Wedge stood at the front of the briefing room where all of his pilots had gathered. Over the past week, he had gotten all the pilots qualified in TIE Defenders and worked up a mission plan to strike at Home One, the Mon Remonda and their escorts.
The plan they had worked out was multi-layered. First, Rogue Squadron would jump into the system aboard the Imperial Class Star Destroyer and launch to draw away the fighter screen. Next the Victory Class Star Destroyer would jump into the system with the two squadrons of TIE Bombers. Finally, the Interdictor cruiser would follow just a few moments later and deploy Wraith Squadron. With that, the attack force would be fully deployed.
The planning had been cold heartedly efficient and stunk of Imperial thinking. However, since they were simulating Imperials, they needed to mimic their ways. The other part of the plan was to program the simulators with artificial intelligence to duplicate the flying styles of the Rogues and Wraiths. They had done this through interviews with the programming people and evaluations of their past simulator runs. This simulation would also help the New Republic computer programmers in their mission to create accurate and realistic simulations.
With the simulator programming and the mission planning completed, the pilots assembled for the mission briefing. Wedge hit the button on his remote to activate the holoprojector. An image of a large Mon Calamari cruiser appeared. It was Home One.
"This is our Primary Target, The Rebel Cruiser Home One," Wedge began. "Blue and Red Squadrons, the TIE Bombers, will be responsible for launching a full proton torpedo spread against the cruiser softening her up for the arrival of the Star Destroyers."
"Rogue Squadron will lead the force engaging the fighter screens deployed from Home One and the Mon Ramonda," Wedge said.
"And as usual the Wraiths will deploy second having to scrounge for the Rogues crumbs. Rogues get all the glory," Face complained.
"The way it should be Face." Corran smirked. "We are the heroes of the New Republic…errr…Empire after all."
Wedge grinned. "Ok boys, enough."
The laughter of the gathered pilots died down and Wedge continued, "Once that barrage occurs, the remaining ships will jump in. Our mission is to destroy Home One. We need to keep the Mon Ramonda busy while the target is hit, then get out. Any questions?"
Wedge looked around the room and saw no one had questions. "Very well. Get to your simulators and win this one for the glory of the Empire."
The pilots chuckled and filtered out of the room to make their way to the simulators.
Wedge walked with Corran and Tycho to the simulators. "What do you think about this?" Wedge asked to neither of the two in particular.
Corran shrugged. "It's all make believe Wedge. We are just adding the human element to an exercise. If we can make a difference it will save lives. I don't have a problem with it."
Tycho looked at Corran. "I agree with you. We flew trips recently. Plus it will be a side we never get to see. It's like being the villain in a holodrama. We can see what it was like to be Face as a kid." Tycho chuckled.
Wedge sighed as he shook his head at Tycho's joke. "I guess so… something just doesn't feel right about this."
The pilots entered the bay where the simulators had been set up. This time they all made their way to the banks of TIE Simulators instead of their normal X-Wing sims. Each pilot waved and grinned as he or she climbed into the cockpit of their assigned simulators.
Corran climbed up the ladder and through the top hatch into the ball cockpit. He quickly noticed Whistler's absence. It was so rare that he flew with out his R2 that it would take some getting used to again.
Corran powered-up the simulator. As he did, the area outside the canopy became the main hanger aboard the Star Destroyer Mark II they had nick named, the Lucy Duecy. Corran quickly went through an abbreviated checklist to prepare the ship for flight.
As Corran finished, he heard the radio crackle in his ear. "Wing Check," he heard Wedge say. "Rogue Leader, is green and ready."
"Rogue check," he heard Tycho respond. "Rogue One, green and ready."
"Rogue Two, go," Nawara Ven responded.
"Rogue Three, ready to win the Emperor's Cross!" Wes Janson shouted. Corran could only shake his head and chuckle as he listened to the rest of the pilots check in.
"Rogue Four, two green and all systems go," Hobbie said.
"Rogue Five, go," Myn stated.
"Rogue Six, all systems up and green," Gavin said.
"Rogue Nine, ready…." Corran stated. He tried to think of something witty to say and failed. He had been thrown off by hilarity of Janson's check-in. "Green and go."
"Rogue Ten, ready for flight," Ooryl responded.
"Rogue Eleven, ready," Inyri said. She had been assigned to fly as Wedge's wingman. She was quite happy to be flying with her Commander again, and especially happy to be flying his wing.
"Wraith check." Face said, perfectly timing his statement to immediately follow the last Rogue. "Wraith One, ready to show these Rebels the glory of the Empire."
"Wraith Two, ready and able," Tyria responded.
"Wraith Three, up and ready," Kell said.
"Wraith Six, we are ready," Runt said to a few chuckles on the other end of the comm unit. Even after all this time, some of them were still not used to him referring to himself as multiple people.
"Wraith Seven, go," Dia responded curtly.
"Wraith Eight, all systems go," Piggy's mechanical voice answered.
"Wraith Nine, ready," Shalla answered.
"Wraith Eleven, last but not least, ready," Elasarr responded sardonically.
When the last of the Wraiths had checked in, Wedge spoke. "Depart in pairs. By the book people." Wedge's heart just wasn't in this. It still felt wrong.
Corran watched as the fighters in front of him departed off their racks. He fed power to his repulsor lifts and eased the fighter out into the vacuum of space. He slowly brought his fighter around and entered in his position in the screen. He looked down at his sensors to see the Rogue and Wraith X-Wings approaching them.
Wedge's slightly distorted voice came through the comm unit. "Break by pairs, free to engage." They programmers had done a good job. They had even changed the level of distortion in the comm units. It was interesting to see the lengths the programmers had gone through to simulate every possible aspect.
Corran flipped his selector over to concussion missiles and locked onto one of the X-Wings in the center of the formation. His target pipper went red and the lock tone sounded. He squeezed the trigger and a red streak shot from the nose of his fighter. As he scanned his sensors, he noticed the fighter was designated R-3. That must be Rogue Three, Janson, he thought.
Corran smiled broadly as he watched the missile travel towards his target. "That'll show him." Corran wheeled his fighter to the right and followed his missile's trajectory into the formation of X-Wings. His target broke hard to the left and down as the missile pursued. It almost overshot the X-Wing but exploded very close to the fighter sending the X-Wing tumbling. Corran turned his fighter until he was directly behind the stricken craft. As he did, the badly damaged fighter tried to escape.
Corran flipped on the controls for the small tractor beam on the Defender and locked onto the X-wing. The fighter struggled to escape but was too heavily damaged to pull away. Corran swapped his lasers to single fire and squeezed the trigger. He began to pummel the stricken X-Wing just as lasers began to splash over his rear shield. He fired two more shots into the X-Wing and it exploded into a fiery cloud. However, by that point his rear shield was down to fifty six percent and he had taken some damage to the tail of his fighter.
Corran pushed his throttle to full and began a tight loop. He came around and saw the X-Wing that had pummeled him. It was white with green trim. He looked down at his sensors; R-9 was the fighter's designation. Corran chuckled to himself. "Just like me to pick on the guy taking a cheap shot at one of my friends."
The green and white X-Wing quickly snap rolled and continued away. Corran pulled tighter through the bottom of the loop and lined up a quick shot. His lasers flashed passed, narrowly missing the nimbly rolling X-Wing. Corran flipped back over to concussion missiles and placed the target box over the X-Wing. When the reticle went red, he fired.
The missile streaked out towards the X-Wing. Just as Corran rolled away to go after the rebel fighter on Ooryl's tail, he saw another X- Wing come streaking in from above and fall in behind the missile. The green and white X-Wing broke hard to port and the other X-Wing fired at the missile. A laser struck the missile, which caused it to explode.
Corran sighed. "Tycho…it has to be." He looked down and the sensor confirmed his thought. The X-Wing was designated R-1. Corran continued to roll through his turn and pulled up hard. He looped in behind the fleeing Tycho simulation. His sight quickly passed over the X-Wing and Corran fired. The shields of the X-Wing must have already been weakened because, as the lasers hit, the lower right s- foil came off and the stricken fighter tumbled and exploded.
Corran was shocked. He got Tycho. The thudding of lasers against his rear shield brought his thoughts back to where they should have been, but too late. He looked down at his sensors and saw that an X-Wing designated R-L was on his tail. The screen in front of him went black.
Tycho pulled his Defender up and away from the debris of the newly destroyed fighter formerly designated W-2. Tycho scanned his display and saw that the Rogue and Wraith X-Wings had been completely destroyed. However, the battle cost the two squadrons of TIE Defenders dearly. Rogue squadron was down to Wedge, Tycho, Janson, Myn and Inyri. Wraith squadron had only Piggy, Kell and Dia.
Tycho saw both Star Destroyers attacking Home One. The Mon Ramonda was moving to engage the Lucy. Tycho heard Wedge's voice come through the comm unit. "All fighters form up and prepare for a missile pass on Mon Remonda."
The trips formed up to make their run on Mon Remonda. As they closed, the Rogues and Wraiths dumped all of their remaining missiles at the cruiser. Even though the missiles were not designed to battle capital ships, the impact would still drain power away from the ship's port shield.
As the Rogues and Wraiths finished their missile run, they saw the two squadrons of TIE Bombers pour out of the Star Destroyers. The dupes formed up in a line and headed for Home One. Blue streaks of proton torpedoes headed away from the formation of TIE Bombers. The torpedoes flew straight at Home One and impacted.
Home One blossomed into a huge fireball. A moment later, the screen in front of Tycho went black. He sat back for a moment then climbed out of the ball cockpit of the simulator and walked over to the gathered pilots.
Tycho walked over to the gathered group and saw that Dia was off to the side crying. He watched Face walk over and embrace her, trying to comfort her.
"What's wrong?" Face asked as he rubbed her back lightly and leaned close to listen to her reply.
"I killed…" she sobbed. "I killed the most handsome pilot in all of the New Republic." A moment later, Dia's tears suddenly dried up. She looked up at Face with a devilish grin and playfully tapped his nose with her finger. "Got ya."
The crowd of surrounding pilots burst out laughing. Even Face couldn't help but laugh as he shook his head. "She got me alright. Wow…" was all Face could manage as he stood there blushing. The laughter took a little while to die, but eventually wound down.
Wedge spoke as he came over to the group. "Ok people, let's get to debrief. I have a reward for you victorious Imperial Pilots…"
Wedge's announcement was met with groans. Any pilot knew that whenever a reward was mentioned, it was never actually a reward.
The pilots slowly meandered to the briefing room and took their seats. Wedge waited for everyone to get settled then began to speak. "In recognition of your fine service to the Empire, the two squadrons are being deployed to the greatest vacation spot in the galaxy. That's right, the newly refurbished rebel base on Hoth!"
Groans and mock screams of terror met the announcement. "No more Tauntaun meat!" Janson screeched.
Wedge waited for all the commotion to die down. "We will be stationed there for at least ninety days while Home One is off doing other things. During that time, we will continue as we have been, as well as running some specific training missions using the environment of the planet and surrounding system."
Wedge looked around for questions. "The base is being prepared now. The rest of our necessary equipment will be transported down over the next two days. We will deploy down in our X-Wings at daybreak, three days from now."
"Any questions?" Wedge asked. When they were done, he dismissed the gathered pilots. They rose and exited, quietly contemplating the misery that awaited them on the frozen world below.
Over the next few days, the Rogues and Wraiths watched as their equipment was transported to the planet. On the third day, they moved into the base and Home One departed for ports unknown.
Dressed in his basic Jedi robes, Luke Skywalker sat on the stage with the other instructors at the Starfighter Command Graduation ceremony. It had been about a week since Luke had discovered that Cheriss Ke Handi was force sensitive. Since that time, he had worked with her each day after they had completed their individual duties: Cheriss, preparing for her final tests and Luke, assisting in the Sleep Deprivation Evaluations.
Cheriss was showing incredible promise in the short time they had been working together. Luke was excited about her potential and looked forward to bringing her to the Jedi Academy. The only problem was that she had just finished pilot training at substantial expense to the New Republic. They would, most likely, not be willing to let her go without a term of service.
Luke redirected his attention to the ceremony. As he did, he noticed that Cheriss was third in line to receive her commission and graduation certificate. Cheriss looked quite dashing in the dress uniform of the New Republic Starfighter Command.
Cheriss stood before the commanding officer of the training squadron. She wore a black body stocking under the white and red dress coat of her uniform. She wore her long black hair in a tight braid atop her head and her blastsword hung from her belt. She accepted her certificate with a large smile. She flashed another smile at Luke, as she passed him, making her way back to her seat.
The graduating students capped the ceremony with a typical celebration. Everyone filed out of the room where the ceremony had been held and made their way to the reception. However, just as Luke was about to enter an officer in a New Republic security uniform stepped out from around the corner.
"Master Skywalker?" the man asked.
"Yes," Luke responded. "What can I do for you?"
"I have been ordered to escort you to the Captain's office," the young officer said nervously.
Luke smiled reassuringly. "No problem. Lead the way."
The young man led Luke to the Captain's office, or ready room as most called it. Luke was shown in to find Admiral Ackbar seated behind the desk. "Admiral Ackbar, nice to see you," he said in surprise.
Admiral Ackbar stood. "Nice to see you too, Master Skywalker. Hopefully the wind has filled your sails and the waves been calm for you."
"That they have. I am glad that you are here. I have a matter that I need to discuss with you. I thought I was going to have to put in a lot of effort into tracking you down," Luke said.
Ackbar gestured to the seat in front of the desk and sat down in his own seat. "I see. Well, you may go first if you like. It turns out I also have a favor to ask of you."
Luke looked at him questioningly. "Um…ok. Well, there is a pilot candidate who just graduated. I was curious if you knew what her next assignment was going to be? Her name is Cheriss Ke Handi."
The Admiral picked up a data pad from the desk and began to scan the data. "She will be assigned to Lusankya with the newer members of Rogue Squadron, who were recently transferred to there. Most of Rogue squadron is currently deployed elsewhere. However, a few of them are still aboard the Lusankya. She will be there with them, flying with High Flight squadron until the Rogues return."
"I would like to ask a favor. I would ask that she be released from the New Republic armed forces." Luke calmly stated.
Admiral Ackbar looked questioningly at Luke, "I'm sure you realize that the New Republic has just spent a great many credits training her. There would need to be a very good reason."
"Cheriss is Force sensitive. I would like her to accompany me back to the Jedi Academy so that I can begin her training as a Jedi," Luke explained.
"Well Master, or should I say General, you may have the opportunity to work with Flight Officer Ke Handi quite closely in the near future." Admiral Ackbar replied cryptically. "I would like to temporarily reinstate your commission and give you a command for a short time."
Even the stoic Jedi Master couldn't contain his surprise at those words. Luke's mouth dropped. "What? Why?"
"All the information I am about to give you is classified. Your part of this mission is two-fold. First, you will be a project test pilot for the new X-Wing that Incom is planning to produce. Along with that, your input will be used to create a variant of the X-Wing designed for use by the Jedi. Second, you will lead an assault upon a group that we believe may have a Jedi leading their ranks."
"For the time being I can not explain anything more except that this group has ties to the Imperial Remnants. We believe that your inclusion in this project would be incredibly helpful. Are you willing?" Ackbar asked.
Luke sat in thought, still not fully believing what he had just heard. It would be strange for him to return to military service. However, it was his duty to investigate the potential of a Force adept aiding the Empire. It would also be a strong bargaining chip to get them to release Cheriss after this mission was completed.
"Who would I be reporting to?" Luke inquired.
"General Wedge Antilles." Ackbar replied.
Luke smirked. "Well, that would be an interesting role reversal."
"You will be placed in command of Wraith Squadron. You'll get more details about your mission as they are made available. For now, you would just be training with the Rogues and Wraiths, preparing for the trials of the new X-Wings." Ackbar leaned forward. "I had a pretty good idea you would accept."
Ackbar picked up a box that was sitting on the floor and handed it to Luke. Luke opened it. He saw an orange flight suit with all the proper insignia and two patches on the left shoulder. One was the Rogue Squadron patch, the other he assumed was Wraith Squadron's patch.
Luke smiled. "Thank you, Admiral."
"You're welcome General Skywalker. And may I point out that you are out of uniform General." Admiral Ackbar motioned to a door off the office. "I would suggest you remedy the situation."
Luke entered the refresher and changed into his new flight suit and looked in the mirror. He felt as if he was ten years younger and in command of a rebel squadron. His smile was a mile wide as he finished dressing and returned to the Admiral. He still had a few misgivings about returning to service since he felt his reasons for leaving were quite justified. However, he felt good about this mission.
Ackbar smiled seeing Luke in uniform again after all this time. "One more thing General. I will assign Cheriss to temporary duty with Wraith Squadron. However, this project is being kept secret even from many proven New Republic personnel. From her scores, I have no doubts of her flying ability. However, I want your guarantee that she is not a threat to this operation," he said, his expression turning suddenly serious.
"I have sensed nothing from her that would lead me to believe that she would be a risk. I am sure that I would have during our exercises exploring her Force potential. Someone without much experience with the Force would not be able to hide that from me. In fact, she probably would never have agreed to work with me in the first place if that were the case." Luke shrugged. "I can state with great confidence that she should not be a threat to this operation."
Ackbar nodded. "Wonderful. I am glad to hear it. I will encourage you to work with Cheriss to explore her ability with the Force while you are with Wraith Squadron. However, I am sure I need not mention this, but make sure the mission and both of your duties to the New Republic as officers in the Starfighter Command are not neglected."
"You have nothing to fear Admiral. I will make sure of it," Luke said.
"Excellent, General," Ackbar nodded. He pulled out his comlink and spoke into it for a moment. Ackbar listened to the response and turned off the comlink, putting it back into his pocket.
"Flight Officer Ke Handi is being escorted from the party to her quarters as we speak. Because of the secret nature of this mission, you both must leave immediately. You should go back and pack your belongings. When you are ready, report to the flight deck. I will have the navigational data inputted into your R2 unit," Ackbar informed Luke. As the Admiral spoke, Luke got a flicker through the Force. For some reason Ackbar thought something about the nav data was funny.
Luke looked at Ackbar. "Sir?"
"Nothing to worry about General. See you in a few weeks. Tell General Antilles I said hello." Ackbar said.
"Oh, one more thing. Since your X-wing belongs to you, I have issued you another one. That way your personal fighter won't be put at risk. I know you are quite attached to it," Ackbar said as he showed Luke out of the office.
Luke quickly packed his belongings and got his gear together to depart. He made his way to the bay the X-Wings were berthed in. As he entered, he saw that Cheriss was already there and doing the pre- flight on her newly assigned X-Wing. She saw him and made her way over.
Cheriss stood at attention as Luke came up to her. "Good afternoon, General. Flight Officer Cheriss Ke Handi reporting for duty." She could barely keep the smirk off her face.
Luke sighed. "At ease Flight Officer. Ready to go?"
"Yes, sir," Cheriss replied. "I still have not received any details about what I am doing."
Luke shrugged. "Nor have I. We will get a full briefing when we get to…" Luke realized he still didn't know where he was meeting Wedge. "… Wherever it is we are going to be stationed."
"Am I still going to be able to work with you to see if I might someday be a Jedi?" Cheriss asked.
"Yes, we will have plenty of time to work together. I will know more once we are briefed thoroughly," Luke said.
Cheriss smiled. "Great. Well General, we should probably perform our pre-flights and get going."
Luke nodded. "I will send you navigational data once we are clear of the launch bay." The pair separated and went to their respective fighters and began preparing them for departure.
Luke finished walking around the X-Wing Ackbar had assigned him after grabbing a few things from his. R2-D2 tweeted at him as he climbed in. "Hi Artoo. What do you think? Is she ok?" R2 tweeted his approval and Luke lowered the canopy while starting the engines.
He glanced over at his fighter that was now being moved to the back of the hanger bay. He was sure that Ackbar wouldn't let anything happen to it. Luke brought power to the repulsor lifts and hovered there waiting for Cheriss. An instant later, her X-Wing rose and hovered over to be side by side with Luke's.
"Red Flight, Check," Luke said as he keyed his comm unit.
"Two," Cheriss responded crisply.
"Flight Control, Red Flight ready for departure," Luke said into his mic.
"Red Flight, cleared for departure," the controller instructed. Luke brought power to the engines and flew his X-Wing through the magcon field and out into space with Cheriss following close behind. He turned his fighter to the outbound heading R2 had suggested.
"Artoo, show navigational data on the display," Luke said. He gasped in horror as he saw their destination. "Artoo, please tell me you've made an error."
Negative. This is the destination programmed by Admiral Ackbar. R2 scrolled across Luke's display.
"Figures. Isn't that just our luck," Luke sighed as he input the information into the navacomputer. "Artoo, send navigational data to Sabre," he instructed.
A few moments later, the course was set. Luke pulled the lever sending his fighter into hyperspace with Cheriss following directly behind.
Wedge sat in the cockpit of his X-Wing as he streaked across Hoth's frozen landscape. They had been on planet for a little over three weeks and life there was getting easier. The planners of the refurbished base had added many more creature comforts since his last stay on the planet. Of course, his pilots still complained, since that is what pilots like to do best. Nevertheless, Hoth wasn't as bad as it could have been.
The squadrons were out doing some low level flight training this early morning and Wedge was at the head of the formation of X-Wings. He led the flights through the last turn out of a deep ravine and made a turn heading them back to base. He did not realize that someone lurked above waiting to strike.
Luke maneuvered his X-Wing into Hoth's atmosphere and noted on his scanners that eighteen X-Wings were flying low heading towards the base. Luke smirked as the fighter pilot in him took over. He probably should just tell approach he was up there, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun.
Luke reached out with the Force to communicate with Cheriss. *Follow my lead. Time to wake those guys up.* Luke reached out with the Force again to cloud the minds of the pilots, as well as the sensor operators back at the base.
The two X-Wings streaked towards the ground. They slashed past the flights of X-wings and sharply pulled up only a few meters above the frozen planet's surface just in front of the formation under Wedge's command. Luke and Cheriss pushed their fighters to maximum speed and pulled up sharply executing perfectly timed, synchronous barrel rolls.
Wedge shook his head trying to clear his thoughts as he realized that he hadn't been paying very close attention to his surroundings. He looked at his sensors just as the two X-wings roared past and performed rolls directly off his nose.
Wedge grumbled, "Hot shots. Gate, who are those pilots?"
Unknown. Neither T-65 belongs to Rogue or Wraith Squadron, Wedge read on his display as Gate answered him.
Wedge looked at the X-Wings. They both had New Republic markings. "Unidentified X-Wings, this is Rogue Leader. Identify yourselves," Wedge spoke into his comm unit.
"Hi Wedge," a male voice replied.
Disbelief warred with recognition as he heard the voice. "Luke? Is that you?" Wedge asked hesitantly.
A chuckle came back across the comm unit. "It is. Before you ask what I am doing here, it is a very long story. I'll explain on the ground."
"Great, see you in the hanger. Rogue Leader out," Wedge said as he leaned back into his pilot couch. "I wonder what this is about…" Wedge mumbled to himself. "Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough."
The X-Wings quickly made their way the rest of the distance to the Hoth base. Luke and Cheriss pulled up and circled to allow the squadrons to land first. They followed the last pair of fighters into the hanger.
Luke landed his fighter in an open space in the large hanger and Cheriss settled her fighter down next to his. Luke popped open the canopy. "Artoo, shut her down." The droid tooted his consent and Luke climbed down the ladder to see Wedge walking rapidly across the hanger towards him.
Luke came to attention in front of his fighter just as Wedge approached. Wedge stopped short. Something wasn't right. Wedge looked Luke up and down. Then he noticed.
"Luke, what did they do to you? Did they call you back to active service?" Wedge asked.
"No, General Antilles." Luke responded stone faced and at attention.
Wedge slugged Luke in the shoulder. "Cut it out."
Luke broke down laughing and the two men hugged. "Great to see you, Wedge." Luke handed Wedge a data pad. "These are my orders, sir." Wedge took the data pad and quickly looked it over.
Cheriss had just finished shutting down her X-Wing and was walking over towards the group. Tycho, Wes and Hobbie trotted over to greet her. Wedge smiled and waved. She flashed him a return smile and waved before turning her attention to her friends that came over to greet her.
"Well Luke, it looks like we have a lot to talk about. Lets go get some fried tauntaun and catch up." Wedge smirked.
Luke groaned. "Please tell me you have better food than that here now."
Wedge smiled. "Of course. You can get tauntaun cooked many different ways now."
Luke just shook his head. The gathered pilots looked on in awe. First, that was Luke Skywalker, Hero of the Rebellion and Jedi Master. Second, Wedge appeared happier than he had been in quite some time. And that more than anything else, made the pilots very happy.
The pilots helped Luke and Cheriss unload their gear and get to their assigned rooms. Since the base had only about half of it's potential pilot complement, each pilot was assigned a room of their own. After the two new comers had gotten settled in, Luke, Wedge, Tycho and Face went to the briefing room. Cheriss was taken to the dining facility to get some food and to meet the other pilots.
Luke sat down in one of the chairs and looked at Face, who was staring at him like a star struck fool. Face walked over to him and extended his hand. "I am Garik Loran, but everyone calls me Face. It is an honor to meet you Master Skywalker."
Luke extended his hand. "I am not sure you will be saying that in a minute Face, but its nice to meet you too. And it's General Skywalker for the time being." Luke smirked.
Face shrugged. "Um…ok, General."
Wedge looked at the datapad. "Well, it appears that we will be under going some organizational changes. General Skywalker will be temporarily taking command of Wraith Squadron and will be in charge of all ground operations during his tenure with us."
Face only nodded as Wedge continued. "As a result, Face will become Executive officer of the Squadron until this mission is completed. Cheriss Ke Handi will also be assigned to Wraith Squadron and will be working closely with General Skywalker…" Wedge looked at Luke with a surprised expression on his face. "…allowing her to continue her studies of the Force?!"
Luke smiled. "That fact was uncovered during her pilot training."
Wedge shrugged and shook his head trying to regain his composure. "More information will be forthcoming. There is also information about the X-wing prototypes in this data pad."
Immediately following their deployment to Hoth, Wedge had informed his squadron commanders of the mission to test fly the new X-wing. They were all anxiously awaiting that part of the mission to begin. However, they still had not been told that the mission also called for a strike against the Imperials once the testing phase was completed.
As he relayed the information, the faces of the gathered pilots lit up. "It looks like we have the basic flight manual for it here. It also confirms delivery of the fighters in about two weeks."
Luke nodded. "Well then, General. I think it's time for a meeting to discuss what we know. And give our pilots the information about their new craft."
Wedge smiled. "I couldn't agree more General."
"Before we go, we should all sit and discuss the organization of the two squadrons. We should also give General Skywalker the files on the people who will be under his command," Tycho stated.
Luke nodded. "I think we should get some food and discuss the matter over dinner."
The group voiced its agreement and they stood to go the mess hall. "Wedge, all jokes a side, you really did improve the menu right?" Luke asked as they walked. His question was met with the boisterous laughing of the three other officers.
Wedge did his best Wes Janson impression and turned to Luke. "Yub yub, General." The officers laughed all the way to the mess hall.
For the next several hours, the three officers brought Luke up to speed on the personnel of the two squadrons and any other pertinent information they could think of. During that time, they composed an organizational chart of the squadrons. After that was done, the four decided they would have their first briefing the next morning at 0800 and sent the word out.
Morning was going to come very early for everyone, since they had all stayed up well into the night making new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones.
The pilots gathered in the briefing room the next morning, looking tired and hung over. It had been a fun night the evening before and they would spend most of the day recovering. Wedge and Luke were already there when the first pilots entered a few minutes before the scheduled start time.
When everyone had arrived and were seated, Luke began to hand out data cards. When they were turned on, the Rogue and Wraith Squadron crests appeared on the screen. The next screen displayed the words `Classified' over the symbol of New Republic Intelligence. The pilots then input their access codes and the data pads became active. The first document that appeared was the new organizational chart for the two squadrons.
The charts showed each pilot with their respective wingman noted directly below them. Each Element had a two wing pair except for the commander's element which consisted of only himself and his wingman.
Task Force Commander: General Wedge Antilles
Ground Force Commander: General Luke Skywalker
General Wedge Antilles – Rogue Leader - Task Force Commander/
Lieutenant Inyri Forge – Rogue 11
Colonel Tycho Celchu – Rogue 1 - Executive Officer/Element Leader
Lieutenant Nawara Ven – Rogue 2
Lieutenant Wes Janson – Rogue 3
Lieutenant Hobbie Klivian – Rogue 4
Captain Corran Horn – Rogue 9 - Element Leader
Lieutenant Ooryl Qyrgg – Rogue 10
Lieutenant Myn Donos – Rogue 5
Lieutenant Gavin Darklighter – Rogue 6
General Luke Skywalker- Wraith Leader - Ground Assault Commander/
Flight Officer Cheriss Ke Handi – Wraith 4
Lieutenant Garik Loran – Wraith 1 - Executive Officer/Element Leader
Flight Officer Voort saBinring – Wraith 8
Flight Officer Shalla Nelprin – Wraith 9
Flight Officer Elasarr Targon – Wraith 11
Lieutenant Kell Tainer – Wraith 3 - Element Leader
Flight Officer Hohass Ekwesh – Wraith 6
Lieutenant Tyria Sarkin – Wraith 2
Lieutenant Dia Pissak – Wraith 7
Each pilot looked over the datapad and there was hushed talking between some of the pilots. Wedge cleared his throat and began to speak after he felt everyone had looked over the chart. "For you Wraiths, I would like to introduce you to your new, temporary squadron commander; General Luke Skywalker."
Luke waved as the pilots applauded. Reaching out with the Force, Luke sensed no ill will or bad feelings about his appointment and Face's temporary step down.
Wedge smiled. "I am sure that you will make sure he will never forget his time with the Wraiths." A chuckled filled the room and when the laughter died down Wedge continued. "I would also like to introduce you to a new addition to Wraith Squadron, Flight Officer Cheriss Ke Handi of Adumar. I am sure her experience with the squadron will be equally traumatizing." That comment met with even more laughter.
Wedge cleared his throat to regain their attention. "Now for the serious part. I would like to point out that each of those data pads contains a highly classified document. It is my pleasure to announce that the individuals sitting in this room will be the test pilots for a new X-wing variant designated the T-65XF."
A look of bewilderment came across the faces of the gathered pilots. Then a cheer went up among them. Excited chatter permeated the briefing room. Wedge let the pilots bask in their excitement for a few minutes before calling for everyone's attention again to continue with the briefing.
"Our schedule has just become very busy because our mission is now truly two-fold. First, we must familiarize ourselves with the systems and estimated performance characteristics of the new X-wings that should be arriving in the next few weeks. Second, we need to begin working together as a team with our new members." Wedge said.
Luke stepped forward and addressed the gathered pilots. "To accomplish this, we are going to be running combined air and ground exercises over the next few weeks."
"We will also spend time studying about our new craft and setting up test flight schedules." Tycho added. "I have taken this on as my pet project. Each of the early phase test flights will be made with three fighters, the test platform and two chase craft."
Corran raised his hand with a question. "Has anything been put down yet about the pilot schedule or the test schedule?"
"Not yet. I am assuming by your question that you want an early flight in the first phase of testing?" Tycho asked.
Corran responded with a grin, "Of course, sir."
Tycho smirked in response. "We'll let you know."
"Unless anyone has any questions, you have the rest of the day to yourselves to catch up on individual projects and begin looking at the manuals for the T-65XF. We will be releasing a training schedule at tomorrow morning's briefing." Wedge looked around. "Any questions?"
When there were none, Wedge dismissed the pilots. Luke, Tycho, Wedge,
and Face sat down to hammer out a training schedule. They then dove
into discussions of flight testing for the new X-wings.
Continued in Part Five