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could have missed seeing the Dreadnaught bearing down on it, of course. But with its electronic and control systems still being scrambled by Bel Iblis's ion attack, there was also no way for it to move out of the way in time.

Even from the Katana's distance, the impact and explosion were pretty spectacular. Han watched the expanding fireball fade slowly, and then turned to Luke. "Okay," he said. "Now we're out of the fight."

Through the Judicator's side viewport Captain Brandei watched in stunned disbelief as the Peremptory died its fiery death. No-it couldn't be. It simply couldn't. Not an Imperial Star Destroyer. Not the mightiest ship in the Empire's fleet.

The crack of a shot against the bridge deflector screen snapped him out of it. "Report," he snapped.

"One of the enemy Dreadnaughts seems to have been damaged in the Peremptory's explosion," the sensor officer reported. "The other two are on their way back here."

To reinforce the three still blasting away with their ion cannon. Brandei gave the tactical display a quick check; but it was a meaningless exercise. He knew full well what their only course was. "Recall all remaining fighters," he ordered. "We'll make the jump to lightspeed as soon as they're aboard."

"Yes sir."

And as the bridge crew moved to comply, Brandei permitted himself a tight smile. Yes, they'd lost this one. But it was just a battle, not the war. They'd be back soon enough:and when they did, it would be with the Dark Force and Grand Admiral Thrawn to command it.

So he would leave the Rebels to enjoy their victory here. It might well be their last.

Chapter 29

The repair party from the Quenfis got the anteroom hull breach patched in what was probably record time. The ship Luke had requested was waiting for him in the
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