PROLOGUE - NEAR DAALANG
“Scout One, this is Watchtower,” came a refined Core World accent through Loren’s headset, “do you have eyes on the ship?”
Commander Loren Embrei of the Republic Starfighter Corp opened the channel with a touch of the console. “Watchtower, this is Scout One, I should have eyes shortly,” she answered swiftly. Behind Watchtower's exceedingly polite voice was Watchtower Actual, Captain Vao Tua, a rugged Nautolan with a well known impatient streak who was not one wait for an answer. With a gentle pull on the control column, the Ar-Wing’s maneuvering thrusters brought her up and over an asteroid and, upon cresting it, she brought the arrow-shaped craft into a zero-g strafe as her sensors scanned the area. But they found nothing.
“Jazail, do you have anything on scanners?” Loren asked into her comms.
“Nothing but rocks, Captain,” her wingman answered, keeping his starfighter on her left as they moved through the void. Loren’s readout showed the same – nothing but rocks in a strip-mined stretch of asteroid belt. She switched her scanners to detect lifeforms but, again, nothing.
A proximity alert flashed on the screen, and she gently brought her Ar-Wing out of the trajectory of a slow-moving asteroid. She looked up from the console and out into space. Unlikely as it was to simply look up and find what she was looking for in the black, something about searching with her actual eyes satisfied a natural, terrestrial-born instinct in the hind of her brain. But there was nothing, just gently drifting rocks and nothingness to her left, and a great, swirling blue gas giant far to her left.
Jazail’s voice came through her headset’s comms. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Captain.” She felt the same – it was eerie.
This outing had begun when Watchtower had picked up a distress signal shortly after the Autumn Gold dropped out of hyperspace in the Caymar system. There was nothing unusual about this – when command had woken Loren up to fly recon for a rescue operation, she’d dressed herself while cursing whatever idiot rockhoppers had stranded themselves on the job. Sure enough, when she arrived at the briefing room, she found herself considering a tactical holomap of an asteroid belt.
Captain Vao Tua, Watchtower himself, delivered a brief overview of the situation in his standard, gruff tones – an Adventurer-class mining barge was broadcasting a repeating distress signal from within a forty-kilometer range of planetary belt above the gas giant Audo. With the distressed ship failing to respond to wideband transmissions and the Autumn Gold unable to detect the vessel on scanners from ten klicks out, it fell to Loren and Jazail to scout out the situation.
Still bleary-eyed, she and Jazail made their way to the hangar thereafter, trading barbs as they went. They had a good rapport, and as much as Loren was no fan of flying anti-piracy missions on the frontier of allied space, she couldn’t complain too much – she liked her wingman and she liked the fighter she flew.
The Ar-Wing was Kuat Systems Engineering’s latest design and a true next-generation starfighter. A descendent of the venerable A-Wing of the Alliance to Restore the Republic’s naval armory, the Ar-Wing was a multirole strike fighter with omnidirectional thrust capability, armed, armored and agile such that it could tangle with any starfighter in the galaxy and come out on top. It was a dream to fly, but the speed was a lot even for a veteran pilot like herself. As much as suiting up and boarding the Ar-Wing gave her nostalgic chills recalling her childhood dream of serving as a starfighter pilot in the Republic Navy, her stomach had never gotten completely accustomed to that first hit of speed.
And so, in less than a half hour, she’d gone from enjoying her mandated sleeping schedule to nearly vomiting caf as the first g-forces hit her on her way out of the cruiser’s hangar bay. And with that, she was well on her way to facilitating the rescue of some asteroid miners.
The Adventurer-class was nowhere in sight, though, but the signal was still strong. They were on top of it, even. Something in her gut curled in on itself. “Let’s get out of here, Jaz,” Loren said, and she switched channels.
“Watchtower, this is Scout One, we do not have eyes. Returning to base now.”
Jazail saw it before she did. “Captain, take a look at your tacmap, I think I found something.” Loren switched her console display to a holoprojection of her ship’s immediate surroundings and found that Jazail had marked a floating asteroid among the dozens on screen.
She maneuvered back and around, orienting the nose of her Ar-Wing so that she was facing the rock, approaching at a slow speed, and found herself on Jazail’s tail. And then she saw it too – there in the glow of the light reflected off Audo’s surface, nestled in a shallow crater on the pockmarked asteroid, was a small ship, not much bigger than her own fighter.
“What is that?” Jazail asked.
Loren utilized the Ar-Wing’s omnidirectional capabilities, maneuvering to assess the ship from a few angles. It looked very familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Trapezoidal wings, a centrally mounted cockpit, what looked like at least two engines – it all felt familiar. It had that sinister black and durasteel color scheme of a TIE fighter, but if it was a TIE… and then it clicked. Those wings were in a landing configuration.
“I’m going to run a scan,” Jazail said, his voice somewhere distant in the back of her mind as she eyeballed a firing trajectory and pulled the trigger. The dumb-fired missile streaked through the void and evaporated the fighter in an explosion that scattered durasteel and rock into space. “Commander?” Jazail asked, shocked, but no sooner did he speak than did Loren’s console light up with active combat warnings. Her tacmap bloomed with sudden alerts as her sensors detected unknown craft after unknown craft emerge from hiding amongst the asteroids, and she gunned her engines.
As the twin ion engines ramped up to as hard a burn as the Ar-Wing could manage, she finally saw it –silhouetted perfectly against the gas giant, maybe a kilometer or so off to her right, a black shape descended from a craggy asteroid, spider-like, twisting and unfolding its s-foils in a way that reminded her, detachedly, of a blossoming flower unfurling its petals.
“Watchtower, this is Scout One, we have enemy contact!” Loren shouted into her comms. She received some response back but missed it entirely as she focused in on the descending hostile.
Her overhead HUD locked onto it, and her console displayed a three-dimensional rendering of the fighter, which it identified as a TIE Intercessor. Loren had only seen these fighters, the Remnant’s latest strike fighter design, in combat sims while training on Carida. They were fast and dangerous, and her system detected five of them on the field.
“Scout Two, on my wing,” she ordered, and Loren banked right and accelerated toward the one she spied out launching from its asteroid perch. The Intercessor bore down on her, spitting green fire. She spun the Ar-Wing into a roll as her twin autolasers locked on, and then fired. A red lance punched through the Intercessor’s eyeball, spearing ship and pilot with explosive effect.
“Scratch one, Jaz,” she almost cheerfully announced into her comms, coming out of the roll and realigning her fighter. The exuberance that came with that small victory dissipated almost immediately.
“I need some help here, Captain!” She searched her console wildly at that, and saw the tactical display showed that the four remaining Intercessors were all gunning for her wingman. She’d lost him off her wing – he’d dived deeper into the asteroid field with the Intercessors in hot pursuit. With the assistance of her canopy’s heads up display, she was able to spot him in quick order. She could see the flashes as Jazail deployed chaff and flares, the brief flashes of fire in the void as space superiority missiles went wide, and green laser fire.
She dove after them, weaving past asteroid and rock fragments while her particle shields intercepted stray microasteroids too small to evade, and closed the distance in short order. She opened fire, but was too late – she watched in horror as Jazail’s Ar-Wing disintegrated under green fire even as she reduced an Intercessor to dust.
She pushed away an urge to look desperately through her sensors for some evidence that Jazail ejected – instead, she doggedly pursued the nearest of the three remaining TIEs, autolasers punching holes in asteroids but only placing glancing hits on her target. The others peeled off, no doubt to get her in their scopes before blowing her ship apart. As grim as the situation looked, she felt her stomach drop even further as her systems alerted her to an inbound ship leaving hyperspace in her vicinity.
She looked out to the Autumn Gold, some ten kilometers out, and saw to her horror a massive vessel return to sublight speeds right on top of the Republic cruiser. It was a Star Destroyer, and within seconds of arriving the great battlecruiser had engaged the Autumn Gold in a close quarters brawl. She watched emerald turbolaser fire shred the Autumn Gold’s hull, transfixed, for a second too long. Her Ar-Wing’s left primary engine exploded as one of the TIEs raked her ship with laser fire.
Jolted, she desperately tried to maintain control over the vessel, cutting power to the starboard maneuvering engines just in time to avoid spinning out of control. She was just about to consider ejecting when she looked to her right to see an asteroid all too close. She was vaguely aware of her left wing being sheared from her fighter as her head connected with the plastisteel canopy and the lights went out.
Welcome to our first Star Wars 77 adventure, set 77 years after the end of Episode IX (112 ABY)! In the Daalang Campaign, the galaxy contends with a new and dangerous foe in the Daalang Sector, a warlord intent on reclaiming the First Order's mantle decades later as the premier power in the galaxy.
Please join the Discord for more information, we would be happy to have you!