Date: 46:5:32 (11 years after the Battle of Yavin)
Part One: A New Home
P9R-221, Unknown Regions
Auriga. Cetus. Centaurs. Cancer. Scutum. Eridanus.
The unique seventh chevron locked into place on the timeless naquadah Stargate, giving out its familiar whirring sound before the gout of unidentifiable celestial energy leapt out, forcing the air around it back into their faces, then settled back into the rippling blue pool they'd seen so many times before.
No matter how many times he saw it, General Nick Fel would always be fascinated by the artefact. Well, not an artefact. On this world it had never been buried to keep Ra away, it was never uncovered in 1928 and never locked away after a failed experiment in 1945 lost Ernest Littlefield. Nor was it uncovered on New Republic Research Station M345. Here, it was a mysterious monument, much like Earth's Stonehenge. But to those who knew its secrets, it was the gateway to a thousand worlds.
Maybe Stonehenge was a prototype. Nick smiled at the thought as he activated his GDO, unlocking the trinium reinforced titanium iris on the far side of the wormhole. He waited a moment for the code to be confirmed, before stepping though the Gate, his team behind him.
Embarkation Room, Cheyenne Mountain Facility, Earth
It had become a tradition for the higher-ranking members of Rogue Squadron who weren't out on a mission to gather in the control room, waiting to see who would run through the Gate followed by a hale of energy blasts, who would come through covered in mud from some hidden bog, who would have to be carried through with a sprained ankle or broken leg, or who would come through sneezing their brains out because they were allergic to something on the planet.
Nick looked up at the control room, gave a thumbs-up and grinned. He could almost hear the collective sigh of relief through the thick glass, before Doctor Cat Craig, Commodore Mike Burn, Colonel Anton Moore, Captain Amaya Karrde and Major Ash Morgan cheered loudly.
For over a month, they had looked for a suitable site to build Rogue Squadron's new off-world base, but all they'd managed to find was a long list of failures. P2Y-153 had heavy tectonic activity. P5D-563 was home to some very hostile natives. M7X-974 turned out to be a nexus of Goa'uld trade routes and P9L-845 suffered from powerful solar flares which could disrupt anything put into orbit—including Ashleigh, the unit's Mon Calamari Cruiser.
The Gate deactivated behind them and Nick hurried towards the changing rooms.
Briefing Room, Cheyenne Mountain Facility
"P9R-221. We're calling it Farpoint for ease. Rolling grassy plains, no indigenous animal life, good water, a lot of edible plant life if worst comes to worst, good soil to grow our own supplies."
"Wasn't Farpoint a station in that Star Trek thing Carter made us watch?" Cat, Executive Officer and galactic archaeologist asked.
Anton snapped his fingers. "I knew I recognised it!"
"The atmosphere is calm," Nick continued with a slight frown, "perfect for flying starfighters in should we need to. Think Noquivzor, but cooler and minus the wilder-nerfs. Nothing in orbit, except for one dead moon, so we could put Ashleigh there with no problems. In fact, she's leaving tomorrow to put probes and HoloNet relays up."
"You mean I'm leaving tomorrow," Amaya, Ashleigh's captain, corrected.
"That's what I said," Nick continued with a sly grin. "I've spoken to Admiral Drayson and the Star Destroyer Hunter is en-route to Farpoint now, where it will drop a small temporary base similar to Station M345."
Cat and Ash looked up as their previous assignment was mentioned. It was there that the New Republic had first encountered the Goa'uld as they assaulted the facility.
"It will also deposit construction equipment and limited supplies, the rest will be coming in freighters. It will then stay at Farpoint for the foreseeable future," Nick smiled. They'd been working on getting reinforcements ever since they'd found out that High Admiral Steele had an entire fleet in the region and was building a Super Star Destroyer. That was, in fact, the entire reason behind this move. Under the Protected Planets Treaty, Earth didn't have to worry about Goa'uld attacks and no longer needed their constant presence. However, the Empire was under no such restrictions and Rogue Squadron's presence would be an invitation to attack.
"Great news," Anton said, "but what about…"
"Our current forces will be integrated into the Third Army Division," Nick said, anticipating the question. "They'll be coming on a later transport, once we have the facilities to house them."
"Pool?" Mike asked innocently.
"No pool." Nick shook his head sadly. "Unless there are more questions, Cat, Anton, Ash, we have a mission to P9Z-124..."
Communications Centre, Temporary Station on Farpoint, two months later
The translucent blue hologram of Admiral Ackbar flickered over the HoloNet transceiver. His bulbous, aquatic head lifted slightly as, hundreds of light years away, Nick's projected image appeared before the Mon Calamari Admiral.
"General Fel, good to see you again."
"You too, Admiral." Nick smiled. Ackbar had been forced out of service by an accident that destroyed an entire planet's cultural centre. Recently, the accident had been revealed as an Imperial plot and the Mon Calamari was once again Nick's commander. "I hope all is well on Coruscant."
"We've had Intel put together a news package to keep you up to date. Everything from zoneball scores to holodrama trailers," Ackbar said in his low, gravely voice. "We're also sending some more sensitive military data for you, Commodore Burn and Colonel Moore concerning recent Imperial activity, especially towards the Deep Core. General Cracken thought you might be interested."
"Send him our thanks," Nick said, the HoloNet transmitting his words halfway across the Galaxy. The military leader would see Nick dressed in a brown New Republic uniform now that they were stationed off Earth, complete with the metal plaque on his upper-left chest with the five red dots of a General.
"I will, General." Ackbar nodded. "The arrival of the next construction elements may be delayed. Several of the heavy transports in the convoy have had navigation problems. The crews just aren't used to finding their way around with such incomplete star charts. They are swimming in unfamiliar waters."
"Actually, sir," Nick said, remembering an idea he'd had several days ago, "taking out Byss put a lot of deep core haulers out of business. As long as we provide safe routes, they'll fly them."
"A good idea, I'll propose it," Ackbar said with little enthusiasm. "Although I'm sure many elements of the Council will decide so many people knowing about the Stargate will be a security risk. Word would spread like ink in a pond."
"I understand." Nick sighed. "We might be able to get help from one of Earth's allies—the Tok'ra. If we take supplies so far, they could bring them here. Of course, small supplies can come straight through the Stargate."
"Indeed," Ackbar said. "Good luck, General. Keep me informed on the progress of the base."
"We'll be proceeding at Warp Ten, sir."
"Pardon?" Ackbar looked confused.
"Cultural reference, sir." Nick smiled as the HoloNet link terminated.
"Does he always make that many water references?" Cat stepped towards him from the corner of the room, where she'd been watching outside the transmitter's range.
"All the time."
"He's worse than Capulet."
"Cultural reference, sir."
Part Two: Thunder in Paradise
Farpoint Construction Site, one month later
Nick guided his T-16 Skyhopper towards their half-completed base of operations, watching the towering construction equipment rise over the horizon. He had asked for T-47s or perhaps a few V-wings for patrolling and shuttling around the planet, but the New Republic had instead sent them a small fleet of Skyhoppers—'children's toys' Nick had called them when he complained to Ackbar.
Still, he had to admit the similarities between these controls and those of an X-wing had helped him get the hang of them—and they did handle nicely.
Something was wrong. Seconds after he saw the first of the two cranes on site, a plume of black oily smoke snaked up into the air. Nick hit the throttle and accelerated from his leisurely pace to the full speed of around twelve hundred kilometres per hour.
He approached the base seconds later, slowed and started to spiral down around the base.
It was still mostly a hole in the ground—most of the completed base would be underground. The finished building would be a cylindrical plug in the ground, planted in the middle of a circular basin. The rest of the buildings would be built into the walls of the basin, primarily in five arms which formed a five-point star, connecting to a circular ring of fortified buildings that would serve as defence against a ground assault. A tower armed with turbolaser and ion cannon turrets would stand in the centre of the basin for aerial attacks, while pairs of massive planetary turbolasers and ion cannons would be placed at north, east, south and west. They would fire up into the area of space directly above the base for protection against orbital bombardments, while a deflector shield covered the whole area.
As Nick glided around, surveying the area on sensors and visually, the problem was obvious—one of several construction droids that were putting the base together had driven up the side of the basin and was on the rampage.
The hovering behemoth had driven over the parking lot for speeders and the five other Skyhoppers, using its fusion cutters and mechanical arms to tear them apart. Fuel cells had ignited, the area was in flames and the droid was limping along on a damaged repulsorlift.
Nick spotted two figures on the ground waving him down and lowered the Skyhopper to the ground near them. Jumping out of the cockpit he shouted across to them, "What the hell's going on?"
"We have no idea!" Major Ash Morgan shouted back. The second figure standing next to the slim administrative officer was the red protocol droid that followed her around when she was on site. "I've been trying to contact you, but couldn't get through."
"I've had my comlink turned off," Nick glared at the protocol droid. "I got sick of being disturbed."
"How rude..." The droid—Scar was his nickname, due to his unusual colour—started to say before Nick cut him off.
"Which crew's up there?" He pointed to the control cabin of the construction droid and Ash pulled out her datapad to look at the duty roster.
"Crew Five, but I don't see..."
"Have they been off-world at any time?"
"I believe, sir," Scar interrupted, "that Crew Five were the team sent to P3D-465 last week."
"He's right," Ash nodded. "We sent them to help build flood defences for the Vyers." Her eyes widened. "You don't think..."
"Yeah, I do." He pulled out his cylindrical comlink and switched it on. "Fel to Moore"
"We've got a bit of a situation down here, Anton..."
"I know, we're watching on sensors," Anton said. "I've just scrambled—"
"I want you to scramble the B-wings."
"—the B-wings, I'm way ahead of you here, boss."
"Great, tell them to use—"
"—ion cannons only, we want to keep the droid in one piece."
"Roger that, Fel out." He flicked the comlink off and glanced at Ash, who was trying not to laugh. "I don't know what you find so funny—guess who's going up there with me to take out the crew?"
* * * * *
Nick and Ash trailed behind the gigantic construction droid as it hovered along, repulsors momentarily flattening the grass beneath it. Both wore dark blue blast-armour over multi-pocketed jumpsuits, looking like modified stormtroopers. This armour, however, was much lighter and more manoeuvrable than stormtroopers suits, and though it covered less of the body, the actual plates themselves were far stronger. Both carried modified BlasTech E-11 blaster rifles and a military comlink that clipped around side of their face.
They were heading roughly in the direction of the Stargate, so Nick guessed the work crew—or the parasites inside them—wanted to get off-world. They couldn't let them. If the Goa'uld found out about this base before the defences were completed, the entire site could be destroyed.
Ash wasn't having any trouble keeping up with him. "How do we get up the control cabin?" he shouted at her. The base of the droid was four meters up, neither could jump high enough.
"Grappling hook on your side-arm," Ash called back. "Didn't you read the memo?"
"Ah, no," Nick panted, out of breath already. He was a pilot not a soldier, he should've been sitting down in a cockpit, not chasing rampaging droids.
They caught up to the ladders on the side of the machine that led up to the cabin and pulled out their smaller blaster pistols. These were equipped with a canister of liquid cable that followed a tiny expanding grappling hook from the secondary barrel. Nick fired the gun and the hook tangled itself around the top rung of the ladders—higher than he'd wanted, the crew might see it, but it'd have to do. He set the gun to reel its cable back in, slowly rising till he could grab the ladders himself and start crawling up. Reaching the top, he holstered the smaller blaster and poked his rifle over the top of the ladders, onto the tiny deck outside the cabin. The camera on the barrel sent an image back to the HUD built into his comlink.
"All clear," Nick whispered into his mike, hauling himself up onto the deck and taking up a position on one side of the cabin hatch, watching Ash pull herself up. "Lock's scrambled," he said when the hatch refused to open.
"They've all got overrides," she said, tapping in a code on the pad. The hatch promptly hissed open
"Why don't I know these things?"
"Because you don't read memos and spend more time chatting to Ackbar and flying around in Skyhoppers than actually doing work here at Farpoint." She cautiously poked her weapon through the hatch. "Now keep your voice down."
She waved a clear signal and advanced through the hatch into a small room full of safety gear and various other bits of equipment, with a hatch leading into the control cabin and one into engineering.
Nick moved towards the control cabin, hovering his fingers over the controls. "Blasters on stun. These are still our people."
Ash nodded, and raised her weapon, aiming at the door. Nick stood back, hitting the panel and sending the door whooshing open.
There didn't seem anything different about the operator manning the controls. Ash recognised the man as the leader of Crew Five, who she'd worked with regularly. He twisted round to look at them, and Ash wasn't quite sure if his eyes actually flashed or if it was just her imagination. Regardless, she pulled the trigger, sending halos of blue ion energy cascading out towards him. At the same instant, he started to charge her. The stun blast washed over him, lighting up his features with an eerie blue glow.
He kept coming.
Ash just about managed to say, "Now normally he'd fall over," before she yelped and ducked out of the way of his rampage.
Nick stepped out from next to the hatch and fired his own blaster, pumping another round of energy into the worker on his maximum stun setting.
He spun, eyes definitely flashing this time, and charged towards Nick. The general swung his blaster round like a club, connecting solidly with the worker's ribs and hearing a loud crack. The Goa'uld crashed into the wall and Nick brought his blaster down again, smashing it against the back of his head.
"Think that got him," Nick said, breathing heavily. He stepped cautiously over the body towards Ash, who was already halfway into the control room.
They took one look at the controls and saw that any further efforts to stop the droid were futile.
"Locked in and smashed," Ash observed, looking at the smouldering panels.
"Doesn't matter, Nova Squadron can—" He glanced back out of the control room. "What was that?"
"I saw movement." He looked down out of the cabin's viewports, and saw another man in coveralls sprinting towards the Stargate. "Oh, stang!"
"He must've been in the engine compartment," Ash said, looking towards the open hatch.
"Fel to Moore. Slight complication."
* * * * *
Major Conwy lowered his macrobinoculars and nodded. "He's coming."
His team stood in front of the Stargate, covered in mud from the mission they'd just been on. The moment they'd stepped through the Gate, they'd been instructed by the troops on station around it to take defensive positions.
The team was "Elite Squad", the platoon currently assigned to Rogue Squadron, originally for performing recon and occasional assault missions from Earth. The technically inaccurate name tended to go with him to whichever unit he commanded, for reasons which harkened back to his days as an NCO, and which nobody but he really remembered. It was a job usually reserved for a lieutenant, not a major, but this was an exceptional assignment. Not what you usually got on recruitment posters, but definitely not dull. They always had something original for him to shoot.
Something about a Goa'uld trying to escape the planet this time.
Wurl, a towering Wookiee sergeant, growled something. "No, stun him first. We'll see how that works." Rumble. "I know, but it's worth a shot."
"Almost here," said Sergeant Murvholl, the former bounty hunting Gotal, observing the worker charging across the plains towards the Stargate.
Conwy glanced round. "Fire!"
Blue energy spat out towards the incoming Goa'uld, washing right over him with no appreciable effect. Wurl roared something along the lines of "I told you so" and Conwy sighed, flicking his rifle over to kill.
Temporary Medical Centre
Nick and Mike watched quietly as Captain Pierce, the unit's chief medical officer, carefully extracted a limp Goa'uld symbiote from the dead worker's neck.
"The only time they were off-world was the Vyen mission?" Nick asked.
"No doubt about it. They must have been taken at some point while they were unsupervised," Mike said grimly.
"Have everyone screened and start looking into the Vyers."
"Already have done. I spotted a few things in the original reports that we might be able to follow up."
"Then get to it, Farpoint can't be found before we have all the defences up."
Part Three: Payback on Vyen
Central Temple, Lorbis City, P3D-465. two months later
You had to admire the speed they got here, Commodore Mike Burn decided as he and Colonel Anton Moore stepped out of the Stargate, armed and wearing full combat gear, followed by Conwy and elements of Elite Squad.
They had radioed through only two minutes earlier to say they were coming, and the High Magistrate—the Vyers' planetary leader—was waiting for them, along with his usual assembly of robed advisors.
"Esteemed delegates of the New Republic—"
"Stow it," Anton ordered.
"—we regret that we are unable to cater for you at this—"
"We're not hungry," Mike assured him.
"—time, we have—"
Wurl roared and the pompous ruler shut up immediately.
"You don't have guests already do you?" Mike inquired. On cue, the lighting dimmed in the pyramid and the ground began to shake ever so slightly. "Ah, here they are." Looking out of the wide entrance to the temple, Mike noticed a shadow had suddenly been cast over the city —or rather, a larger shadow than the omnipresent storm clouds cast.
"We're all dead now!" The High Magistrate shouted over the sudden roar of engines, waving his arms frantically.
"Not quite," Anton muttered, activating his comm. "Everyone through!"
Troops started to file through the active Stargate, starting with some of Mike's Intel operatives and then the rest of Elite Squad, until over sixty troops were assembled in the temple's dank interior, along with three beings vital to the plan.
Anton had noted in his original report on P3D-465 that the pyramid—used on Earth, Abydos, Cimmeria and other planets as a landing pad for Goa'uld motherships—was surrounded by just enough open courtyards to house a Cheops-class warship.
He knew the Vyers would suffer for allowing their masters to be attacked like this. Serves the bastards right.
An intense beam of light lanced down into the middle of the chamber just in front of the DHD, followed by clanking transport rings. They opened fire before the rings had even retreated. Blaster bolts were absorbed harmlessly by the transporter's energy field and ricocheted uselessly off the rings themselves.
The High Magistrate had fled already, rushing out of the temple. Not that it'd do him much good—his fate was already sealed by his betrayal. He had betrayed Rogue Squadron, now the Goa'uld thought he had betrayed them. Maybe after a few deaths and resurrections they would believe that he was innocent. Maybe they wouldn't.
The rings hissed back upwards and Crocodile Guards crumpled under the onslaught of a dozen blaster rifles, elongated metal helmets clanking against the ancient stole floor.
At least now we know it is Sobek, Mike thought, noting the 'V' shape emblem on their armour that depicted the Earth river Sobek had supposedly created.
The outraged Goa'uld they shielded had just enough time to activate his personal force-field and call for the rings to lift him back up to safety when the E-Web that had just been set up fired a single stream of charged particles into him, overloading his shields as he smashed into the wall.
Mike and Anton, followed by four of their best troops and Intel operatives, ducked under the falling rings.
Cheops Warship, over P3D-465
The Ja'ffa manning the transport rings had been so surprised to see a Rogue Squadron strike team instead of their Goa'uld master that they hadn't even reacted before they were cut down.
"Got it," the operative working the controls called as the rings activated, pulling up the next team.
First up was a group of soldiers, closely guarding the first of the three vital beings. Doctor Ilexa Thorn, one of Rogue Squadron's Goa'uld experts, stepped forward and took in the chamber like a child in a candy store.
Mike laughed and looked back at the young Tau'ri woman. "Be fascinated once we get it back home. Just get us into the systems. Wong, help where you can."
"On it," they said in unison, immediately beginning to pull off panels and fiddle with control crystals.
The next group came up into the colossal ship, along with the second and third beings. "Nicely done," Jacob Carter complimented. He was all appearances a single Tau'ri male, middle-aged, with compassionate yet wise features, dressed in a pale, sandy tunic. But after he closed his eyes for a moment and reopened them, something subtle had changed beneath them as his symbiote Selmak took control, and then set to work alongside Thorn and Neela.
Watching the transport rings bring up the remaining groups out of the corner of his eye, Mike moved into the open doorway between the ring chamber and the corridor, his weapon aimed down the left-hand passage, Anton covering the opposite direction.
It wasn't long before the sound of metal boots on deck plates started to drift towards them, rhythmic and menacing. Golden staff blasts started whizzing towards them, thumping against golden bulkheads and scorching them.
"Can we maybe start to perhaps close one or two blast doors?" Mike asked, with just the slightest hint of impatience. "Like, the ones between us and them?"
"Working on it!"
Mike sighed, and started returning fire, his blaster bolts burning through metal armour and evaporating flesh. The air started to fill with the stench of ozone and burning flesh as more and more Ja'ffa advanced mindlessly towards the ring chamber, firing steadily. That was the major flaw in the Ja'ffa psyche, Mike noted. They would serve mindlessly, even if their own lives were forfeit. Much like stormtroopers in that respect.
The Mon Calamari Operative Terther tossed a small explosive round the corner, briefly clearing out opposition so they could expand outwards. Being trapped in a single room was not a good situation to be in.
The corridor was riddled with crevices and columns, which they ducked into and started firing from. Goa'uld ship design was perfect for boarding parties. There, Mike reflected, was the flaw in the Goa'uld psyche. Arrogance. The presumption that nobody would dare to force their way onto the chariot of their gods. Much like the Imperial leadership, whose ultimate weapon had been destroyed because they didn't believe a farm boy in a snubfighter could make it past their defences and land a proton torpedo in an exhaust vent. Who didn't believe that their mighty regime could be brought down by rebels with inferior numbers.
There was no wonder they had become allies.
"Mike!" he heard Anton shout, and spun round to see a huge blast door slowly grinding shut behind him. Firing one last spread behind him, he threw his rifle under the door before dropping and rolling under himself.
"We're in," Jacob reported. "We have control of ship-wide communications, and the bridge is locked out and sealed off. What do you want Selmak to tell them?"
Mike stopped to think for a moment. "Tell them the planet's under attack from starfighters approaching from the southern hemisphere. Despatch all gliders to intercept. And deploy all Ja'ffa to enforce a curfew on the city."
"Nice, now we've only the crew to deal with," Anton said.
"And that intruders are on the other side of the ship to us," he added. "Now getting to the bridge should be a piece of ryshcate."
* * * * *
Mike walked casually onto the bridge, pulling his sidearm and snapping off a single shot straight through the throat of the outraged Goa'uld commander. Behind him, Elite Squad troops burst in, blaster rifles firing steadily and lethally, cutting down the Ja'ffa bridge crew.
Jacob pushed the slumped helmsman out of his seat and took the controls, as Mike sat down in the throne-like command seat, placing a hand on each arm of the throne and smiling to himself.
"Depart from this world of infidels," Mike commanded, deepening his voice to impersonate a Goa'uld. "Let us take our prize to the gates of Farpoint. Lord Fel will be most pleased."
Jacob looked round at him, sighed and set to work, as Mike tried to decide on a name for his new ship.
Part Four: Last Stand
Alerts blared as Nick ran through Farpoint's corridors. He jumped a gaping hole in the floor where an engineer with a power calibrator tried to figure out why the lights in this sector weren't working, careened round the corner past his office and practically leapt down the stairs into the Operations Centre.
"What's going on?"
"One Impstar Deuce, one Dreadnaught, one Cheops and two Ha'tak," Ash reported from her command console. Currently she was running Farpoint pretty much single-handedly from that spot. As he approached, a map of the system sprang up above the holoprojector, pinpointing the enemies.
"Well that's just super," Nick muttered. "Looks like they got word out after all. Defences online?"
"The deflector shield is running off the main reactor, we can't get it to full strength," Ash told him. "And we only have the northern ion cannon and turbolaser working. We've got no troops. If they land anything, we're farkled."
"Launch all starfighters. Bring the big honkin' spaceguns online."
"You know I'm actually quite glad you can't talk to Colonel O'Neill anymore."
"Wraith Leader to Alpha Wing," Colonel Glantry Fett said, as his two squadrons exited Ashleigh's hangars. "Aces, stay close to Ashleigh, blast any fighters that come her way. Wraiths, you're on me."
He switched his comm over to the squadron frequency. "S-foils into attack position. Split by wing pairs and engage the enemy!"
TIE Fighters and Interceptors boiled towards them, followed closely by Death Gliders. The first pass was suicide for the shieldless fighters, as their shots bounced harmlessly off his forward shields, while his punctured hull plating immediately.
"Still with me, Two?"
"Not a scratch," his wingman reported.
Now was where it got tricky. After the head-on pass, TIEs gained the advantage of having superior manoeuvrability. He locked onto the nearest target, an Interceptor, and pulled back on the stick, looping his X-wing to come behind the agile craft. Its pilot spotted him before he could fire, breaking left in a move that would have splattered Glantry against the side of his cockpit, inertial compensator or no inertial compensator.
He rolled onto his left s-foils as he twisted after it, coming out just to the side of the Interceptor and blasting through its canted solar panel and into the cockpit.
"Scratch one TIE. Two, there's a pair of Gliders to solar north," he said. "I'll take the lead, you get his friend."
His astromech Sam started whistling frantically as he moved to target the Glider. "What's up, Sam… oh stang," he muttered, as a TIE's twin laser cannons started splashing against his rear shields. He pulled up hard, but the TIE stayed with him. He twisted and ducked, but still he couldn't lose the TIE. "Do you know who I am, kid?" he said to nobody in particular, noticing his shield indicators turning a reddish-orange colour. "Little help, Two?"
"Got my hands full, boss…"
The TIE behind him disintegrated suddenly, as another X-wing zoomed through the rapidly shrinking fireball.
"Any time, Lead."
"Wraith Leader, there are vessels launching from Amalgam," General Fel's voice said across the control channel. "Intercept."
"Two Flight, Three Flight, cover us," he ordered. "One Flight, we've got the transports!"
A swarm of Sentinel-class Landing Craft were spilling out of the bottom of the Star Destroyer, each of them carrying a platoon of stormtroopers. He targeted the nearest, switched over to proton torpedoes and set both launchers to fire simultaneously, then blasted off a single pair.
They ripped straight through the landing craft, leaving behind nothing but debris.
He always felt vaguely uncomfortable shooting down landing craft—it felt too much like shooting at a passenger shuttle. But this shuttle shot back and its passengers were ready to kill his friends.
"There's landing barges launching," he reported. "We're going to need more than one flight. Wraiths, take them. Ace Squadron, cover us."
Bridge, Star Destroyer Hunter
Commander David Sinclair stood on the command deck of his Star Destroyer, issuing orders in all directions. "Concentrate all firepower on Amalgam," he ordered. Normally, he would have tried to avoid a slugging match with the newer vessel, but the Imperial-II-class had moved to intercept him as soon as it entered the system.
"Does this sort of thing happen often, Amaya?" he asked his fellow starship captain, who appeared in miniature holographic form next to his console.
"Oh, all the time," she grinned, before disappearing to give more orders to her own crew.
"More power to starboard shields!"
The entire command crew ducked as a TIE Interceptor flew straight for the bridge, laser cannons flashing uselessly against their shields, but broke away at the last moment. The Star Destroyer was ill-equipped to deal with starfighter attacks, relying instead on its own starfighters. "Where's Strike Squadron?"
Commander Lana Tridon sped across the surface of the ancient Dreadnaught, her laser and ion cannons linked together, raking across its hull. Her wingman followed, dodging laser blasts from the pursuing TIE Fighter.
The Dreadnaught was a long, slender craft, with a bank of drive engines at the back and a rounded front, its top overlapping the bottom like a clamshell. The hull was covered in blisters, each containing vital systems such as weapons emplacements or communications arrays. Each was a perfect target for a bomber pilot.
She dropped a single torpedo into the blister ahead, destroying it spectacularly as she and Two pulled up to avoid the explosion. Behind them, the unshielded TIE Fighter was shredded by the debris.
"Nice move, Lead," Nova Five complimented.
"Thanks, Five." She smiled. "Now cut the chatter."
She raced away from the Dreadnaught's sluggish turbolasers, as a huge beam from the planet below streaked up, hitting the old ship in its midsection. The heavy cruiser started to slowly break apart, venting atmosphere.
Bridge, Cheops Warship Rogue Revenge
The captured Goa'uld ship dropped out of hyperspace into a scene of utter chaos. Goa'uld and Imperial ships sat pounding at the pair of overwhelmed New Republic vessels as starfighters danced around them.
"Pax, get that comm unit working," Mike ordered, standing up to take a closer look at the displays.
"Mike, we have a problem," Jacob told him.
"No kidding?" Anton muttered.
"A more immediate problem. We're being hailed, by the other Cheops."
Mike looked thoughtfully down at the dead Goa'uld commander, noting that his shot hadn't touched the uniform. "You up for a little role-play Selmak?"
Bridge, Cheops Warship Khufu
The Goa'uld commander on the viewscreen was not one that Duamutef recognised. That was not too unusual—Lord Sobek's fleet, while not comparable to that of Anubis or Yu, was large enough that he didn't know everyone in command of a warship.
"I am an envoy from Lord Sobek," the one who identified himself as Kelnarshuk said. "I bring an urgent message."
"Why did Our Lord not communicate this directly to the High Admiral Steele?"
"He believes the High Admiral may be planning a betrayal," Kelnarshuk said. "He wishes you to return to Faiyum immediately."
"We did not come from Faiyum." Duamutef's good eye narrowed slightly.
"He wishes you to travel there and report personally on Imperial behaviour."
"He claims to be our ally, yet he does not fire upon the infidels," his Ja'ffa second-in-command noted. "I believe the betrayal to be his."
"My Lord, a communication from Lord Sobek." Another Ja'ffa had arrived at his side, carrying a vo'cume. "He asks for a report on the progress of our Holy mission."
Duamutef glared at the viewscreen before barking an order to have communications cut off. "He speaks lies! Open fire!"
Bridge, Cheops Warship Rogue Revenge
The ship shuddered under weapons fire. "Was worth a shot," Mike shrugged. "New plan: Jacob, get me weapons. Pax, where's that comm?"
"There's a lot of jamming, I'm still trying to find a clear frequency," the Rodian explained, his long fingers gliding over the comm unit's controls.
The comm unit cracked for a moment, the signal becoming slowly clearer until a voice could be heard through the static: "…is this? Please identify yourselves."
"This is Commodore Burn," Mike said, taking the headset. "Give me General Fel."
"Mike? Is that your Cheops?"
"There's a System Lord out there somewhere who'd probably debate my claim, but yes, yes it is."
"Any chance of a little help? We're somewhat outnumbered."
"We're working on it, I'll keep you informed. Burn out." He passed the headset back. "Jacob, weapons?"
The Tok'ra shook his head. "They're all locked into manual, I can't get control."
Mike turned to look at Thorn, who had been sitting working on a control panel next to Jacob. "Please tell me you have a plan?"
"I think I can cause the naquadah reactor to go critical."
"That sounds like a plan to me."
"Our agreement was that the ship would be turned over to the Tok'ra," Jacob interrupted. "This ship is vital to our efforts."
"We have bigger problems than your efforts," Mike said. "There'll be other ships to steal. Get me General Fel again."
Operations Centre, Farpoint
The base shook as turbolaser blasts rained down on its partially-powered shields, straining the generator as it struggled to keep them integral. Mike was back on the comm, explaining their plan to him: "Thorn thinks she can blow up the ship and take out maybe two of the Goa'uld ships," his voice crackled.
"That'll even things up nicely. Go ahead."
"We have a problem though," Mike continued. "The remaining crew have congregated around the launch bays and fortified it. We've already lost six men trying to get in, it's too heavily guarded."
"Can't you beam to the orbital facility?"
"We've tried, the rings won't lock on. The other Cheops is between us and the planet, and we don't want to be across there."
"Get back to the ring chamber," Nick told them. "We'll come get you."
"Nick, only Renegade has working transport rings at the moment. Ashleigh's are offline and we haven't got them fitted on any other shuttles or starships yet," Ash said. "It can't carry enough people and we don't have time for two trips."
"I know, but I've got a plan. Is there a Gamma-class transport on the Orbital Facility?" he asked.
"Yes, but it still doesn't have transport rings."
"Doesn't matter. Tell them to load it up with seventy vacuum suits, including a Wookiee-sized one."
"You're not planning on…"
"I surely am," he grinned. "Tell them I'm going up!"
"The platform isn't in a stable orbit yet!" Ash called after him. "The ring system isn't safe, it hasn't been tested with a living sentient!"
"It's about to be!"
"Careful, Deuce," Major Lance Tambek cautioned his wingman. He fired a single quad burst, disintegrating the Interceptor that was on Two's tail.
"Fel to Shadow One," a familiar voice broke onto his helmet speakers. "I'm in an assault transport leaving the Orbital Facility. I need an escort."
Lance checked his sensors and saw the rounded ship leaving the space station. It was heavily armed and armoured, but he still wouldn't fancy flying one across this battle zone. "I see you, boss."
"I'm heading towards the new arrival. Mike's onboard. Fel out"
"Listen up Shadows, we've got some old comrades who need their sixes covering," Lance grinned. "Let's show them we haven't gotten sloppy in their absence."
He navigated towards the Gamma transport, his squadron forming up behind him, and straight away a pair of Interceptor locked onto it, quad laser cannons flashing as they approaching, washing over its shields. Distracted by their target's manoeuvring, the first one never saw Lance's X-wing as it approached and the second twisted away, right into the path of the transport's turbolasers.
With a squadron of X-wings flying cover the transport had little trouble getting to its destination. It stopped underneath the Goa'uld warship, its hatch opened, and then people started pouring out of the airlock. No, not people, Lance realised.
"Lead, Nine. Is he… dumping vac suits?"
"It would seem so, Nine," Lance replied, no wiser than his pilots. A moment later, a flash of light lifted the suits up into the warship and he grinned. "Cunning, General… cunning."
Assault Transport ATR-ORB02
"You are one crazy son-of-a-bitch, Nick," Anton said as he pulled off his helmet, shaking his head. He was amongst the first group to transport down into open space and then enter the transport through its airlock.
Nick grinned. "Get to one of the turbolaser controls."
He held the ship steady until the hold filled with more troops than it was designed to carry and Mike left the airlock, releasing his helmet and declaring: "That's the last of us."
"Strap in and hang on as best you can, folks," Nick called. "This could get a bit rough…"
Bridge, Cruiser Ashleigh
Amaya shook her head slowly as she watched Rogue Revenge move between the two small Ha'tak, pre-programmed to position itself where projections estimated the explosion would do the most damage.
A huge nuclear explosion blossomed from it, starting in the centre of the ship and expanding outwards, briefly lighting up the hull from inside before evaporating it, rushing outwards to consume the smaller ships, leaving behind two smouldering wrecks.
"That's my Wonderboy," she muttered.
"Captain," her tactical officer called. "Death Gliders are being recalled. It's making a run for it."
"Hound it all the way out. Make sure it leaves with its tail on fire."
Seconds later, the pyramidal warship vanished into the distance as turbolaser and ion cannon blasts raced after it hopelessly, only able to travel at the speed of light and unable to keep up.
In the distance, she saw another flash of light as Amalgam entered hyperspace on a similar trajectory. "And Steele escapes again."
Ring Terminal, Farpoint, the following month
General Nick Fel stood by Doctor Cat Craig as the middle set of the Terminal's three transport rings dropped down from the ceiling, bringing with them Farpoint's new arrivals. Rear Admiral Mike Burn and Brigadier Anton Moore stood with them, their new rank insignia still gleaming. They had been promoted for their efforts on Rogue Revenge and several others had been commended, including Thorn and Conwy. The mission may not have ended as expected, but there was no denying that the ship had saved the day.
"Brigadier Collins reporting, General," the leader of the arrivals said, saluting smartly. "These are Colonels Braman, Hazui, Zavor, and Vaughn, my regimental commanders and deputy."
"Welcome to Farpoint, Brigadier." Nick returned the salute and gestured to Anton. "This is Brigadier Moore, Tactical Director. He'll be taking you on a tour of the facilities set up for your division."
"Thank you, sir." The ranking officers of the Third New Republic Army Division left, following Anton to their new home.
Farpoint was almost complete now, and most of its systems were operational, if occasionally glitchy. That was to be expected though, the base was huge, a massive undertaking, especially so far away from home. The base's operations commander had arrived last week, Colonel Redgar, a native of Centerpoint Station in the Corellian System, and he was slowly working the last bugs out of the system along with Chief Engineer Mike Antilles. The man seemed most at home up to his elbows in wiring, and that seemed to be the only time he left Ops.
Redgar's arrival was prompted by a departure of course and one Nick never would have anticipated. Major Ash Morgan's decision to return to Earth to fill the open position of New Republic Liaison shocked everyone. Nick certainly hadn't realised how fond she'd grown of the planet.
Nick led his two senior officers into the central turbolift shaft, sending it down dozens of levels, deep into the bedrock, to the very bottom of the facility.
"Chevron Seven locked," the dialling computer announced, as they opened up the heavy blast door and entered the embarkation room.
The wormhole gushed outwards and illuminated the room before establishing an event horizon, which the computer dutifully announced.
"Didn't think you were coming," Ash smiled, turning to face them.
"You should know us better," Cat said.
The embarkation room was empty except for them. Her farewell party had been held a few days ago, at the same time as the promotions, up in the observation lounge at the top of Farpoint's spire, the first function to be held on the base. The glow of the Stargate cast odd rippling shadows on their faces as they said their farewells.
"Stay in touch," Nick said, taking her into a quick embrace.
"That's my job," she smiled, walking up the ramp towards the gate. With a final wave, she was gone.
The wormhole disengaged, returning the embarkation room to its own dim lighting.