Articles

Ripples of the Future: Kupyi Labe

In Uncategorized on 2008-03-19 by Kyle Maxwell

“The Last Full Measure of Devotion”

The tall blue Twi’lek stared into his console intently. A waterfall display flickered in front of him as he quickly made mental calculations before answering the deck officer.

“Sir, all sensors are operating within nominal parameters. We are ‘go’.”

The bustle around him signified a warship that was clearly at general quarters, a call that had been ordered by the fleet admiral as the supply ships had finished replenishment and were returning to the orbital depots around Sullust. Colonel Kupyi Labe had been assigned as an intelligence officer to analyze Imperial starfighter assaults in the impending fight over Endor.

For just a moment, he allowed himself the small luxury of a deep breath and recollection of all that he had sacrificed for this day: his family on Coruscant with all the wealth and privilege that that had implied; his wife and son; the lives of his comrades and, indeed, nearly his own several times; even his left arm. Many of them had been far better soldiers, pilots, and leaders, but they had given their lives in the cause of galactic freedom and liberty.

Today, the Alliance intended to bring that cause to completion, striking at the very head of the Empire. Mon Mothma, Ackbar, Madine, Cracken… they had made the decision to roll the dice.

The admiral’s voice echoed from every speaker in the ship, conveying at once confidence and competence. “Proceed with the countdown. All groups, assume attack coordinates.”

Labe reviewed his equipment one more time. This was not the moment for a lack of preparation to cost them anything, as hard as they knew the Empire would fight once surprised.

“All craft, prepare to jump into hyperspace on my mark.”

As the fleet entered hyperspace a few moments later, he straightened his uniform, adjusted his seat, and poised himself lithely over the controls. All was in order, as he’d expected given his own personal inspection of the analysis software and sensor schematics. The large ship shuddered around them as they re-entered realspace, and a hush fell over the crew. Gleaming before them was a green moon, beautiful and nearly untouched.

The deck officer’s voice quickly shook them from their reverie. “All sectors, report in.” Every member of the intelligence crew crisply announced their readiness, just before Ackbar spoke once more in time-honored tradition.

“May the Force be with us.”

Labe pushed his feelings about that phrase down inside; this simply wasn’t the time. Once the Empire was defeated here, the work of truly restoring the Republic could begin. But this time there would be no need to mix in an elite religious order to the government; the beings of the Alliance military had proven their devotion to maintaining freedom everywhere without asserting special privileges. The imposition of the Jedi did not need to return, threatening the liberties of all in the Galaxy.

But this was indeed not the right time. The battle needed to be won first, and he returned his attention to his console. Alliance fighter squadrons flashed by and, deep inside, he wished he was joining them. He had served along many of those pilots, flying his Y-wing and then X-wing from Rori, but orders were orders and he was needed here.

The static on the display confused him. Hadn’t he just inspected the equipment? This was no time for system failure. The curses of his fellow officers, though, told him something more was at stake. Even before the first blasters and torpedoes had been fired, battle had been joined in the endless play of electrons and magnetic fields that had such a direct impact on every fight.

Undoubtedly, the Alliance fleet had somehow lost the element of surprise. The groundpounders assigned to destroy the shield bunker had evidently failed in their mission; Labe had seen General Solo before and was distinctly unimpressed. A fine pilot, to be sure, but his arrogance led him to take unnecessary risks and endanger his missions. That cocksure human should simply not have been entrusted with a mission of such importance. Whispered rumors spoke of some sort of relationship with the Alderaanian noble Leia Organa, and a friendship with Luke Skywalker that predated their association with the rebellion.

A few moments later, the fighters split, as General Calrissian reached the same conclusion and finally issued the requisite orders to save the fighters.

“All craft, take evasive action.” Ackbar was reacting a bit slow as well, perhaps due to the immense amount of data he no doubt had in front of him.

As Labe’s fingers fairly flew across the console controls, he began to resolve a few larger craft. Retuning the resonant frequency of the sensor crystals, he peered at his display and rapidly informed the deck officer of enemy ships in Sector 37.

The murmurs of the crew agreed with his own fears: it was a trap. Somehow, the Empire had expected them and prepared for their arrival, flanking the incoming Alliance fleet. TIE fighters streamed across his display; he’d never seen so many in his life. A three-dimensional ballet commenced, but far deadlier than those he’d seen in his youth on Coruscant. For every Rebel fighter that flickered out of existence on his display, four TIEs did as well… but the odds were worse than that. Five squadrons against TIE Interceptors seemingly without end? They’d need far more than the Force to win this battle.

An explosion far down one of the corridors startled Labe, and a nearby bulkhead automatically sealed. The officer next to him muttered a dark oath, then announced that a fighter had impacted on the cruiser.

Labe saw something just then. An incoming TIE squadron from an unexpected sector flashed onto his screen. Pursing his lips together, he sent an emergency alert to the fighter squadron leaders. The tactical display on the wall in front of them told a grim story, however. Despite their best efforts at relaying information to Fleet Command and the fighters, and the heroic efforts of the pilots around them, little true progress was being made. The battle was, in fact, being lost, and with it the hopes of the entire galaxy.

A nearby Duros officer spoke up. “Sir, I’m showing armed turbolaser batteries on the Star Destroyers, but they’re not firing.”

“No? What could they possibly be…”

As Labe glanced at a porthole and saw the green lasers forming in the dish of the Death Star, his last thought was, “we failed.”

Milliseconds later, the Liberty and all aboard, including Colonel Labe, were vaporized.

EPILOGUE

A small wreath was launched into space at the last coordinates of the Liberty. Mon Mothma bowed her head, speaking quietly.

“Twenty-five millennia ago, our fathers brought forth in this galaxy a galactic republic, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all beings are created equal.

“We have been engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that republic can return and shine its light across the galaxy. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that republic might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate… we can not consecrate… we can not hallow… this ground. The brave beings, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The galaxy will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this republic, as the Force wills, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the galaxy.”

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