An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...
Nicoles X-Wing pulls up sharply, blasting through three TIE fighters that were chasing a flight of Y-Wings when she does so, the TIEs chasing her, try to stay on her six when her wing partner comes in from above destroying them.
"Falcon Leader your six is clear for now."
"Copy that Falcon 2, thanks for the assist. Starting heading back to the base with the rest of the squadron, I will be right behind you."
"Copy that Falcon leader, forming up with the rear elements."
Nicole nods slightly while she watches the few remaining ships and fighters starting to land at the base, while her Squadron is spread thin trying to cover them until the shield generator is brought online.
"Falcon Leader to command, I have just ordered Falcon Squadron to fall back to the base to begin landing as we are getting stretched too thin, hope that shield is about up."
"Acknowledged Falcon Leader, the shield is operational about to turn it on, so get your pilots on the ground now."
"Copy that Command, you heard them, Falcon. Time to land."
Nicole turns in her X-Wing to head back to base, her eyes watching the beam of shield energy arcing upwards before it starts to pour outwards to surround the outpost in its shield. In her brief moment of distraction, a flight of TIE Interceptors use it to pounce her X-Wing, strafing her engines as the hits shake her back into the moment. She starts to take evasive action, jinking her craft to and fro dodging the cannon rounds from the TIEs while she is avoiding the cannons she takes a moment to look over her shoulder to look at the TIEs when she recognises the insignia on them with a groan.
"Damn it, it had to be Shadow Squadron..."
Still taking evasive action with the Interceptors chasing her, she locks her S-Foils together to increase the speed and manoeuvrability of the X-Wing while racing towards the fast closing shield bubble. The lead interceptor scores a direct hit on her engines causing her to start trailing smoke, with her X-Wing quickly losing power to its engine systems, along with its altitude with her inches above the ground while trying to squeeze the last bit of momentum out of her craft before the shield closes completely. The TIEs suddenly break off from pursuit before impacting on the shield bubble the moment it touches the ground seconds after Nicoles X-Wing crashes into the ground, skidding along it throwing up dirt before coming to a full stop.
With the shield bubble entirely up the TIE fighters start to pull back away from the base just flying superiority flights around the base. Ground crews and other pilots come running over to Nicoles crashed X-Wing, emergency releasing the cockpit and pulling her out of it and the smoke from the engines that had caught fire. She starts coughing once she has been pulled out of the smoke, trying to get the smoke out of her lungs while getting her bearings again after the dynamic landing with the medics checking her over.
"Can you hear me? Do you know where you and who you are?"
"Aye I can...I'm on Denevor base with an Imperial fleet besieging us, and I'm Lieutenant Commander Nicole Skye, squadron leader of Falcon Squadron of Denevor Fleet."
"Good, good. Yeah, you look ok bar a couple cuts and bruises despite that crash."
"No such thing as luck, just the will of the force...how is my R2 Droid?"
"The droid is pretty banged up, about to go and see the mechanics to get a repair."
"Thanks, doc, can you send someone to get a small black bag it has in it for me, I don't like being far from it, and it might come in handy..."
"Of course commander, oh yeah you are wanted in the command centre, what is left of the command team is there organising the defence of the base."
"Thanks again doc."
Nicole starts walking away from the medic while they send someone running over towards Nicoles R2 droid to get what she wanted out of it. When Nicole is approaching the command centre after a short walk, she is about jumped by Nalan who leaps wrapping her arms around her while Nicole lowers her self onto one knee to return Nalans hug. Nalan takes deep, shaky breaths while she speaks trying to steady her voice.
"I...I didn't know if you survived...the last thing I was told was that Falcon Squadron was covering the transports that were trying to make it past the blockade and that two of the transports never made it through..."
"I'm glad you are safe Nal, I didn't see what happened to the Sparrow after we launched the attack on the blockade. And don't worry, I'm fine, I'm not going anywhere without you...Nal, until we get through this, I want you to stay close to me. Going to need you to watch my back if we get into a fight, need someone I can trust, and that can keep up with me."
Nicole stands while she speaks, lightly running her hand over Nalans head while they start walking back towards the command centre, a small smile of Nals face. Nicole quickly glances around the weary faces of the remaining command level staff gathered around the control station, shaking her head slightly when it sinks in just how much of the fleets command they lost aboard Denevor one and the Star Adder.
"Ahh, Commander Skye glad you made it back to the surface the cover you and your squadron gave is the reason as many of us that did make it did. So thank you for that."
"Thank you, Commander, but we should have saved more. Just how much of the fleet did we lose exactly?"
The mission controller, who is the most senior officer left, looks down at the screen in front of them for a moment before he answers.
"We lost Denevor One, only a few made it to the escape pods before it was destroyed, along with the Star Adder who none made it off. The Sparrow made it back to the surface but only just and took massive damage in the process, we lost the Hammerheads H2 and H4, while H3 made it to the surface. We lost four of our CR90's as well, along with three of the GR75's with one of them making it away with Sabre Squadron. Regarding strike craft, we are still trying to get a count with pilots just getting formed up into ad-hoc formations for now and spread out around the base..."
The mission controller is cut off from continuing their situation report when suddenly alarms start blaring from the consoles as the operator turns in their seat towards the senior officers.
"We have incoming fire!"
Moments later the sound of turbolasers impacting against the shield can be heard, the Star Destroyers slowly creeping closer and closer towards the planet while the Rebel Officers can only watch the impact of the turbolasers or watch the Imperial fleet on their sensors. Nicole steps out of the command centre, looking up at the shield bubble with the turbolasers crashing against it with green flashes of energy, with a number of the bolts crashing into the ground around the base throwing up dirt and rubble in the explosion. Most of the Rebels have stopped what they were doing to watch the impacts against the shield, as they know that if their protection fails they are all dead while a few of them keep moving so that they don't think about it. Nicole is lost in thought watching the impacts against the shields when Nalan lightly nudges her back into the moment, Nicole quickly places her arm around her, resting her hand on her shoulder.
"It'll be ok Nal, don't worry."
"I'm not worried as I'm with you and you are not so that means you have a plan, along with I know that I must have faith in the force. But it was just someone handed me this to give to you quickly..."
Nalan holds up a long but otherwise everyday black bag.
"Ahh, thanks Nal. And of course, I do."
Nicole smiles at Nalan, while she places the bag into one of the pouches on her flight vest before she looks away quickly to hide the fear in her eyes that this is the end but is luckily spared any more questions by a trooper running out of the command centre.
"Commander Skye, I've told to inform you that the Empire has begun landing forces to begin ground assault and your ad-hoc squadron is being sent over to the northern side to strengthen the line against the main Imperial force."
Nicole nods slightly while the trooper finishes giving Nicole her orders, her hand still on Nalans shoulder.
"Thanks, can you make sure that my formation knows their orders and meets me there, thanks again. Come on then Nal let's head other to the North then."
Nal nods along with Nicole before the two of them start to head over to the northern fortifications that have been quickly thrown up with a mix of crates and sandbags with a few heavy blasters spread out along the line, the two of them grabbing a blaster rifle on the way over as well. The pair of them arrive at the barricades and take up a position behind the second line of defences, as Nicole's squadron was being held back as a reserve and supporting unit, the other pilots arriving behind her with less than half of them from the Falcon Squadron that took off at the start of the battle. One of the pilots comes over to Nicole and Nal while the rest take up positions along the barricades.
Nicole offers a small smile and a wave to the approaching pilot.
"Hey Kira, thanks for the cover up there."
"Not a problem, wouldn't be much of a wingman if I let my squadron leader get shot down now would I."
Nicole laughs softly with Kira.
"Aye, I suppose you would not be if you let that happen."
Kira moves to take up position behind the barricade with Nicole and Nalan.
"Now we just need to defeat an entire legion of Stormtroopers though...feel like we have just gone from the frying pan and into the fire."
Nicole picks up a pair of macro-binoculars looking out of the shield bubble and towards the approaching Imperial troops.
"Fear not, the force is with us."
Kira nods slightly while she drifts off into her own thoughts, with a silence descending over the rebel base with the Star Destroyers finishing their orbital bombardment having been unable to break the shields, and with the rebels waiting for the Imperials. It doesn't take long for the Imperial ground forces to reach the edge of the base's shields with the first wave of Stormtroopers and AT-STs advancing through it and opening fire on the first line of the defence. The Rebels are able to hold the first line for a moment against the vanguard of the Imperial Legion but once the Imperial AT-ATs have made it through the shield and have opened fire on the first line. The line starts to wavier with Stormtroopers breaking the line a few places before the order to withdraw to the second line is given, with Nicole and the rest of the reserve troops laying down covering fire.
"Gunners focus fire on the closest AT-STs! Everyone else provide cover the first line as they fall back!"
Nicole shouts to be heard over the explosions from the Imperial walkers, trying to organise her defensive line against the oncoming Imperial walkers that have already started firing on them with the AT-ATs and AT-STs crossing what remains of the first line of defence. Despite the efforts of the second line of defence, the first lines troops take heavy losses in the retreat taking around a further 30% losses in the withdrawal, with the Imperial walkers getting closer and closer to Nicole's position while blasting holes in the barricades. With the line of defence broken under the fire from the Imperial walkers, parts of the Rebel line try to retreat while most of what is left hunker down under the fire trying to hold the line for as long as possible. Nicole pops out from around one of the crates she is in cover from behind, firing a quick burst at some of the Stormtroopers when she sees one of the AT-ATs looking her way about to fire on her. In the split second she has she seems to move with inhuman speeds tackling Nalan further into cover underneath her while giving a shouted order,
"Someone hit that walker with everything we have!"
Nicole hears the sound of a rocket launcher being fired from nearby before she hears the sound of the AT-ATs heavy lasers impact against the ground, just missing her position. Following the impact of the lasers, Nicole slowly pushes her self up, with Nalan pushing her self up with the two of them looking around at the devastation of the Rebel base with the Imperial AT-ATs firing on the Rebel shield generator. Nalan buries her head against Nicole, while Nicole puts her arm around her holding her close while the two of them prepare for what is coming.
"This is it isn't it...we have no way out of this..."
"I'm sorry Nal, no I don't see any easy way we can have out of this now...I should have made sure you got on one of the transports after Ryloth..."
Nicole slowly moves one of her arms, pulling out the black bag in her vest as she takes a deep breath before reaching into a grabbing onto something inside of it. Just before she goes to pull the item out of the bag an explosion echoes across the base when the AT-ATs finally destroy the Rebel shield generator with the shield collapsing around them.
"Nal, stay in cover and on my mark run for the transports."
"Wha...What are you going to do?"
"Something I should have done long ago, make a stand as who I am."
Nicole slowly lets go of Nalan, while she stands dropping a now empty black as she does so before she goes to step out into the open with the Stormtroopers nearby training their blasters on her and the closest AT-AT turns its head to look at the apparently unarmed Rebel. One of the stormtroopers with officer markings on their armour steps forward slightly before they speak.
"Rebel, we have been ordered to offer a chance to surrender to all humans with the guarantee to be treated fairly."
Nicole acts like she is considering the offer for a moment.
"Ok Imperial, I have thought about your offer and here is my answer...For the Republic!"
With her shout she presses a button on the metal cylinder she pulls out from behind her back, activating her lightsabre and pulling it into a two-handed grip, a moment of panic goes through the Stormtroopers along with shouts of Jedi. It was in this split second of panic spreading through the Imperial troops that the AT-AT looking at Nicole suddenly explodes when proton torpedoes crash into its neck as a flight of X-Wings fly over it followed by a couple of squadrons of X-Wings and Y-Wings while four GR75s starting landing in the transports landing zone.
"This is Commander Earart to all Rebel forces, we are beginning emergency evacuation. All personnel report to landing pads, pilots get to your fighters if you can, orders are to abandon all heavy equipment that we can replace."
With the Rebels receiving the new orders from the command centre, they manage to organise a rearguard action while they start falling back towards the transports with the X-Wings, Y-Wings and U-Wings proving air support for them. Nicole brings up the rear, with Nalan behind her back, while she goes what she can to deflect the Imperial blaster bolts while she falls back.
While the Rebels are falling back the first of the transports manages to take off under escort from one of the CR90s with a pair of X-Wings flying off into orbit. Not long after the second transports starts taking off as well with a pair of X-Wings as well.
"The first transport is away. The first transport is away."
While the second transport is making its way towards its atmospheric escape, it starts taking heavy fire from Imperial TIEs from two of the Imperial Arquitens that had entered the atmosphere of the planet.
"Mayday Mayday! This is Transport Denevor C-110 we are taking heavy fire! Shields are failing, we are losing altitude! Imperial fire is too heavy!"
While the distress call goes out from the second transport, the third and fourth transports launch together under escort from the Nebulon-B, the Sparrow, and a flight of X-Wings starts to make their run to escape the planet. With the extra firepower from the Nebulon-B and the focus on the second transport, the third escape group is able to escape the planet's atmosphere. Nicole is still covering the Rebel rearguard as they fall back towards the landing pads, despite the best efforts of the rearguard and the air support the rebels are still taking heavy losses due to the number of Imperials. They manage to reach the main entrance to the landing pads and the hanger with the Empire right on their heels before they seal the hangers door and destroy the control panel. Nicole turns to look at the pilots and troopers with her in the rearguard.
"Right, that should keep them out for a while at least. I want these craft ready to launch yesterday. You, corporal I want you to take a team and make sure the secondary launch doors back towards the transport landing pads is available and once you do that, make sure that all non-pilots or those with craft make it to the transports."
"Right away Squadron Leader!"
The corporal offers a quick salute before they turn and take a team with them and dash off towards the secondary hanger doors. Nicole turns back to look at the support crew and the pilots running about preparing the remaining X-Wings and Y-Wings for takeoff, with her now patched up R2 droid being lowered into a new X-Wing for her.
"Nalan, I want you to..."
"I know, you want me to get to the transport don't you..."
"Not at all, I want you to get an X-Wing ready for takeoff. This is now our last stand, we need as many pilots as we can get in the air."
Nalan looks up at Nicole a look of surprise in her eyes before she smiles dashing off to start getting an X-Wing ready for takeoff just as Kira walks over to Nicole.
"It really a good idea to let her fly into this?"
Nicole shrugs slightly, clipping her lightsabre onto her belt.
"I really don't know, but I know it is better than letting her sit on a transport and not be able to fight back at all."
Kira nods slightly at Nicole's logic, before glancing at her lightsabre.
"Aye that makes sense, and you never told me you had one of them."
"There was no need..."
She is cut off as the speakers go off again with further updates on the evacuation along with the distress call.
"Transport Three and Four are away. Transport Three and Four are away."
"This is Denevor C-110...under heavy fire, shields have gone, and we have lost port engines! Can not sustain the loss of altitude impact with ground imminent...may the force be wi..."
The comm from the transport goes silent only with static on the way before someone in the command centre turns it off.
"This is commander Earart, the final transport is preparing for takeoff. Any person still in the base, you have five mikes until liftoff, after that. May the force be with you."
Nicole glances around the hanger quickly, before she starts shouting orders.
"You heard the commander people, anyone with a craft to fly make a run for the transport now. Pilots get to your fighters and take off, we have to protect that final transport as it takes off."
With that, she dashes over to her X-Wing and jumps into the cockpit starting to take off, she glances over to Nalan while she does so to make sure she is taking off. Once the ground crew had cleared the hangers takeoff route, the remaining pilots start taking off with their two Y-Wings and four X-Wings.
"Y-Wings, going to need you two to help us punch a hole with your heavy weapons. Kira, you and Marcus, form up on Gold 3, me and Nalan will form up on Gold 5."
"Copy that Squadron Leader."
With the acknowledgements as they exit the hanger out the secondary hanger route, they launch out into a sky swarming with Imperial TIEs swarming the final transport and the CR90 escorting it.
"Let's go, people, time to provide them with some cover!"
The X-Wings dive into the TIEs, using their surprise appearance to cut a hole through them for the ships to make it away from the base while it detonates from the fire from the Imperial AT-ATs and the self destruct on the key facilities and equipment to deny them to the Empire. After they had broken out past the TIEs, they managed to get out into space with only a few TIEs chasing them. Once they had escaped the planet, they see how they were able to escape the Imperial fleet, the Interdictor cruiser that had trapped Denevor Fleet between the planet and the Star Destroyers had been destroyed, and another Rebel Fleet was sitting outside of the range of the ISDs, led by three Venator class ships.
"This is Commander Earart to all remaining Denevor Fleet ships, make the jump to lightspeed as soon as you can!"
"Denevor fleet, this is Admiral Cane of the MacAlpine, we will cover you while you make the jump. We will see you at the rally point."
"Copy that Admiral, we are jumping now."
The ISDs start to fire on the GR75 and CR90 seconds before they make the jump to lightspeed along with their fight escorts, with the MacAlpine group moments behind them.