The radios were quiet now. All preparations had been made. Everyone knew their mission. As the final seconds ticked down to the go-point, an eerie silence settled around Ralin in the cockpit of the Hawk. The large armored bay doors were open, a force field protecting the hull integrity from the hyperspace tunnel beyond. Looking around, everything outside the confines of his starfighter was static and secured; all the preflight prep crews had withdrawn from the hanger in preparation for the planned maneuver. Checking his flanks, Ralin could see through the transparisteel viewports of the spacecraft along side his own. To his left, Ma’ryk’s head was bowed in silence, seemingly meditating, or perhaps offering a prayer out to the Manda. On his right, Solus’s head bobbed to the rythem of some heavy beat, pumping himself up for the bloodletting to come. Checking his rear-facing monitor he could see into Cabur’s craft as she sat at her station, arms outstretched gripping the edges of her control panel as she impatiently waited for orders.
In his own sanctuary, Ralin sat quietly, mentally reviewing the projected positions of the clashing fleets ahead of them. The Rebels were already engaging Peacekeeper forces over Koriban, including the same fleet that had withdrawn from the battle on Mandalore. He could only hope that the supposed Chiss fleet was well on its way.
Even IF they show, it might not be enough...
Pilots, one minute to early release point. Engage your engines and prep your systems commanded the battleship’s captain over the hanger’s comm system. Flipping all his drive system switches to green, Ralin powered up the Hawk.
“This is gonna be tricky folks. Stay close to the mother ship but give each other some room. We don’t need any collisions adding to the toll.”
”Copy Alor‘ad came several responses over his comm.
A catapult deployment was a dangerous maneuver, but if performed properly could catch picket fighter patrols totally off-guard and give you a huge jump on your enemies because you didn’t have to revert your systems from hyper drive setting to real space. Launching from the mother ship seconds before it dropped out of hyperspace would launch your own craft forward several hundred kilometers before the hyper-tunnel disapated. This would place your fighters with weapons and shield systems already prepped for combat, and rocket them much closer to the enemy then they are expecting. However, if you strayed away from the mother ship’s hull by only meters, the hyperspace tunnel’s turbulent walls would disintegrate your craft.
As the seconds ticked away, Ralin eased the control yolk back every so slightly, lifting the BloodHawk up off the deck, and eased the fighter’s nose right up to the edge of the force field that enveloped the hanger bay.
“Pilots, launch in five…”
Ralin turned to his left and sent a salute to Ma’ryk.
Looking to his right, Ralin nodded toward Solus.
Waving his gloved hand across a panel of switches, Ralin activated the Hawk’s weapons systems.
Ralin inhaled deeply and gripped the flight controls a little tighter.
His teeth clenched a little tighter; the muscles in his arms beginning to knot and a flutter in his gut reaching to his throat. This was a bad idea…
”LAUNCH LAUNCH LAUNCH!!!
Before the captain had finished yelling the first command Ralin had shoved the accelerator forward. Pinned back into his seat by the momentum, Ralin was greeted with a massive shudder as his craft left the peaceful stillness of the hanger bay for the torrent of the hyperspace tunnel that whirled around him. Pulling back hard and to his left, he yanked the Hawk away from the hyperspace tunnel’s wall and back almost impacting into the side of the Battleship. For a second the mammoth vessel stayed alongside Ralin, and then vanished from view as it left hyperspace. In the same moment, the blue swirl before him collapsed and was replaced by the white speckled blackness of space as his lungs slapped against his ribs, the sudden deceleration barely being controled for by the Hawk's compensators.
Ralin made a quick scan of the vessel’s critical systems. Flashing red lights began to fade from the control pannel as diagnostics realized that the ship hadn’t just been swallowed by a wormhole or slapped by a stellar shockwave.
”Never again…..” Solus gripped into his comm.
“We all still living Talon?” Ralin asked of his makeshift squadron.
”Ask me later…” muttered Ma’ryk.
”I’m here, but I think my stomach got left on the ’Punisher’” Cabur came back.
The rest were alright as well. Listening into the other comm links, most of the other squadrons reported they were also up 100%, including Boba’s Eagle squadron, though a few squadrons were a couple fighters short.
”Holy Kad Ha’rangir… look at that“ whispered Ma’ryk. Only then did Ralin really take stock of his position and his surroundings.
The catapult deployment had worked perfectly. Seven full squadrons of heavy assault fighters and gunships were several hundred kilometers ahead of the fleet, with several enemy patrols actually behind them, trapped between the Mandalorian assault. As planned, the planet was on their right, and the major space station orbiting Koriban was directly ahead of them.
Ralin hadn’t initially seen the battling fleets because they were unexpectedly above them. Massive warships were slugging it out in such close quarters that no fleets could be made out, just a frenzy of behemoths smashing each other with everything they had. Some were already glowing hulks, fire raging out of breached bulkheads as the air and flames and crews were sucked out into the cold oblivion. Massive laser bolts the size of his own ship raced in every direction away from the brawl, coloring the carnage in in brilliant greens and reds.
”All squadrens Mandalore Fett’s voice called through the chaos of the moment. “Execute, execute, execute. Oya Manda.” *STATIC*
Refocusing, Ralin adjusted in his seat and narrowed his eyes. “Copy lead. Talon, we’re under them. Target their hanger bays and their power cores. Oya Manda, and watch your six...”