Editor's Note: The following story was meant as an RPG representation of Stryker's ascent to the throne of the Imperial faction of the LSF, lo these many years ago. The best guess we have to date the story is roundabout December 1997.

~Silverknight, Dec. 2000

The Storm Breaks

The cadet saluted sharply.

Absently returning the salute, Commander Dante “Stryker” Mitchell strode into the turbolift, musing to himself over the last set of transmissions the bridge had just received from Emperor Kane and looking over a datapad with a slightly worried expression on his face. The Emperor, in his wisdom, had decided that a full frontal assault upon the large Rebel fleet still stationed at Endor was the wisest course of action at this point. As a trusted part of the fleet, he and Rapier Squadron were being transferred to the flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Supremacy, where Emperor Kane himself awaited. There, Mitchell would assume the position of Wing Commander, leading the squadrons on board the Supremacy into battle, and victory for the Emperor.

Still, something nagged at the Commander’s mind. It was little more than a feeling, but he could not shake the feeling of impending doom. A slight cough interrupted Mitchell’s train of thought momentarily, and he looked up to see the young cadet gazing at him with a strange expression on his face.

“Is something wrong, Cadet?” asked Mitchell.

“Not at all, sir,” responded the cadet, “I just wish...well, I wish I was going with you. To fight the Rebellion. To win glory, fame and honour, all in the name of the Empire...just like you.”

Mitchell sighed, “Cadet, let me tell you something. You may not like hearing it, but take it from a veteran of this battle. There’s no glory in war. There’s no fame, and there’s certainly no honour. All war does is kill people, plain and simple.”

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

“Of course.”

“If that’s true, sir - then why do you continue to fight?” the cadet asked, with a puzzled expression on his face.

“I fight, cadet, because I feel it’s my duty. Not for glory. Not for fame. Not for fortune, or honour, or any other romanticized ideals you may find on the holo-vids played in the barracks. And if you don’t understand that, cadet, then you won’t survive very long. I’ve seen one too many young hotshots who came out here looking to make a name for themselves - and got one, alright - engraved on a plaque. Far too many. And maybe, just maybe, if I do my job right, there’ll be a few less plaques to bring home after this fight.” The turbolift doors opened with a hiss, and Mitchell stepped out onto the flight deck, then
turned and said, “Be thankful, cadet,” just as the doors closed again.

Turning around, Mitchell watched the last-minute preparations for the departing shuttle. On the side sat the 11 members of Rapier, light-heartedly joking around with each other. As he spotted Mitchell, Lieutenant Solon “Kabar” Vachon, the squad executive officer called out, “Officer on deck,” at which the Rapiers immediately ceased their horseplay and formed up into a straight line, each saluting crisply. Mitchell saluted in return, then said “At ease, men,” at which the 11 pilots all relaxed somewhat. Glancing over at Vachon, Mitchell asked “Is everything ready?”

Vachon responded, “The final checkout is complete, Commander. All pilots are accounted for, and the shuttle is ready for departure.”

Mitchell looked up and down the line of pilots, and said, “Then let’s go lead the fleet to victory.”

A collective cheer came from the 10 throats of the other pilots, then was quickly silenced by Vachon, who turned and shouted, “All right ladies, you heard the Commander, now quit hollering like a bunch of raw recruits fresh out of the Academy and get your butts on
board!” Still shouting random obscenities, Vachon herded the Rapiers up the ramp and on board. Shaking his head and chuckling at Vachon’s antics, Mitchell waited until all of the pilots were inside before following them up the ramp and into the shuttle.

 * * * * * * * * * *

The shuttle landed with a thump clearly audible within the cabin.

Mitchell keyed the exit ramp, and with a hiss of escaping air the ramp began to lower to the waiting deck below. He stepped onto the still-lowering ramp and waited for it to complete its descent. When it had, Mitchell stepped off and was immediately greeted with a stiff salute, which he returned.

“Commander Mitchell, sir, it’s a pleasure and an honour to meet you. I’m Lieutenant-Commander Sawl, callsign “Tracker” - I lead Katana Squadron. And I just
wanted to say...well, that I’m looking forward to serving under you.”

“Thank you Lieutenant-Commander. Hopefully you’ll say the same thing once we’re finished. Could you possibly show us the way to the barracks? I’d like to get my men squared away. And then after that, I’d like to meet with all the squad leaders on board the

“Of course, sir. If you’ll follow me...” Sawl turned and headed for one of the lifts on the far side of the bay. Tossing a glance over his shoulder at Vachon, Mitchell made an almost unnoticable motion with his head, indicating they were to follow, and then he
himself turned and walked after Sawl.

 * * * * * * * * * *

Sitting in the cockpit of his TIE Fighter, Mitchell felt the Supremacy jerk slightly as it exited hyperspace. Almost immediately after, the crane picked up his TIE and dropped him into space. Though he did not look behind him, Mitchell knew the rest of Rapier Squadron was also being dropped out into space.

“All wings, report in.” called out Mitchell as he maneuvered his TIE towards the Rebel Fleet.

As the 11 pilots rang off their numbers, Mitchell noticed a slight shimmer just to his left. Toggling his communicator, he asked, “Bridge, this is Rapier Leader. Could I get a reading on that anomaly to the left?”

“Rapier Leader, this is the bridge,” answered a young voice, “Sensors are unable to determine the nature of the anomaly. However, it does appear to be luctuating rapidly. The Emperor advises that you maintain your distance; he appears to be somewhat
unnerved by it’s prescence.”

“Unnerved, eh?” commented Kabar...“Yeah boss, I think I’d be unnerved too by a whole lotta lights in space...at least the Emperor doesn’t have to fly out here in it.”

“Kab, shut it down...I’m getting a funny feeling here too. I don’t like it. Rapiers, I’m adjusting my course to ensure we maintain a distance of 2 clicks from that thing out there. I want all of you to do the same. No arguments. It’ll take us a little longer to engage...but I have a bad feeling about that this.”

Mitchell punched the adjusted course into the computer of his TIE as his pilots called in affirmatives, then swung his craft to the right onto his new heading. Glancing back left, he saw the other squadrons continuing straight ahead. He muttered a curse, then turned on his comm again.

“Alpha Wing, this is Rapier Leader. I want you to adjust your headings to the same one Rapier and I are on, to keep a safe distance from that anomaly.”

“Rapier Leader, this is Sabre Leader, the anomaly appears stable enough to pass close to...we won’t be close to it for long, anyways. And we’ll be killing Rebels that much sooner. See you on the other side, Rapier.”

“Alpha Wing, this is Rapier Leader. I order you to adjust your heading to the one I am currently on, to avoid the anomaly. This is a direct or - ” Mitchell’s transmission was cut off by a sudden burst of static as the lights suddenly flared up. An amazing display of pyrotechnics lit up the surrounding space as the anomaly literally exploded into a cascading storm of what seemed to be pure energy.

“Sweet mother of God,” breathed Mitchell, “It’s an ion storm! Alpha Wing, get the hell out of there! NOW!!!”

But it was too late. Mitchell watched helplessly as the first wave of TIEs were shattered by the enormous wave of force which came shooting out of the core of the storm. Those to follow were no luckier, ending up either tossed about like a child’s toy, or blasted to
atoms by jagged bolts of lightning. Mitchell’s despair was interrupted only by a communication from the Supremacy.

“Rapier Leader, this is the Supremacy. The ion storm appears to be...moving...no heading as of yet. But it appears to be moving towards your location. You’d better get out of there as fast as you can.”

“Roger that, Supremacy. Recall the fleet, and prepare to hyperspace out. Without its fighter cover, the Supremacy is a sitting duck for those Rebel starfighters. Rapiers, let’s go. Back to the Supremacy, full throttle.”

“You don’t have to tell me twice, boss,” agreed Kabar. “I sure woulda liked to tangle with some Rebs. But home’s lookin’ a lot nicer than that thing out there.”

Mitchell glanced up, and saw that, miraculously enough, two TIEs had survived the passage of the storm and were moving, though they were obviously crippled.

“Rapiers, you head on home. I’m going to go see if I can bring those two pilots in.”

“Okay, boss. Don’t go getting any delusions of grandeur on us, though - it’d be a long trip home without you. Besides, then I’d have to be the squad leader...and if you do that to me I swear I’ll spit on your grave.”

In spite of himself, Mitchell smiled. “Go on, get out of here. I’ll see you back in the hangar.”

Flipping his power levels back to normal, Mitchell streaked towards the two TIEs. “TIE pilots, do you read me? This is Commander Stryker. Do you read me?”

“Commander, this is Katana Leader...I’m in pretty bad shape here.”

“Can you make it home, Tracker?”

“I think so, yes.”

“Alright, get a move on then.” Continuing onto the second, Mitchell called, “TIE pilot, please identify yourself.”

“This is Cadet Strider, Shadow 2. Sensors are out, I’ve got propulsion but only visual navigation.”

“Alright Shadow 2, I’m pulling in front of you. Just follow my lead and I’ll set you on a heading for the Supremacy.”

“Roger that, Rapier Leader.”

Mitchell deftly brought his TIE in front of the other, and then slowly set him on a course towards the Supremacy. Glancing at his scopes, Mitchell noticed a red dot which was slowly getting brighter. Toggling his computer readouts, he quickly identified the target.

“Dammit, there’s an A-Wing out there...it must have been on patrol. You two continue ahead, I’ll go stall him as long as I can.” Charging his lasers, Mitchell adjusted his course so he was on a direct heading towards the A-Wing. Mitchell took a deep breath to calm himself. A TIE Fighter was not the ship he would have preferred to take against the A-Wing, but it was all he had, so he had to make do. As he came within laser range, Mitchell let fly a quick shot, then, before even looking to see if it had hit, he threw all
power to his engines and immediately went evasive. The A-Wing pilot tried his best to lead the erratic TIE Fighter, but Mitchell was simply travelling too fast for the pilot to compensate, and he shot past him. Mitchell immediately transferred power back to his engines and looped up into a tight turn, cutting his throttle to 1/3rd to make the turn as tight as he possibly could. As the A-Wing came into his sight again, he opened the throttle up once more to full, quickly firing another shot off, then dodging once more. The beleaguered A-Wing pilot obviously had never seen a TIE pilot fly in the way Mitchell
did, as all the A-Wing did was throttle down to 1/3rd in an attempt to get a bead on the TIE. With a grim smile on his face, Mitchell continued his slashing attacks, literally flying circles around his much more maneuverable opponent. A minute later the A-Wing was
just another pile of scattered parts floating in space. Looking at his scopes once more, Mitchell saw that the only Rebel starfighters in the area were still a good 5 kilometers out. So for the last time that day, he re-routed all the power to his engines, and turned for the shelter of the Supremacy.

 * * * * * * * * *

“Casualty report,” ordered Mitchell as he slumped into his chair in the officer’s mess.

“Sir, all starfighters on board the Supremacy were lost, with the exception of Rapier Squadron and the two pilots you rescued.”

“All?” asked Mitchell, his voice slightly wavering before he managed to control it again.

“All, sir. In addition...” Here the lieutenant looked extremely uncomfortable. “In addition, sir...the Emperor...has fallen into some kind of coma. The medical technicians say they’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like he’s in...hibernation.”

“What?!? Why wasn’t I informed of this???”

“He was just discovered, sir. Normally the Emperor likes to be left alone, he communicates mostly through holonet transmissions. However, the technicians did
discover this. It appears to be a recorded transmission, sir.”

The lieutenant passed over a small cube. Mitchell took it and said, “Thank you Lieutenant. You may return to your duties on the bridge...and not a word of speculation as to the cause of the Emperor’s collapse to anyone else, you understand? If a single fake rumour begins, it could crush the morale of everyone on board this ship.”

“I understand, sir.”

Turning, the lieutenant headed back to the bridge. When he had left, Mitchell pulled out the small holotransmitter in the room and inserted the cube. Immediately Emperor Kane’s visage appeared. He was obviously in much pain, as he struggled to get through the whole message.

“Commander...Mitchell...the storm...which the fleet encountered....was not just an ion
storm...it sent...ripples...through the Force...an energy field...which gives me my
power...and now........I am forced to go into a kind.....of coma...to heal myself. In my
place......I name......you........Emperor. The Force is......strong....in you.........at least as
strong as in myself.....and I do not.......doubt....that you will carry on......the fight....and do...what must....be done.”

At the last, the Emperor’s strength was clearly fading, and his face slowly disappeared from view. For a long moment, Mitchell sat, and considered what he had just heard. Finally he got up and walked to the bridge. There, he keyed the ship-wide comlink, and

“Crewmen of the Supremacy. I am about to broadcast a holotransmission from Emperor Kane across the entire ship, and would like all of you to get to a nearby holotransmitter, so that you can see it for yourselves.”

Mitchell plugged the cube in, and soon he was watching the recording once more. When it had completed, he shut the transmitter off and glanced around the bridge, which had sunk into a stunned silence. Then, one officer turned to face Mitchell and knelt. One by
one, all the officers slowly knelt, with awe-struck expressions on their faces. Mitchell stood in silence for a second, then said, with a slight smile on his face, “Get up, you all look rather funny on your knees.” As the officers all slowly returned to their seats, Mitchell spoke again, “Hail the rest of the fleet. We need to regroup, to plan our next attack. Helm, what’s our status?”

“En route to the New Cov system, si - my Lord.”

“Very well. I will be in the observation lounge, notify me when we reach New Cov.” Mitchell turned and entered a waiting turbolift, and as he turned, he heard one officer begin a chant that slowly swelled until the entire bridge was shouting it:

“Hail the Emperor!!! HAIL EMPEROR STRYKER!!!"