A deadly weapon, unleashed! TheSeparatist battleship, Malevolenceadvances unopposed through Republicspace, tearing apart any ship thatstands in its path. After a daring rescueand narrow escape, Anakin Skwalkerprepares a counterattack on theenemy and its diabolical droidcommander, General Grievous....
Within the hangar bay of the Resolute, Anakin Skywalker and Admiral Yularen brief the assembled clone pilots of Shadow Squadron on their strike mission against the Malevolence. As the bulk of the fleet is engaged elsewhere, this strike mission will operate on its own. The Malevolence's primary weapon is geared against capital ships, so Anakin believes a small squad of bombers could outmaneuver it and target the warship's bridge, knocking out the ship and General Grievous. The clones -- including Matchstick and Broadside -- are eager for a fight. Jedi Master Plo Koon, however, expresses his reservations about Anakin's aggressive attack strategies, an opinion that Ahsoka Tano shares.
In the Ryndellia system, the Malevolence continues its assault, blasting apart another Republic convoy. A lone medical transport flees the carnage, but it is overtaken by the weapon's ion plasma blast. Even its escape pods are targeted for annihilation. General Grievous relishes the destructive power of his weapon, but continues to be frustrated by the incompetence of his battle droid troops. He smacks one to pieces out of anger, and gets a brief chastisement from a holographic Count Dooku, who notes that these droids are pricey and the Republic are never so callous with their soldiers.
That is precisely a weakness the Separatists plot to exploit by targeting the Republic's secret Outer Rim medical station. The Kaliida Shoals Med Station, not far from Naboo, is unprotected and treating over 60,000 wounded clones. Once destroyed, the Jedi in the Outer Rim theater will have no place to send their wounded troops.
Back in the Resolute's hangar, Shadow Squadron's Y-wing bombers undergo preparation, and Anakin assigns Ahsoka as his tailgunner. Admiral Yularen reports in with news of the Ryndellia attack. Anakin theorizes that Grievous will likely target the Kaliida Shoals station. Stellar densities in that area of space limit the Malevolence's hyperspace capabilities, giving Shadow Squadron the opportunity to intercept it via a shortcut. Plo Koon decides to join Anakin's squadron flying fighter escort.
At the Kaliida Shoals station, Kaminoan administrator Nala Se receives a warning from Admiral Yularen. It is impossible to evacuate all the wounded from the station. Obi-Wan Kenobi also chimes in via holocom. He has contacted the Naboo, who are sending ships to assist in the evacuation, and he plans to arrive as well aboard the Negotiator.
The Y-wings depart from the Resolute's central hangar deck, tailed by master Plo's Delta-7B fighter. They check in, and then blast off into hyperspace. The nimble fighters will take Anakin's shortcut to Kaliida Shoals, while Obi-Wan's warship will take the longer route.
The Malevolence travels through hyperspace at a velocity well past lightspeed, but it's not fast enough for the impatient General Grievous. The navicomputer has had to calculate a complex course sidestepping the Kaliida nebula. The Y-wings, however, can negotiate the dust cloud, so Shadow Squadron emerges from hyperspace to traverse the nebula: a short cut dubbed the Balmorra Run that Anakin Skywalker learned from smugglers in his youth. Entering the cloud completely obscures the fighters' scanners. Ahsoka is increasingly concerned by this dangerous course of action.
At Kaliida Shoals, the evacuation proceeds slowly, with the stabilized patients being moved to medical transports first. The more critically wounded and those in bacta tanks cannot be moved just yet.
The Malevolence is in its last parsec of travel when Count Dooku reports in. He has received intelligence from Lord Sidious: the Republic has launched a small strike force led by Anakin Skywalker to intercept and attack the Malevolence. Grievous fears nothing, for his ship is unstoppable.
In the heart of the nebula, Shadow Squadron suddenly stumbles upon a swarm of giant neebray mantas, deep space leviathans. The annoyed hulks begin to swim around the Y-wing fighters, and Anakin orders evasive maneuvers. Shadow Two (Matchstick) grazes a neebray wing as he flies by, causing damage to his portside thruster stabilizer. Anakin orders bantha formation -- a single-file flight pattern that allows the squadron to thread its way past the beasts. The fighters emerge from the nebula, where the neebrays will not follow.
At this point, half of the Kaliida Shoals facility has been evacuated. Still not enough, to Obi-Wan Kenobi's thinking, as the Negotiator plies through hyperspace. Kenobi hopes Skywalker will intercept Grievous in time, or else 30,000 clones still lie at risk.
The Malevolence bursts into realspace and is immediately swarmed by Anakin's squadron. Grievous orders the ship brought about, and vulture droid fighters launched. A group of medical transports flee the Kaliida Shoals station, and Grievous targets them with an ion blast, followed by a turbolaser volley. The battle is joined.
Grievous next targets the jumble of dogfighting fighters, even though his vulture droids are in the mix. Anakin orders his fighters to fly to the edge of the incoming disc of crippling energy. The Y-wings pour on all the speed they can, but Shadow Two's crippled stabilizer slows him down. Matchstick's engine blows, and he spins out of control, plowing into trooper Tag's Y-wing. Both fighters erupt in flames. The rest of the squadron crests the ion wave, though three other fighters, Shadows Six, Seven and Ten, are caught in the blast and immobilized. Anakin is now down to almost half his original squadron, possibly not enough for him to continue his mission.
The remaining Y-wings close in on the Malevolence, and the warship's point defense batteries create a withering curtain of anti-starfigher fire. As another Y-wing is blasted out of the sky, Ahsoka urges Anakin to abandon this course of action: they need a new plan. "Master, you can make it, but everyone else is getting shot down!" she urges. Meanwhile, Grievous charges up the ion cannon to target the medical station. Anakin realizes his Padawan is right: he abandons his bid to destroy the bridge and General Grievous, and instead targets the prime weapon.
The remaining fighters of Shadow Squadron change course, and fly toward the starboard ion cannon. Volley after volley of proton torpedoes launch from the fighters and strike the disc emitter as it builds up its ion charge. A cascade of explosions rock the Malevolence. The ion cannon fires, but the blast loses direction and expands outward, backfiring and crippling both ion emitters and disabling the vessel's hyperdrive. Kaliida Shoals is saved, but the Malevolence lives on, defanged and limping away.
Just then, Obi-Wan Kenobi's taskforce emerges from hyperspace. The Negotiator continues pursuit of the Malevolence while Anakin's Y-wing fighters head to the medical station.
Docked at the medical station hangar, Plo Koon congratulates Anakin on his successful run. Anakin meets with Nala Se, who thanks Skywalker for the lives he saved. Skywalker, though, remains focused on the lives he has lost.