The Fires of Heavens

The sky of this terran planet was a crisp forlorn midnight. The smoldering hull of a wasted TIE Interceptor lay among several toppled native trees. A few small brush fires still blazed in miniscule patches. A man, a midsized human, lay burned and torn sprawled upon purple grasses. He still wore much of the black flight suit that had saved him through his atmospheric entry, but his helmet had been lost somewhere. His cracked lips quivered as he opened his blood-shot eyes. At first, all he saw were the countless unnamed constellations of another civilization. His vision cleared, to countless explosions. With a sour grunt, he weakly arched his neck to where his ship lay, smoldering. The navy blue Imperial Crest and the crimson badge of Crimson Nova still visible behind patches of scorched tritanium. With a convulsive gasp, his neck turned to his opposite shoulder. A chilled breeze danced over his sweating face. His eyes again opened, and he saw the ebony mask, the very image of the Imperial Pilot. It bore the rank of Commander.


"Sector Command, this is your favorite interdictor. We are beginning our blockade on System T14603-1911."

"Copy that, Captain. Begin radio silence and change to the pre-dictated emergency frequency. Good hunting. Station E13, Out." Captain Aeropagitica pointed to the Ensign at the tech con. "Fire up the Well. Send out the patrols. I'll be in my office." "Yes, Sir." Echoed the young officer.

Aeropagitica walked briskly to his ready room. He sat in the reclining chair and studied the walls for a moment. Here were the momentos to Crimson Nova, his squad, for all their victories, countless as they were. The walls were crammed with Letters of Comendation, Awards and banners. A brief smile touched his lips before he brought his gaze down his com. "Scouts are away, Captain." "Thank you, Ensign. Keep me up to date."

"Yes, Sir."

Three hours of studying reports and requests would not be exciting, but there was always more work to be done. The Com crackled again. "Captain, we have our first take."

Aero punched up the schematics on the 3D relay map and keyed on MU Squadron's com frequency.."nd down, repeat, You are to stand down and be boarded." "Negative" came the reply. Aero glanced that the ship that had entered the gravity field and grimaced. A corellian gunship...nasty little pests in a fire fight. The screen flickered and a MU Assault Gunboat disappeared. Even as he signaled the fire command, the map became one massive myriad of shapes and sizes.

"Captain, enemy fleet has just arrived, they are vectoring right at us."

"Acknowledged." Mentally guesstamating the Rebel attack fleet's original trajectory, he guessed that they had just intercepted an attack on their own sector base. "Send an emergency alert and request for reinforcements to E13. Manuever to shieldwall-breech." Aero ignored the comply as he alerted MU's Commander. "Form a triangular defense web. You will leave upon successful jump by the cruiser." He flipped another switch. NOVA, launch. Support Sweep of Mu, then trail to cover."He turned back to the massive holo-map. Three escort frigates and a carrack cruiser were flanking him, and a grotesquely shaped Mon Cal Cruiser dove right at him. Sensors detected six rebel squadrons already in the field supporting twenty one surviving Gunships. The three Escort frigates had already dropped Y-wing squadrons, and the Calamari, an A-wing and X-Wing. A squad of headhunters was attempting to outflank the Gunboat shield. He closed his eyes.


"Form up on me," Commander Orion ordered as his Interceptor dove from the docking bay of the interdictor cruiser. "Break off into pairs. Hocho, you're with me. Ell 'n Bungles. Ajax and Mav, Poof and Fonz, Reptile with Sephiroth, Vorn, with Black. Hit them at points of the triangle shield, right where they'll try to punch through. Don't screw up..I want to see you all back tonight for another victory celebration!" His voice was confident. It should be.. He had the best pilots the Empire boasted behind him. But the massive fleet before him made his fingers itch.


"Here we go, Bung-hole. I got 6, you take 7 of Xwing Red. Do a 8 and meet me on the other side to cut back through. --"roger that, Ell-loser"--


Ensign Poof checked his viewports. TIEs were clashing with Rebel-Wings at six different junctions. Fonz flew at his wing. He dipped and rolled, twisted to port, and lit up Z-95 Headhunter trying to slip in undetected. He glanced back at Fonz again and saw him tearing away at the shields of an A-wing that had been assaulting one of the MUs. He redirected his gaze on the battle ahead of him, and chose another target.


Sub Lt. Vornksr nimbly danced between the rebel cannon shots and slipped off quad bursts at his own attackers. Mr Black jinked and Juked behind him. "You know the routine?" A low rumbling chuckle followed, and Vorn leaped high wasting an incoming A-Wing. Simultaneously, Black dove low vaping a hobbling Ywing, in the meanwhile, evading a massive salvo from the Mon Cal's turbolasers. The chuckling continued.


Aboard the Interdictor cruiser, Captain Aero flexed his hands. Hundreds of engagements flew through his mind, thousands of kills, countless explosions...deaths. He saw the small swarm of Crimson NOVA enveloped by the oncoming storm of enemy blips. He pursed his lips and strode onto the bridge.


Lt. Commander Ajax had been dogfighting for years. This wasn't the first time he'd faced just plain dumb odds. Simply put, if you targeted one ship, you were toast. He had to dance back and forth, constantly using the superior maneuvering of his TIE to keep him alive and his enemies on their toes. He flicked his wrists on the controls and squeezed the cannon trigger. An Xwing caught crossing too soon flew right into his salvo and detonated. Ajax missed the detonation, as he was already in motion again. He checked his squad's status. All green so far. He checked on MU as well. 50%. He shook his head. "NOVA Flight, fall in on me, we're gonna clear the road for the MUs." Maverick, Black and Vornskr became a diamond behind Ajax, all making the eerie cry of the TIE. Just thinking about that haunting wail made Ajax smile as his flight rained death upon the Rebels.


"Ah damnit!" Zeljen sputtered. Dragon Flight was scrambling against a squad of Ywings and Awings. "We're gonna get fried at Six To One! Move in close to that Carrack Cruiser! Perhaps she'll provide a screen for us." Dragon flight broke and reformed, a massive swarm behind them. They dove toward the light cruiser with cannons blazing. The cruiser brought her guns to bare, and fired back the massive capital class turbolasers. The TIEs easily jumped by. Sub Lt Zeljen checked his six in time to see a massive red bolt reduce a Ywing on him to molten metal. The TIEs broke again as half passed on the starboard wing to bow, the rest to aft.

"Zeljen...this sucks." Reptile's voice was slithering with anger mingled with having stated the obvious. "I'm with Seph...and we're pinned like a..." The Com went silent. Zeljen scanned his targeting computer for friendlies.. Reptile was gone.

He muttered a sudden curse and broke away from the cruiser, right at four stunt fighters who had been chasing Black and himself. They broke off in surprise as he blasted through them, racing to Reptile's last position. It was then the retreat command came in.


Poof had always been a Bomber pilot. He loved flying in Assault Gunboats. This starfighting was just not his thing. He thought that as he made a strafing run on the Nebulon B Escort Frigate Mahuntanah. Fonz was the fighter jock, after all. He checked his wing, and saw Fonz blast up another Ywing. They were becoming short order. He was wondering how the battle was faring when his missile alarm went off. He broke and turned to the Awing targeting him. A single Awing..should be no sweat.

A heavy sigh came to him from Fonz. "I'm in trouble." The blaring of missile lock could be heard through the com from Fonz's cockpit. Poof looked up again at the single A-Wing, and five concussion missiles flew from behind it, straight at Fonz. A quick quad blast tore one to shreds, and the next, an A-Wing with it. "It's been fun guys..." There was a brief flash of light, and then Fonz was gone. Poof banked hard starboard in an attempt to reengage. With five A-Wings left, missile lock would be what did him in. He dove betwen two blasting A-Winsg who had also re-engaged. He threw everything to engines and tried to dash over to where Crimson Flight was escorting the MUs.

No Missile warnings came. From Poof's view port, it was a massive array of red lasers slowly enclosing him in a funnel, insuring no escape.


Hochopepa looped away from a pair of chasing X-Wings. They were good...sorta. Probably bothans by their flying style. But no matter what race, two Xwings was more then a formidable show for a single Interceptor. This was going to be close.. He saw a GUN getting hammerred from behind by a third Xwing. A quick shot across the bow broke off the Xwing's attack. The Gun turned toward Hocho, and shot back behind him, also breaking Hocho's threat. It was a massive furball..if only it wasn't now 68 fighters to 14... Looping about, Hocho was feeling quite the good samaritan, as he shot an aggressive A-wing off the tail of Black. Vorn and Black must've been seperated. "Uh..any time, Black."

He was answered by that annoying laugh.

Black angled up towards Hocho. Only then did hocho see the carbon scoring along both of Black's flanks. Hocho followed Black's flight path..that insane lauch echoing in his ears. It seemed an eternity. A slow motion holo-vid thick with suspense..until the TIE Interceptor painted almost more kill and Black's ship would be entirely black...collided with a Z-95 Headhunter.

The Headhunter exploded immediately. Black's TIE Interceptor went aflame in some sort of energy leak, smoldering the rest of the hull of the Interceptor Black. The now onyx Interceptor spun slowly into the depths of space, a dead hunk of metal.

Hocho shook his head as the retreat call came in, and twisted and jinked back to the Interdictor.


Elladan pounded his dash. Four kills ago, all had seemed fine. And then the swarming combined attacks came. He had felt helpless. Shooting...killing, dodging... One stray shot had clipped Bungles engines, leaving him parked in space. had broke into a massively sharp turn to cover his wing's defense. He saw Bungle firing, even while he could only slowly turn with his repulors. One A-Wing fell to Bungles before a pair of Ywings rocked his miniscule unshielded fighter into space debris. A tear rolled down Elladan's right cheek. As he flew from the engagement behindhim.. He held with him the bitter consolation that neither of those two Ywing pilots would be killing anyone else, either.


"We have two Guns from Mu and eight, from Nova returning. We have Reptile coming in now..His transponder and com are undoubtedly fried, but he's in. The Capital ship screen is opening their barrage on us now." WIth that, a low muttering and soft trembling resonated from the now constant assault on the cruiser's shields."

Aero looked Lt Xizor, who had given the report, and then to Lt Vainquer, who was just staring down at his console. Undoubtedly thinking he could have saved at least some of their lives if he'd been out there himself. Heaven knew, Aero was thinking the same thing. "Bring them in..all of them..and let's get out of here."

Xizor reported back. "Orion's the last to come in. There's a problem..he's breaking off. Oh, no." Aero looked at him questioningly. "Proton torpedo blast..two of them, heading straight for us." As he spoke, Vainquer pointed out of the bridge view port at a pair of neon blue torpedos flying straight toward them.

Aero looked up, startled. "Concentrate forward...belay that." He saw a tiny fighter flying up to intercept the torpedoes. "Give me a systems report on Orion!".

Vainquer looked up at Aero, and then back down to his console. "Sensors are out, targeting computer is down. He's a flying rock." Vainquer shook his head with reverence. Several green blasts flew to meet the incoming torpedoes. One of the torpedos detonated. The shockwave took out the other torpedo before she could hammer through the interdictor's weakened shields. It also slammed into the interceptor.

MOK's interceptor was thrown back away from the engagement to the planet far below. "The Cavalry has arrived, Aero." Aeropagitica looked up again to the holo-projection as a pair of Strike Cruisers and a pair of Victory Class Star Destroyers jumped in to cover the interdictor's retreat. And the order came.

"Infamy here, Aero. Pull out.. We'll clean up the rest. Thanks for buying us some time. Smoke, out."

There was nothing else Aero could do. The Interdictor leaped away, out of the engagement zone.


The victory party was solemn at best. Bungles, Mr Black, Poof, gone. MOK was MIA, presumed dead. Aero sat slumped over the bar with a bottle of vodka in his hands. Elladan , Ajax, and Hocho sat around him. The rest of the squad also looming in small mournful patches.

"I don't know why..I know I'm not, but I feel guilty." Aero slowly shook his head. "Flight officer, Jeremy ...All he wanted to do was fly..And he took to it from the start. Did you know I was one of his teachers at the academy?..." His voice trailed off, only to begin anew.

"Mr. Black. He was always there at the most inconveniant times." The other chuckled softly to themselves. "Damn, I'm gonna miss him.. And that maniacal laugh of his too." "And Poof. Just like that..poof, Poof, you're gone. I flew with him back before I joined the Empire."

Ajax only nodded. He too, had flown with Poof.. His eyes were glassy. and fourteen empty beer containers lay at his feet.

"Fonz was a phantom...did you know that?" Many faces wore surprise opnely, as the Phantoms were a group of Mercenary pilots reknown for there skill and prowess in combat. The rest of the faces were hard, blocking emotion. He was not the only Phantom in this group.

"But I refuse to mourn for Orion. His was not the most brave...certainly not..What he did is common heroism among us. We may have taken a shot, but I refuse to believe MOK is gone..and I refuse to believe that we are beaten. We killed 28 ships and lost only 5 of our own. Eleven including the MU casualties. We will rise again."

"I propose a toast," Elladan began, "To our mighty warriors, and our fallen comrades."

"To the honor of battle, and the glory of sacrifice." Zeljen continued.

"To the brotherhood between us." Kylon added.

"For the sake of justice." Vainquer intoned.

"And to a day of blood." Reptile concluded.


A Star is born in the depths of night
The dark is slain with the birth of light
The breathe it wields gives strength to all
until that day when it shall fall.

For as it spawns, it does die
A giant cloud spreading nigh
The Fires of Heaven cry the to all
The Life about them, doomed to fall.

July 5, 1999