Project Echo: Part 6
Gillian F. Taylor
Tycho glanced at the chrono on his X-wing's board, and adjusted his grip on the control stick. He didn't like doing 'blind' hyperspace jumps, relying on the gravitational field of a planet to pull him out into realspace. It wasn't so bad if he was relying on an Interdictor to provide the gravitational field, but the idea of suddenly dropping out next to a mass of whirling asteroids went against all his piloting instincts. Tactically of course, it was good sense, which is why he hadn't tried to argue Wedge out of the idea. Thrawn had proven the effectiveness of using gravity fields to bring ships up close to their targets, and Tycho had to admit that the alien had been a tactical master.
Adrenaline spiked as the proximity alarm squawked. The white lines of hyperspace broke up and reverted to realspace. Outside his cockpit was a mass of whirling matter - asteroids and smaller chunks of rock. Immediately ahead was Wedge's X-wing, but Tycho had barely registered his surroundings when Wedge abruptly rolled to port.
"Sithsp... Two, break now!" Wedge's voice came over urgently.
Tycho had started rolling to starboard the moment he saw Wedge's sudden movement. They flashed by either side of an asteroid the size of an A-wing. Tycho took a deep breath and joined up with his wingman again, behind and slightly to one side of Wedge, who was aiming for a space between obstacles.
"S-foils to attack position," Wedge ordered. "And check in."
"Two, with you," Tycho answered.
"Five here, for the moment," Hobbie said anxiously.
"Seven. Ready to go hunting," Wes's voice was cheerful.
The rest of the Rogues checked in; somewhat miraculously, in Tycho's opinion, none of them were damaged at all. He put his shields to full all around and continued behind Wedge.
The three groups of X-wings swooped and dived through the asteroids, keeping roughly two klicks apart from one another. The flight leaders, Wedge, Hobbie and Gavin, were signalling the transponders, waiting for a response to guide them towards the Red Mynocks' base. With Wedge's attention partially diverted by the search, Tycho was scanning for signs of life on the larger asteroids.
"No sign of any remote ordnance," he reported.
"I don't see anything either," reported Reda, a female Sullustan in Hobbie's flight.
"Not picking up any hardware," Corran said. "But I'm getting a feeling of something out there. I think we need to head roughly 6030 from our current flight path."
"I guess we don't have any other leads," Wedge said, somewhat hesitantly. "OK, 6030 it is." His X-wing headed around gently to the right and began to climb higher into the asteroid field.
"Scanning for magnetic fields shows a mass in the direction that Eleven suggested," Ooryl said. "It is large enough to be the twin moons we believe the pirates to be based on."
"Good thinking, Twelve," Wedge replied. "Comm silence unless necessary, folks."
The next couple of minutes was a hair-raising ride where simply flying his X-wing needed almost all of Tycho's attention. In some places there were clear paths between the asteroids; in others, rocks seemed to come out of nowhere. His fighter echoed now and again to the ding of micrometeors making it through his shields and hitting the skin of the X-wing. Wedge remained in his sights to the front, with Heikki and Inyri staying in formation as best as they could to port. Elements of Two Flight often came into view as they wove their way through the maze of floating rocks, but Three Flight only showed up on his sensors. As he banked hard port to follow Wedge around a rapidly spinning asteroid with a wickedly jagged surface, Tycho was grateful that all of Three Flight were there on his sensors.
"I'm getting something on my sensors!" Ghazal's voice with high-pitched with excitement. "Half a dozen fighters coming in at 10345."
"They're not showing up over here yet," Wedge answered.
"Lead, Twelve sees them too."
"Definitely hostile," Corran warned.
"If there's just half a dozen, you shouldn't have too much problem with them, Three Flight," Wedge said. "We're on our way to mop up anything left over, and stay alert and alive, everyone."
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