For almost three centuries, Squadron 88 delivered on its motto — “Stand and Deliver.” The squadron’s lineage goes back to the Second Tevarin War, though it didn’t see any action in that conflict. It has spent time along the Perry Line and, most famously, made the ultimate sacrifice during the Fall of Caliban. It was there the 88th earned its famous and fateful nickname “The Lost Squad.”
The 88th was formed in 2608 as the Tevarin military was pushing their way through the Empire for a second time. Their leader, Corath’Thal, was expertly using guerilla tactics to terrorize the Human public and force the UEE Navy to divide their more powerful military resources. In response, the Navy reorganized its ranks to better respond to the Tevarin’s asymmetrical warfare. It was as part of this restructuring that the 88th came into existence.
Classified as a support squadron, the 88th provided logistical help to both forces fighting along the front lines and civilian populations ravaged by unexpected Tevarin attacks. The diverse workload birthed a squadron that became known as a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. It was capable of efficiently establishing a secure supply line, setting up and managing sensor beacons, or swooping into battle at a moment’s notice.
While the 88th was never known for its fighter pilots, it groomed some of the best logistic officers. The squadron’s wide range of assignments gave its members an understanding of the Navy’s many roles, birthing a culture of starmen dedicated to making the Navy better in every capacity.
With the Tevarin conflict resolved, the 88th was reassigned to the Castra System in the mid-27th century as the cold war with the Xi’an intensified. Though technically not on the Perry Line, documents released under Imperator Costigan’s Historical Truth Act of 2941 revealed that the 88th participated in at least 50 missions in Perry Line systems. They assumed many roles, but mainly provided logistical support and resupplied squadrons patrolling the borders.
After the Akari/Kray Treaty eased tensions with the Xi’an and effectively ended the cold war, the 88th became an integral part of Castra’s transition from a closed military system to one open to the public. When the first civilian convoys entered the system, members of the 88th were given the honor of leading them to Sherman’s perch atop Mount Olympus. For many outside the Navy, it was the first time they had heard of the 88th, but tragically, it would not be the last.
The Next Assignment
After its help transitioning Castra into an open system, Squadron 88 was once again transferred. The squadron was relocated to the Caliban System and established operations on Crion (Caliban II). Though it had been almost 70 years since the Vanduul had ripped Virgil from Humanity’s hands, Caliban was still under threat. The system faced sporadic attacks from small clans. Even though those attacks were repelled, it was clear the system was a target and things were only getting worse.
The 88th’s presence was heralded as a sign that the UEE was serious about keeping the Vanduul out of the system, yet behind the scenes, things were far from perfect. Though the squadron was charged with maintaining and repairing the system’s aging sensor grid, leaked documents following the Fall of Caliban showed that the 88th’s commanders often fought with Navy brass over funding and resources. In 2878, Avery Sinaga, the squadron’s commanding officer, even requested a transfer unless she received the assets necessary to protect Caliban. She was subsequently sent to a different squadron, though in later years she would state she regretted not being there when her troops needed her most.
The Fall of Caliban
On record, Caliban had everything it needed to defend itself: a vast network of early warning sensors, anti-aircraft weaponry built into the asteroid belt, and even supplemental patrols by competent local militias to augment Squadron 88’s routine watch throughout the system. The infrastructure was there to prevent a tragedy; yet one still occurred on July 7, 2884.
It is still not exactly known how the massive Vanduul clan slipped past early warning sensors to enter the system, but the 88th’s pilots on patrol near Caliban IV were the first to spot the aggressors. A distress signal was sent, but the accompanying message was cut off. The rest of the squadron mobilized to engage the threat, not knowing how overpowering it would be.
It was only when the faster scout ships neared the approaching clan that they realized the true scope of the raid. At the heart of the Vanduul force loomed a Kingship, kilometers long and with more than enough firepower to eliminate a full fleet, let alone a single squadron. The 88th immediately dispatched comm drones requesting reinforcements. Based on the distance and response time, the squadron knew it would be, at least, a day or two before they received any support.
Commander Randall, Squadron 88’s CO, quickly shifted the strategy away from defending Crion to organizing and defending civilian convoys evacuating the system. As she climbed into her ship to lead the effort, Commander Randall told the 88th that the goal wasn’t to track confirmed kills, but count the number of people they saved, “We must stand firm in the face of the enemy, and deliver these people to safety. We’re the 88th. If it needs to be done, we’re the ones to do it.”
For two long and brutal days the men and women of the 88th fought a fearless delaying action, waiting for the reinforcements to arrive. Though completely outnumbered and outclassed, they gave everything they had to slow down the encroaching attackers. When the 2nd Fleet finally made their approach to Crion, they were shocked to discover any survivors at all amidst the utter devastation and the planet-wide flames. Civilian losses were heavy, and the brave pilots of the 88th suffered even worse. However, thanks to the squadron’s incredible sacrifice, millions of civilians were able to escape the system. The 2nd Fleet quickly moved to rescue any remaining Humans they could find before they too abandoned the system. Caliban has been under Vanduul control ever since.
Out of respect to the families of those who died, exact casualty reports have remained classified, but from what historians have been able to piece together, the losses were among the most devastating in Naval history. Most telling is that following the Fall of Caliban, the UEE Navy officially retired Squadron 88, cementing its legacy as having made the ultimate sacrifice for their Empire, and leading to the evocative moniker, bestowed upon it by the public, of “The Lost Squad.”