Through the glinting stars the huge ship glided, the star destroyer Victorâs Wrath was invisibly linked into the orbit of the planet Xayfus. Admiral Thornton stood on the bridge peering at the colony planet below. âHow long until theyâre shields are down?â The Admiral queried to no one in particular, as he knew his Captain Vazinski would answer regardless.
âUnknown Admiral, theyâre quite resilient. Every time we get within range of the shield generator they fire at us with a powerful ion cannon, sir.â The Captain replied.
Admiral Thornton stared at his shining boot toes. He knew it was only a matter of time before the shield was down but the wait could only be short due to their busy schedule.
âYou know that we are due to rendezvous with the fleet on Lord Vaderâs command. He is very short tempered since the loss of the Death Star. I suggest we bring this planet into Imperial custody as soon as possible.â The Admiral studied the aqua-green planet below before continuing. âI want you to deploy a squadron of TIE fighters to draw their fire, we want that ion cannon to short out from too much fire. I assume it is an older model cannon, after all this planet only has a population of six thousand Iâm amazed they had any defence at all.â
Roger Dutton fiddled with the transmitter; he flicked through stations desperately crying out a plea for help. âRepeat Xayfus is under attack from an Imperial star destroyer, please help us!â
Moments later Dutton discovered that the planetâs long distance communications were being jammed he turned to his superior, Mayor Ginnet and frowned. âWeâre on our own, I doubt anyone heard our message before the Imps blocked it. What are we going to do?â
Only the mayorâs eyes showed his true fear, the rest of his face was composed in a confident mask, âWe will have to defend ourselves for as long as possible and if it comes down to it, fight them one on one.â
Dutton couldnât hide his scepticism, yet he nodded then prayed that some one heard him and was coming to help.
Princess Leia Organa listened to the transmission with open dread. She travelled in a convoy headed for a remote planet in the Hoth System where the Rebels were setting up a new base.
Her eyes darted to Admiral Ackbar; his squid-shaped head turned in her direction, his large protruding eyes met hers. âWe cannot risk any of our fleet in helping them Princess. If we do, we may give away our position to the Empire.â
âWe have to give them some assistance, we canât just leave them to the Empireâs means. We could send some of our smaller crafts to assist.â The Princess pleaded.
Ackbar considered it for a moment. His webbed hand tapped on his chest, âVery well, Iâll send groups Beta and Delta to Xayfus.â
Princess Leia was not too pleased. Beta was made up of four Y-wings and Delta of three B-wings, not much to go against a star destroyer with itâs own army of TIE fighters. âCanât we send anything more powerful?â
âWe can not, you know we need to preserve all our larger ships. Itâs only a matter of time before we will face the entire Imperial Navy. I suggest we keep our course and let the Y-wings and B-wings handle it.â
Leia knew Ackbar was right and so she watched with regret as the assigned ships launched into hyperspace moments before they did themselves.
Wing commander Beta One led the mixed squadron out of hyperspace. The pilotâs name was Nirjfink Phlagen; he was a veteran in the struggle against the Empire and knew their tactics well. He was a Weequay, his skin a dirt brown his face deeply lined. His head was bald except for at the base of his skull where a scraggly lock of hair grew then trailed down between his shoulder blades.
He spoke to his squadron, âThis is Beta One, report people.â
âBeta Two, readyâ replied a female voice that belonged to Ung Jan a human female from Dantooine.
âBeta Three, standing byâ blonde male human from Corellia named Don Clarp.
âBeta four, here sirâ human rookie male, Bam Ratkins.
âDelta One, awaiting ordersâ first of the B-wings, human female Anya Rendar.
âDelta Two, awaiting instructionâ a Duros, named Hingustin his green skin and elongated red eyes distinguishing him from the other pilots. His speciesâ knowledge of space travel made him an asset to the squad.
"Delta Three, just plain waitingâ replied the black haired human male, Jiskin Wadeema.
The wing commander shook his head; Jiskin was going to get himself killed with that impatient attitude. âYou know whatâs required for this mission and realise that not many of us will be making it home. Today we make a stand against the Empire. They know weâre serious since the destruction of the Death Star, but letâs show them just how good we really are.â
âYouâre talking my language!â Exclaimed Jiskin.
âNobody asked your opinion, kid.â Replied Anya dryly. In her own cockpit she drew a thumb sized pendant from beneath her flight suit and rubbed her gloved fingers over the purple stone, a ritual she always performed before battle.
It was only an instant later that the Victorâs Wrath was aware of their presence. A moment afterwards TIE fighters were released from the star destroyer.
âLook ready people,â Phlagen prompted as he led his charges into the first of the swarming TIEâs.
The charging Y-wings led the first attack and were then followed by the B-wings in a V formation. Five TIE fighters were demolished, the Rebels turned for their second sweep.
Beta Four had a shadow. Ratkins pleaded for assistance, âIâve got an Imp on my tail and I canât shake him! Somebody give me a hand!â Perspiration beaded his forehead as he looped his Y-wing. Beta Two came to his aid but a second too late. The TIE blew up the rookie and flew through the sparkling particles left of the Y-wing.
âDamn!â Cursed Ung Jan, âI was too slow.â Her mind was quickly diverted from Ratkinâs death by the oncoming cluster of TIE fighters.
A lone figure stood on a boulder and watched the distant onslaught. His ancient, scarred helmet enhanced his view of the battle. Boba Fett let out a sigh, so the Imperials were taking longer than he thought. This was not a good thing. Within the depths of Slave I was merchandise worth a large amount of credits, and the longer it took to get her to Durga the Hutt, the less the bounty was worth.
Fett rapt his gloved fingers against his thigh as he considered his options. There was no way of getting off the planet without causing extreme if not fatal damage to his precious ship. The inhabitants of Xayfus werenât going to be opening the shield anytime soon and âpersuadingâ them to do so with his intimidating reputation was not about to work when they knew that either option would result in being blown to atoms.
The black T-shaped visor turned to the Slave I; Boba Fett shook his head. Iâm at an impasse I have no control over. Fett thought to himself as he gracefully leapt off the boulder and landed firmly on his feet. He strode over to his ship, entered and climbed up to the cockpit.
The illuminated writing reflected on Fettâs visor as he scrolled through his information sources on the planet, Boba Fett found the make of the shield generator and smiled. Itâs older than I am; he mused and brought up the schematics for the generator.
After a quick perusal he discovered an easy way to shut the machine down, permanently. He downloaded the plans into his helmetâs short-term memory and left Slave I in the camouflage of the surrounding trees.
The walk to Xayfusâs colony took him little more than twenty minutes. Not a soul was on the streets, yet Boba Fett clutched his blaster rifle close to his heart. From building windows Fett saw many frightened faces. He held no sympathy for them, If they had any sense at all they would know that they are doomed, yet they remain, fools.
Fett continued on, his stride becoming quicker as the spectacle in the sky lost its brilliance. That meant only one thing, the battle was drawing to an end.
Two Y-wings and two B-wings plunged towards Xayfusâs atmosphere. The TIEâs had formed a blockade and were pushing the Rebelâs into the shield of the planet they were trying to save.
âThereâs no way outta this one, I say we let the fleet know whatâs happened before we burn.â Shouted Don Clarp from Beta Three as he searched for an opening in the Imperialâs defence.
âWe could ask the colony if they could open their shields for a few moments,â prompted the Duros pilot in Delta Two.
âSure,â Ung Jan snarled, âI bet theyâll agree to that.â
âFive seconds to impact,â Informed Anya who squinted against the glare of the burning atmosphere her ship was passing through.
Boba Fett crawled through the ventilation shaft. With one foul punch he removed the grate blocking his way into the shield generator room. He pulled himself from the shaft with the strength of his arms positioned either side of the opening.
When all but his legs were out he rolled forward on his hands and tumbled forward rocking himself to his feet. He was without his combination jetpack/rocket launcher, he hadnât been able to fit into the shaft with it, so he had secured it outside the building in the dense underbrush of the neighbouring woods.
Fett examined the generator and frowned beneath the helmet. They had modified the machine. He tilted his head slightly and studied the generator more thoroughly before he discovered a flaw. A single gloved hand delicately ran over a twisted cable, his hand followed the cable to a power source. This is too easy, Fett mused as he gave the cable a hard yank.
The generator gave a dying moan and ceased to function.
Boba Fett dropped the cable and returned to the shaft. He picked up the grate in his hands. He wriggled back into the shaft and then slammed the grate into position behind him. It was only a matter of time before the Imperials would infest the colony and Fett hoped to be long gone before that happened. I donât have time to answer stupid questions.
Anya closed her eyes and awaited her dreadful end. She counted down the seconds and was well into the minus side of nought before she realised sheâd passed the shield zone and wasnât a piece of toast. Her hand went to her pendant and she thanked it for saving her again.
A quick glance confirmed the safe passage of the surviving four crafts. Anya, who now was of highest rank, haled the colony. âThis is Delta One of the Rebel Alliance asking permission to land.â
It took a few moments for a response. âThis is Dutton . . .â
After replacing his jetpack to its rightful place, Boba Fett paused to look upward to the growing shapes of Rebel ships. Beneath the black visor his eyes narrowed, I knew it was too easy to last. Rebels were generally followed by agitated Imperials and this, no doubt, would be the immediate case.
He picked up the transmissions between the colony and the Rebels with his broad band antenna. These colonist are suicidal if they accept Rebel help, Fett thought as he trotted in the direction of his waiting ship, it shows they are against the Empire. They will suffer greatly.
Boba Fett broke the connection, heâd heard enough. It was time to get paid and nothing was stopping him now.
Don Clarp was the first to emerge from his ship, the Y-wing had seen better days but all he cared about was the situation at hand. He strode over to Anyaâs B-wing and waited for her to climb down.
Anya was listening to Duttonâs shrill voice, âThe shields must have been taken out! Our ion cannon suddenly has a lot more targets.â
Anya looked at the weary pilot, âWhat is it Clarp?â
Clarp didnât have time to answer. A swarm of TIE fighters dove and unleashed a bombardment of laser fire. As they passed, Anya grabbed the sleave of Clarpâs tunic and dragged him towards the nearest building. They ducked for cover an instant before the TIEâs let loose another pounding of deadly green light.
Anya glanced around the room they were in. She crawled across the room towards an open doorway. She poked her head inside and was covered with shrapnel as a TIE spotted her and fired, missing her but splintering a wound into the already deteriorating building.
Instinctively tucking her body in a foetal position she protected herself from any major injuries. However she attained a gash to her forehead that bled like melting ice.
Clarp grabbed Anya by her utility belt and pulled her back to safety. âYou alright?â he asked with concern as he stared at her bleeding head.
âBeen better,â she smiled as she pressed the palm of her hand against the wound to lessen the flow. Her brow wrinkled when she pressed a little too hard. She pulled a blaster from her side and stood. âWe have to find a way to bring the shields back on line.â
âThat might not be possible.â Clarp said with worry filled eyes.
âWe have to try.â
The Admiral wore a smirk that would burst into a triumphant grin the moment his troops deployed on the planetâs surface. Already an Imperial Landing Craft was preparing to descend. It was filled with his best stormtroopers who where given the added advantage of speeder bikes.
âThis will be a fine moment in Imperial history,â he spoke more to himself than anyone else. His Captain heard him and immediately agreed. âNothing can stop us now.â The Admiral purred as he gazed down at the planet below with hungry eyes.
Boba Fett stifled a groan that rose in his throat. His ship Slave I was ascending away from the trees below when something he loathed was detected on his screen. The Articulate Raid was identified on his monitor. âNot now,â he muttered. He didnât have time for the likes of would-be bounty hunters.
The Slave I was given a boost of speed. Every hour wasted was less credits Boba Fett would receive for the merchandise his ship was carrying. Fett suddenly noted that the star destroyer had noticed him.
âUnidentified ship, state your purpose.â Came a voice almost as cold as Fettâs own.
âThis is Slave I, I am in the process of collecting a bounty.â Fettâs voice pronounced sounding much icier than normal.
A different voice returned the message, âSlave I, this is Admiral Thornton. I presume that I am speaking to Boba Fett.â
âIndeed,â answered Fett as his eyes followed the bleep on his monitor, his irritation growing as the signal drew nearer.
âI take it you are transporting your target,â the Admiral subtly queried.
Fett didnât answer. Let him wonder, itâs none of his business.
"Who is your quarry?â The Admiral asked in a firmer tone.
There was a long pause, âNo one important,â Boba Fett finally answered.
âI want a name, bounty hunter.â Demanded the Admiral.
Boba Fett was not to be bullied. He cut off his end of the transmission and diverted his attention to the conflict about to take part with the incoming bounty hunter, Hudica Vinst.
Hudica Vinst was a cocky young smuggler who had realised there was more money in bounty hunting. He had been fortunate to have located Boba Fett, his idol and object of envy.
His ship, Articulate Raid was brand new and he figured that it would be able to whip Fettâs older, battered ship. His new sophisticated tracking technology had Slave I targeted; all he had to do was push the button.
To his surprise Slave I manoeuvred swiftly out of reach and was safely protected by the star destroyer he fled behind. Vinst snarled as it suddenly occurred to him that the Imperials might be allied with Fett.
Fett knew he was in a very dangerous situation. Although he was out of Articulate Raidâs view, he was very vulnerable to an assault from the Victorâs Wrath. He powered the shields to full and began to turn his ship in the direction of the rookie hunter.
The Articulate Raid was not facing him directly. Boba Fett barrel rolled his ship into position behind the enemy and fired his ion cannons. The Articulate Raid dodged his attack at the last moment and darted under the huge star destroyer.
Fettâs opinion of the rookie rose a notch, but that wouldnât stop him from killing the insubordinate rogue. A strategy formed in the helmeted head.
Anya and Clarp made a mad dash to the building opposite them. They stood in the doorway together as Clarp struck the controls to activate the door with an open palm. The door stuck halfway open. Clarp pushed Anya inside first then squeezed in behind her.
The room was dark. Anya peered through the gloom; her eyesight was disabled by the blood that was still seeping from her wound. âAny idea where we are?â she asked Clarp.
Clarp was busy searching the area; he found something of interest and beckoned Anya. She staggered to his side. An open doorway exposed the base of the shield generator. âJackpot,â Clarp said with a smile.
The two entered the room and made a quick assessment of the machinery. âEverything seems to be in tact. I donât know whatâs wrong with it,â Clarp said as he circled the massive metal contraption. He pushed the activate switch but nothing happened.
âWhat about the power source, is it still charged?â Anya asked as she lent against a wall to stop the dizziness.
âAs far as I can tell, Iâll check it again.â Clarp noticed something heâd missed on his earlier sweep. He picked up the detached cable and looked at Anya. âIt canât be that easy.â He said as he reattached the cable.
The generator boomed to life, a charge of energy burst forth into the sky. âGuess it was,â Anya replied.
Boba Fett took a different path to his rival. The Slave I went over the top of the star destroyer and circled the massive shipâs circumference and headed straight for the Articulate Raid.
Fett saw the surprised look on the pilotâs face as the ships charged towards each other. Boba Fett sent a ripple of ion blasts at the other ship as their individual paths linked into one. It was a test of wills and Fett had no intention of turning. He knew the rookie would turn, he was cocky but not that cocky.
At the last possible moment Vinst averted his ship from its collision with Slave I. Boba Fett had been so close he had seen the sweat on the otherâs brow. Fett turned his ship and headed for the rear of the Victorâs Wrath. He avoided the exhaust ports and rounded over to the top surface of the star destroyer.
The Articulate Raid had emerged at the bow of the Victorâs Wrath. Fett smiled a dark grin and pushed Slave I hard, accelerating and building speed as he intended to ram the arrogant bounty hunter who challenged him.
As Boba Fett expected, the Articulate Raid moved speedily towards the Slave I. Fett dropped his ship to a lower position, Vinst mimicked the manoeuvre. Fett dropped lower still, the base of Slave I almost touched the surface of the star destroyer. Again Vinst copied.
The two ships were hurling towards each other at neck-braking speed. The space dividing them grew shorter and shorter until they almost met. Boba Fett turned his ship a fraction of a second before they collided.
The Slave I departed unscathed while the Articulate Raid smashed directly into the control area of the star destroyer. The Articulate Raid was no more; the star destroyer Victorâs Wrath was mortally wounded and began to lose altitude.
As the Slave I withdrew, Fett threw back a last look and saw the star destroyer plunge straight into the protective shield of the planet below. Wonder who fixed the shield? Thought Fett as he set coordinates into the hyperdrive.
âHow did you know the shields were down on the Victorâs Wrath?â Came a voice from a holding cage.
Fett turned his hidden gaze to look at Mara Jade. âSimple, I flew low enough to find out.â The redheaded woman gave a nod of appreciation and sat down. Fett looked out at the view a second more before blasting into hyperspace.
Anya, Ung Jan and Hingustin the Duros watched the explosion from far above. âI guess that takes care of that problem,â remarked Ung Jan.
Anya nodded as Hingustin bandaged her head. âI have no idea what happened but Iâm not complaining.â
Clarp emerged from a nearby building with a fair-haired young man, âThis is Dutton, he sent the distress signal. He also saw who was responsible for the ultimate demise of the star destroyer.â
Dutton stepped forward, âYouâll never believe this, but it was the Slave I.â
A few gasps of awe escaped Duttonâs audience. âYou mean we were saved by Boba Fett?â Anya asked unbelieving.
Dutton stared up at the sky, âIndeed we were.â