- "Glory to the Empire! We are victorious!"
- ―Unidentified Imperial comm officer
The battle near the Blair Cluster was a battle of Task Force Vengeance during its operation in the Airam sector. Imperial forces used the interdictor Compellor to pull Airam freighters out of hyperspace along a known hyperlane, then proceeded to disable the craft and take their crew and passengers into custody.
In pursuit of Rebel forces into the then-neutral Airam sector, Imperial Star Destroyer Rage and its auxiliary cruiser, the Interdictor Compellor, set up an ambush near an oft-traveled hyperspace transit point at the edge of the Blair Cluster. The plan was to have Compellor use its gravity well projectors to draw out of hyperspace and trap all ships attempting to pass through the area. The attached Avenger Squadron in its shielded TIE interceptors would then force their surrender following which Delta-class DX-9 stormtrooper transports belonging to Sigma Squadron would deliver boarding parties to inspect them. Wanted criminals would be arrested and illegal cargoes seized. Wherever warranted, the Imperials meant to obtain prisoners for interrogation. Capital ship defense was to be supplied by Beta and Gamma Squadrons in their TIE/sa bombers and TIE/LN starfighters.
Minutes into the operation, the Airam shuttle Ellichon was dragged into realspace. At first it sought to evade surrender by running for the asteroid field in hopes of hiding, but Avenger Squadron's warning shots halted it. Likewise, the Squit, a YT-1300 freighter, and the Beta-class ETR-3 escort transport Redeye tried flight before cooperation. The operation became more complicated, however, when the Rebel Alliance Gallofree medium transport Gilder arrived with its X-wing escort. After a brief skirmish, during which the Rebel starfighters were shot down by the Imperial TIEs and turbolasers, it too surrendered.
Quick on the heels of the Imperials' first minor triumph came the Airam Dreadnaught-class cruiser Anat and its two CR90 corvette escorts, Grom 1 and Grom 2. Defiant even in the face of overwhelming firepower and determined to defend their territory against the intruders, Anat's commanders ordered the launch of their T-wing and R-41 squadrons, Spike and Mallet. Spike Squadron was to engage the Empire's fighters while Mallet torpedoed Compellor in an attempt to drive it away.
The Imperial response was fast, with Rage ordering Beta Squadron to first destroy the corvettes and then the Dreadnaught. Avenger and Gamma Squadrons covered them, wiping out the Airam starfighters. The Airam capital ships were felled by Beta's torpedoes and concentrated fire from Rage. With all opposition vanquished, Sigma Squadron was successful in finishing their boarding tasks. The Empire had won the day.
The Imperials' inspections found every one of the stopped vessels to have aboard either wanted criminals, illicit cargoes, or both. This discovery, combined with the brash attack by the Airam Dreadnaught, confirmed in their minds that their campaign was long overdue. Retaliation was agreed upon, its form and location depending on the knowledge gleaned from their new prisoners.
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