and she reached out and stroked my cock. J'Una smiled and returned to Marina's tit. I stretched myself out, relaxing and enjoying the feel of Marina's hand slowly stroking my cock.

My erection had just about completely returned when all hell broke loose.

The ship's alarms sounded, the clanging claxon noise jolting us out of our reverie as red lights began flashing.

"Red alert! Red alert," came the voice over the ship's announcing system. "Rebel fighters attacking! All personnel to battle stations. Pilots to your ships! Red alert!"

Holy shit! I jumped from the couch and into my shorts. I grabbed my flight gear from the corner and charged out of my quarters as J'Una and Marina scrambled for their clothes.

I ran down the passageway in my shorts, my flight suit, boots and helmet under my arm. All over the ship crewmembers were hurrying to their stations. The claxon sounded its incessant gong, reverberating throughout the ship. "Red alert! Red alert! Rebel fighters attacking!" As I approached the hangar deck I saw my wingman, Lieutenant Dromo Acer, already suited up, giving instructions to some of the other pilots. I stopped, almost out of breath, and began to put my clothes on. Dromo walked over to me. "Bad timing, eh?" he asked with a grin. "You could say that," I gasped. "What's going on?" "I was in the Operations Center when it all started," he said earnestly. "Rebel fighters showed up out of nowhere, just like last time."

"X-wings?" I asked as I zipped up the flight suit and began putting on my boots.

"Yes, sir," he replied. "Y-wings, too. They jumped some TIE bombers that were on patrol and wiped most of them out."

"Y-wings, too?" I asked. The Y-wing was the main attack fighter used by the Rebels. Slower and less maneuverable than the X-wing it was heavily armored, well shielded and packed a formidable punch. Their presence meant a direct attack on GUSTAV.

Dromo nodded as the hangar deck began filling with noise from TIEs winding up.

I laced my boots, grabbed my helmet and dashed off toward my TIE. Dromo ran off to his.

I pulled myself up through the hatch, closed it, strapped myself in, put on the helmet and connected the comm link. I performed these motions quickly and efficiently, as they were second-nature. I dispensed with the rest of the check-list and fired up the retros. Normally a large crane, suspended from overhead conveyors, lifts a TIE from its stall, moves it to the launching bay, lowers it through the open launching bay doors in the bottom of the ship, then releases the TIE into space. There wasn't time for this.

I used the small retro rockets to lift the TIE out of its stall, then threaded my way across the crowded hangar deck and out through the landing bay, out the "in" door, sending maintenance personnel scurrying. Unorthodox, but quick. Dromo was right behind me. Once clear of GUSTAV I engaged the twin ion engines and the craft shot forward into space. I established communications with GUSTAV and activated my target display.

"Gamma One, this is GUSTAV." J'Una's voice, clear, crisp and professional, came over the commlink. She had assumed direct control over the battle from the Operations Center. I assumed that Commander Cibock was there, also. I chuckled briefly to myself as I imagined J'Una, naked, running down the passageway. What a sight that would have been!

"There is a formation of enemy fighters at three-five-two mark three-seven," J'Una continued. "Move to intercept."

"Roger, Gustav," I replied. "I have them."

On my forward sensor display, which was above and to the left of the main console, I could see a group of green dots representing Rebel ships (Imperials were red) moving toward GUSTAV.

"Gamma One to all fighters," I called. "Form on me and move to attack position." I wasn't sure how many TIEs had launched and I wanted to assemble as large a strike force as I could. There were a lot of green dots out there.

"Gamma One, we've verified X-wing and Y-wing fighters," J'Una told me. "Concentrate on the Y-wings."

"Roger, Gustav." While the X-wing was certainly the deadlier threat to the TIE fighter, it was the Y-wing with its lethal load of missiles, proton torpedoes and ion cannon, that was a very real and deadly threat to GUSTAV.

Because the TIE fighter is unshielded normal Imperial tactics call for a swarm of TIEs to overwhelm Rebel fighters with numbers. This time, however, we were the ones being "swarmed."

We were rapidly closing to intercept the Rebel fighters and I could now make out two distinct formations: the Y-wing attack craft escorted by X-wings. As luck would have it, bad luck, the X- wings were between us and the Y-wings. A couple of TIE bombers, remnants of the ambushed patrol, scurried past us, headed for GUSTAV.

"Attack formation Delta," I called causing the TIEs to close up into a tight wedge formation. Through my port viewfinder I could see Dromo, behind and to the left of my ship. He was very close.

We accelerated to maximum speed, charged up the lasers and plunged ahead. I planned to streak through the X-wings and attack the Y-wings, doing as much damage as possible before the X-wings could intervene.

We were almost upon the X-wings before they turned to face us. Why they were so slow to react I'll never know, but I was thankful for it. We shot right through them, a tight formation of TIEs, not pausing to engage. I think this surprised the Rebels. By the time they figured out what we were doing we had passed through them and were headed for the now undefended Y-wings. I could see GUSTAV off in the distance. The Y-wings were getting close to attack range.

"Get behind one, take your shot and move out before an X-wing can lock onto you," I called to the formation. "Commence attack."

Then we were on them, our formation dissolving as TIEs peeled off after the Y-wings. I chose a Y-wing near the front of the formation and slipped in behind him, activating the speed matching device. This is a great piece of electronic gadgetry. It directs the onboard computer system to match speeds with a targeted ship. This allows you to get behind an enemy and blast away at him without worrying about overrunning him. This technology, as yet unavailable to the Rebels, gives the unshielded TIE a tremendous advantage.

I set my lasers on dual fire mode and began blasting. The Y- wing is heavily shielded so I set about taking those down. The Y- wing twisted and turned violently in an effort to shake me. I hung onto his tail and proceeded to systematically cut his ship into pieces. Through my commlink I heard Dromo claiming a kill.

There were plenty more Y-wings, however, and they were still closing on GUSTAV. Worse yet, the X-wings had finally rejoined the fray. This made hanging onto a Y-wing extremely dangerous because it made you a sitting duck for an X-wing.

Nevertheless we pressed home our attack, destroying several more Y-wings. In rapid succession, however, three of our TIEs were flamed by X-wings and life suddenly became very difficult.

I had managed to get a lock on an X-wing and was about to start shooting when I noticed that a Y-wing had broken away from the fight and was making an attack run on GUSTAV. My sensors showed that his proton torpedo launchers were activated.

I took one last shot at the X-wing (I missed) and then broke off to go after the Y-wing. The Y-wing was between me and GUSTAV, heading away from me, and I was hoping I could catch him before he got within range to fire. GUSTAV began returning fire with her heavy, turreted lasers and I found myself worrying I'd get blasted by my own people.

I was closing on the Y-wing when I saw two blue streaks leave the Rebel craft, headed toward GUSTAV. The Y-wing had launched proton torpedoes. Damn! I wasn't in position to try to intercept them, either. "Incoming!" I shouted over the commlink. "GUSTAV, this is Gamma One. Incoming torpedoes!"

GUSTAV's gunners managed to shoot down the first proton torpedo, but they missed the second one. I saw it slam into the shielding on the port side and explode with gut wrenching impact. I could see the entire ship shudder. The Y-wing continued to close, attacking GUSTAV with cannon and laser fire. He got a few rounds off before my dual lasers blew the back of his ship apart.

I made a quick pass to check the damage. The old frigate had been hurt, but not fatally. Another hit like that, though,... I didn't dwell on that thought.

I flew underneath GUSTAV and intercepted another Y-wing, destroying this one before he had a chance to launch. I flew through his debris and took a shot head-on at an X-wing that had vainly tried to intercept me. He fired back, slamming my unshielded hull with a laser blast. The impact almost ripped me out of my seat as the ship shook violently and careened out of control. Smoke from fried electronics began filling the cockpit as I fought the controls, the ship turning end over end. Idiot! I told myself. You never attack an X-wing head on in an unshielded fighter! Now I knew why.

Finally, I regained control of my TIE and checked the damage. Actually, it wasn't too bad. A couple of sensor systems were out, and the hull on the port side was caved in, but the engines and weapons systems were intact. I ventilated the cockpit and turned to rejoin the battle.

GUSTAV was still there, fortunately. Commander Cibock had maneuvered the ship to turn the undamaged starboard side toward the direction of the attack. I saw an X-wing disintegrate when hit by GUSTAV's lasers. She still had a lot of fight in her. I worried briefly about J'Una and Marina, but set those thoughts aside. An X-wing was chasing one of our TIEs and I throttled up to full power to intercept him. The TIE was twisting and turning like a pro and I suddenly realized that it was Dromo.

"Gamma Two, this is Gamma One," I called to him. "Hang on, Dromo. I'll be there."

"Glad you're still with us, Captain," he replied cavalierly. The X-wing fired, but missed. Finally, I was in range.

I swooped down on the X-wing from above. He never knew I was there. I set the lasers on rapid fire and pressed the trigger, holding it as I closed the range. My lasers blasted away his shields, then ripped through his port wings and blew apart the engine mounts. The X-wing vaporized before me.

"Thanks for the help," Dromo said, obviously relieved. "No problem," I replied. "Form up and let's have at them again. GUSTAV is still in trouble."

"Yes, sir. I'm with you."

With Dromo on my wing again I flew past GUSTAV and headed toward the next group of attacking Rebel fighters, dodging GUSTAV's fire as well as that of the enemy. We barrelled into the Rebels from the side, quickly killing two Y-wings and breaking up their formation.

"GUSTAV, we need some help out here," I called. Even TIE bombers would be of some use, I thought. Anything.

"Roger, Gamma One." I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard J'Una's voice. "We are trying to launch a few more craft, but the hangar bays have been damaged. Continue your attack." Although I wasn't too sanguine about our chances, I had to agree with her decisions. She knew we were badly outnumbered and had suffered losses, yet she was hurling us at the enemy again in an effort to buy time. Not that she had a lot of options just then.

I started to respond but just then my missile warning alarm started squawking, telling me that an X-wing had launched a missile that had locked onto me. Shit. If a TIE is hit by a concussion missile, the TIE is gone. Period. Space junk. There are two ways to combat a missile: try to outrun it, or turn on it, target it and hope you can shoot it down. Because of the damage my ship had suffered I didn't think it wise to run, though that would have been my preferred option. Flying headlong at a missile isn't my idea of sound tactics, but that's what I did.

I jerked the TIE around in a violent left turn, steadied on the heading my sensors told me the missile was coming from, and flew right at it, lasers blasting, fingers crossed. The missile had approached to within a few hundred meters when my lasers finally hit it. It exploded in a bright flash, lighting up the cockpit and blinding me for a moment. I shook it off and made a hard right turn, intending to go look for the Rebel son of a bitch who'd fired that missile.

Instead, the Rebels were leaving! The were all streaking away to hyperspace out of here. We had put up a terrific fight and, now that GUSTAV had finally been able to launch a few more fighters, the Rebels had had enough. I chose not to pursue. "GUSTAV, the enemy fighters are retiring," I reported. "Good work, Gamma One," J'Una replied. "Return to base." "Acknowledged, GUSTAV," I said and then ordered what was left of my attack group to head back toward our ship. Enroute to GUSTAV it occurred to me that there had been an awful lot of Rebel fighters in that attack force; more than would be on a remote patrol. Which could only mean that at least one Rebel capital ship was in the area. If that were so, my logic went, it meant that the Rebels were, indeed, making a major move out here. Why they would do that, I hadn't a clue. I'm a starfighter pilot, not a staff officer and I'm not privy to a lot of high-class intelligence reports. But I do have a very accurate gut, and it was telling me that we had only seen the beginning of a major fireworks show in this sector. And maybe that's just what the Rebels wanted. A show.

We were approaching GUSTAV and I switched to the flight control frequency.

"GUSTAV, this is Gamma One requesting landing sequence."

"Negative, Gamma One," replied the flight officer. "You can land, but the tractor beam is out, and the hangar bays are still a mess. We can take you, but you have to come in on retros." He paused. "Carefully."

I sighed. "Retros it is, GUSTAV," and disengaged the engines. The ship coasted in toward the landing bay and I activated the retros. I entered the hangar deck and saw the damage that one proton torpedo had wrought. The main lighting was out, and the emergency lights cast an eerie glare through the smoke that seemed to fill the bays. Severed cables dangled from the overhead, several small fires were still burning, pieces of shattered TIEs and maintenance equipment were strewn about. And, of course, there were bodies. Many bodies. Maintenance personnel were busy clearing away enough of the debris so we could land. I tried not to think about Marina.

I cut the retros and glided in to my stall, setting the TIE down gently. I climbed down and looked about the hangar deck. Nearby I saw Marina Haarkov, supervising a damage control party that was putting out a fire. Another sigh of relief escaped my lips. So she was OK, too, I thought. This time. J'Una met me as I exited the hangar deck, a look of concern on her face.

"Sorry to bring you in under these conditions," she said,"but we needed to bring all the fighters in at once. We'll be going to hyperspace as soon as repairs allow."

"Hyperspace?" I asked, surprised.

"Yes," said J'Una. "There's a Rebel capital ship, a Calamari light cruiser, in the area. We just received the report from Sector Flag Headquarters. We think that's where those fighters came from." "Nice of them to give us advanced warning," I said sarcastically.

J'Una ignored me. "The GUSTAV is no match for a Calamari, even without any damage at all," she continued. "We've been ordered back to Mofta IV for repairs and to join a strike force that will be assembling there."

"Strike force?" I asked.

"Of course," said J'Una patiently. "Higher authority has come to the brilliant conclusion that the Rebels are, indeed, making a major move out here." Sarcasm dripped from her voice. "So," she continued,"a major strike force will be assembled at Mofta IV with the objective of countering the Rebel move." She smiled.

"But there's nothing out here," I said, exasperated, " for us or the Rebels. Why send a major portion of our fleet to fight out here?"

"A Rebel cruiser is already out here," J'Una replied. "With more undoubtedly to follow. That's reason enough, I suppose. If the Rebels are making a major play in this area, they have a reason for it, and we'll try to thwart it and push them back." She looked down at me, her red eyes intense.

"J'Una," I said, suddenly engulfed by a sinking feeling in my stomach, "has it occurred to you or anyone else that the reason the Rebels are out here is so that we will come out here, too? And not just with an old broken down frigate that can barely survive a few Y-wings, but with a major part of the Imperial fleet?"

J'Una looked at me for a long moment, and I could tell there were things she wanted to say, but couldn't.

"We have our orders, Captain," she said coldly. The conversation was over.

An hour later GUSTAV went into hyperspace, destination: Mofta IV, Imperial Headquarters for the Epsilon quadrant.

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Story tagged with:
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