Wild Card: Prologue Rating: PG

"The training squadron is away, Admiral. They are awaiting orders."

"Communications officer, tell them to proceed fifty clicks at their current course and speed and then hold position there for further instructions."

"Aye, sir."

"All forward batteries. prepare to fire. Target the lead Interceptors."

The communications officer gaped up at him. "Sir?"

"You have your orders."

"With all due respect, Admiral." the main gunner added.

"Silence! If you can't carry out your orders, clear the deck, now!"

The gunner swore under his breath, then stood and started to make his way to the door that led away from the bridge.

The admiral slid his blaster from its holster and shot the departing gunner in the back of the head. Without a backward glance he turned on his heel and made his way down to the vacant gunner's chair. He seated himself and took a moment to orient himself on the controls. A fraction of a second later, he called, "All batteries fire. Concentrate fire on the leader. Take her out first, and then you're free to pick the rest apart."

"Sir, they are fresh, young pilots not even out of training!" The young officer next to him whined. In response, the admiral shot the young man in the face at nearly point blank range.

Quickly and quietly, the ship's XO moved to the auxiliary fire controls and disabled the targeting and firing systems. Almost instantly, Admiral's console locked him out. With a bellow of rage, he looked up to see where the XO was, and found him standing over him with a blaster leveled at his head.

"What is the meaning of this? I demand to know." Before he could finish the demand, the XO shot him cleanly between the eyes.

He holstered his weapon and spoke loudly enough that the whole bridge crew could hear him. "The meaning of this, Admiral, is that I am tired of losing good officers and pilots to the temper tantrums a madman. We serve the Empire with honor, and you, have none. Had none."

"Sir, picking up at least eight new sensor contacts, they are headed in this direction at a high rate of speed."

A large blast that shook the ship, "What the hell was that?"

The sensor control officer was in a panic. "The last two remaining Interceptors are returning fire on us. The combined blast took out our portside shield generators."

"Are they coming around for another pass?"

"Yes, sir."

"Navigation, get us the hell out of here. Blind jump. Now."

"Yes, sir."

"Damn them ..."

"I think we already have, sir."

"Should we have stayed, Major?" He threw a dark look and the ship's new XO.

"No, sir. We've lost enough people. We can't risk losing the Repulsor for two pilots, especially two really torqued-off pilots."

"Those ships, what were their signatures?"

"They appear to be a motley crew, sir, X-wings and Ties, plus a good sized support ship. In this sector, they are probably pirates."

"May whatever gods exists forgive us. Navigator, plot an indirect course for Bastion. I need time to figure out how the hell I explain this disaster to the fleet admiral."

* * * * *

"Reece, your flying is sloppier than a drunken Hutt, are you hit?" Captain Zande could see the other ship fighting to fly a straight course.

"Affirmative. Took shrapnel hit."

"Are any of your systems down? Are you hurt?"

"Can't tell. Too much blood. it's everywhere."

"Oh, hell," Angel fought down the urge to panic. "Don't you die on me too, Lieutenant. You're a tough bastard. Hang on just a bit longer while I think of some way to get us out of this. They've always said I was too damn lucky for my own good."

"Yes, sir." There was a long moment of silence, then a weak, "Angel?"

"Yeah, Reece?"

"I. I don't want to die."

Angel winced at the pure terror in his voice. Through gritted teeth she replied, "I want to live just long enough to put a blaster bolt between Admiral Gazi's eyes." She slammed her fist down on the instrument panel and her console started beeping a short range proximity alert. Her first reaction was that it was broken, but on closer inspection the board showed a mixed cluster of ships and they were coming in fast.

"We've got company, Reece. I'm going to tuck in close and do my best to cover you, so try to stay on a straight course and not smash into me, ok?"


Continued in Part 1, coming soon!

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