Chapter 4

    Admiral Jim stood on the bridge of the Ad Astra, on the other side of the nebula. The blue and purple gases swirled in an almost hipnotic effect, he shook his head, looking around the bridge. Around the command center of the Ad Astra, a number of Mon Calamaris and beings were hurrying to certain tasks that enabled a ship the size of the great MC-90 cruiser to operate. The Mon Calamari Captain swirled around in the command chair, and faced the Admiral.
    "Where's the Resistant?" Jim asked. The grave-faced Calamari shrugged and turned back towards the nebula.
    "Sir, we may have to consider that they didn't make it." Commodore Myk Ell said from his station off to the side. The Admiral strolled over to the viewport and looked into the stars, deep in throught. The Resistant was one of the only ships on this side of the galaxy that had a hope of breaking through, and drawing the Imperial ships off he thought. The Emperor's Hammer had been reinforced lately, and Republic reinforcements weren't due for another few weeks. In such a conflict, a delay like that could mean certain death. A few heavily armed warships could tip the balance of power in any given sector in the Minos Cluster.
    "Sir, an explosion in the nebula. There's a ship emerging, looks like a Marauder Corvette... It's the Resistant Sir!" the shape of the small cruiser rocketed out of the nebula, out of control, and spinning. A charred battle group of imperial ships emerged from the nebula, headlong into the Alliance fleet.
    "All weapons, fire at will, Resurrection squad, protect the Resistant, Aqua, Dragon, Red Dragons, Griffon, Twilight, engage all enemy fighters at will. Grey Squadron, that hulk of metal in the middle of that formation is yours." Red bolts of fire lanced out towards the Imperial ships. In the distance, Y-wings and B-wings could be seen heading into the fray.
    "This is Grey leader, I copy, moving in."
    "Rza squad, acknowledging, moving into screening posistion, that cruiser is still spinning, Sir."
    "I see it IronMan. Launch Control, send out the utility tugs to get the Resistant stable. RCS Stingray, move to point oh six, close the door."
    Admiral Jim keyed his comm, "All Alliance ships, engage at will, fire all weapons, wipe them out before they can call for reinforcements," he recieved several responses and the Alliance ships closed in on the damaged Star Destroyer.

    "Captain, the Rebel ships are moving in, what do we do?" the panic in the officer's voice was evident, as the Rebel fleet closed in their formation.
    "Launch all fighters, do your utmost, in the name of the Emperor, we shall prevail, send our call for reinforcements at once."
    "Yes Sir."

    "Admiral, they're comm gear is activating," Myk yelled from his station.
    "Fire at their communications tower, take it out," red bolts lanced out from several Alliance ships, striking the comunications gear on the top of the bridge tower of the Star Destroyer. Under the concentrated fire, the tower flared brightly and exploded, leaving black and charred pieces of equipment.
    "Scans show they managed to send a fragmental message," the communications officer said. The ship jolted from a combined volley of turbolaser fire from the imperial group.
    "Shields are down to eighty-five percent, sirs."
    "Gunners, take out their weapon placements, that ship is either coming with us or it's going to be destroyed. Preferably destroyed," the likelyhood of the Republic capturing another Imperial Star Destroyer was low. Sector resources were low enough as it is, Jim thought.
    "Bombers, are inbound, repeat Imperial bombers are incoming."

    "I see them, Dragons engage."
    "This is Twilight Leader, I see them, engaging with missles."
    "Griffon Five, break right," the voice of Griffon Four rang through the comm systems as somewhere in the distance the shapes of the starfighters dove between the cruisers, "TIE Advanced in area, repeat, Advanced TIEs have arrived."
    "RDS Two engaging."
    "Ad Astra, torpedoes inbound, repeat, torpedoes inbound," Aqua Two yelled into the comm.
    "I see them, all hands brace for impact!" the volley of torpedoes streaked in and hit the hull, near the forward hangar, the ship quivered slightly.
    "Damage report," the Mon Calamari captain called out.
    "Forward hangar reports minor damage, a torpedo broke through the shields and hit the flight deck, starfighter fuel fire is under control."
    "Ad Astra, this is Grey leader, ISD's shields have failed, launching rockets now," in the viewport, twenty four bright yellow streaks flew towards the crippled Star Destroyer.
    "All ships, break off, she's gonna blow!" The rockets detonated on the hull of the blackened Star Destroyer, tearing off and melting armor, ripping open the hull. In the next moment, the viewports blackened, and nothing more was seen. When their vision cleared, only charred lumps of metal remained of the ship. All around, the grey dots of escape pods were seen floating dead in space.
    "How many did we get?" the Admiral asked.
    "We got their flagship and two frigates."
    "Send a message to the remaining imperial ships, tell them to abandon ship, or be destroyed."
    "They are responding."
    "This is Nebulon B frigate Assailant, we are standing down and pulling out of the fight, before I leave my ship Admiral, what are you going to do with us?"
    "You will be picked up if and when your forces arrive, or you can surrender your vessels to us."
    "And what of our ship?"
    "That choice I leave to your crews. If they choose to come with us and leave the Empire, you must honor that choice. We will send boarding parties, if these parties are attacked, we will not hesitate to destroy you."
    The commander of the ship paused for a moment, to consider, "You must give us time for the true Imperials to leave the ship Admiral. The Assailant is yours."
    "Transport group Starstream, you are cleared to proceed," Jim nodded to Myk, who patched him to the remaining Imperial ship, "Remaining Imperial vessel, the same deal goes to you, you can stay with the Empire, or you can come with us."
    The commander of the ship came back in a growl, "We are loyal to the Emperor, we will never surrender to galactical scum such as yourselves."
    "All forces, move in to destroy the Cutlass," there was a tap on the comm, and another voice came on.
    "The previous captain has been relieved Admiral. We have no desire to die here, we do not wish to remain in this war. Do understand, however, that we do not wish to fight on either side of this conflict."
    "I can understand that. We must leave the area at once, Imperial reinforcements are most likely wondering where their ships went. We will talk when we are in a better location. Transport group Runner, commence your boarding operation, make it quick."


    "Admiral Undo, we are reverting back to realspace," the starlines faded from view, leaving the image of giant hunks of debris, floating through space. The Avenger had completed a micro jump to cross the nebula in a matter of seconds, on the other side, no Imperial fighters were present. There was no sign of the warship ships that travelled through the nebula.
    "Scan the area. Are we at the correct coordinates?"
    "Yes sir. I'm pickin up a number of distress signals, from escape pods."
    "Escape pods? What the hell happened here? Where are our ships?"

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