- "He's just a Tatooine farm boy who thinks the ability to shoot womp rats from a speeder can make him a hero."
- ―Horton Salm, speaking of Gavin Darklighter
Gavin Darklighter was a Human male from Tatooine born during the Imperial Period. From humble origins, Darklighter went on to become a decorated pilot in Rogue Squadron, then Rogue Leader, then commanding admiral of a battle fleet. Born to moisture farmers, Darklighter grew up in the shadow of his older cousin, Biggs Darklighter—hero of the Rebellion. When he turned sixteen, Darklighter felt the pull of the stars, and determined to make his own way in the galaxy, joining the New Republic. With his parents' blessing, Darklighter entered the New Republic military and the piloting talents he had honed in his skyhopper at home landed him in the legendary Rogue Squadron, the successor to Biggs's unit. Despite his youth, Darklighter distinguished himself early, serving in the campaign to take Coruscant and resigning his commission to pursue Ysanne Isard, then rejoining with the rest of the Rogues and helping bring down Warlord Zsinj. During that time, Darklighter met and fell in love with a Bothan, Asyr Sei'lar. By the end of their service in the Thrawn campaign, Darklighter and Sei'lar were ready to marry and adopt children. This plan was cut tragically short when Sei'lar was reported dead during Rogue Squadron's campaign to oust the warlord Delak Krennel.
Darklighter bounced back, however, marrying Sera Faleur and raising a family of five children. When iconic Rogue Leaders Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu retired in the wake of the peace treaty with the Imperial Remnant, they handed command of the New Republic's most elite squadron to Darklighter. Darklighter proudly carried on the Rogue tradition during the Yuuzhan Vong War, fighting the invaders at every turn and recruiting future Rogue Leader Jaina Solo into the squadron. After the war, Darklighter transferred to Fleet Command, just as Antilles had some twenty years before. He quickly rose to the rank of commodore, during which time he served in the Swarm War, and then Rear Admiral. When the Second Galactic Civil War broke out, Darklighter continued to serve the Galactic Alliance despite having friends on both sides, but increasingly grew to resent Jacen Solo's methods of operating the Galactic Alliance. During the Battle of Balmorra, Darklighter gained command of the Galactic Alliance Fourth Fleet when his superior was killed in combat and was quickly able to force an enemy withdrawal. Darklighter continued serving the Galactic Alliance until the conclusion of the war, after which he became the commanding officer of the Galactic Alliance Marines.
- "Us Darklighters have a point in our lives when we look outside ourselves. We look outside our lives. Some of us, like my father, never do it until the end, and then they regret all the things they didn't do. […] And now you, Gavin, my eldest, you have the look."
"There's something out there for me, Father. Maybe I'm dreaming, but it feels like my destiny is out there."
- ―Jula Darklighter and Gavin Darklighter
Gavin Darklighter was born in 10 BBY on Tatooine to Jula and Silya Darklighter. Moisture farmers in the Anchorhead area, they led a life of hard work in difficult circumstances. Darklighter had two younger sisters, Rasca and Anya. His father, Jula, was the brother of Huff Darklighter, a wealthy local land baron; Huff did not share his fortune with Jula, preferring to instead subtly rub in his excellent circumstances during family gatherings.
His cousin Biggs Darklighter, Huff's son, was ten years older. Biggs and Gavin were not close, but Biggs would sometimes spend time with his younger cousin. On occasion, Biggs would take Gavin along when Biggs visited Luke Skywalker, during which trips Darklighter met Owen and Beru Lars. When Gavin was ten years old, Biggs was killed in combat, a Rebel pilot at Yavin 4. The entire family was saddened by his death, but Darklighter had simply not known him well enough for his loss to truly register. Following Biggs's death, Huff felt the desire for more children and divorced his current wife, who wished to bear no more. He then married Darklighter's aunt on his mother's side, Lanal, further uniting the family and giving Darklighter many more younger cousins.
Some time later, Darklighter's father purchased the Lars family farm from Throgg, whom Huff Darklighter had been planning to ruin financially due to the imposition of an alien landowner tax, and allowed Throgg to stay on as a tenant rather than let Huff ruin him and gain the farm. At some point, the Darklighters themselves moved onto the farm, and Darklighter spent several of his formative years where Luke Skywalker had grown up.
Darklighter lived a simple life on the family farm. He would visit Anchorhead on a monthly basis, and even made it to Mos Eisley on one occasion. Family celebrations, generally held at Huff's estate, were a highlight, though Darklighter resented being continually seated at the children's table. Darklighter was educated via classes taken over the HoloNet, as there was no local school in Anchorhead. That gave Darklighter a good deal of free time and, like many other Anchorhead youths, he spent much time flying his T-16 skyhopper through the desert, making runs through Beggar's Canyon, and otherwise honing his piloting abilities. By his mid-teens, Darklighter suffered a growth spurt, becoming a large and lanky youth who looked older than he was. As a teen, Darklighter developed a crush on Rebel leader Princess Leia Organa. He pursued local girls as well, though to no lasting relationships.
In 6 ABY, on his sixteenth birthday, Darklighter left the party as it concluded and walked up to the edge of the pit into which the farm was sunk. He looked out across the sand, wondering if Skywalker had done so, and was approached by his father, who told him that he had the "Darklighter look" on his face. Jula explained that all Darklighter men reached a point in their lives at which they looked at the outer world, at the possibilities beyond. Gavin's grandfather looked only at the end of his life, regretting missed opportunities. Huff, said Jula, had looked out long ago and chosen to ignore it, to build up his own world on Tatooine. Biggs had looked at the same age as Gavin and had left for the stars. Gavin told his father that he could feel his destiny out beyond Tatooine. Jula refused to stand in his son's way, and let him go and join the New Republic, with his blessing and the knowledge that he would always be welcome back on Tatooine.
- "Whatever you do, remember who you are, what you are. A Darklighter's destiny is waiting for you out there. This Rebellion, it's been without a Darklighter for too long. It's time that problem was solved."
- ―Jula Darklighter to Gavin Darklighter
Darklighter joined the New Republic Starfighter Corps, serving as Biggs had. He immediately heard that Rogue Squadron, the New Republic's most elite starfighter unit, descended from Biggs's Red Squadron, was to be reconstituted and approached its commander, Wedge Antilles, and asked to be included in it. Antilles had been a friend of Biggs, and felt an obligation to Darklighter. Additionally, Antilles believed in him and his determination and dedication to prove himself. Darklighter's test scores were as good as any other Rogue Squadron candidate's, but his selection was opposed by Antilles's superior, General Horton Salm, who felt that Darklighter was simply too young for such an elite squadron. Salm instead preferred the inclusion of Deegan. In a discussion before Admiral Gial Ackbar, Antilles successfully argued that Deegan's inclusion would over-represent Corellians within the squadron and that Darklighter would be a valuable addition. Darklighter was approved, provided he performed well in the Redemption scenario. The training and selection process was not formally over, however, and when Darklighter's time came to complete the notoriously difficult simulation, he succeeded in it and shot down Bror Jace, widely regarded as one of the two best pilot-candidates. He had performed excellently, gaining the second-highest score among the candidates, behind only Corran Horn, the second of the two top prospects. Within only weeks of joining the military and without any formal training, Darklighter was accepted to Rogue Squadron. He knew that his cousin's reputation had been key to his acceptance, however, and was determined to work his very hardest and earn the position himself.
Darklighter was assigned his own X-wing, the callsign Rogue Five, and an astromech which he named Jawaswag, and was given the wingmate Riv Shiel, a Shistavanen; Antilles thought the two would make an effective pair. Jawaswag quickly got in the habit of giving Darklighter weather updates for Coruscant and Tatooine as a greeting, which persisted even after memory wipes, causing Darklighter to become very fond of the droid. Darklighter was quick to make friends in the squadron, but frequently felt nervous and somewhat overwhelmed by being thrust from the relative isolation of Anchorhead into the cosmopolitan and mature world of the New Republic forces; his youth only compounded the problem. Darklighter took to the squadron, however, and was the one to create its twelve-starfighter crest, which quickly caught on as the symbol of Rogue Squadron despite having no official endorsement.
Though selection was complete, training was not yet over, and Darklighter continued to hone his skills at Folor Base. Darklighter's astrogation skills were weak, but he accepted tutoring from Lujayne Forge and quickly brought them up to par, demonstrating a natural aptitude. When Horn's targeting data was beamed back to the rest of the squadron without his knowledge during one run, giving all the subsequent pilots knowledge of target locations before they made their runs and leaving Horn with the lowest score of the group, Darklighter was among those who objected, feeling Antilles had been cruel and unfair in his treatment of Horn. After discussing the situation with Antilles, Horn himself told Darklighter and the rest that it had taught him a valuable lesson about flying without ego; any plans Darklighter had to write a statement to Salm protesting Antilles's methods were halted.
- "It's never easy to lose a friend, Gavin."
"This is the first time anyone I've known has died."
- ―Wedge Antilles and Gavin Darklighter on the death of Lujayne Forge
Only one month after the squadron roster was finalized, Rogue Squadron was moved to active duty. They were to be moved to Talasea, but for security reasons the squadron members were told that they were merely on an extended field training assignment and were not given their location. The trip to Talasea was intended to be a practice run, but on their way through the Chorax system, the Interdictor cruiser Black Asp pulled the squadron out of hyperspace. Darklighter and the rest of the squadron safely escaped, with Darklighter scoring his first kill against the Imperial TIEs.
The Rogues' next mission was to Hensara, where they were to rescue the downed frigate Battle of Yavin. When the Strike-class cruiser Havoc returned to the system during the operation, Darklighter flew against the TIEs it deployed, picking up one pursuer, which Horn destroyed. Darklighter picked up no kills in the engagement, however, unlike the rest of his comrades.
During the subsequent celebration back on Talasea, Jace began to pick on Darklighter for his lack of kills. His squadron-mates jokingly awarded Darklighter the award of "worst pilot in the squadron" and sent Nawara Ven to speak to the senior officers—Antilles, executive officer Tycho Celchu, and naval captain Afyon—and request a fitting punishment. Darklighter was embarrassed and resentful, and Antilles perceived that, knowing that Darklighter's skills were far from the worst in the squadron. Celchu suggested that Darklighter be apprenticed to the best pilot in the squadron, a solution with which Antilles concurred, thinking that Horn, who had the most kills, would not be particularly rough on the young man. However, Jace insisted that he was the best pilot in the squadron, citing his higher percentage of kills relative to the number of fighters he had engaged. Horn stepped in with an offer: he would average his kills with Darklighter's, giving all three men five kills, and continue the contest with the averages in place, requiring either Horn to perform twice as well as Jace or Darklighter to start performing as well as the other two. Jace accepted, and Horn sprang the trick of the agreement—by averaging the kills, Darklighter gained four from Horn, making Ven, not Darklighter, the worst pilot. Horn's display of confidence heartened Darklighter, and he would later tell his parents about the difference Horn's support had made, though he downplayed the nature of the incident.
A few nights later, Horn and Rogue Ooryl Qrygg were awake when Imperial stormtroopers landed at Talasea, its location having been deduced by Imperial Intelligence agent Kirtan Loor. The two defeated some of the troops outside the main building and proceeded within. Darklighter and Shiel were in the nearest room, and Horn woke Darklighter and warned him that there were stormtroopers inside the base, rigging it to explode. Horn gave Darklighter a blaster and moved to engage the two stormtroopers who had just entered the hall. Unprepared for a firefight, Darklighter stepped out into the hall before Horn had cleared it, getting off only one shot before he took a blast directly to the naked abdomen and went down, passing out.
The Rogues were evacuated and the stormtroopers defeated; Darklighter was placed in a bacta tank aboard the medical frigate Reprieve. He was removed at the same time as Horn, who had been shot later in the battle, in time for both to learn from Antilles that Forge had been killed in her bed by stormtroopers. Darklighter was devastated to learn that the friendly, bubbly Forge, with whom he had been close, was dead. It was the first time anyone he had truly known had died, as previous deaths, such as that of Biggs and the Lars family, had been the relatively abstract losses of people whom he was not accustomed to seeing regularly. When he expressed this emotion, Biggs was brought up, and Antilles shared stories of the man, giving Darklighter a better feel for his cousin as a person. The time Antilles spent with him comforted him greatly and helped him work through his grief.
The drive to Coruscant
- Ven: "Run up this rift valley and hit something the third of the size of an X-wing, without the benefit of a targeting computer? That's impossible."
- Darklighter: "That's nothing. Back home in Beggar's Canyon …"
- Antilles: "I don't think any pilot from Tatooine ever found a mission tough, especially when it involves racing through a canyon."
- ―Nawara Ven, Gavin Darklighter, and Wedge Antilles[src]
The New Republic tracked the stormtrooper platoon responsible for the attack to Vladet, and Rogue Squadron was given the honor of leading the retributive strike. After a memorial service for Forge, the Rogues and Salm's Defender Wing struck Vladet. Darklighter was among the X-wings flying cover for the Y-wings bombing the Imperial base.
Vladet was merely a hit-and-fade operation, however. Rogue Squadron's next mission was to take Borleias, a world which would provide a stepping-stone with which to take Coruscant, capital of the Empire. Known to the Rogues only as Blackmoon, Borleias was to be taken in an operation overseen by General Laryn Kre'fey. Darklighter and the other pilots spent two weeks in intense training and simulations for the mission.
When the time came, Darklighter was among the Rogues, assigned to cover the assault shuttles descending to the planet's surface after the shields collapsed. Kre'fey had been far from meticulous in his planning, however, and Borleias suddenly began to demonstrate far greater defenses than Kre'fey's information had indicated. General Evir Derricote, the Imperial commander, had reinforced his base with extra starfighters and power generation capacity from the abandoned Alderaan Biotics facility on-planet, the existence of which Kre'fey had not even known. Peshk Vri'syk and Andoorni Hui were quickly killed, with several other Rogues having their fighters destroyed and being forced to go extravehicular. Shiel was wounded but continued flying, and Darklighter had to force him to seek medical care after the New Republic forces retreated.
Darklighter and the other survivors returned to Noquivzor, where they were based. Given data collected by Horn's astromech, Whistler, Horn and Antilles were able to devise a plan to take Borleias in a second assault, having discovered the existence of the Alderaan Biotics facility and a weak point in which the power conduit crossed a rift valley and was exposed. With the dearth of fighters and the difficulties of extraction if a pilot were to be shot down, it was to be a volunteer mission. Darklighter volunteered. As Shiel was grounded, Darklighter was paired with Rhysati Ynr for the mission. The pilots trained relentlessly for the run against the small conduit in the valley; with his Beggar's Canyon experience, Darklighter hit the conduit in simulation more frequently than any other pilot.
The night before the mission, Darklighter recorded a message for his parents in the event he was killed—something Biggs had never gotten the chance to do. The next morning, Darklighter departed with the rest for Borleias. Their insertion to the planet amid a meteor shower was clear, but a patrol of twelve TIE/LN starfighters was detected crossing their path. Gavin was among those who engaged the patrol while Antilles and Horn began the first canyon run. The two pilots missed, but Darklighter, Ynr, Jace, and Ven were too busy holding off the TIEs—shortly to be reinforced by TIE Interceptors—to make their runs. Antilles was successful as Horn, low on fuel, moved to exit. Darklighter became an ace in the dogfight, racking up his fifth kill, before he and the rest—minus Horn, who did not have enough fuel to leave and had to go to ground on Borleias's moon—headed back to base to refuel, but not before tangling with ten Interceptors while outbound to thin the ranks that would be searching for Horn. The squadron occupied its time on the return trip thinking up plans to rescue Horn, but were pleasantly surprised on their return to find that Horn had been rescued by Celchu and smuggler Mirax Terrik, who had gone to Borleias in Terrik's ship after becoming concerned about a possible security leak.
Commandos took Borleias, and the squadron moved its base there, spending a month simply patrolling Borleias space. When the freighter Vengeance Derra IV, a ship in the use of Warlord Zsinj, probed Borleias, it was eventually tracked to Mrisst, where Darklighter, now under the command of Lieutenant Pash Cracken in Two Flight, was among the pilots who destroyed the ship and forced another ship in league with it, Contruum's Pride, to stand down. At that time, Rogue Squadron began to prepare for the capture of Coruscant. They were to be inserted covertly on the planet and to scout its defense network for weak points. Councilor Borsk Fey'lya appended to the operation one of his own, which would release Black Sun operatives from Kessel to disrupt Imperial operations on Coruscant. Rogue Squadron was assigned to release them, and Darklighter flew cover while several other Rogues landed on Kessel and negotiated with the warden, Moruth Doole, for the release of several hardened criminals as well as innocent political prisoners. Around this time, Darklighter may have also received a promotion to lieutenant.
Covert on Coruscant
- "Fourteen against a world. Those are long odds."
- ―Gavin Darklighter to Wedge Antilles
Very shortly thereafter, the time for insertion came. All the pilots were sent down in independent cells, none knowing if any others were along. Darklighter was smuggled onto Coruscant aboard Terrik's Pulsar Skate along with most of the rest of the Rogues. Upon first seeing the planet, he was taken aback by its level of development and activity, never having seen anything even close to Coruscant's urbanization. Upon landing, he was given his cover identity as "Vin Leiger", a small-time con man partnered with "Shaalir Resh"—actually his wingman Shiel.
Darklighter's group was assigned to scout out the Coruscant undercity and determine the Empire's level of control over it. He and Shiel spent much time alone, scouting the area around the Alien Protection Zone, a nonhuman ghetto better known as the Invisible Sector or Invisec. After one week, he and Shiel rendezvoused with the rest of the group—Ven, Ynr, Qrygg, and Aril Nunb—at the Azure Dianoga Cantina. Shortly after all arrived, a patrol of stormtroopers arrived to make a security sweep. They demanded Darklighter's identification, but it passed their check and, after a bribe from Ven, they departed. He was then approached by Asyr Sei'lar, a black-furred Bothan female. She asked Darklighter for a dance, but, nervous and uninterested, he refused. The Gotal at the next table, in league with Sei'lar, had used his ability to sense mental states, and informed Sei'lar that Darklighter had been nervous when she approached and relieved when she accepted his refusal. She, the Gotal, and many other members of the Alien Combine drew blasters on Darklighter, misinterpreting his emotions and accusing him of bigotry. They intended to kill Darklighter and leave his body as a message against the Imperials, who had been rounding up aliens.
He was taken into their custody, though his squadron-mates were allowed to tag along, disarmed. The Alien Combine members marched him to a warehouse-like area. As they were preparing to execute him, Ven, a former lawyer, began to argue persuasively in Darklighter's favor, pointing out that a mere feeling of relief was no proof of bigotry. Dmaynel Kiph, the leader of the Combine, was unmoved and ordered Darklighter's death anyway. As his executioner took aim, however, Imperial forces raided the gathering. Darklighter tackled Sei'lar to save her from incoming fire, then grabbed a blaster to begin shooting back. He was nearly killed by return fire before Sei'lar returned the favor, tugging Darklighter down and blasting the stormtrooper. The two fled outside, where they met up with the rest of the group—minus Nunb—and, due to coincidence, Horn. They also met up with Inyri Forge, Lujayne's sister and the lover of Zekka Thyne, one of the Black Sun figures released onto Coruscant, who had been chasing Horn. Her knee was injured, and Darklighter picked her up and carried her to safety with the rest of the group, led by Sei'lar.
Darklighter and the Rogues spent the next days working on setting up an operation to sabotage Coruscant's shields, working alongside Sei'lar's people and the Black Sun convicts under the control of Fliry Vorru. Darklighter, Horn, Terrik, and Iella Wessiri were involved in purchasing supplies for the underground operation. Darklighter became increasingly taken by Sei'lar, and finally worked up the courage to ask Horn about interspecies dating. Terrik and Wessiri intervened, telling Darklighter the story of Horn's brief relationship with a Selonian, Chertyl Ruluwoor. In the end, they reassured Darklighter that it was worth acting on his attraction.
When the time came to implement their plan to slip sliced memory cores into Coruscant's main computer control system, Darklighter helped Antilles deliver the sliced cores to the Imperials in charge of the computer system. However, the transfer was raided by stormtroopers, who had been tipped off by the untrustworthy Thyne. Darklighter took cover, firing back, until a hovertruck crashed into the Mekuun Hoverscout providing the majority of the firepower. The Rogues escaped and fled up a large building, but were pinned down by stormtroopers when Celchu suddenly appeared in a Z-95 Headhunter fighter, destroying the opposition. M-3PO, the squadron's protocol unit, brought up a transport, and the group evacuated; Antilles had brought the two to Coruscant without anyone else's knowledge as backup in the event that the unit was compromised, as Antilles expected it to be.
The unit, along with Sei'lar and several of her people, fled to an undercity safehouse. There, they plotted ways to bring Coruscant's shields down within 48 hours—an assignment they had only recently been given. When Antilles happened to mention taking the world "by storm", Darklighter was suddenly struck by inspiration: if the Rogues could conjure up a massive storm, it could bring down the electrical grid and rob the shields of power. After much conversation, a plan was devised to take control of an orbital mirror and use it to vaporize one of Coruscant's water reservoirs.
Darklighter was assigned to the team that would take control of the computer center that controlled one of the orbital mirrors. It had been evacuated after Antilles turned a construction droid against it, but Darklighter still carefully led the way to the control room, checking doors as he went. He stood guard as intelligence agent Winter sliced her way into the control room and waited down the hall as Qrygg retrieved breath masks from inside the room for the Human members of the party to use, as the chamber had been flooded with Fex-M3d gas. The operation was successful, generating a massive storm and bringing down the shields. However, Corran Horn was lost in the battle and presumed by all to be dead; he had in fact been taken captive by Imperial Director of Intelligence Isard.
Keeping the peace
- "Are you all right?"
"I will be, and I think that scares me. […] I've seen more death in my time with Rogue Squadron than I have ever seen before, but nothing was so hideous as this. A year ago I would have run screaming. Now I just clean my boots and wait for guys with sterilizer units to show up. I'm changing and I'm not sure I like it."
- ―Asyr Sei'lar and Gavin Darklighter at the home of a Krytos victim
Darklighter attended Horn's memorial service, an event overblown and propagandized by New Republic bureaucrats. Celchu, who had spent time in Isard's Lusankya facility, immediately fell under suspicion and was arrested and accused of sabotaging Horn's fighter to cause his death. Darklighter, along with the rest of the squadron, stood firmly behind Celchu. The "rest of the squadron" now included Sei'lar, who had formally joined the Rogues in the aftermath of Coruscant's liberation. Darklighter, by now seventeen, asked Sei'lar out, and the pair went on two dates inside a week. Darklighter was enthralled with Sei'lar and eager to share his enthusiasm about her with his friends. Sei'lar, in turn, enjoyed his innocence and fresh, optimistic outlook on the world.
Within a week of Coruscant's capture, the Rogues were tasked with hitting a space station in orbit over Yag'Dhul where Zsinj had stored a stolen supply of bacta. The healing fluid was desperately needed on Coruscant, which Isard had seeded with the Krytos virus, a virulent disease which infected several nonhuman species and plunged the capital world into chaos. Darklighter escorted the operation's Y-wings towards the station, then fled with them to draw the station's fighter complement into a B-wing ambush. With its fighter complement decimated, Antilles convinced the station to surrender.
Darklighter returned to Coruscant, where he spent time combating the Krytos virus. He checked the residences of Krytos victims and suspected victims, providing aid or removing bodies. In one particularly gruesome instance, Darklighter found an infected Gamorrean, Tolra, who had barricaded himself inside his house to avoid spreading the infection. His flesh had turned to jelly, but he was still breathing when Darklighter found him and died before the young man's eyes. Darklighter vomited, but was able to accept the death, call for a clean team, and move on—a comfort with death that frightened him and made him wonder if he was losing his compassion. Sei'lar assured him that he was merely maturing.
With the Trial of Tycho Celchu ongoing, Rogue Squadron spent much of its time on Coruscant. Darklighter often made time to attend the trial itself, and was likely called as a witness along with most of the other members of the squadron. Around this time, Darklighter's designation was changed from Rogue Five, with Cracken taking the callsign. Darklighter and Sei'lar became quite fond of each other, becoming intimate as they continued their relationship.
On one particular evening, the pair attended a lavish party on a skyhook hosted by Liska Dan'kre, a Bothan school friend of Sei'lar's. Darklighter was slightly nervous at being so heavily outnumbered by Bothans, and his presence drew significant attention, though he initially mistook the party-goers' reactions as being to Sei'lar's gown. When Dan'kre led Sei'lar away to talk, Darklighter let her go and turned to the bar, where the other non-Bothans were congregating. After a brief conversation with Herrit Gordon, a New Republic diplomat who had been posted to Bothawui, Darklighter was confronted by Karka Kre'fey, the grandson of Laryn Kre'fey. Kre'fey asked Darklighter if the reports he had heard regarding his grandfather's unpreparedness for battle at Borleias were true. Darklighter replied that, in his opinion, they were, and was caught off-guard by a swift slap from Kre'fey. Kre'fey informed him that he had insulted the family honor and challenged him to a duel, but Darklighter refused. Kre'fey accused him of cowardice, but Darklighter refused to rise to the bait, determined to be the better man. He offered Kre'fey his hand, but the young Bothan refused and stormed off. When Sei'lar asked him what had happened, he brushed the incident off and remained at the bar, allowing her to spend time with old friends.
Darklighter also went along on a diplomatic mission to Ryloth, in which the Rogues were to convince the traders of Kala'uun to sell the New Republic ryll kor, a high-grade version of the ryll spice which proved effective against the Krytos virus as part of a drug cocktail. When they arrived, instead of trading, the Twi'lek warrior Tal'dira forced the merchants to provide the ryll kor as a gift, calling anything less unworthy of warrior honor.
Darklighter's next mission was to escort a convoy of bacta secretly provided to the New Republic by Xucphra Corporation. Darklighter, with the rest of his flight, was to take up position guarding the tail end of the convoy. As they arrived in the Alderaan system for the rendezvous, however, the Rogues found the convoy utterly destroyed and Zsinj's forces still in the area. The Rogues destroyed the Strike Cruiser Termagant with a proton torpedo volley, then entered a dogfight with the remaining TIEs. Darklighter wished to pursue and punish the TIEs when they withdrew into the Graveyard, but Antilles let them go, knowing they could not survive without a carrier and unwilling to get any more pilots killed. The TIEs soon surrendered, and Antilles ordered Darklighter and Two Flight to travel to Tatooine, hire a freighter from Mos Eisley that could carry the TIEs, and haul them and their pilots back to Coruscant for interrogation.
Darklighter spent time talking with the squadron and, remembering the time Antilles spent with him after Forge died, decided to offer the same support to Antilles, whose friend Terrik had been part of the convoy. He visited Antilles in his office, who expressed gratitude at the offer but declined to take Darklighter up on it at the time. He informed Darklighter that the New Republic was gearing up for a strike against Zsinj, in which Rogue Squadron would play an important part.
Not long after, the squadron was scrambled in the middle of the night to fly cover against a Palpatine Counter-Insurgency Front strike at a bacta storage facility. Darklighter tracked down and destroyed fleeing enemies as Antilles struck the terrorists' operational warehouse and destroyed the bomb-laded airspeeder that was to be used in the strike. As the operation wrapped up, however, the Rogues were shocked to find a Super Star Destroyer emerging from the Coruscant cityscape. The long-buried Lusankya battered its way through the shields and out to freedom as Darklighter and the other Rogues engaged its TIE escort. Pilot Erisi Dlarit was snared by Lusankya's tractor beams, and Darklighter was willing to take the fight to the massive starship to free her. However, Antilles called the squadron off, and it was revealed immediately afterwards that Dlarit had in fact been the spy inside Rogue Squadron, not Celchu.
With Horn's escape from Lusankya before its violent departure, all charges were dropped against Celchu. Rogue Squadron followed that up by running a series of missions against the Palpatine Counter-Insurgency Front, destroying its ability to strike at the New Republic. After that was complete, Darklighter, along with the rest of Rogue Squadron, was awarded the newly created Coruscant Star of Valor, the highest military decoration the New Republic could give, in a ceremony in which Terrik was also revealed as having survived. At that ceremony, however, it was also revealed that the New Republic would not take action against Isard, who had set herself up as ruler of the bacta-producing planet Thyferra via a coup, in order to prevent political fallout from dislodging the internally determined ruler of a neutral state. Outraged by the political maneuvering, Horn, Antilles, and then the rest of the Rogues, including Darklighter, resigned their commissions to pursue their own course of action against Isard.
The Bacta War
- Antilles: "Unseating Isard may, in fact, turn out to be impossible."
- Horn: "Gavin, this is where you're supposed to tell us that unseating her isn't tough and relate the whole thing to varminting on Tatooine."
- Darklighter: "I didn't hear anyone mention a trench or canyon or womp rats."
- ―Wedge Antilles, Corran Horn, and Gavin Darklighter[src]
Antilles began building a private army to take down Isard. The Rogues—minus Cracken—Wessiri, Terrik, and Winter began the process of securing assets for use against Isard. The first was the Yag'dhul station from which they had earlier driven Zsinj, which would serve them as a base of operations. In an early briefing, Antilles outlined the situation. Darklighter was assigned, along with Terrik and Horn, to Tatooine to negotiate with his uncle Huff for supplies left over from the Eidolon cache that Rogue Squadron had uncovered a few years earlier and possession of which Huff had taken.
When they arrived on the planet at a docking bay owned by a distant relative, Darklighter recommended a rendezvous in Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina while he secured a speeder. He was only able to afford an ugly, old, heavily modified speeder, and picked up Horn and Terrik, taking them out to his uncle's estate. Darklighter enjoyed a reunion with some of his large extended family before he entered Huff's library to wait for his uncle to conclude another business meeting. Gavin received a friendly greeting from Huff, but the older Darklighter was taken aback when Horn began pressing him on the deal by threatening to expose his involvement in smuggling. When it was revealed that Booster Terrik, Mirax's father, was in the next room, however, the legendary smuggler forced Huff to provide the arms at prices below market value.
The Rogue party accepted invitations to stay overnight at Huff's estate, and Darklighter's family traveled over from their farm to spend time with him. In the impromptu family reunion, Darklighter impressed his relations with tales from his service while downplaying the danger he had been in, conscious of the specter of Biggs's death. His parents openly displayed their pride in him, and Silya engaged in constant maternal concern. Jula later took Horn aside and thanked him for taking care of Gavin, but Horn assured the man that his son was capable of taking care of himself and was an excellent pilot and man. Darklighter's parents were very proud indeed.
By the time Darklighter returned to the Yag'Dhul station, the squadron had purchased its old fighters from the New Republic, friendly forces within the bureaucracy having classified the fighters as surplus. No longer in New Republic service, the fighters were given new, individualized paint jobs and transponder codes; Darklighter's X-wing was repainted to resemble Tatooine's top predator, the Krayt dragon. Darklighter's designation had also by this time been shifted to that of Rogue Three. The anti-Imperial guerrilla group led by Elscol Loro and Sixtus Quin had also joined the effort.
The Rogues began a program of raiding bacta convoys, stealing Isard's bacta and providing it to needy worlds free of charge. They were shortly joined by the Twi'lek warrior Tal'dira, whom they had met on Ryloth, and a squadron of his hybrid Chir'daki fighters. On one mission, the two squadrons attempted to make off with three bacta freighters which had been driven off course via sliced navicomputers. Two of the three freighters agreed to defect, but the most senior among the three captains made to turn his guns on one of the defecting ships. Darklighter and Shiel made a run against the Xucphra Alazhi, disarming it. The captain made the choice to stand down and defect, and Darklighter, Shiel, and two Chir'daki pilots were assigned to escort the Alazhi to its destination. As the ships prepared to leave, however, the Victory II-class Star Destroyer Corrupter under Ait Convarion, one of Isard's four Star Destroyers, jumped into the system, unleashing a torrent of fire. Darklighter's longtime wingmate Shiel, the two Twi'lek pilots, and the Alazhi were immediately destroyed. Darklighter jumped blindly into hyperspace to escape, and was presumed dead by his comrades.
Darklighter held the highly dangerous blind jump for fifteen seconds before decanting. To cover his trail and prevent being tracked by Corrupter, he made seven short jumps back and forth before making a longer jump to the Outer Rim. Darklighter put down on a small world, where he encountered difficulties and left for Yag'Dhul. Low on fuel, he made Halanit his first stop, a world the Rogues had given bacta earlier. The Halanits refueled his starfighter, but due to technical issues, the refueling took two days. Darklighter was treated as an honored guest for his stay.
However, Darklighter was awoken early by an explosion and was quickly made aware of the situation by Halanit's leader, Farl Cort. Corrupter was in orbit and launching an assault. In fact, it was to punish Halanit for the use of the stolen bacta, but Darklighter assumed Convarion had tracked him there and that he had brought death upon the Halanits. Darklighter commed Jawaswag to ready his fighter and had Cort lead him to the hangars. Darklighter ordered the unarmed Halanits to hold tight, giving Cort his blaster. He planned to blast off and lead the Imperials away, presuming he was their quarry. Due to fuel limitations he only had ten minutes of dogfighting time, and planned to use them to greatest effect. Darklighter brought down two Interceptors with proton torpedoes before the Imperials were even aware of his presence, then followed a third down into the Halanit colony, destroying it in view of Dlarit, who was present as commander of the Thyferran TIE complement. Darklighter paused briefly to annihilate several stormtroopers with his fighter's lasers before strafing more on his way out, nearly killing Convarion, who was on the ground. On his way out of the system, Dlarit spoke to him on the comm, urging him to surrender and accusing him of cowardice for running away from her. Darklighter refused to be taken in by appeals to pride and told Dlarit that he was not stupid enough to turn around to engage her while Corrupter cut him off. He promised to make Dlarit and the Imperials pay for the destruction of Halanit and jumped into hyperspace.
Darklighter made his way back to Yag'Dhul, where the squadron was briefed from his sensor data. Antilles decided to change the way bacta was distributed to avoid making any other worlds targets, and reassured Darklighter that Corrupter's assault had not been his fault. However, Halanit had been totally destroyed, and Darklighter demanded that the Rogues make Isard and her cronies pay. To that end, the Rogue continued raiding Thyferran shipping and assets. When Darklighter was not on such missions, he spent much of his downtime with Sei'lar.
Antilles's insurgent forces began purchasing supplies from Talon Karrde, and the first shipment was to be transferred at a rendezvous in the Alderaan system. The Rogues flew cover, but a spy in Karrde's organization had leaked the location, causing Isard to ambush them with Corrupter and an Interdictor rented from the warlord Treuten Teradoc. When the ambush was sprung, Darklighter followed telemetry from Antilles and then Celchu to launch repeated proton torpedo bombardments. Combined with the unexpected arrival of the Thranta-class War Cruiser Valiant, an escort ship for the legendary Another Chance which was responding to Celchu's Alderaanian transponder signal, the Rogues destroyed Corrupter. Another torpedo run badly damaged the Interdictor, which deactivated its gravity well projectors and fled.
When the Rogues moved to subvert Captain Sair Yonka of the Avarice, one of Isard's Star Destroyers, Darklighter was among those involved. Wearing the blue-dyed stormtrooper armor purchased from his uncle, he and several other Rogues crept near the cottage in which Yonka was having a rendezvous with his mistress. While the others covered them, Darklighter and Antilles crept into the residence. Darklighter stunned the woman and Antilles made Yonka the offer to defect. Darklighter was also among the flight escorting Karrde's final convoy to the Yag'Dhul station itself. With that, Antilles's preparations for victory were complete.
With the station's location revealed by the spy within Karrde's operation, Antilles assumed that Lusankya would arrive to destroy the station and prepared to evacuate the fighters and freighters. Unknown to Darklighter and most of the others, Booster Terrik would remain aboard the station, which had been fitted with several hundred missile and torpedo targeting units, allowing it to establish an overwhelming number of targeting locks on the Super Star Destroyer. Combined with a gravity well projector and a strong tractor beam array, Lusankya would be held in place and forced to surrender. The plan went off well, with the fighters and freighters jumping on a course to Thyferra to begin the final attack and Lusankya being pinned. The tractor beam lock was broken by the Virulence sacrificing itself, however, allowing Lusankya to return to Thyferra behind the task force. The Virulence, though, surrendered after Lusankya's escape.
The fighters did not make directly for Thyferra, however, allowing Lusankya to arrive there first, expecting the attack to already be underway. Instead, Yonka jumped his renamed Freedom into the system, deploying the X-wings from there; instead of being exhausted after twelve hours in their cockpits during transit, the Rogues were fresh and rested. Darklighter and other pilots took on the Thyferran Home Defense Corps pilots which were scrambled to meet them; instead of forming up, they came on piecemeal, allowing them to be easily downed one bit at a time. As the fighters were thinned out, Darklighter and the other Rogues began making torpedo runs against the Lusankya, feeding their telemetry to the freighters, which had been armed with the launchers that would otherwise have went with the sensor packages mounted on the Yag'Dhul station. The relentless bombardment was joined by the captured Virulence, which jumped into the system under Terrik's command and deployed Pash Cracken's A-wing unit. Darklighter began a strafing run against the massive ship shortly before it surrendered. With that followed up shortly by the destruction of the shuttle Isard was using to escape the system, the battle was over. She was presumed dead.
The hunt for Zsinj
- "Lieutenant Darklighter is making quite a reputation for himself in Rogue Squadron."
- ―Leia Organa Solo to Jula Darklighter
Given their success, the New Republic eagerly welcomed the Rogues back into its service, playing the Bacta War off to the public as a covert but sanctioned operation, and telling the Rogues their resignations had never taken effect due to a supposed bureaucratic mishap. Darklighter, along with the rest of the squadron, accepted the offer to return. The Rogues took on the assignment of training the new, Republic-allied Thyferran Aerospace Defense Force as a brief break. During that time, Darklighter was invited to, and attended with the rest of the squadron, Qrygg's janwuine-jika, the ceremony in which he was declared janwuine, or worthy to speak of himself in the first person. Their duty on Thyferra was cut somewhat short and they returned to Coruscant, where they were met by the temporary Rogue Squadron, led by Derek Klivian, that had been filling in for the Rogues for publicity reasons. After a crowd-pleasing display of precision flying, they put down and were given a heroic welcome ceremony.
Antilles, however, departed to form Wraith Squadron, a unit of commando-pilots, leaving Celchu in charge of operations within the squadron. Rogue Squadron's lost pilots were replaced, and the unit was sent to join the task force under General Han Solo's command that was hunting Warlord Zsinj. The Rogues were present and ready for the Battle of Talasea, a trap for the forces of Zsinj's subordinate Admiral Apwar Trigit, but the Wraiths eliminated Trigit's forces on their own before the other forces were needed. The Rogues were also deployed at the Battle of Ession, decimating Trigit's fighter complement before his Star Destroyer, Implacable, was destroyed.
The Rogues were then transferred to Mon Remonda, Solo's flagship, to provide direct support to Solo's task force. They provided fighter cover for his operations and, when the Wraiths joined the task force, frequently worked in joint missions such as the feint at Lavisar. When the Solo Fleet planned an ambush of Zsinj and his recently stolen Super Star Destroyer Razor's Kiss, Darklighter and the Rogues flew against Zsinj's fighter escort, engaging in a grueling dogfight against fighters that included elements of Zsinj's skilled impostor 181st Imperial Fighter Group. Razor's Kiss was destroyed, but Zsinj escaped.
Mon Remonda, and with it the fighter complement, returned to dock for repairs. By now, Darklighter had gained the rank of lieutenant, which he may have held as early as the mission to take Coruscant. He had also changed designations once more, to Rogue Six, becoming Tal'dira's wingman. As Rogue Three's fighter did not match Darklighter's paint job as early as the return from Thyferra, Darklighter most likely held the new callsign throughout the entire Zsinj campaign.
The task force left dock and arrived in the Levian system, site of a recent raid by Zsinj. Zsinj ambushed them, however, and the Rogues destroyed a Carrack-class cruiser on the way out—through Zsinj's forces. The Rogues were next assigned to infiltrate Saffalore with the Wraiths and provide support to the Wraiths' mission to investigate a biomedical operation with ties to Zsinj. Upon learning they were only to provide support, Darklighter was annoyed at having to "baby-sit" the other pilots, but was mollified when told that they would have a target worthy of their skills. They made planetfall under the cover of a meteor shower. When the Wraiths got into trouble at Binring, the Rogues scrambled to cover them; Darklighter was, as he had hoped he would not, assigned to simply destroy marked targets to allow the Wraiths to escape, then escorted their speeder out.
On a mission to aid Jussafet Four, a world under attack by Zsinj's forces, Darklighter was shocked to see his wingman, Tal'dira, fire on Antilles as the fighters were being deployed. When the Twi'lek refused to stand down, Horn destroyed him. Darklighter continued on the mission, which was successful, but all the Rogues were deeply disturbed by the betrayal; Darklighter especially was stunned into a more serious and subdued mindset. After investigating the issue, they believed that Tal'dira had been forcibly brainwashed by Zsinj's agents. Darklighter would fly his next missions without a wingman.
Tension had been building in the task force, and Antilles enacted a plan to address it. He took over the officers' cafeteria, declaring that no rank insignia were allowed within, none of the individuals within were actually officers—just individuals who looked like them—and no pilots were allowed within without bringing their astromechs. Without the formalities of rank, the cafeteria was turned into an area of recreation, with sabacc, astromech races, and other such amusements. Off-duty crewers eagerly entered Antilles's "mutiny of anonymity". Darklighter himself entered a hand of sabacc with Sei'lar, Solo, Antilles, Chewbacca, and Todra Mayn of Polearm Squadron.
The next day, Darklighter and the Rogues covered the extraction of the Millennium Falsehood from Kidriff 5. The ship, a YT-1300 mocked up to resemble the Millennium Falcon, was piloted by Antilles and Chewbacca and was part of a plot to lure Zsinj into thinking Solo was making runs in the Falcon and lure him into an attack. Darklighter and the Rogues continued a fast pace of operations by flying missions constantly, sometimes twice a day.
The final confrontation of the campaign began with the Battle of Vahaba, in which the Solo Fleet ambushed Zsinj with an Interdictor. Darklighter and the Rogues flew against the Iron Fist, making a concerted torpedo run along with Gauntlet Squadron and Lightning Squadron before breaking up for strafing runs; Zsinj had not deployed his fighters. Iron Fist was badly damaged but managed to flee; the fleet tracked it to Selaggis. The Rogues fanned out through the system's asteroid field to track down the Iron Fist. Once it was located, they again engaged it, narrowly avoiding an ambush attempt when Zsinj began blasting asteroids near the starfighters, filling space with shrapnel. When the impostor 181st launched, the Rogues and Wraiths were pulled off to track it to the ruins of a colony; when the TIEs began strafing, the Rogues were forced to assume that survivors were being targeted. The two squadrons eliminated the false 181st and the ploy was finally revealed, which was followed up with an assault by Zsinj's new TIE Raptors. The Rogues destroyed them as well. In addition, Iron Fist was reported destroyed. Darklighter celebrated the reduction of Zsinj's strength and, with his position so diminished, the Rogues were transferred out of the task force to recover with easier duty. Darklighter also likely received some leave time at this point, which he used to visit his family on Tatooine.
The Thrawn campaign
- "As for the other stuff, like starting a family, I think I'd like that. I'd like to start a family with you. We could get married, make this permanent, and bring children into our lives."
- ―Gavin Darklighter to Asyr Sei'lar
Approximately one year later, in 9 ABY, Grand Admiral Thrawn began his campaign to retake the galaxy for the Empire. The Rogues protected the Solos during an early kidnapping attempt engineered by Thrawn, and were later assigned to escort the Larkhess to and from Sluis Van. During their layover at Sluis Van, Thrawn began one of the first battles of his campaign. Upon observing a suspicious freighter, Antilles scrambled the Rogues from the Larkhess; shortly after doing so, the freighter launched a mass of TIEs which had been hidden inside a cloaked cargo bay. Thrawn's flotilla arrived in short order to support them. However, with the aid of Skywalker, Solo, and Lando Calrissian, they were able to foil Thrawn's plot to hijack many of the capital ships at Sluis Van for repairs.
Rogue Squadron was also sent to escort Solo and Skywalker to the Katana fleet in an attempt to take possession of it. There, Councilor Fey'lya arrived and attempted to order their arrest, as they were acting on orders from Organa Solo which Fey'lya had had Chief of State Mon Mothma countermand. As they moved to stand down, however, Imperial forces arrived. Darklighter flew into combat with Antilles to protect Solo, Skywalker and their team. Fey'lya refused to provide support. With timely intervention by Organa Solo, Karrde, and Garm Bel Iblis, however, the attack was driven off. Darklighter fought faithfully throughout the many battles the Rogues found themselves in during the campaign, including action at Filve and the Battle of Qat Chrystac, in which Bel Iblis debuted the A-wing Slash using Rogue Squadron as the front squadron.
The Rogues were also present at the final battle of the conflict. By now Wes Janson's wingmate, Darklighter speculated on the presence of some of Karrde's people before the battle. The New Republic fleet was supposed to launch a surprise attack and secure a crystal gravfield trap from the Bilbringi shipyards, which was needed to detect the cloaked asteroids in Coruscant's orbit. However, Thrawn had anticipated them and the Rogues were caught in a fierce dogfight upon leaving hyperspace. Antilles was contacted by Aves, one of Karrde's top lieutenants, and the two planned to attack a Golan station in the shipyards, opening the shipyards to the New Republic and forcing the Imperials to reallocate forces to counter the threat. Darklighter was somewhat surprised at taking on such a strong target. Proton torpedo barrages softened it up, however, before two Assault Frigates arrived to pummel the station into submission. Shortly after that, however, Thrawn's fleet broke off and retreated; Darklighter did not know it at the time, but the Grand Admiral had been assassinated.
Darklighter attended a Rogue Squadron party upon returning to Coruscant. The party was violently interrupted, however, when Urlor Sette, one of Horn's companions on the Lusankya, arrived and was killed by an implanted capsule of venom in a taunt to the Rogues. Darklighter was disturbed, reminded of the gruesome deaths the Krytos virus had wrought. In the aftermath of Thrawn's defeat, Admiral Ackbar pressed on Antilles to accept a general's commission, telling him that his refusal to accept promotions was holding his subordinates back from promotions they deserved. Ackbar cited Darklighter as deserving a captain's rank among other examples, and captain was the rank Darklighter, only nineteen, received shortly thereafter. Darklighter had by now grown a goatee, begun cohabiting with Sei'lar, and developed into a veteran pilot. He was also considering marrying and starting a family with Sei'lar. Though the pair were biologically prevented from having children, Darklighter proposed that they adopt, suggesting two indigent children who lived outside the Rogue Squadron hangar, and Sei'lar insisted they adopt at least one Bothan. Darklighter felt that by adopting, they could undo some of the damage the Empire had done to the galaxy and heal some rifts. Sei'lar was worried about her family attempting to exert control over any Bothan child, but Darklighter accepted the realities of Bothan culture. Darklighter did not care for the more manipulative aspects of Bothan culture, but he had learned to speak the language and respected many aspects of it, such as its strong family loyalty. He was determined to give any child a strong grounding in his or her heritage. He also knew one parent would have to retire from the squadron, but neither was ready to make that decision yet.
Rogue Squadron's next strike was at Commenor, where the components in the implanted device which killed Sette had been traced. As Commenor was actually a neutral world, the Rogues were infiltrated on civilian transport and had their X-wings painted black for the operation. They set out for the abandoned Xenovet facility but were ambushed by Interceptors on the way there. Darklighter was not involved in combat, as the Rogues, Colonel Kapp Dendo's Commando Team One, and Captain Judder Page's Katarn Commandos quickly secured the Xenovet compound and found there several Lusankya prisoners housed in the facility's barn. Darklighter was assigned to escort the transport carrying pickup crews to the facility. Even more chilling than the wretched state of the prisoners, however, was their news that Isard was alive and active.
After the mission, Darklighter approached Horn to ask if he had ever thought about becoming a father. Darklighter and Sei'lar were planning to marry, and had begun the preliminary steps for adoption. Horn congratulated Darklighter on the news and assured him he would make an excellent father. Darklighter moved to his point, requesting to use Horn and his wife Mirax as references in the adoption process. Horn happily agreed. Meanwhile, however, Sei'lar had been called into a meeting with Fey'lya, who attempted to pressure her to withdraw the application to adopt a Bothan child. He felt that by marrying a human and adopting outside her species as well, she would provide a poor role model for other Bothans; being a popular figure, she could, Fey'lya thought, have a highly detrimental effect on Bothan culture. Fey'lya implied that, if she did not comply, he would block any adoptions and make the pair's life as difficult as possible. Sei'lar requested time to consider her choice, but had no actual interest in following Fey'lya's instructions.
The return of Isard
- "I guess I was hoping, with Thrawn gone, that things would begin to settle down. I mean, I know I'm not even twenty years old, but there are times I feel positively ancient."
- ―Gavin Darklighter to Asyr Sei'lar
The New Republic had decided to make an example of Prince-Admiral Delak Krennel, an Imperial warlord who ruled the Ciutric Hegemony. To that end, Rogue Squadron was part of a fleet dispatched against Liinade III, a minor Hegemony world. The Rogues engaged and destroyed the fighter cover in space before moving into the atmosphere to cover the insertion of troops. They secured the world, but Horn found a secret research facility which had been analyzing plans for a Death Star-style superweapon which the New Republic dubbed Pulsar Station. Krennel issued a holographic message in which he accused the New Republic of framing him and positioned himself as a foe of superweapons. Darklighter was among many other Rogues who watched the broadcast and angrily criticized Krennel's arguments, but others pointed out to him that the public could be more easily fooled. Foreseeing future scouting trips to look for the station, he decided to spend more time in the Recon-X simulators.
The squadron was assigned to make a scouting run through the Corvis Minor system and check to see if a moon, Distna, was being used as a construction site for Pulsar Station. Former Rogue Nrin Vakil would pilot the recon fighter. The squadron spent much time in simulators, and in one simulation, Darklighter, not seeing much point in trying to survive a scenario in which the squadron had already been heavily hit, stayed behind when he could have departed in order to protect Sei'lar. Sei'lar angrily told him that if she were ever to be disabled and facing impossible odds, Darklighter should not throw his own life away in an emotional attempt to rescue her. She attempted to make him promise, but Vakil broke in and insisted she not do so, saying no promise would hold up in a combat situation and would only leave the survivor feeling guilty for breaking it.
On the mission, the Rogues were ambushed by six squadrons of fighters, a full wing. They battled furiously, but the odds were overwhelming. Two of the newer pilots were killed, and Darklighter's wingmate Janson was presumed dead. Sei'lar flew with reckless abandon and skill, as she had since her argument with Fey'lya, but slammed into a TIE Bomber. The Rogues were rescued only by the arrival of two squadrons of TIE Defenders under the command of Imperial Colonel Broak Vessery, who destroyed Krennel's TIEs and compelled the surviving Rogues to come with them. They were brought to a secret base, where they found that Isard had indeed survived—and that the Isard who had sent Sette to his death and was now working with Krennel was in fact a clone.
Darklighter, along with the other Rogues, believed Sei'lar dead. He was deeply stricken by sorrow and wanted nothing more than to be alone and grieve. The life he and Sei'lar had just begun planning had been abruptly cut out from under him and he was worried that, in the rush to memorialize her, her true self would be lost, turned into a Bothan propaganda tool. Horn came alongside him in the Imperial base and assured him that, while the pain would never leave him, it would recede in time. Horn also encouraged Darklighter to continue his plans to adopt children, assuring him he would be an excellent father; Darklighter considered it a possibility, but hurt too badly to plan for a future he did not currently care about. What Darklighter did not know was that Sei'lar had survived the crash and had been picked up, along with Janson, by Booster Terrik, Mirax Terrik Horn, and Iella Wessiri aboard the Errant Venture, who arrived just after the battle, having concluded an ambush was likely. Sei'lar, however, insisted that Terrik not reveal her survival. Knowing Fey'lya would always attempt to make her life miserable, she decided to take the chance to be presumed dead, take on a new identity, and attempt to reform Bothan society from the inside. It broke her heart to leave Darklighter, but she felt that their relationship would constantly be under attack by Bothan politics and did not wish to have him devote his life to the painful, lonely crusade she felt she had to take on.
Isard intended to infiltrate the Rogues into Krennel's forces; the warlord had been picking up mercenary and ex-Imperial units to supplement his forces. To that end, the Rogues were put to work in TIE Defender simulators, familiarizing themselves with the advanced Imperial starfighters. Darklighter was shifted into One Flight with Antilles, Klivian, and Myn Donos. They simmed frequently against the TIE pilots until the time came for their insertion onto Ciutric IV. Masquerading as Requiem Squadron, they arrived on-planet and were personally greeted by Krennel. They spent a week there, becoming part of Krennel's defense apparatus.
When the New Republic fleet arrived, following instructions sent by Antilles, the Rogues were among the fighters Krennel scrambled. Instead of flying to his defense, though, Two Flight moved to liberate the Lusankya prisoners housed on Ciutric and One Flight attacked Ciutric's shield generator. Darklighter, paired with Donos, was assigned to knock out the eastern set of towers, bristling with ion cannons, which defended the generator. Darklighter destroyed the tower he was assigned to eliminate, then made a strafing run against the last remaining one as Antilles destroyed the shield generator. The flight then headed to the prison, where they joined Celchu and Forge in holding off reinforcements. When Isard's clone attempted the same trick Isard had at Thyferra, sending up a shuttle in which she was supposedly fleeing, Darklighter cut between it and the prison to prevent it from striking at the prisoners and Rogues inside, then moved above it to herd it into Antilles's sights. When Donos fired on it from its port, it sideslipped starboard, directly into Darklighter's sights; he destroyed the shuttle and killed its pilot, Colonel Lorrir. Meanwhile, Antilles triangulated the transmissions Isard's clone was using to appear as if she was aboard the shuttle and destroyed her building, killing her. In the fleet battle above, Krennel was killed, and the Hegemony's forces surrendered to the New Republic.
The release of the prisoners and the triumph over Krennel and Isard—the woman herself had been killed while attempting to steal the captured Lusankya from the shipyards of Bilbringi—was celebrated with a party held on the newly refitted Lusankya. Darklighter attended and celebrated with the rest, though he was still suffering from his grief. During the party, Sei'lar took her leave from the Terriks and Wessiri to begin her efforts; Wessiri tried to talk her into staying and revealing herself to Darklighter, but the Bothan had made up her mind. She left, and Darklighter never learned of her survival.
- "Maybe your chance to adopt kids with her is gone, but remember what was behind that whole plan: the fact that you'd make great parents. I'm not going to tell you that you owe it to her to continue on and prove her right, but you can bet the Emperor's Black Bones that I'd rather see you teaching a child right from wrong than any of a billion ex-Imp bureaucrats."
- ―Corran Horn giving advice to Gavin Darklighter after the "death" of Asyr Sei'lar
Darklighter spent more time in mourning, but eventually moved beyond it. To root his life, he continued the process of adoption that he and Sei'lar had started. Though Fey'lya would never have allowed him to adopt a Bothan, Darklighter sought to adopt the two young homeless brothers who lived near the squadron hangar. The social worker who handled the case was Sera Faleur, a woman originally from Chandrila. In the time he spent with Faleur, Darklighter found himself growing more and more attracted to her. The pair began dating and fell in love. Darklighter had given up on love after the loss of Sei'lar, but he found that Faleur helped him recapture his love of life. Some Rogues told him that their relationship was unlikely to last, but Darklighter proved them wrong.
Though Darklighter may have found some stability in his personal life, it was hardly a time of peace. When the reborn Emperor emerged from the Deep Core, Darklighter and the Rogues battled his forces, including flying V-wing airspeeders against the World Devastators and TIE/D droid fighters in the Battle of Mon Calamari. The Rogues were expanded vastly, turned into a multi-fighter unit based around E-wings and B-wings, and based on Lusankya, which Antilles departed the squadron to command, leaving Celchu as Rogue Leader. Darklighter stayed and weathered these changes, which were only temporary, as the squadron was back in X-wings and at regular strength within the year. Around this time, a group of Jawas attempted to steal his astromech, Jawaswag. The droid fended them off, however, wounding one. Proud of his droid's tenacity, Darklighter changed its name to Toughcatch; over time, the nickname would be shortened to Catch. Darklighter remained fond of the droid and refused to trade it in, though he allowed routine memory wipes and was glad to see the unit get the R2-Delta upgrade.
In that year, the Rogues were assigned to counter ex-Moff Leonia Tavira's "Invid" pirate fleet. With her Star Destroyer Invidious as their flagship, the Invids had become a serious threat to shipping. Darklighter, now a part of One Flight with Celchu, Janson, and Klivian, was present at the ambush of the pirate ship Booty Full off Alakatha. Experienced at disarming capital ships, Darklighter was among those assigned to subdue it, destroying its belly turret. Darklighter also flew against the Invids at Xa Fel. There, he briefly engaged Horn, who was undercover as an Invid pilot and searching for his wife, but Horn evaded him. When Horn drove the Invidious away from its base at Susevfi, the Rogues moved in to secure the planet and organize the surrender of the pirate groups remaining there.
Around that time, two years after they began dating, Darklighter and Faleur married. The squadron was invited to the ceremony; Janson and Klivian abused the champagne fountain, something Darklighter would give them a hard time about for years. To their two adopted sons they quickly added a biological daughter, then a son and another daughter. Darklighter continued serving in Rogue Squadron; the scattering of the Dark Jedi Desann's forces from the Valley of the Jedi, defense of Skywalker's Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4, and destruction of the Doomgiver in 12 ABY and the evacuation of Thanta Zilbra ahead of the system's destruction by Centerpoint Station's "starbuster" superweapon in 18 ABY were only a few of many Rogue Squadron actions as the Empire receded into the Imperial Remnant and the warlords and would-be dictators were slowly but surely eradicated.
When Darklighter gained leave, he often spent it on Chandrila with his wife and her family. Being from Tatooine, he greatly enjoyed diving in the Silver Sea and exploring its reefs, marveling at the underwater life. During the Black Fleet Crisis in 16 and 17 ABY, Darklighter's brother-in-law was killed fighting the Yevetha. He took his widowed sister Rasca and her children into his home and care; what began as a temporary arrangement turned permanent, causing Rasca to occasionally feel that she was a burden. Darklighter was happy to support her and would have none of it.
Taking the lead
- "Biggs was with us at the start, and you were with us when we restarted Rogue Squadron. In many ways the Darklighters and their victories and sacrifices are more emblematic of Rogue Squadron than anything Tycho and I have done. It's certainly the right thing to have you in charge."
- ―Wedge Antilles to Gavin Darklighter
In 19 ABY, Rogue Squadron, with Antilles back in command, was attached to General Bel Iblis's fleet. They were at Morishim when Imperial Remnant Supreme Commander Gilad Pellaeon sent an emissary to convey his desire to negotiate terms of peace with the New Republic; when the Imperial corvette arrived in the system, shortly followed by a Star Destroyer, the Rogues scrambled to counter it but were too late, as the corvette was jammed, disabled, and captured by the Star Destroyer, which promptly jumped into hyperspace. Pellaeon's message was lost. The Rogues saw more action, however, when Bel Iblis's strike force was called in to aid Sif'kric against Frezhlix aggression. Though the Frehzlix were not making any hostile moves, their arrival kept the extremely time-sensitive annual pommwomm shipment from traveling, threatening to ruin the Sif'krie economy. Bel Iblis was able to use a Rogue Squadron flyby to provoke the Frezhlix into attacking, giving him the legal justification to drive them out of the system. Incidents were becoming unusually common as various local governments took advantage of the current Caamas Document Crisis to attempt to settle old scores. When the Leresai sent a battle fleet to Bothawui to exact revenge for the deaths of two Leresai in a riot on Bothawui, the Rogues were sent ahead of Bel Iblis's fleet, but were unable to act, as they had been sabotaged by Leresai technicians. Only Horn's Jedi senses kept them from opening their S-foils and thus triggering the sabotage. Darklighter was forced to stand helplessly by and watch as the Leresai destroyed a space station, killing twenty-one innocent Bothans in retaliation.
To resolve the Caamas Document Crisis, the New Republic planned to strike at the Imperial Ubiqtorate base at Yaga Minor. Rogue Squadron was assigned to the effort. Staging from Ord Trasi, the squadron would be one of many providing cover as the Errant Venture sneaked behind enemy lines to dock at the base and attempt to steal a copy of the Caamas Document from its records. When the actual battle began, Bel Iblis's infiltration attempt was quickly found out and the Venture pinned down by tractor beams. Karrde appeared in the midst of the battle, however, and insisted that if Rogue Squadron could escort him to the base, he could end the battle right there. The Rogues escorted him in and Karrde did just as he had promised, delivering Pellaeon, who ended the battle, eliminated the traitorous faction within the Remnant, and arranged a peace treaty with the New Republic.
It was not long afterwards, in squadron headquarters on Coruscant, that Darklighter heard the news that Skywalker was engaged to be married to Mara Jade, ex-Imperial assassin and Karrde's right-hand woman. Darklighter had grown to know the Skywalker-Solo family in his time in Rogue Squadron, the military unit most closely tied to the Heroes of Yavin. He was invited to Skywalker's surprise bachelor party, held in the Red Rancor cantina on Coruscant. The festivities had barely begun before a swoop gang picked a fight, causing a huge bar brawl. With multiple Jedi, Rogues, and smugglers involved, the bachelor party quickly emerged victorious. At the wedding itself, Darklighter served as an usher. When Karrde learned that there would be an Imperialist attack on the ceremony, however, Antilles took command of the defense and recruited Darklighter, several other Rogues, Chewbacca, and a few Jedi to help counter the threat without disrupting the wedding. Darklighter seized a blaster and, with Antilles and Celchu, held the main door against a swoop gang hired as a distraction. Through the combined efforts of the guests, the attack was averted.
With the New Republic and Imperial Remnant at peace, Antilles, Celchu, and most of the other Rogue veterans resigned. Antilles and Celchu passed the coveted title of Rogue Leader on to Darklighter, making him only the fourth to carry the title, after Skywalker, Antilles, and Celchu. To mark the occasion, they took Darklighter out for dinner at a high-class restaurant and gave him a custom-made silver ring with the squadron crest—which he had designed—and the four dots signifying a colonel's rank, which Darklighter now held. The two former Rogue Leaders accepted Darklighter as a peer and gave him a great deal of advice, but made sure to show that they had absolute confidence in his ability to run the squadron. Darklighter was forced to partially rebuild the squadron after the retirement of so many pilots, and found the process of choosing the best candidates difficult. However, he was determined not to let down his former commanders, and build a squadron he felt he could be proud of. The position did take its toll on Darklighter, however, graying his temples by the age of thirty-five.
A new enemy
- "It killed me in twenty-five seconds. What was it?"
- ―Gavin Darklighter to Traest Kre'fey after encountering a coralskipper in simulation
Darklighter took to command of Rogue Squadron quickly, leading it against pirates on the Rim. By 25 ABY, he and Major Inyri Forge were the only remaining Rogues from the early years of its reorganization; Forge led Two Flight. His other main subordinate was Major Alinn Varth, who led Three Flight. In 25 ABY, Rogue Squadron was attached to the First Fleet and stationed on the Ralroost under Admiral Traest Kre'fey, the brother of Karka Kre'fey, who had slapped Darklighter on Coruscant almost twenty years ago. Darklighter respected this Kre'fey, however, whom he felt to be honest and straightforward.
In that year, Kre'fey gave Darklighter access to a new simulator mission. Darklighter tried it out and was surprised to find what appeared to be empty space. He was even more astonished when he found himself attacked by an asteroid-like craft using completely foreign technology. He lasted only twenty-five seconds before a shot from the craft melted into his X-wing and detonated the proton torpedo magazine. The aide overseeing the simulator congratulated Darklighter for what was considered a very good performance and told him Kre'fey would meet with him soon over the subject of the simulation. The Bothan admiral told him that the exotic fighter was called a coralskipper and was used by a mysterious alien race—the Yuuzhan Vong—who had recently invaded the Outer Rim and made use of biological technology. Because of political pressure, Kre'fey was not allowed to investigate the battle sites where their first probe had been defeated, but he instead sent Rogue Squadron out to simulate a pirate force against which the fleet would war-game with the understanding that the Rogues, free to move, might "accidentally" come across such sites. Meanwhile, Darklighter intended to have his people sim against the coralskippers and test some strategies to counter their exotic weapons and defenses.
When Kre'fey received a report of a freighter attacked by unknown fighters, he took Ralroost and the Rogues to investigate. While investigating the system, the Rogues detected fighters in the asteroid field. Darklighter pulled the Rogues away to check them out, and found a pirate fleet of uglies, badly damaged, waiting in the asteroids. Darklighter was reluctant to engage the damaged and inferior fighters. He contacted Urias Xhaxin, the pirate leader, and convinced him to stand down. Darklighter and Kre'fey met with Xhaxin aboard the Ralroost, and the privateer told them that his small fleet had been jumped by coralskippers.
Kre'fey dispatched a probe droid to the site where Xhaxin had been ambushed, but the results were ambiguous and he decided to send in a reconnaissance X-wing with Rogue Squadron as its escort. There Darklighter found coralskippers and engaged them, using some modifications to the weapons and shield systems designed by New Republic technicians—including a method which Darklighter himself had invented of expanding the inertial compensator's field to keep the coralskippers from using their singularities to strip the shields from the fighters. It was the first time the New Republic's countermeasures were tested in combat against the Yuuzhan Vong. He and his wingmate, Captain Kral Nevil, eliminated multiple skips in the battle. Going head-to-head with an elite Yuuzhan Vong pilot, however, Darklighter was nearly sucked into the gravitic singularity which it used to shield itself. Only by emptying his entire proton torpedo magazine into the singularity and diving towards it to pick up enough momentum to pull up and skim just past its event horizon did he escape, but he lost his shields in the process. The battle was over when Nevil and Ligg Panat destroyed that fighter. For their first combat against the Yuuzhan Vong, the Rogues had done well, but Darklighter had lost two pilots: Dinger and Tik.
Kre'fey's task force next moved to Dubrillion, where Lando Calrissian ran a mining operation and which was menaced by a Yuuzhan Vong fleet. The Rogues escorted an Agamarian evacuation fleet into the system against minimal Vong resistance, then spent four days holding back minor probes as the Agamarian fleet loaded up locals to evacuate from the system. Meanwhile, Darklighter reviewed the list of pilots who had run Dubrillion's asteroid belt and selected the best to fill the openings in the squadron. He overlooked Jaina Solo, however; only sixteen, he felt she was too young when other candidates were available. When her mother overheard this during a meeting with Kre'fey, Calrissian, and Darklighter, however, she insisted Darklighter consider Jaina, who had posted the best time of all pilots to run the Belt. Jaina was the same age as Darklighter had been when he joined the squadron, and Organa Solo pointed out that those who had the skills to protect others were obliged to bear that burden and could not be sheltered from it. Darklighter accepted Solo into the squadron, promising Organa Solo to take the best care of her daughter, and delivered the news personally to young Solo, who took the position of Rogue Eleven.
During the evacuation, the Rogues were assigned to strike the ship designated Rock-One—the Vong's large cruiser. Solo damaged the ship, but it created an interdiction field, blocking the Ralroost, the Rogues, and a handful of evacuation ships from jumping to Agamar. Instead, they made for Dantooine.
Holding back the tide
- "Look, all of you, this is not going to be an easy fight. Normally we pilots get to cloak ourselves in tradition and the romance of single combat amid the stars. The kind of snubfighters we pilot killed the Death Stars and have downed lots of Imps and pirates. We often take pride and even solace in the fact that those we face in combat are our equals in skill. It's a fair fight. This won't even be close to a fair fight. […] It will not be pretty. What it is, though, is necessary. It's necessary because those people out there aren't warriors. Many of them might have blasters, but if they ever have to fire them, it's because we've failed. Safeguarding those people, adults and children alike, is more important than our survival. […] When they come, we have to stop them. Nothing more, nothing less will do."
- ―Gavin Darklighter to his pilots before the Battle of Dantooine
They detected no Vong following them, so Kre'fey offloaded the refugees onto Dantooine, as he did not have enough supplies to sustain them, and made for the Core to report in. Darklighter stayed behind in command of the defense of the refugees. The Rogues were supplemented by two squadrons of uglies and two companies of infantry. When the Vong showed up and began landing troops, Darklighter was forced to draw up defensive plans. He briefed his pilots and prepared for the assault.
The attack came during the night. Darklighter took his Rogues and Savage Squadron up to eliminate the Yuuzhan Vong fighter cover while Tough Squadron made runs against the ground vehicles. Darklighter was contacted by Luke Skywalker, who was present at the battle, and told to fire a spread of proton torpedoes against one of the large ground vehicles. Darklighter ordered Solo to accompany him and made the run himself, then watched in awe as Skywalker used the Force to bend the gravitic anomaly that the vehicle produced around and cause it to suck itself into its own void. The vehicle that he targeted had supplied the command impulses to the slave soldiers the Vong were using, and when it was destroyed they went mad, turning on each other. The decision was made to evacuate, and the refugees were loaded into the freighters to leave with the Rogues providing cover. The battle had exacted a horrible cost, however—only six Rogues and one flight of Savage Squadron still lived. On their way outbound, they discovered that Rock-One had returned and was providing an interdiction field—they could not escape. At that moment, the Ralroost burst from hyperspace with the Corusca Fire and hammered the Yuuzhan Vong ship, driving it off. The Rogues and refugees were free to flee to Agamar, and from there the Rogues and Kre'fey proceeded to Coruscant.
On the capital world, Darklighter, Kre'fey, Organa Solo, and Senator Elegos A'Kla were summoned before the Advisory Council to report on the threat they had faced. Chief of State Fey'lya, whom Darklighter had long despised, made clear that he did not take the Yuuzhan Vong seriously. At a signal from Kre'fey, Darklighter rounded on him, accusing Fey'lya of attempting to deliberately mislead the New Republic and its military and attempting to cover up a massive threat. Fey'lya, furious, threatened to end Darklighter's career, but Kre'fey immediately cut in, backing Darklighter's position. Fey'lya insisted it was his right to prosecute any war as he saw fit, but Darklighter told him that he would not allow him to mismanage the war when it was Darklighter's neck on the line. When Fey'lya again threatened Darklighter's career, Kre'fey warned that if Fey'lya pushed Darklighter out, Kre'fey would go as well and take the rest of the New Republic military with him. He threatened to lead it off to the Unknown Regions and carve his own Empire to hold against the Yuuzhan Vong, or to back a coup and put Organa Solo in power. With that, Fey'lya realized he could not succeed. He accepted the group's demands that control over the pursuit of the war be ceded to the military, without political micromanagement, that a system to support the refugees be established, and that A'Kla be allowed to make his report on the Vong to the Senate with full media coverage.
With the New Republic about to move onto a full war footing, Darklighter returned to his office in Rogue Squadron headquarters, unwilling to inflict his gloomy mood on his family. There, he found the guard outside his door holding a blaster rifle which had had its power pack removed; some men had arrived and insisted they would be welcome in Darklighter's office. Thinking it unlikely to be a Yuuzhan Vong assassination attempt, Darklighter entered his office and was amused and pleased to find Antilles and Celchu. They had heard there would be a war, and offered their assistance. Darklighter was more than happy to accept their aid and the tumbler of whisky they had poured for him. Darklighter began recruiting pilots to replace the squadron's losses, screening them with the assistance of both former Rogue Leaders and Solo's Force senses.
His next assignment was to cover the insertion of Horn, Ganner Rhysode, Jacen Solo, and several Noghri commandos onto Garqi. The Rogues engaged several coralskippers, only to see the commando team's craft go down in flames. It was only after being recalled to the Ralroost that Darklighter learned that a small craft had been disguised within and escaped during atmospheric entry, and that the destruction was a deception to allow the team to slip in undetected. Darklighter later offered advice to Jaina Solo, telling her exactly why she had been allowed to believe her brother dead and helping her grow more humble.
One week after Garqi, the Ralroost jumped into the Julevian system and deployed Rogue Squadron to escort a recon-X to determine to what use the Vong were putting the ruins of Sernpidal. Penetrating the rubble, Darklighter found the beginning construction of a massive ship, rivaling the Death Star in size. However, he had no way to destroy it and was forced merely to retreat with his data. Kre'fey's task force then returned to Garqi, where Darklighter deployed to screen the recovery of Horn's team. The Yuuzhan Vong deployed considerable forces, threatening to cut Horn's Best Chance off from rescue. The Rogues engaged the enemy coralskippers, but only the arrival of an Imperial Remnant task force under Grand Admiral Pellaeon, supplemented by Jagged Fel's Force Spike, allowed them to bring the Best Chance aboard Ralroost and depart.
On Garqi, Horn had learned that the Yuuzhan Vong's vonduun crab armor was allergic to the pollen of the Bafforr tree. Kre'fey moved his forces to Ithor, homeworld of the Bafforr, to defend the potentially war-winning resource. Supplemented by Pellaeon's forces, they meant to make a stand against the Yuuzhan Vong fleet that would inevitably arrive. Darklighter and the Rogues simmed regularly against the Imperials and Fel's Chiss pilots; he was unable to defeat Fel in simulation. Only Antilles and Celchu managed that, and then only once each. Darklighter represented the squadron at the diplomatic reception held on the Tafanda Bay; Fel made a significant stir when he bypassed the politicians in the reception line and greeted only his host and his military allies, including Darklighter.
When the time for battle came, the Rogues were assigned to shoot down the Yuuzhan Vong troop carriers attempting to land. The Vong picked off a full four of his pilots, leading him to take great pleasure in destroying several landing craft. In the midst of the battle, Horn was able to contact the Yuuzhan Vong commander, Shedao Shai, and arranged a duel with him. There would be a one-week truce, allowing the New Republic to evacuate more Ithorians, and then Horn and Shai would duel. If Horn won, Shai would leave Ithor alone. If Shai won, he would get back the bones of his ancestors, which Horn had recovered in the course of another mission. Horn fought the duel, and won, but Shai's unfaithful subordinate launched missiles containing an extremely fast-propagating bacteria which eliminated life on Ithor. Despite the New Republic's best efforts, the planet was lost. In retaliation, they destroyed the enemy fleet's flagship as it left the system. In the wake of the disaster, Senatorial oversight of the military was reinstated. Darklighter simply got on with the duty of sending messages to the families of the fallen.
- Darklighter: "Enough is enough. Fey'lya is selling us off to the Yuuzhan Vong a piece at a time."
- Skywalker: "No, he's not. I have my disagreements with him, obviously, but he's trying to save the New Republic, in his own way. A civil war can only make us weaker."
- Darklighter: "Not if we make it quick and painless. Not if we have real leadership when it's over, rather than the fractured, squabbling crowd that's got us sitting on our thumbs."
- Skywalker: "You're referring to democracy. Something we all fought very hard for. We can't throw it away simply because it becomes inconvenient. Gavin, we aren't having this conversation."
- ―Gavin Darklighter and Luke Skywalker[src]
Darklighter continued battling the Yuuzhan Vong for several more months. Fel and some of his pilots stayed behind, flying joint operations with the Rogues. One such battle was the defense of Kalarba. Ultimately unsuccessful, it saw Solo wounded and put on medical leave. When Yuuzhan Vong Warmaster Tsavong Lah issued a declaration that he would cease the war if the Jedi were handed over, the Jedi became political pariahs, and pressure from Fey'lya's circle kept Darklighter from calling Solo back to active duty even after she healed. Finally, he suggested to her she extend her leave indefinitely.
When warrants were issued for the house arrest of Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker, they fled Coruscant, with Solo flying cover. Coruscant security forces were scrambled to stop them. Darklighter, stationed over Coruscant, had had enough. Fed up with Fey'lya's political maneuvering, he scrambled his Rogues and flew to offer the Skywalkers his assistance. Darklighter offered his support in a transmission and relayed his anger and sense of betrayal over Fey'lya's actions. The Bothan was selling the New Republic out, he felt, and suggested that a coup might be in order. Skywalker declined, telling Darklighter that Fey'lya was only doing as he thought best and that the problem would not be fixed by losing faith in democracy. Darklighter accepted Skywalker's wisdom and opened a private channel to Solo, apologizing for having bowed to political pressure, ordering her to watch over the Skywalkers, and letting her know that she still had a place in the squadron. He had developed a strong respect for Solo during her time in the squadron, and the similar pressures they had faced joining the squadron at a young age and with family names to live up to had given him a feeling of a common bond between the two. Darklighter was apparently able to avoid repercussions for letting Skywalker go.
Solo made contact with Kyp Durron during her trip. The Jedi had reconnoitered Sernpidal and found that the ship Darklighter had found in construction had grown to gargantuan, Death-Star-dwarfing proportions. Durron further provided evidence that it housed a massive gravitic superweapon capable of causing devastating solar flares. Solo contacted Darklighter and had him meet her and Durron. He then chose a Chandrilan ranch owned by one of his in-laws as a safe meeting ground and brought Antilles with him to see the same information. Antilles pointed out that Fey'lya would not order any action so long as the Vong were maintaining a relative truce. Any mission to destroy it would be unofficial and could put careers at risk. Darklighter was unconcerned about that. Instead, he was eager to destroy the superweapon, being infuriated that he had provided evidence of its existence over a year ago and no action had been taken. With all accepting the risk, Antilles contacted Kre'fey to provide the military muscle they would need. With Kre'fey, they developed their entrance strategy. The Vong had secured all possible hyperspace routes in near the debris field, but Kre'fey had located an old hulk of an Interdictor and restored it enough that it could be jumped in unmanned, shift the system's gravitic profile enough to open up new hyperspace entry points, and allow the New Republic forces access to the shipwomb.
The plan went off and allowed them to jump in, with Darklighter destroying a coralskipper immediately upon reversion. Durron's Dozen-and-so Avengers proceeded to scout the superweapon's defenses while the Rogues cleared Vong resistance from the stable hyperspace exit point to allow Kre'fey's capital ships to come in. Darklighter found a large enemy craft sitting at the requisite exit point, designated it "Wampa", and assigned his flight the mission of destroying it while the other two flights provided anti-starfighter cover. Rogue Three was lost, but Darklighter and Nevil made their run. Four did not make it, but Darklighter was able to destroy Wampa, removing a yammosk war coordinator and thereby sending the skips into disarray. The way in was clear. Ralroost and its accompanying task force hypered in, battered their way to the superweapon, and destroyed it as Darklighter and the surviving Rogues and Avengers kept the Yuuzhan Vong off the capital ships.
During the battle, Solo, once more flying with the Rogues, discovered that there had been no superweapon. The solar flare was caused by a corridor of dovin basals—the Yuuzhan Vong gravity-warping creatures. The craft was in fact a massive worldship which would have housed Yuuzhan Vong civilians currently living on old, dying worldships. Now, they would have to be moved with military resources or left to die. Darklighter, Antilles, and Solo were furious with the deception. Darklighter once more released Solo to tend to her Jedi duties and see her newborn cousin, Ben Skywalker, though the unfavorable status of the Jedi was soon lifted.
The Rogues remained stationed at Coruscant for the next few months. During that time, they were scrambled to intercept the Sweet Surprise, a freighter suspected of Vong connections by Han Solo. After reviewing the situation, General Carlist Rieekan, commander of the Coruscant Planetary Defense Force, ordered Darklighter to deny the Surprise access into the mine shell defending Coruscant. Darklighter ordered the ship to halt for boarding, but it instead attempted to pull up despite not having enough room to maneuver. The Surprise was damaged by mines before pulling away. The Rogues pursued it and Darklighter ordered its boarding. He was first in, with two other pilots backing him up. It was then that Organa Solo sensed the presence of voxyn, deadly Jedi-hunting Vong creatures, aboard. Darklighter persisted anyway, finding the auxiliary controls and guiding the Surprise into a stable orbit. Escorting the hostages aboard the freighter to the airlock for evacuation, Darklighter found four voxyn waiting between him and the airlock. Han Solo and Organa Solo docked with the ship, drawing the voxyn out, then exposed them to vacuum. Darklighter gratefully evacuated the prisoners.
When the Jedi struck at the Yuuzhan Vong forces holding hostages at Talfaglio, Antilles and Bel Iblis brought forces to supplement the strike team. The Rogues were dispatched to accompany Saba Sebatyne's Wild Knights in hunting and capturing the yammosk present among the enemy forces. Their mission was successful—an intact yammosk corpse was captured for dissection, the hostages were freed, and the Jedi's public image gained a strong boost. Upon return to Coruscant, Darklighter and the Rogues, among several others, were invited to the Solo apartment to watch Skywalker's address to the Senate. Senator Viqi Shesh—secretly a Yuuzhan Vong collaborator—turned what was to be a moment of triumph for the Jedi into a political issue, but Fey'lya, now fully in support of the Jedi, turned the tables by ordering the military to coordinate with the Jedi based on supposed angry messages from several of the New Republic's highest-ranking officers. They had not actually contacted him, but the ruse worked. Darklighter celebrated the full integration of the Jedi into the war and began planning joint missions with the Jedi squadron leaders in the apartment.
In short order, however, the Yuuzhan Vong launched their invasion of Coruscant. Darklighter led the Rogues in evacuating civilians from the world as the invasion fleet closed; apparently, he was able to evacuate his family as well, as he later evinced no worry for them. Meanwhile, the Jedi made multiple runs in their starfighters, penetrating the approaching fleet and destroying multiple yammosks. When both sides' fleets clashed, Antilles offered Rogue Squadron to support Skywalker on his fourth anti-yammosk run. As the battle grew, Rogue Squadron fought fiercely, but it was not enough to keep the galactic capital from falling.
- "Rogue Squadron to Borleias. We're back. We kicked your butt twenty years ago. Now we're here to do it again."
- ―Gavin Darklighter, in open transmission upon entering Borleias space
The New Republic forces were obliged to retreat. Antilles's Fleet Group Three recovered the Rogues and jumped to Borleias, which had been recently taken by the Yuuzhan Vong. The Rogues deployed and escorted the fleet's landing craft through the defending coralskippers and devastated the ground defenses. For the second time in his life, Darklighter captured Borleias. When Antilles landed to survey the site, Darklighter escorted him from the main base, now destroyed by the placement of a Yuuzhan Vong complex over it, to the Alderaan Biotics facility. There they established their new base. Antilles planned to hold Borleias against the Vong as long as he could, providing a secure route for escape from Coruscant and destroying as many enemies as possible. Rogue Squadron was kept in orbit on alert.
When Councilor—and self-declared Chief of State—Pwoe arrived, Darklighter was among the senior officers called in to a conference with him and his advisers. Pwoe charged Antilles with the defense of Borleias, but the political subtext was clear. Pwoe intended the group to sacrifice their lives buying time for his party to build up their positions and negotiate terms of peace with the Vong. Antilles saw this perfectly, and pressed upon Pwoe to grant him wide-ranging powers and provide the Lusankya. After the politicians left, Darklighter was among the officers and advisers Antilles had stay. He and Skywalker explained that, with the government ready to capitulate, a new arrangement was needed. They proposed a resistance movement, a secret system of cells inside the New Republic ready to strike the Vong without government oversight. Their membership would be only those individuals who could be trusted utterly and completely. To those outside, they would appear simply to be Antilles's senior advisors. Darklighter became part of the Insiders.
Antilles intended to draw the Yuuzhan Vong into a false sense of security. He also wanted to convince them that something vitally important was at the planetary base, and so based the Rogues, along with two more elite squadrons, on the planet. When a Yuuzhan Vong fleet came nine days into the occupation to contest the New Republic's hold, Darklighter launched from the surface, then took up a position near the moon to strike at any targets of opportunity. However, Antilles's strategy was blown apart when, instead of allowing a minor victory for the enemy fleet, Lusankya arrived in the system in the midst of the enemy's reserve fleet and began devastating it, but taking damage in return. The Rogues were pulled away from the combat to jump towards Lusankya and help defend it from the rest of the fleet, escorting back to Borleias as the enemy fleet was savaged and then retreated.
When Antilles became aware of Yuuzhan Vong ships destroying refugee convoys with impunity, he placed Lando Calrissian in charge of finding the security flaws in the convoy system. The Rogues were attached to the mission. Calrissian obtained a transport and had the Rogues' X-wings stowed in false cargo containers along the hull. When the transport was ambushed by a Yuuzhan Vong frigate, the Rogues deployed and destroyed the frigate quickly. Calrissian was able to determine that no tracking devices had been used, meaning that refugees were selling each other out. Darklighter's role in the operation was done and he returned to Borleias to continue in the defense of the planet. Darklighter also received a major asset to his squadron with Horn's transfer back into it.
Thirty-nine days into the occupation of Borleias, Darklighter and his Rogues—minus Nevil and Horn, who were escorting the Millennium Falcon—escorted one pipefighter into orbit. There were four pipefighters, and together they produced a network of laser fire that launched a beam into space. As the pipefighters fired, Darklighter detected incoming coralskippers. Simultaneously, a capital ship fired from the edge of Coruscant's solar system; it would appear that the pipefighters were a superweapon capable of firing through hyperspace. In short order, two squadrons of coralskippers were upon the Rogues, but they fought them off with little difficulty. When Solo's Twin Suns Squadron was ambushed, Jag Fel, by now a member of Twin Suns, was driven off-course without shields into a seemingly impossible-to-survive cloud of coralskippers. Solo and Durron turned back to rescue him and as Durron used the same void-pulling trick Skywalker had at Dantooine, the Rogues arrived at the combat zone and picked the remaining twenty coralskippers off the trio of Twin Suns pilots. Afterwards, Darklighter landed and was debriefed by Antilles.
When the Vong made their move against the New Republic base, the Rogues defended its south face against the approaching ground troops. They withdrew in an orderly fashion, at the same rate as the rest of the units, until the enemy forces were within the target area for Operation Emperor's Hammer. Lusankya poured fire onto the ground in an orbital bombardment that utterly destroyed the Vong soldiery. With that victory and Calrissian's successful return from the mission to insert Skywalker and the Wraiths into Coruscant, Calrissian threw a massive party to which Darklighter was very likely invited.
Despite the victory, conditions were harsh. The Rogues were running low on proton torpedoes, and only senior pilots were armed with them. They were down to nine members arranged in three shield trios, and of them several were under-qualified replacements, which casualties had forced Darklighter to accept. The enemy fleet had not yet been destroyed, and the base was still subject to harassing attacks, such as one in which he and the Rogues had to destroy one of several enemy corvettes making a run at the base. The pace of the attacks picked up until they were nearly constant, keeping the Rogues on alert.
Finally, when Skywalker returned from his Coruscant infiltration mission, Antilles decided it was time. He had arranged for the base to be evacuated during the final battle, in which he sent the pipefighters up to lure the Vong into attacking. The Rogues and the other elite squadrons escorted the pipefighters up. However, once the armada of coralskippers sent against them came in range, the New Republic fighters jumped to hyperspace, abandoning the droid-piloted "superweapon" ships. They came out within the system, alongside Lusankya as the ship lined up to drive into the heart of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet. The elite squadrons guarded it and its engines, fighting fiercely as the big ship penetrated the enemy formation. As Lusankya drew near to the enemy flagship, Mon Mothma and Errant Venture jumped into the engagement. Darklighter allowed the fresh fighters deployed from Mon Mothma to take over the escort duties and turned with the remnants of Blackmoon Squadron to rescue Blackmoon Eleven, who was dogfighting with multiple coralskippers over Borleias. Meanwhile, Lusankya, which had been accumulating damage over the course of the Yuuzhan Vong harassment, plunged into the commanding worldship, destroying it and killing the legendary Yuuzhan Vong commander, former warmaster Czulkang Lah. Darklighter, the Rogues, and the Blackmoons reached Blackmoon Eleven and destroyed the squadron of coralskippers that would have destroyed the badly damaged fighter. The pilot had already managed to destroy an entire squadron on his own, however, and Darklighter told him that if he were ever to hone his skills to match his nerve, he would be the greatest pilot of all time. He was puzzled when the pilot responded with only laughter—which he slowly recognized as that of Antilles, cut off from his evacuation shuttle and piloting a left-behind X-wing.
The pursuit of victory
- "The Alliance will just have to make do with guys like Darklighter, Page, and Cracken."
"Pity the Alliance."
- ―Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu on their second retirement
Fleet Group Three made its way to Mon Calamari, where the Senate had established itself, rejected Pwoe's claim to leadership, and begun reorganizing the government. Rogue Squadron was assigned to General Keyan Farlander's task force. With increasing use of Force-enhanced coordination in the task force, Darklighter turned command of the squadron over to Horn, a Jedi Knight. He presumably remained with the squadron, fighting over Obroa-skai and destroying what was thought to be Supreme Overlord Shimrra's flagship, though it turned out to be that of Supreme Commander Komm Karsh; still a notable victory. Kre'fey, Farlander's superior, then withdrew to Kashyyyk and, under Admiral Ackbar's new battle plan, engaged in multiple small-scale combats to season the troops, such as at Ylesia. All this culminated in the Battle of Ebaq 9, in which the Rogues fought in Ackbar's last great strategy, a trap for the Yuuzhan Vong fleet which utterly decimated them and killed Warmaster Tsavong Lah.
Horn eventually transferred out of Rogue Squadron and command returned to Darklighter. Meanwhile, the New Republic was reorganized and reformed into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances by new Chief of State Cal Omas. The Galactic Alliance was able to take the offensive, freeing worlds from the overextended Vong and reestablishing an organized, centralized government. Finally, in 29 ABY, the Galactic Alliance leadership decided that the time was right to retake Coruscant. A massive military buildup was initiated at Mon Calamari, and Darklighter attended the briefing on the attack plan. At that briefing, it was also explained that a massive Yuuzhan Vong attack on Mon Calamari was expected.
Darklighter's Rogues and several other elite squadrons were stationed at the point designated Iceberg Three, the second-farthest orbiting body in the Calamari system. When the Yuuzhan Vong invasion fleet arrived, its formation resembled that of a yammosk, with multiple tentacles of coralskippers and small gunships radiating from the main body of capital ships. Along with the Chiss-led Vanguard Squadron and Solo's Twin Suns Squadron, the Rogues were assigned to eliminate tentacles fourteen through twenty. During their attack run, however, the tentacle pattern shifted, bringing up many new reinforcements and killing many of Darklighter's pilots, leading him to combine forces with the survivors of Twin Suns Squadron. The battle ended abruptly, however, when the Yuuzhan Vong fleet withdrew to deal with the sudden arrival of the living world Zonama Sekot in the Coruscant system.
In short order, the Galactic Republic was ready for the invasion of Coruscant. Rogue Squadron and the other elite squadrons escorted the troop carriers onto the planet. They successfully made it into the atmosphere and covered the dropships as they landed. With the troops on the ground, Darklighter moved to assault Shimrra's Citadel along with Janson's Taanab Yellow Aces, though its defenses proved formidable. The battle for Coruscant was long, bloody, and difficult, but in the end, the Galactic Alliance triumphed and the Yuuzhan Vong surrendered. The war was over at last, and Darklighter once more had a peaceful galaxy for his family.
Entering the fleet
- Organa Solo: "I guess you'll have to open fire, Gavin. This is too important."
- Darklighter: "Blast it, Princess! I'm not bluffing."
- Organa Solo: "Neither am I."
- ―Leia Organa Solo and Gavin Darklighter[src]
Sometime after the war was over, Darklighter accepted a transfer from Starfighter Command to Fleet Command, turning Rogue Squadron over to a new Rogue Leader, just as Antilles once had. In his forties, gray now showing in his goatee and hair, he reached the rank of commodore, commanding a task force of the Fifth Fleet under Bothan admiral Nek Bwua'tu. His flagship, Mon Mothma, had been Antilles's command in the Yuuzhan Vong War.
In 36 ABY, the Fifth was deployed to blockade the Utegetu Nebula in order to prevent the hive-minded, expansionist Killiks from departing that space. Darklighter was assigned to hold the Murgo Choke, one approach into the nebula. During that time, the Mon Mothma's interdiction field pulled the Millennium Falcon out of hyperspace. Piloted by Leia Organa Solo and Saba Sebatyne and accompanied by four Jedi StealthX pilots—undetectable by Mon Mothma's sensors—the Millennium Falcon was hailed by his subordinates and warned to turn back; the Utegetu Nebula was under complete blockade. Organa Solo demanded to speak with Darklighter, who by now was considered a firm friend of the family; she was convinced Darklighter could be counted on absolutely. The Jedi was determined to penetrate the nebula to rescue her husband and brother, who were trapped on a Killik world, but did not want the Galactic Alliance—then wary of Jedi involvement on the Killiks' side—knowing that Skywalker was out of contact and the Jedi Order weakened by his lack of leadership. When the StealthXs began putting targeting locks on the XJ3 X-wings trailing the craft and Organa Solo used a shipboard repulsor to push them away, Darklighter finally took to the comm personally. Frustrated enough to resort to profanity, he demanded that Han Solo—whom he thought was in command—stand down. Upon learning that Solo was not aboard, he apologized to Organa Solo for his language but insisted she stand down. When she refused, he attempted to detain the Falcon via tractor beams, but was unsuccessful. Regretfully, he ordered her to halt or he would open fire. Darklighter correctly guessed Solo and Skywalker's condition, but demanded she surrender nonetheless. He may have been sympathetic to her but could not take any action that would help her, as Bwua'tu was present, hiding his flagship, Admiral Ackbar, farther in the nebula. Organa Solo attempted to call his bluff. Darklighter opened fire, driving the Falcon into the tractor beams of the waiting Ackbar.
When the Falcon landed on the Ackbar, Organa Solo and Sebatyne were knocked unconscious by Galactic Alliance troops with sonic rifles. At Bwua'tu's request, Darklighter transferred over to the Ackbar to be there when Organa Solo awoke. Darklighter woke her and was rewarded with a blind, defensive Force-shove into the bulkhead, but kept the situation from escalating. He then led her outside to Sebatyne and took the pair up to see Bwua'tu. Darklighter had been consulting with the admiral, and assured him that the pair would keep their word if they gave it. He also suggested, if they refused to swear that they would not attempt to escape, that the Falcon's drive nacelles be holed to keep it from being used as an escape craft. After hearing the threat, the pair gave their word. Darklighter appealed to Organa Solo to bring the Jedi in StealthXs in to surrender before they ran out their supplies, but Organa Solo would not, and insisted the Force told her of a great danger aboard the ship. She could not tell precisely what was the matter, however, and Bwua'tu was inclined to dismiss her statements as fear-mongering. Darklighter insisted that Organa Solo would do no such thing, but the admiral accused Darklighter's judgment of being affected by his friendship with the prisoners, stated that Darklighter's statements only supported her fear-mongering, and threatened Darklighter's command. Darklighter saluted and departed for the Mon Mothma.
While Organa Solo remained imprisoned, the Killiks attempted to engage the blockade at the Murgo Choke. The Ackbar fell back towards the Mothma as Darklighter brought it up to support the admiral as the Killik fleet bore down on Darklighter's ship. Darklighter blasted the lead Killik nest ship into pieces, but there were too many foes. The Mothma's shields were slowly battered down; when they were lost entirely, Bwua'tu ordered Darklighter to withdraw with the fighters. He did so as the Ackbar, cut off and badly outnumbered, was lost. Darklighter returned with several cruisers and smaller ships. Bwua'tu and the Jedi had made it safely off the Ackbar before the Killiks boarded and captured it, and Darklighter and the admiral spent much time in planning sessions, debriefing. Darklighter was able to chat with the Solos and Skywalker, who had escaped the Killiks, before Bwua'tu received a message that the Chiss Ascendancy had declared a state of war against the Killiks. Bwua'tu, now commanding from the Mothma, ordered Darklighter to launch fighters and begin an attack on the Killik nest ships, which badly outnumbered the Galactic Alliance force. Bwua'tu felt, however, that an attack would surprise the Killiks, force them off-balance, and cause them to retreat. The war was not over for some time more, however. The Mon Mothma was present once more at the final battle of the Swarm War, escorting Supreme Commander Pellaeon's flagship Megador against the Killik fleet, though Skywalker ultimately won the battle by killing and capturing the two primary Killik leaders in a commando raid.
- "I apologize for any, um, pressure you may have felt regarding your decision."
"Don't worry about it, Colonel. You're still young. You'll learn."
- ―Jacen Solo and Gavin Darklighter
Darklighter continued serving in the navy, gaining a promotion to Rear Admiral in 40 or early 41 ABY. Corresponding with his promotion, he was transferred to the Fourth Fleet, where he served as second-in-command to Admiral Ratobo; the vessel Trucemaker was his flagship. In 40 ABY, the Second Galactic Civil War broke out. Depending on the exact timing of Darklighter's transfer out of the Fifth Fleet, he may still have served with it during the blockade of Corellia, which ultimately failed under Confederation assault.
As the Confederation grew in size and power, the Galactic Alliance took ever-more-strict measures against it, led by Jacen Solo, the head of a secret police unit known as the Galactic Alliance Guard. The rounding up of Corellians on Coruscant drove Antilles to head Corellia's military in attacks against the Galactic Alliance, until Corellia's leaders turned on him. Even the chance of fighting against his mentor could not break Darklighter's loyalty to the Galactic Alliance, however. When Solo deposed chief of state Cal Omas in a legal, yet questionable coup, Darklighter's opinion of the man soured, though he continued to serve the Galactic Alliance, placing the government for which he had fought so hard and lost so many friends over a Confederation even Antilles could no longer believe in. When the Confederation finally mobilized for a major drive against the Core in 41 ABY, the Fourth was sent to Balmorra, where Hutt and Commenorian forces would attack. Colonel Solo, now co-chief-of-state, was present, personally supervising the battle from his Star Destroyer, the Anakin Solo. The odds suddenly turned against the Galactic Alliance when the Commenorians revealed that they had possession of stolen long-range turbolaser technology, battering the "Fearless Fourth" from out of its range to strike back. Ratobo repeatedly requested permission to withdraw from Solo, citing the untenable position of the fleet and the possibility that the Commenorians could have more stolen technology as well. Solo was able to convince Ratobo to continue, but sensed in the Force an incoming attack. Solo ordered that the flag be transferred to Trucemaker right before Peacebringer exploded, killing Ratobo. Darklighter was now the commanding officer of the Fourth Fleet.
There was a brief period of confusion as Darklighter took the reigns of command, but he quickly focused the fleet on assaulting the enemy. The admiral undertook a bold strategy, sending the fleet's starfighters ahead to attack the Confederation fleet. It would leave the Fourth open to Confederation starfighter attacks, but Darklighter trusted the better-trained GA pilots would be able to destroy more Confederation ships than the Confederation would GA ones; it was the only way to put the Confederation on the defensive. Solo, however, was less interested in winning at Balmorra than he was in weakening the Confederation fleet, at minimum cost, before the Confederation attacked Kuat, a battle he had foreseen as being a vital tipping point. Solo contacted Darklighter via comm, but Darklighter held off answering. Solo then attempted to bear down on Darklighter with the Force, causing him to feel the impatience that the newly made—but still secret—Sith Lord felt. Darklighter was not intimidated, merely annoyed. He still waited, calm and confident, until the Commenorian portion of the Confederation fleet suddenly began withdrawing, unwilling to take its chances against the new GA strategy. Only then did he take to the comm, at which point Solo, embarrassed, simply offered him congratulations. Solo began to wonder if Darklighter's ascent to command could be the key event he had sensed which would swing the tide of the war firmly in the Galactic Alliance's favor. Solo apologized for the Force pressure, and Darklighter offered him a somewhat flippant acceptance. It was then that Solo began to realize many of the old-line military officers, like Darklighter, did not respect him or support his actions.
Darklighter continued to press the attack against the withdrawing fleet and the remaining Huttese element, and once more received a communication from Solo. Hoping it was not another needless order in the heat of battle, he accepted it, and Solo began to advise him that he had detected a wing of Jedi StealthXs waiting inside the Commenorian fleet for a surprise attack. Darklighter was overjoyed, however, to hear the voice of Skywalker break in, assuring him help was on the way. Darklighter took full advantage of the Jedi assault, cutting through the fleet and engaging the Huttese landing force. Solo cut in once more, however, to order Darklighter to engage the Hutt capital ships, not the landers. Darklighter was extremely upset with the order, unwilling to abandon Balmorra to Confederation occupation, but Solo was willing to sacrifice Balmorra to damage the fleet, still mindful of the upcoming engagement at Kuat. Darklighter very nearly refused to comply, but finally accepted Solo's reasoning.
With the Confederation forces at Balmorra decimated, the Fourth withdrew to Kuat. There, Darklighter insisted to Solo that Bwua'tu, now commanding the First Fleet, be given command of Kuat's defense. The First, Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh all massed at Kuat, as well as the Hapan Home Fleet. This was to be a decisive showdown. Darklighter's Fearless Fourth held the center against the attacking Bothan fleet, but when Skywalker took his StealthX wing and left, disgusted with Solo's increasingly dark behavior, the primary advantage was lost, and the battle degenerated into a week-long slug-fest. The battle only ended when Solo took the Fifth and began bombarding Kashyyyk, where the leadership of the Jedi Order now resided after having been declared traitors to the Galactic Alliance. The Confederation fleet pulled away from Kuat to stop the slaughter and savaged the Fifth; Solo and the tattered remnants of the Fifth barely escaped alive. Rather than relieving him, Supreme Commander Cha Niathal ordered Darklighter and Bwua'tu to hold the Core against attack.
After more months of war, elements of the Fourth accompainied Niathal to Fondor, where she and Solo finally fell out when Solo attempted to continue bombarding Fondor against Niathal's orders. Niathal formed a Galactic Alliance government-in-exile at Fondor and Solo retained control of Coruscant and the Galactic Alliance. When the Imperial Remnant, not quite under the control of Solo, who was now openly ruling as the Sith Lord Darth Caedus, struck at the Roche system to take control of Verpine production, Cadeus took Darklighter and the Fourth Fleet with him to the Roche in an attempt to force his will on the unruly moffs. Darklighter's Fourth guarded the shipments out of the system, which came under attack by Jedi raiders. Caedus, however, was always able to predict which convoys would be attacked and respond accordingly. When the fleets of Niathal and Natasi Daala arrived to support a Jedi attack on the Imperial fleet in the Roche system, Darklighter was recalled to provide aid. Caedus was defeated by the Jedi soon afterward, and a peace was established that placed Daala as the Chief of State.
Ancient evils and resurgent threats
Darklighter continued serving the Galactic Alliance, receiving command of the Galactic Alliance Marines. During the confrontation between Daala and the Jedi Order in 43 ABY, Darklighter remained sympathetic to the Jedi. The Jedi Order eventually removed Chief of State Daala from office and established a Triumvirate to rule the Galactic Alliance consisting of Jedi Master Saba Sebatyne, former Chief of Staff Wynn Dorvan, and Kuati Senator Haydnat Treen. Shortly after Daala's removal, Darklighter was one of several high-ranking military officers who attended a meeting in the Chief of State's office to discuss the applications of fourteen planets—the populations of which had recently liberated themselves from slavery—to join the Alliance. Darklighter believed that one planet, Qaras, had a lot of difficulties to overcome, but that their proposed senator, Rokari Kem, was one of the good things the planet had going for it. Eventually, Grand Master Skywalker decreed that the Jedi would withdraw themselves from the political landscape of Coruscant, which in turn dissolved the Triumvirate, and led the entire Order off-planet.
However, Darklighter's optimism regarding Kem was misplaced. An ancient Force entity known as Abeloth had taken control of Kem, and had allied herself with the Lost Tribe of the Sith from the planet Kesh. With the Jedi gone from Coruscant, Abeloth and her Sith allies infiltrated the Senate and governmental bodies, even going as far as to arrange for Abeloth's assumed form, Senator Kem, to be elected as the Galactic Alliance's Chief of State. The Lost Tribe claimed the Jedi Temple as their base of operations and openly spread propaganda denouncing the Jedi Order. Grand Master Skywalker, in concert with Admiral Bwau'tu and an underground intelligence network, conceived of a plan to rout the Lost Tribe and retake the Jedi Temple utilizing a combination of Jedi and Galactic Alliance Marines. However, due to Abeloth's ability to see into the future, the Jedi's plans were compromised and the carefully planned attack dragged into a siege that lasted for several days. During the operation, Darklighter commandeered the Galactic Justice Center, which was close to the Temple, and used it as an emergency field hospital to treat wounded marines and Jedi.
Days into the assault, Admiral Darklighter and other officials, including Admiral Bwua'tu, met with the Jedi Council to review the assault. Grand Master Skywalker—who had infiltrated the Temple at the start of the operation and had managed to breach the exterior of the building to allow marine reinforcements to enter before being med-evaced—confirmed that the Temple was not only full of Sith, but Abeloth was present as well. Darklighter reported that members of an elite marine unit, the Void Jumpers, were sure that Abeloth was present on the Pinnacle Platform. Acting Chief of State Wynn Dorvan, who had been held prisoner and tortured by Abeloth inside the Temple, insisted that Abeloth had merged with the Temple's computer core. After a report from former Jedi Tahiri Veila claiming that she and Boba Fett had killed Abeloth on Hagamoor 3, it became apparent that Abeloth was capable of controlling multiple forms thousands of light years distant, although the entity became vulnerable if one of her manifestations was destroyed. As the meeting went on, Admiral Bwua'tu made the suggestion of annihilating the Temple using a baradium strike, which Darklighter baulked at since he had marines fighting throughout the structure. Grand Master Skywalker, however, refused the suggestion, and felt that one of Abeloth's forms had fled Coruscant with his son, Ben, and a young Sith named Vestara Khai. A coordinated strike on Abeloth's remaining forms was enacted; Grand Master Skywalker and the newly-promoted Master Jaina Solo traveled to the Maw and freed the young Skywalker and Khai, while Master Sebatyne and Tahiri Veila led an elite squad of Void Jumpers to kill the Abeloth infesting the Temple computer core.
The plan succeeded, and the threat of Abeloth was abated. However, the Senate voted for the Jedi Order to be removed from Coruscant, and Grand Master Skywalker agreed since he wished to spare the galactic capital more war and suffering. Three months after the crisis had been resolved, Darklighter was aboard the Super Star Destroyer Megador in Coruscant orbit. On the warship's flight deck, the Millennium Falcon was preparing to leave Coruscant in compliance with the Senate's directives. Darklighter, as a farewell salute and a parting gift to the Solos to thank them for fifty years of service to freedom in the galaxy, ordered a brigade of Void Jumpers to form an honor guard on the flight deck. As the Falcon signalled readiness to depart for the Hapan cruiser Dragon Queen II to ferry Master Solo to her wedding to Jagged Fel, Darklighter brought the honor guard to attention in salute.
Personality and traits
- "But you don't know Gavin Darklighter. He always finds a way to do the right thing."
- ―Leia Organa Solo to Saba Sebatyne
Darklighter began his career as an idealistic farmboy, relatively naïve. He had been raised with the strong work ethic and family values of his moisture farmer parents, but he had little experience with the wider world and was nervous when forced into cosmopolitan situations. He also felt uncomfortable being by far the youngest pilot in Rogue Squadron, but Darklighter adapted quickly, soon fitting in among his comrades.
Service in Rogue Squadron forced Darklighter to mature quickly. Being shot on Talasea cooled his impulsiveness, and his constant experience with death made it easier for him to accept, though he was never truly comfortable with it and questioned the ease with which he could be in its presence. Darklighter also became less inclined to let his anger get the better of him; when Karka Kre'fey challenged him to a duel, he declined, confident in his own self-worth. He did the same when Dlarit taunted him over Halanit. Darklighter's early maturity also caused him to grow into adulthood swiftly. By the age of seventeen, he was a lieutenant and a level-headed veteran pilot. By the age of nineteen, he was ready and eager to take on the responsibility of fatherhood; family was of paramount importance to him. Over his many years in Rogue Squadron, Darklighter matured into a strong, even-tempered leader who inspired respect in his colleagues and subordinates.
Darklighter did not lose his idealism, however. He remained committed to doing the right thing and, in true Rogue fashion, was willing to stretch the bounds of his orders to achieve what he felt was a more moral end. He had a generally optimistic view of the world and was frequently indignant when confronted with injustice and bigotry. He was firmly committed to the welfare of his pilots as Rogue Leader, and would not put them in any danger he would not face himself, as when he was first to board the Sweet Surprise. Darklighter remained humble throughout his career, never considering himself worthy of special attention. Even after having known her for some twenty years and holding the esteemed position of Rogue Leader, Darklighter could still feel like a nobody in the presence of Leia Organa Solo. Horn, Sei'lar, Antilles, Organa Solo, and others frequently expressed their regard for Darklighter, praising his firm sense of right and wrong and strong set of values, but Darklighter never let such praise go to his head.
Darklighter was also a committed military officer, however, and was generally adverse to direct insubordination, especially as time went on and he reached higher and higher rank. Only in extreme situations, such as the New Republic's refusal to move against Isard, the unwillingness of Fey'lya's administration to mount an effective defense against the Yuuzhan Vong, and the issuing of arrest warrants for the Skywalkers—combined with growing resentment over what he perceived as gross mismanagement of the war effort—was Darklighter willing to risk his commission or, in the final case, seriously consider a coup attempt. Instead, Darklighter was generally able to work for administrations and superior officers he did not care for, reminding them of his position but never being outright insubordinate.
When Horn defended Darklighter from Jace's denigrations and expressed confidence in him, it made a significant impression on the young man. Darklighter began to look to Horn as a mentor figure, frequently coming to him for advice, especially about relationships. When he wanted to pursue a relationship with Sei'lar, it was Horn he asked about interspecies dating. When he wanted to start a family, it was Horn he asked about it and whom he asked to serve as a reference. Other mentors included Antilles and Celchu, who plied him with advice which he was always glad to take. They accepted him as a peer, but Darklighter always looked to them as leaders.
Behind the scenes
The character of Gavin Darklighter was created by Michael A. Stackpole in the novel X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. Darklighter was a major supporting character throughout the X-wing series; Rogue Squadron lacked any scenes written from Darklighter's point of view, but every subsequent X-wing novel written by Stackpole included Darklighter's point of view. Stackpole has mentioned that Darklighter is among his favorite characters. He created Darklighter as a young, inexperienced character after being inspired by stories of underage men enlisting during World War II, and believed that Darklighter's innocence would add a useful perspective. Stackpole made the character Biggs Darklighter's cousin in order to highlight the squadron's history.
Darklighter was also one of the more frequently mentioned Rogues in Aaron Allston's first three X-wing novels, which focused on Wraith Squadron but included the Rogues in a supporting role. Darklighter did not appear outside the X-Wing series, however, until Stackpole's I, Jedi, in which he was mentioned. Darklighter next appeared in Stackpole's Dark Tide Duology, in which Stackpole established Darklighter as Rogue Leader. In that role, Darklighter was subsequently used throughout the New Jedi Order series, of which the Dark Tide novels were a part. Darklighter has appeared subsequently in books by Troy Denning and Christie Golden, in which he serves the role of a Galactic Alliance naval officer.
In a pair of twists, however, Darklighter has appeared anonymously in two books by Timothy Zahn. In The Last Command, Rogue Six is given a few lines; Stackpole's X-Wing: Isard's Revenge established that Darklighter was, at that precise time, the occupant of the Rogue Six callsign, thus retconning him into The Last Command. Darklighter again appeared in Zahn's Specter of the Past by virtue of the fact that Zahn assigned lines to all the Rogues, by callsign, with the exception of Rogue Ten. Ten being known to be Qrygg, Darklighter, who was known to be in the squadron at the time, must thus have had a line in the novel, though his callsign—and thus his precise line—are unknown.
Darklighter's hair has been described in all textual sources as being brown, except in X-Wing: The Bacta War, in which it is once described as blond and then later mentioned to be lighter than the coloration of Biggs's hair. This is not inherently an error in canon, however, as it is possible that, while not explicitly mentioned, Darklighter simply dyed his hair. All color illustrations of Darklighter show him with hair of such dark brown coloration as to appear black.
The matter of Darklighter's rank is slightly confused. Antilles addresses him once, briefly and casually, as "Lieutenant Darklighter" in X-Wing: Wedge's Gamble. In the dramatis personae of that novel and those of the two subsequent novels in which Darklighter appears in the dramatis personae, however, Darklighter is not listed as a lieutenant, whereas every other individual known to hold rank above flight officer is listed with their rank. It is not until Allston's X-Wing: Solo Command, set nearly a year after Wedge's Gamble, that Darklighter is listed as a lieutenant in the dramatis personae. While the failure to list Darklighter by his rank, unlike every other lieutenant or higher, suggests that Darklighter did not hold that rank and that its one use prior to Solo Command was a non-canonical slip or a misstatement by Antilles, there is nothing to explicitly prevent Darklighter from holding the rank at that time.
- "Rebel Pilot Reunion"—Star Wars Insider 32
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- "Who's Who in Rogue Squadron"—Star Wars Insider 59
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 14 (ROG1-2, X-wing Rogue Squadron)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 79 (JAW10, Jawas)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 90 (DAR5-6, Gavin Darklighter)
- Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 118 (SOL37-40, "Jacen and Jaina")
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Rebellion Era Campaign Guide