During the Galactic Civil War, the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing of the Galactic Empire launched a series of attacks on the New Republic's EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate, the Hellion's Dare in the Oridol Cluster.
Several weeks after the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, the New Republic EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate Hellion's Dare, commanded by the Chadra-Fan Captain Kreskian, was stationed at the planet Jiruus in the Jiruus system, collecting scouting reports as part of a reconnaissance mission. The Galactic Empire's 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, which was entrenching in the Pandem Nai system, targeted the Dare as part of an effort coordinated by the fighter wing's commanding officer, Colonel Shakara Nuress, to maintain the secrecy of the 204th's new base of operations. Thus two TIE/ln space superiority starfighter squadrons were deployed under Lieutenant Preartes aboard the Quasar Fire-class cruiser carrier Aerie to eliminate the New Republic frigate.
The Aerie and its thirty-two TIEs attacked the Hellion's Dare and its two escort squadrons, the RZ-1 A-wing interceptors of Riot Squadron and the A/SF-01 B-wing starfighters of Hound Squadron. In the ensuing battle, the Dare and its escorts chose to flee into hyperspace. The 204th's TIE fighters picked off Riot Eight, Nasi Moreno before she could escape. Moreno's A-wing wreckage was then pulled aboard the Aerie with a tractor beam and its flight logs were salvaged to find the jump coordinates of the Hellion's Dare and its escorts.
Pursuit into the Oridol Cluster
- "Confirmed sighting of a cruiser-carrier. Enemy is dispatching multiple TIE squadrons. Riot will run interference; Hound will remain within one hundred kilometers of the Dare. This is a delaying action—the Dare is calculating jump coordinates and will transmit presently."
"You want to explain how they found us?"
"Unknown. Prepare to launch."
- ―Hound Leader, Stanislok, and Hound Six, Fadime
Following the Hellion's Dare's escape, the New Republic pilots of Riot and Hound Squadron held a funeral for the late Moreno aboard the frigate. The 204th soon caught up with the Dare and its forces, over 12 hours after the encounter in the Jiruus system. Riot Squadron engaged the TIE's and the B-Wings stayed behind and engaged the few fighters that made it through. When the New Republic forces chose to retreat again, the Imperials TIEs picked off Riot Seven, Sonogari, to repeat its tracking technique. Following the escape, Kreskian briefed his people that their forces had fled into the Oridol Cluster, hoping that the dense nebula and asteroid fields could hide them from the 204th. A funeral was then held for Sonogari, and some of the pilots gathered in the recreational room after, later playing a game of Who? What? Where?.
The 204th attacked the Hellion's Dare and the escort squadrons again, picking off the Riot Squadron pilot Rep Boy to salvage his jump coordinates. The fighter wing followed the frigate into a system extremely thick with cosmic dust that greatly hindered visibility. The resulting engagement was chaotic and drawn-out in contrast to the previous one, and the Dare remained hidden in the cloud and only its cannon fire gave the vessel away. Hound Squadron lost Quaysail, Togue, and Ansil before the New Republic forces were able to escape.
Familiarizing with the enemy
A fifth battle eventually occurred, with the Riot Squadron pilot Kamala being the one to be picked off, and the New Republic pilots started to recognize certain TIEs and gave them nicknames based on their flight patterns. The TIE pilot Garl Lykan received the name "Snapper," and his favored tactic of pinning down lone fighters with a flight group became known as the "needle." Another 204th pilot named Palal Seedia was given the name "Blink" after Riot Three, Wyl Lark, disabled one of her TIE's laser cannons. The Imperial pilot named Hirodin Nasli was nicknamed "Puke" as the pilot was known to repeatedly sprayed cannon fire. "Char," Rep boy's killer, was nicknamed for a carbon scoring marks on the TIE pilot's fighter, and "Tails" was nicknamed for an ion trail which came from the pilot's fighter.
The New Republic personnl had become very worried over the reason the Empire was attacking them. However, no trackers or secret communications were found on the ship. Some believed that the ship had intercepted a transmission about a third Death Star. The Sixth Battle took place in a beautiful blue and green system. Kreskain believed that speed could save them, and three droids at the Dare's bridge tried to calculate a slingshot jump around a frozen planet. The maneuver required the escort squadron's fighters to be on max speed as they tried to keep up with the frigate. The Imperial pilots tried to disable Lark's, but were unable as their shots missed before he jumped to hyperspace.
Stopping the pursuit
The Hellion's Dare was starting to lose more and more fighters with each engagement. The Frigate and its crew were starting to figure out that each time a fighter died, it could be used to track the fleet. Captain Kreskain believed the only way to stop the pursuit was to destroy, or at least severely damage, the Quasar Fire-class cruiser-carrier. The plan involved sending both Riot and Hound Squadron to attack the cruiser meaning that the Dare would be exposed for bombing runs. As Riot and Hound Squadron approached, they engaged the TIE's defending their ship. However, most of the Imperials targeted the Dare. The B-wings of Hound Squadron fired torpedoes and laser volleys into the Quasar's engines and sent them offline. However, as the fighter wing returned from their bombing run, they found the Hellion's Dare engulfed in flames. The TIE's avoived a fight agains the combined firepower of the Nebulon-B and the fighters. Both ships were stuck for the time being.
The Dare suffered worse damage during the last battle, with fires raging across the ship. The TIE's stayed behind and defended their carrier while it repaired itself. Both sides waited for the chance to finish the other side off as their mechanics and engineers rushed repairs. During this stalemate, the New Republic pilots attempted to keep morale up with personal stories and songs. Three hours after the fight, Lark opened his comms. Within an hour, one of TIE pilots opened up a conversatin with him. Lark realized it was the one they had called Blink after the TIE pilot recounted their last fight. Wyl told the Imperial of the story from the Tangrada-Nii people. After this story, the Imperial pilot told him that he would rot out here and closed comms. The Cruiser-Carrier broke the stalemate first by moving away to safety and all TIE fighters of Shadow descending upon the Frigate. The resulting battle saw the loss of the entire Republic fleet, except for two fighters.
The missing frigate alerted New Republic Intelligence, specifically Caern Adan, who was searching for Shadow Wing. Adan worked with the frigate Buried Treasure and several newly recruited pilots to attack Harrikos-Fifteen Research Station in order to secure a staging ground for finding the frigate. The station would be taken and two surviving pilots Chass na Chadic and Wyl Lark from the hunt.
Behind the scenes
- Alphabet Squadron (First appearance, simultaneous with Alphabet Squadron audiobook)
- Alphabet Squadron audiobook
- Shadow Fall (Mentioned only)
- Shadow Fall audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Victory's Price (In flashback(s))
- Victory's Price audiobook (In flashback(s))
Notes and references