A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... Star Wars Episode VIII: Siege of the Republic Five years have passed since the skirmish on Taris. The Jedi Hunter Skyler now leads the Freedom Coalition, carrying out attacks against more Republic systems. Giving himself the title of Dark Master, Skyler also trains a group of young warriors in the dark side, intending to crush Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order. The Dark Master has sent two apprentices to lead the Coalition attack on Ord Mantell. Led by General Solo's Millennium Falcon, Rogue Squadron rushes to defend the besieged system... ORD MANTELL SYSTEM Ord Mantell was a rocky world filled with underground tunnels and transport systems between its cities. Three large battleships circled in orbit over the medium sized planet, a Black Sun skyhook, a Hutt Cartel Dor'bulla, and a Sith Dreadnought. Dozens of smaller fighters emerged from the three command ships, bound for the surface of Ord Mantell to commence with the invasion of the Republic-loyal system. It was not long before the planetary government's call for help was answered: very suddenly, a swarm of Republic ships came out of lightspeed into the planet's system, a small Republic cruiser as well as a fleet of Interceptors. From the control room of the Shadowhawk class ship, called the Blue Harvest , Commander Sam Fel gazed at the scene before him, frowning grimly. "All units in attack position," he said. "Affirmative," came the reply. "This is going to be rough," Sam said, "Our fleet is spread out enough as it is fighting these monsters." Sitting next to him, Captain McCallum said, "It will be nice to have the Coalition off our backs for good." Sam nodded, reflecting on how much he hated the terrorist organization that had been slowly dismantling galactic peace for years now. He had fought many battles against the so-called Freedom Coalition and knew their style well. They were a guerrilla organization, but their ambition was to invade as many Republic worlds as possible to expand the underworld's criminal enterprises. "Into the inferno we go," Sam said, flicking a switch on his control panel. "Attack!" the Interceptor squad captain shouted. Sam accelerated the speed of the Blue Harvest as he led the fighters into battle. The Coalition ships were quick to respond. The Syck fighters from the Hutt Cartel had been upgraded considerably over the past five years, Sam noticed as he swerved his Shadowhawk around their jets of laserfire. Accompanying the Hutt Cartel ships were the slightly larger Vaskai fighters supplied by Black Sun. "They're getting better," a female pilot pointed out as the two sides continued to exchange fire. "Head down to the planet surface when you can," Sam commanded. He set his sights on the brown-blue sphere of Ord Mantell, where many Coalition fighters were already speeding away to, disappearing through the planet's colorless clouds. Co-piloting the Blue Harvest, Sam sped alongside the Interceptors after the Coalition ships, continuing to blast whatever fighters he could. "Two Vaskais behind you, commander," another pilot said. "Thanks, Darklighter," Sam replied as he looked into the viewing screen and swerved out of the way of the large Black Sun fighters. Within Ord Mantell's atmosphere, Coalition fighters were beginning to emerge from the clouds, opening fire on the cities. Speeders and shuttles among the air traffic immediately scattered to avoid the oncoming attack. "We've got to go help them out," Sam said, "I hope the General's having better luck on ground level." Ord Mantell City was largely contained by a walled perimeter, with it's streets and alleyways organized like a labyrinth. Its architecture was uniquely shaped, with a small, rocky mountain amidst the plaza where the capitol building was built into. Many of the buildings were built in domed shapes, with spaceports sparsely built underneath floor level. At the moment, a battle was raging over the streets as a medium-sized Corellian freighter led another group of Interceptors against the clusters of enemy fighters above ground. As the Millennium Falcon zoomed over the tops of several burning buildings in pursuit of a Syck pilot randomly opening fire, Han Solo spoke into the radio. "Sam, we need you and the men down here in the city." "We'll be there as soon as we can, General Solo," Sam replied, "We're a little tied up at the moment though." "I don't remember the Coalition having so much firepower," Han's wife, Leia Organa Solo remarked in the seat behind him. Leia was also a trained Jedi Knight along with being the Senator of their homeworld of Corellia. "Incoming!" shouted a pilot on Sam's end of the communication. Sam looked to see the Hutt Cartel Dor'bulla open fire, its massive laser beam consuming three of his men in an instant. He cringed at the sudden act, trying to fight down feelings of grief that were threatening his concentration. Sam reported, "I just lost Skipper, Raven and Darklighter." "I got a bad feeling about this," Han groaned as another one of his pilots was struck by a Black Sun fighter, spiraling into the street below and exploding. "They have us outmanned and outgunned," Sam remarked grimly. Han's first mate Chewbacca pointed out the Falcon's window at the three Coalition command ships looming vaguely behind the clouds. "You're a genius, Chewie," Han commented. To Sam, he said, "Listen, Sam, you have a new mission It's not going to be a good one." "Like I said, we're tied up over here," Sam replied. "That's what I'm getting at, Commander," Han said, "The command ships are the ones directing their one and two-man fighters. What you have to do is disable their command ships and they scatter like blasted atoms." Sam took in what his superior officer was saying and looked up at the large Hutt, Black Sun, and Sith vessels. Next to him, McCallum whispered, "Is he crazy?" "Ssh," Sam whispered back. "It's the only option we have for now," Han replied, "I didn't say it was a good idea." Sam sighed and replied, "All right General. I'm on it." To McCallum, he said, "Set our course for the Black Sun skyhook." In his mind, Sam began to contemplate how to destroy such To the Interceptors of Rogue Squadron under his command, Sam ordered, "Listen, everyone, the General wants us to target the command ships. This is not going to be easy, but it's our best chance." Sam could hear overlapping chatter across the radios of the men and women's Interceptors as they questioned this difficult move. "I know what you guys are thinking. And that's why I'm taking them alone." "How are you going to do that, Commander?" asked the same female pilot, a woman named Diqua asked, "You'd be insane to try and disable it and make it out alive." "Let me handle it," Sam replied, "Just keep the fighters busy and try to make it into the city." "Which one are we taking first?" McCallum asked. "Skyhook," Sam replied, "And I'm going to need to to take the lead for a while." The young commander hopped up from his seat and started digging through nearby crates before pulling out a sack of detonators. "What are you doing, Commander?" McCallum asked. "I'm going to stay in touch by comlink," Sam replied, "Listen for my instructions." McCallum quickly switched to from copilot to pilot mode on the ship's controls as Sam began removing his uniform to reveal a stealth jumpsuit. Sam then climbed down from the cockpit into the cargo hold. Yanking his comlink from his uniform, Sam patched into McCallum. "Do you copy?" "Roger that," McCallum said. "Go up and stay close to the body of the skyhook. Watch out for the arms." McCallum gulped as he looked up the height of the Black Sun command ship, which was roughly the size and shape of a Coruscant skyscraper with revolving arms connected. He picked up speed as the Interceptors provided cover, flying up against the skyhook towards the very top. Sam didn't want to look out at the gargantuan vessel he had to destroy. It was not going to be easy, he knew, but his squadron was completely cut off from the planet's surface and the General. "This is for the Republic," he said. Inside the skyhook's main control room located in its heart, an orange-skinned Houk Vigo named Lun Rask reported, "We've lost sight of their lead ship." Rask spoke to the image of a shadowy figure on the holotable in front of him. The figure was a young humanoid Nagai, stationed on the Sith cruiser a short way around the orbit of Ord Mantell. Nagai's eyes glowed red as he responded, "Then you are being infiltrated. The Republic has all sorts of dirty tricks up their sleeves. You'd best kill them before it gets messier." In frustration, Rask severed the communication and shouted at his lieutenants, "We're under attack! The lead ship is somewhere very close! Be on heavy lookout!" The mercenaries and guards of Black Sun raced down the thin staircases, corridors and turbolifts of the skyhook, determined to stop the intruder. The secret bottom hatch of the Blue Harvest slid open inside the cargo hold. Sam pulled a lethal detonator from the sack and flicked the switch to alter the settings. Aboard the Sith cruiser, Nihl spoke with a female Twilek, with skin the color of a dark side warrior's lightsaber. Both of these mysterious leaders carried sabers, and were dressed in the robes of the Sith. Talon said to Nihl, "Stay in command up here. I will go and join the fight on Ord Mantell. Do not contact the Dark Master unless I give the okay Nihl nodded as Talon quickly strode out towards the hangar, where her long, sleek Infiltrator was waiting. Though Nihl resented it, Talon was the Dark Master's most trusted student and so all other apprentices knew to respect her authority. Talon wasted no time taking off in her ship, quickly activating the cloaking device as she took off out of the hangar. She flew straight past the battle between the Republic and Coalition fleets, bound directly for the sphere of Ord Mantell. The Millennium Falcon had landed in a pitted spaceport to avoid fire from the Coalition fighters. Han Solo asked over the radio, "How're we doing up there?" McCallum managed to respond as he avoided fire from one of the guns built into the skyhook, "Pretty bad." "About what I expected," Han said as an aside to Chewie and Leia. The golden protocol droid See-Threepio chimed in. "General Solo, do you know how long we will statistically last if we stay hiding here much longer?" "No, and I don't want to," Han replied. "According to my calculations," Threepio began, but Chewie gave a loud roar and lightly slapped his paw against Threepio's plated chest. "Some things never change," Leia remarked with a touch of humor. Flying over the top towers of Ord Mantell City, Talon pressed a button on the gauntlet attached to her wrist. "What is it?" Han asked as Leia leapt up from her seat. "You have that look." "It's the dark side," she said, "Something else is going on here." Leia's hand reached for her lightsaber as Commander Pellaeon gestured for the guerrilla fighters hidden inside the tunnels between the city streets and the spaceport to emerge. Leia raced down the cockpit and ran towards the Falcon's ramp, igniting her lightsaber as she used the Force to open it. "Come on, Chewie," Han muttered as he drew his pistol. Unstrapping his bowcaster and positioning it to fire, Chewbacca followed his best friend as they joined Leia on the ramp to return fire against the Coalition soldiers attacking. Leia deflected the shots flying at them with her lightsaber while Han and Chewie fired wherever they could, striking the hired thugs as they came out of the tunnels. But it was Leia who dealt the most blows without firing a blaster or coming near their enemies. Han watched his wife in amazement as she moved her blade like a fan, swatting back the laser bolts into the bodies of the guerrillas who fired them. "I'm sorry for every time I doubted your energy field," Han said. "Apology accepted," Leia replied as the first wave of Coalition men lay scattered on the hangar floor, "Now let's get out of this metal hole and see if we can get help." Meanwhile, Sam climbed down the ladder leading out of the top hatch into the skyhook, while McCallum hovered above in the Blue Harvest shuttle. Sam flung a detonator at the aluminum wall, where it stuck like a magnet. All around him, alarms were blaring as chaos filled the Black Sun command ship. "Five minutes," he muttered. Suddenly, the ladder Sam was clinging onto with one hand trembled as a Gammorean guard struck at it with his axe. "I'm in trouble," Sam grumbled as he nearly dropped the sack of detonators. He grabbed another one and pitched it towards the other side with his free hand, continuing to hang on as his fet slipped off the rung. His comlink fell to the floor a hundred meters below, disappearing ominously from sight. "Commander, are you still with me?" McCallum asked. No answer except the sound of a Gammorean cry and the ringing of alarms from the skyhook. "No," McCallum mumbled sadly. At that moment, a blow from a Syck fighter struck the side of the shuttle's wing. "General, I've lost Commander Fel," McCallum reported as he turned the Blue Harvest around to return fire, "He's inside the skyhook and I can't reach him." "Get away from the thing before it blows up," Han said from inside the Millennium Falcon, "and detach the escape pod." Leia was still positioned on the ramp, deflecting fire aimed at them while Chewie activated the guns attached to the bottom of the freighter. "The escape pod?" McCallum asked as he blasted the Syck fighter and sent it crashing into a wing of the Skyhook. "Yeah, the one built into your shuttle," Han replied, "Attach it to the top of the skyhook and leave it for Sam." "But what if he doesn't make it?" McCallum asked, "He might already be..." "Don't!" Han snapped into the radio, "Sam's going to be fine. He's my best man in the fleet. Just leave the pod and get away!" "As you wish, sir," McCallum replied. Han activated another radio channel, now transmitting a signal much further away. "Admiral, do you copy?" RYLOTH Another battle raged on the Twilek homeworld of Ryloth, the local militia facing the Coalition guerrillas in the streets. Flying his Republic shuttle into the aerial combag zone above, Admiral Calrissian responded to the communication patched to him. "Calling me Admiral, are we? Han, are you getting all proper on me now?" "Listen, Lando, we're in a bit of a rough patch here on Ord Mantell," came the reply from Han, "We could use any help we can get." Lando became somber as he sighed regretfully. "Listen, buddy, I wish I could drop everything for you, but I can't. Our entire forces are spread across the galaxy and I have to help the militia here on Rylo "I get it," Han replied with an uncharacteristically sad and weary tone, "Good luck out there Lando." "You too, you old pirate," Lando replied before ending the communication. ORD MANTELL SYSTEM Sam hung on tightly to the detonator sack and the ladder as the Gammorean was joined by two Falleen Vigos, both of whom drew their pistols to open fire. Sam slipped an arm into the strap of the sack and, still holding on for dear life, managed to pull out another detonator. McCallum pulled the lever to release the escape pod, which then latched itself to the top hatch of the skyhook and opened down below. Sam looked up at the pod with determination, and flicked the detonator's deadman switch. Instead of tossing the detonator, he placed it back in the bag and dropped the whole thing. Nearly falling off, Sam caught himself and began to climb up with all the strength in his body. McCallum sped as far as he could from the Black Sun skyhook, feeling a lump in his throat as he looked back and said, "Goodbye Sam." "What was that?" asked one of the pilots. "I'm afraid we have to say goodbye to Captain Fel," McCallum said, "his heroic sacrifice..." He stopped as the small, blue escape pod blasted away from the skyhook, getting just far enough away a second before the entire command ship was broken into pieces by a massive explosion as the activated detonator in the sack triggered all the other ones. "Destroy the pod!" Vigo Dask shouted in desperation just as the main command station was engulfed in the explosion. "He made it!" McCallum shouted in joy and relief. "I knew it," Han said from down in Ord Mantell City. At that moment, Leia slipped back into the Falcon and pressed the button to seal the ramp. She sighed wearily as she followed Chewie up into the cockpit to join her husband and Threepio. Inside the Hutt Cartel Dor'bulla, its crew members screamed in alarm as a debris-covered arm from the destroyed skyhook towards it. "Evade, evade!" shouted a Nikto lieutenant just before the arm plunged into the Nal Hutta craft. Only now did Sam dare to look back. He felt a mix of vulnerability and triumph as he steered the small, nearly defenseless escape pod after the BlueHarvest to reconnect with it. The mysterious warrior Nihl ran into his own Infiltrator before taking off from the Sith cruiser, bound to join his fellow warrior on Ord Mantell. "All clear, General," Sam reported. "Good work, kid," Han replied as the Falcon rejoined the airborne fight throughout Ord Mantell's capital, "Now we need all the men we can get down here." "Copy," Sam replied as the pod reattached to its parent ship. Sam climbed back into the Blue Harvest as it led the fleet of Republic craft into the atmosphere of Ord Mantell. Eyeing the Millennium Falcon from afar, Talon set her ship's course to follow it. Separately, Nihl performed the same action. The two Interceptors quickly approached the Falcon as it hurried to regroup with the rest of the Republic fleet.