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First Battle of Borleias

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"It was an unmitigated disaster. I lost people, the Alliance lost people, and we didn't take the planet."
―Wedge Antilles[src]

The First Battle of Borleias was an unsuccessful attempt by the New Republic to capture an Imperial base on Borleias, a planet in the Pyria system, during the Galactic Civil War in 6.5 ABY. Due to the planet's close proximity to the Core Worlds, the New Republic hoped to capture the base and use it to launch an eventual attack against Coruscant, the galactic capital. Bothan General Laryn Kre'fey, based on intelligence by the Bothan Spynet, developed a plan to bombard the base's deflector shield from space, then use General Horton Salm's Defender Wing to bomb the remaining ground forces while Commander Wedge Antilles' Rogue Squadron protected the bombers. Once the attack was complete, assault transports would shuttle commandos to the planet's surface to liberate the base.

Unbeknownst to the New Republic, however, Imperial General Evir Derricote had secret defense measures installed at the base, including an extra deflector shield generator, heavy ion cannons and additional TIE interceptor squadrons. When Kre'fey's forces launched their assault, Derricote lured the New Republic forces into a false sense of security by deliberately dropping the shields to simulate their failure from bombardment. As the New Republic forces descended into the atmosphere, he then unleashed his trap, re-establishing the shields at twice their original power and launching a counterstrike that resulted in heavy New Republic losses. Kre'fey was killed and the New Republic fleet was forced to retreat after only ten minutes in battle.

PreludeEdit

Bothan reconnaissanceEdit

"Bothans. They make runs at all Holonet communications. I feed them data and it keeps them happy."
―Evir Derricote[src]

In 6.5 ABY, the Galactic Empire still maintained control of the majority of settled planets, as well as a stranglehold on the important Core Worlds. The New Republic determined the most effective way to destroy the Empire would be to capture Coruscant, the universal symbol of governmental power and authority in the galaxy. New Republic forces began seizing planets in Imperial territory to serve as stepping stones for a strike at Coruscant. Due to the Pyria system's close proximity the Galactic Core, the New Republic Provisional Council determined the Imperial-controlled planet Borleias would serve as a key staging point for an eventual attack against Coruscant.[1]

Laryn Kre'fey, a Bothan general who rose in prominence thanks in part to the Bothan Spynet's role in capturing the Death Star II plans prior to the Battle of Endor, was assigned the task of planning the planetary assault. Kre'fey hoped to take the planet quickly and decisively so the Provisional Council would give him command of the eventual Coruscant invasion. Kre'fey ordered Bothan spies to probe the HoloNet messages coming from the small Imperial base on Borleias in order to determine the installation's defenses.[1]

The Bothan Spynet determined that the base consisted of a deflector shield generator, four heavy ion cannons, ground-based laser defenses and two TIE squadrons, one of fighters and one of interceptors. Although the shield projectors were expanded during the time of the Rebel Alliance, the Bothans determined this was only done so the Alliance would not find Borleias too inviting a target. The defenses were believed to be underwhelming and relatively easy to penetrate, and Kre'fey, along with his staff of two Bothan colonels and one commander, began to conceive an offensive strike.[1]

Secret Imperial defensesEdit

"I've anticipated a move against Borleias ever since I found the Biotics station in working order, and I've planned accordingly."
―Evir Derricote[src]
Alderaan Biotics facility (Borleias)

The Alderaan Biotics facility on Borleias, the source of the Imperial base's secret deflector shield generator.

Unbeknownst to the Bothans, however, Imperial General Evir Derricote, who maintained the base, had implemented secret defenses in order to protect a black market Alderaan Biotics facility he maintained there for personal profit. Since he concealed the enterprise from his Imperial superiors, Derricote kept computer security tighter than most Imperial outposts outside of Coruscant itself. In fact, Derricote had been aware of the Bothan Spynet probes, and deliberately fed the spies false information. As such, they were unaware of his additional defense measures, which included two extra TIE interceptor squadrons and a power generator that doubled the power of the deflector shield once activated. The TIE pilots were also more experienced than usual, and clocked far more simulation time than pilots at other outposts of similar size.[1]

Derricote had anticipated an attack against Borleias ever since he discovered the Aldeeraan Biotics facility. In fact, the general admitted that he looked forward to such a conflict; he had personally led the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing to victory during the Battle of Derra IV in 3 ABY, and was anxious to engage the enemy once again. When Imperial Intelligence Agent Kirtan Loor was dispatched to Borleias by Director of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard, this only further convinced Derricote that a New Republic offensive was imminent, and he began to prepare accordingly.[1]

Loor, who discovered Derricote's secret defense upon arrival at Borleias, previously theorized that the planet was one of about two dozen worlds that the New Republic might target in order to gain access to the Core Worlds for an eventual attack of Coruscant. Loor falsely believed Isard had come to the same conclusion and ordered him to Borleias to help defend the planet. In fact, Isard sent Loor only to spy on Derricote, who she believed possessed horticultural and scientific skills that could be developed into a bioweapon against the New Republic. Had Loor shared his theory with Isard, she would have dispatched a greater defense force with more resources to squelch the attack and destroy the New Republic forces.[1]

Laryn Kre'fey's planEdit

"I am General Laryn Kre'fey and I am now going to brief you on the mission that will open the way to Coruscant for our valiant forces."
―Laryn Kre'fey[src]

Laryn Kre'fey determined a bombardment from space would be the best approach for conquering the base. The Emancipator, one of two Imperial-class Star Destroyers captured at the Battle of Endor and repaired by the Rebel Alliance, would lead the assault by battering the base's shields with turbolaser and ion fire. Kre'fey determined that the deflector shields were vulnerable to the aerial bombardment even when the diameter of shield coverage was shrunk from the full base to a smaller diameter protecting only essential ground facilities.[1]

Krefey

General Laryn Kre'fey, who planned the New Republic assault on Borleias.

Once the shields were down, General Horton Salm would launch his Defender Wing, which consisted of the Champion, Guardian and Warden Y-wing starfighter squadrons. Defender Wing, which would launch from modified bulk cruiser Mon Valle, would proceed to bomb the Imperial facilities and defenses. Rogue Squadron, the elite X-wing squad led by Commander Wedge Antilles, would launch from the CR90 corvette Eridain and protect the Y-wings from the Imperial base's TIE forces.[1]

Once the ground resistance had been sufficiently weakened by the Y-wings, three assault shuttles would launch from the modified bulk cruiser Corulag to transport commando forces to the planet. Each shuttle would make three trips to the planet with 40 commandos each, until a total 960 troops were transported to the base to finish the New Republic conquest.[1] Among the commandos was Kell Tainer, who would go on to become a pilot with Wedge Antilles' Wraith Squadron in 7.5 ABY.[4]

The plan was presented to the Provisional Council before other New Republic Defense Force officials, including Supreme Commander Admiral Gial Ackbar, were given the opportunity to evaluate it. The Council approved the plan[1] thanks in part to support by Borsk Fey'lya, a Bothan councilor distantly related to Kre'fey.[5]

Kre'fey felt the element of surprise was crucial to the mission's success. Due to recent security leaks to Ysanne Isard, who had accelerated her counterintelligence efforts against the New Republic in recent months, the identity of the planet and system, as well as other basic information about the mission parameters, was to be kept confidential from the military forces involved in the battle, including Horton Salm and Wedge Antilles. Borleias would be identified only by the codename Blackmoon, named after the planet's sole moon.[1] These measures successfully prevented Erisi Dlarit, a spy for Isard serving in Rogue Squadron, from providing Imperial Intelligence any critical information about the assault.[6]

Concerns with Kre'fey's planEdit

"I don't like this."
"Your likes and dislikes are immaterial, Commander. The Provisional Council has approved this plan, and that is enough."
"They may approve of it, but they're not going to be flying this mission, General."
"But I will be there, Commander, in the first transport, leading the way down to take Black-moon. I trust you do not doubt Bothan courage."
―Wedge Antilles and Laryn Kre'fey[src]

Laryn Kre'fey presented the plan to military officials during a briefing on Home One, one of Ackbar's MC80 Star Cruiser flagships. Kre'fey advised the officials, which included Ackbar, Wedge Antilles, and Horton Salm, that the mission was to take place in fifteen days, leaving only two weeks of training for the pilots and commandos. The brief training period would put Rogue Squadron at a particular disadvantage since the squad was short two pilots due to the death of Lujayne Forge and the suspension of Tycho Celchu, who was suspected by some to be an Imperial spy; Shistavanen pilot Riv Shiel was also flying in spite of prior injuries. Salm suggested more time might be necessary to prepare for the battle, but backed down when Kre'fey, who had previously been at odds with the general, threatened to replace Defender Wing with another bomber wing.[1]

Wedge1 negtc

Commander Wedge Antilles, who led Rogue Squadron into battle despite concerns about the plan.

Although Antilles did not anticipate a trap at Borleias, he felt the defenses were odd in that they were too strong for such an obscure world, but at the same time too weak for a planet that would bring the New Republic so close to Coruscant. The commander questioned the intelligence gathered about the base and expressed several concerns about Kre'fey's plan, which he felt depended too heavily upon aerial bombardment and should instead begin with a ground assault. He feared the base's ion cannons could slow down the bombardment enough to allow reinforcements from surrounding systems to arrive at Pyria and stop the attack.[1]

Kre'fey, known for his pride, was not receptive to any such criticisms. When Antilles asked whether the deflector shields might be strong enough to withstand bombardment even if the ion cannons were not online, Kre'fey had not anticipated the tactic and failed to incorporate it into his planning, but nevertheless refused to reevaluate his plan and insisted it would not matter. His hesitation in answering this particular query shook the confidence of several military officials present.[1]

Antilles also insisted that too much basic information was being withheld from the military officials. Ackbar agreed and ordered Kre'fey to provide more specific information, and even went so far as to threaten canceling the operation if he failed to do so, despite the Provisional Council's approval. Kre'fey reluctantly complied with the order, although the identity and location of Borleias remained a secret, and coordinates would be provided for the destination only on the day of the battle. Simulation packages with basics of the Imperial installation were provided for the X-wing and Y-wing pilots, who would spend the next two weeks training on the Colonies world of Noquivzor, from which the fleet would launch the eventual attack.[1]

Judder Page, commander of the elite Page's Commandos Special Forces unit, privately approached Kre'fey and suggested delaying the battle three weeks. After that time, the planet's orbit would travel through an annual meteor shower, which Page wanted to use as cover to bring his commandos to the planet for a ground reconnaissance mission on the base. Kre'fey did not approve the plan because the planet's moon would block the entry and exit vector, which he said would pose a serious risk to the mission; Page, however, suspected the Bothan general simply did not wish to delay his conquest.[1]

After the two-week training period ended, Laryn Kre'fey briefed the pilots on the upcoming mission. Although he made an effort to boost their morale and promised them future generations would laud their accomplishments, the pilots shared concerns about the lack of specific information and the plan in general. Corran Horn, a Rogue Squadron pilot, felt particularly uneasy about the mission due to his heightened, latent Force-sensitive instincts.[1]

The battleEdit

New Republic bombardmentEdit

"Resistance is ended. It is time to claim our prize."
―Laryn Kre'fey[src]

The New Republic fleet jumped from Noquivzor into the Pyria system and launched their attack. The identity of the planet and system, however, remained a secret; Kre'fey arranged for coordinates to be downloaded to and erased from all of the astromech droids and navigation computers before and after the operation. Emancipator, commanded by the Mon Calamari Admiral Ragab, began its turbolaser barrage against the Borleias base's shields as planned. The dome-shaped shield deflected the bulk of the blasts to the surrounding planetary surface, igniting some of the nearby jungle and buildings, which the starfighter pilots worried might complicate the Y-wing bombardment.[1]

Evir Derricote

General Evir Derricote, the Imperial leader on Borleias who installed secret defense measures at the base.

Kre'fey was delighted, however, that the shields seemed to be dropping quicker than expected, and the base's ion cannons were not firing back at Emancipator. Horn also monitored the shields himself by having his R2 unit Whistler discern the shield size, as well as ground air currents and other planetary information. The droid gathered this information using a criminal investigation and forensics circuitry package from its past use on the Corellian Security Force, something the New Republic commanders were unaware of and would not have authorized.[1]

Unbeknownst to the New Republic forces, Derricote had ordered his staff to gradually reduce the shields by random increments of seven or less; once the shield hit 75 percent, Derricote ordered it to half-power, then twenty percent, then five, then zero power. Kirtan Loor expressed concern that the fleet would level the base before Derricote's secret defenses could protect them, but the general showed little worry. In fact, the base took significantly less damage than even Derricote expected because Kre'fey switched predominantly from turbolasers to ion fire, which would inflict less damage on the base he planned to capture.[1]

Kre'fey believed the Imperial ion cannons had not yet fired because they were disabled and that the base was essentially surrendering, which explained the lack of TIE support. The general thus felt justified in ordering Defender Wing to return to Noquivzor and dispatched Rogue Squadron to escort the shuttles instead; Kre'fey said the move would surpass an unnecessary delay, but in fact the Bothan hoped to prevent his rival, Salm, from receiving any credit for the expected victory. All the pilots were audibly concerned about the decision but accepted the order. Salm, however, had no intention of returning home, and brought Defender Wing close to Emancipator so he could later claim it prevented him from making the jump to lightspeed.[1]

The X-wings locked S-foils into attack position and began the escort, while Emancipator rose away from the planet to screen for any interloping Imperials. The Star Destroyer opted not to position itself to intercept attacking TIEs or destroy launching facilities because Kre'fey did not want to damage his prize any more than necessary. The eight assault shuttles launched from Corulag, one of which carried Kre'fey himself; the general ordered his ship to descend upon the planet first so he would be one of the first to set foot on the captured base.[1]

Imperial strikeEdit

"The Rebels want this place to use for future operations, that's the only reason they're attacking. If they want it, they're going to pay my price to get it."
―Evir Derricote[src]
Battle of Borleias

Rogue Squadron was outnumbered by Evir Derricote's secret TIE interceptor squadrons during the battle.

At that point, Evir Derricote unleashed his trap, ordering the shields to be restored at two hundred percent of the original power thanks to his secret shield generator. The dormant Imperial ion cannons opened fire, the first blast catching Laryn Kre'fey's assault shuttle with a direct hit. The disabled shuttle began to fall into the atmosphere and collided with the reinforced shield, destroying the ship and killing Kre'fey and the 40 commandos on board. Next, Derricote launched his TIE fighters and one of his TIE interceptor squadrons from launch tunnels around the shield dome's perimeter.[1]

With the ranking officer killed in action, Wedge Antilles took command and ordered the shuttles to retreat from the planet and take evasive action until they could escape into hyperspace. Rogue Squadron was tasked with protecting them, and the X-wing pilots switched to proton torpedoes and opened fire on the TIEs as the base's ion fire continued pounding the fleet. Emancipator began to sustain ion damage and one of the blasts nearly disabled one of the shuttles; Peshk Vri'syk's starfighter was struck and eradicated, instantly killing the Rogue Squadron pilot.[1]

After a few moments of starfighter combat that resulted in the destruction of several TIEs, Rogue pilot Andoorni Hui's lateral stabilizer became damaged, hindering her ability to adequately dodge her enemies. Although Corran Horn tried to assist Hui, the Rodian pilot was unable to evade a TIE interceptor and was destroyed. Immediately upon destroying Hui's killer, Horn and his Gand wingmate Ooryl Qrygg were forced to defend Devonian, the assault shuttle carrying Judder Page, from an attack by four TIE interceptors.[1]

Colonel salm

General Horton Salm led Defender Wing into battle and saved Rogue Squadron from destruction.

The TIEs were destroyed after an intense dogfight, but not before forcing Qrygg to eject from his X-wing. The Gand's right arm was severed at the elbow by the debris from one of his starfighter's S-foils. By this time, Rogue pilots Erisi Dlarit and Nawara Ven were also forced to eject from their starfighters. The remaining pilots feared the punishing nature of the battle would not allow a rescue for the ejected pilots, but Tycho Celchu, who was forbidden from combat but was monitoring the battle in the unarmed Lambda-class shuttle Forbidden, flew into the combat zone to pick them up.[1]

The remaining seven assault shuttles successfully escaped into hyperspace along with Corulag, but the ion cannons successfully disabled Mon Valle before it could escape the system. As Emancipator and Eridain gradually moved toward an outbound escape vector, Derricote launched his remaining two TIE interceptor squadrons. The remaining Rogue Squadron pilots—Antilles, Horn, Riv Shiel, Bror Jace, Gavin Darklighter and Rhysati Ynr—engaged the TIEs in order to protect Forbidden during its rescue operation and to cover the escaping capital ships.[1]

RetreatEdit

"Two months of prep and in ten minutes the squadron is cut in half. Someone made some very bad mistakes here, and our friends paid for them."
―Corran Horn[src]

Outnumbered four to one, the Rogues were saved only by the intervention of Defender Wing, which had not jumped out of the system, and had not been detected by the TIE interceptors or the base's ground sectors due to their position behind Emancipator. Although the Y-wings lacked the speed for such a dogfight, their massive firepower helped destroy six interceptors during Defender Wing's first attack run.[1]

Outnumbered and outgunned, the remaining TIEs retreated so the Imperials could instead focus their ion cannons on the remaining capital ships. Forbidden finished picking up all the remaining pilots and prepared to escape from the system along with the starfighter squadrons. The disabled Mon Valle was destroyed by additional ion cannon blasts. No longer under assault from the interceptors, Eridain stayed behind long enough to pick up escape pods that left the Mon Valle, then the fleet jumped into hyperspace, ending what proved to be a devastating loss for the New Republic forces. The First Battle of Borleias lasted only ten minutes.[1]

AftermathEdit

Immediate responses to battleEdit

"This mission was vape-bait from before Kre'fey ordered the Y-wings home."
―Judder Page[src]

Ysanne Isard, already aware of Evir Derricote's talent as a horticulturist and scientist, was further impressed with the military tactics he demonstrated at the First Battle of Borleias and the resourcefulness he showed in establishing the base's secret defense measures. She ordered Derricote to be transferred from the Pyria system to Coruscant, where he would work directly under Isard in developing the Krytos virus, a devastating alien-targeting disease she planned to unleash upon the citizens of Coruscant after the New Republic conquered the planet, a move Isard considered inevitable. As such, she felt little concern for defending the worlds that would give the New Republic access to the Core, which made Borleias more vulnerable to future attacks.[1]

Sometime after the retreat, the New Republic forces learned that Eviscerator, an Imperial II-class Star Destroyer, had jumped into the Pyria system several hours after the fleet escaped. Had the planet been successfully captured, Eviscerator likely would have destroyed the entire New Republic strike force and recaptured the planet. Wedge Antilles intended to recommend Horton Salm for the Corellian Cross for his role in saving Rogue Squadron, but Salm, who possessed a rigid adherence to discipline, insisted that Antilles report that he had disobeyed a direct order in not jumping into hyperspace when Laryn Kre'fey had commanded him to.[1]

Erisi Dlarit, Nawara Ven, and Ooryl Qrygg recovered from their injuries after sessions in bacta tanks at Noquivzor; the bacta accelerated Qrygg's Gand healing abilities and allowed his severed right arm to grow back more quickly than usual. Riv Shiel also checked himself in for medical treatment at the behest of Gavin Darklighter, leaving Rogue Squadron short on pilots and morale.[1]

Development of new planEdit

"If we want Blackmoon, we've got it."
―Corran Horn[src]
Corran-jpn

new battle plan.

While reflecting on Laryn Kre'fey's tactical mistakes, Corran Horn and Judder Page discussed theories as to why the Bothan Spynet failed to detect the defense measures despite their well-known computer expertise, and concluded that Evir Derricote might have been keeping the secret from the Galactic Empire itself. Page reflected that if more proper information about the still-unknown planet had been provided, or if a ground reconnaissance mission had been authorized, the New Republic forces might have found a way to overcome Derricote's defenses and conquer the base.[1]

Whistler informed the duo that while calculating the planet's wind currents, he discovered a star chart of the area which revealed the planet was Borleias. Whistler also discovered the Alderaan Biotics facility, the source of the deflector shield's second power generator. Horn and Page realized a starfighter could sever the conduit between the two facilities with proton torpedoes and bring the Borleias base defenses back to original estimates.[1]

The two presented this information to Wedge Antilles and Horton Salm, who conceived a new plan and presented it to Admiral Ackbar. New Republic forces would stage an attack on Jagga II, a gas giant in the Venjagga system several hours from Borleias, in order to lure Eviscerator out of the Pyria system, then launch a new assault. Ackbar approved the plan, which ultimately led a successful New Republic invasion during the Second Battle of Borleias.[1]

Investigation into leaksEdit

"The spectre of a chance that whoever might have betrayed your first mission to Borleias could betray your mission to Coruscant certainly existed, did it not?"
―Halla Ettyk[src]

Due to concerns that security leaks led to the Borleias defeat, Director of New Republic Intelligence Airen Cracken launched an investigation into the New Republic for an Imperial spy within the ranks of Rogue Squadron and Defender Wing. Suspicion tended to fall on Tycho Celchu, who in 5 ABY had been captured and imprisoned in Isard's Lusankya prison; most who survived such imprisonment were often brainwashed into spies or suicide agents for the Empire. Cracken's investigation, however, failed to turn up any evidence of spies or leaks with regard to the battle.[5]

Although even Horton Salm, a regular critic of Celchu, admitted that the pilot had been too isolated from the battle planning to have learned any sensitive information, the First Battle of Borleias was used against him in a treason trial months later. Prosecutor Halla Ettyk tried to tie the loss and suspicions of intelligence into what she described as a pattern of treasonous behavior. But Nawara Ven, who served as Celchu's defense attorney, was also able to use the battle to his advantage by describing Celchu's act of courage in flying the unarmed Forbidden into harm's way to rescue ejected pilots, including Ven.[6]

LegacyEdit

Celchu: "Figures, doesn't it? Endor, Borleias, and now this."
Antilles: "Take it easy. Borleias wasn't really the Bothans' fault."
Tycho Celchu and Wedge Antilles[src]

The First Battle of Borleias became synonymous with the concepts of defeat and poor military planning.[7] The legacy of Laryn Kre'fey, and the reputation of the Kre'fey family name, were particularly tarnished by the battle, as the Bothan general was widely considered at least partially responsible for the failure. One of Laryn's grandsons, Karka Kre'fey, would get into physical fights with Laryn's critics in order to defend the Kre'fey honor;[6] another grandson, Traest Kre'fey, would go on to serve as a New Republic and Galactic Alliance Admiral, but constantly struggled to overcome the legacy of his grandfather's blunders.[8] The battle became a source of embarrassment for the Bothan species in general and particularly for Borsk Fey'lya, who hoped to leverage a Kre'fey victory into an agenda that would place the Bothans on an equal level with Mon Calamari with regard to military prestige. Instead, the Borleias victory was used as a reference against Fey'lya during Provisional Council meetings whenever he tried to push an unpopular or controversial plan forward.[5]

Behind the scenesEdit

The First Battle of Borleias was created by Michael A. Stackpole and featured in X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, the first novel in the X-Wing series.[1]

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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