Previously on Jedi/Superman...Last Son of the Republic
Growing Up under Twin Suns
Chariot of the Gods
The Quality of Mercy
A Job for Supermen
The Death Star loomed, a malevolent steel moon with one ugly, unblinking eye looking down over the Rebel base, last bastion of freedom and justice in the galaxy. Clark, fists clenched, his own deadly eyes glowing with righteous fury, hurtled toward that Cyclopean menace.
A light-second away, his targeting scope fixed on a jinking TIE fighter, Luke Skywalker flinched. He sensed something—something imminent, something catastrophic.
Clark. The Death Star was targeting Clark. And Clark was flying right into their path.
The TIE fighter slipped away. He could hear Biggs chiding him over the intercom, but the TIE didn’t matter. Luke closed his eyes, searched for Clark’s life essence out there in the black, found it, and pulled.
Clark’s eyes widened in surprise as he was suddenly wrenched off course. In that instant, the supercannon fired.
The emerald beam missed Clark by dozens of metres. Even so, the pain of the radiation washing over him was unbearable. Clark shrieked into the void, his flesh seared. Mercifully, he lost consciousness. The beam continued its course, shearing a Rebel frigate in half, spilling dozens of hapless crew into the cold interstellar void.
Death Star Bridge
Vader turned to face the tactical director. “You missed.”
“The targeting sensors on a laser this massive aren’t intended for targets of this..!”
The tactical director’s protest was cut off with a guttural cry and the dry crackling of suddenly traumatized bone and muscle. The man fell without a further word to the deck.
Vader unclenched his fist.
“I’ll have the supercannon ready to fire again in twenty minutes, Lord Vader!” cried the tactical director’s immediate underling.
“Ten,” hissed Vader.
“Ten, aye, ten!”
Tarkin clucked in disapproval. “Vader, control yourself. I can’t have you executing every man that makes a mistake. It’s bad for morale. We are, after all, trying to restore order to the galaxy. These men are idealists.”
“But far from ideal,” Vader grumbled.
“Take heart, Lord Vader. The Rebellion is being wiped out before our eyes. Even if this…being you’re obsessed with survives, how much damage can he do alone?”
On the viewscreen, Rebel ships burned under the immense firepower of the Imperial fleet.
Nebulon-B escort frigate Defiance
Leia’s stomach fell as the Imperial assault steadily decimated their already small fleet of soon-to-be galactic refugees. General Dodonna was doing his best to provide cover for the GR-75 transports to make the jump to lightspeed, but so far only two had gotten away; they’d lost two others, along with their only other frigate.
Swarms of TIEs flung themselves at the pitiful collection of some four dozen Rebel starfighters. For every Rebel starfighter that blossomed into the flame of defeat, ten TIEs were blown from the stars. But even at that kill ratio, they were doomed. There were just too many Imperials.
Ben Kenobi placed a gentle hand on Leia’s shoulder. He felt Clark’s agony and gasped, but composed himself quickly. See Threepio, golden-hued protocol droid and perennial annoyance, looked on curiously.
“He lives,” Kenobi whispered. “Well done, Luke. Well done, my boy.”
Leia glanced over at her old mentor. “Obi-Wan, what is it..?”
“Leia, there is still hope. But we must make a desperate gamble.”
Ben told Leia what was at stake. Leia glanced at the mission monitor board: another three GR-75s had jumped to hyperspace, but only two dozen starfighters were still flying. Two more GR-75s were edging closer and closer to escape.
“Starfighters, this is Princess Leia. Retreat immediately. Get those last ships away and head for the rendezvous point. We’ll cover you.”
“We’re doomed!” cried Threepio.
Biggs Darklighter’s voice crackled over the intercom. “Princess, one frigate can’t possibly survive alone!”
“You heard me, Red Three. May the Force be with you!”
From his cockpit, Biggs watched as the Defiance wheeled about, engines glowing white-hot as she burned toward no coordinates that made sense to him. Whatever she was doing, it was drawing a lot of fire from the Star Destroyers; he could see the frigate’s shields flaring, ready to buckle.
Biggs grimaced and turned his full attention back to the battle, howling vengeance as he blasted another TIE to atoms.
“Nice shooting, Biggs,” Wedge called, even as he himself torpedoed an Imperial gunship. “Everybody form up on the GR-75s. We’re getting out of here. For the Defiance!”
Biggs whooped along with everyone else—until his stomach suddenly dropped. Luke hadn’t joined that Rebel yell.
“Red Five, come in. Luke, where are you?”
Dodonna, Leia, Kenobi and Threepio held on for their lives as the bridge of the Defiance rattled and bucked, the frigate’s shields dangerously close to failing entirely under the onslaught of energy directed at them from all sides.
“Is that your man?” Dodonna said, pointing at the tumbling figure outside. It looked like just another floating casualty, but his faith in General Kenobi and the Princess was deep.
Kenobi nodded. “Please, General, reel him in.”
The frigate groaned in protest, but its grapple shot out and snagged Clark’s limp form easily, pulling him through a dorsal hatch. Two medical droids and a human nurse quickly hauled the burned husk to sickbay, though the nurse expressed silent doubts that anything could be done to save the charred thing they brought aboard. The droids dunked the near-corpse into a tank of bacta nonetheless, even as the ship’s first officer called yet again for damage control personnel to reinforce the shields. As if that could make any difference…
On the bridge, Leia watched as the last of the transports and starfighters jumped to safety. She shared a glance with Obi-Wan and Dodonna, then pressed the ship-to-ship communications controls.
“Imperial fleet, this is Princess Leia aboard the Rebel Alliance frigate Defiance. We surrender.”