Luckiest Day of His Life, or the Worst?
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“Oh yes, I was a Tie Fighter pilot. Had seventeen and a half kills.”
“Really? Tell me a story.”
The ex-TIE fighter pilot thought for a moment. “Well, I was nineteen. Just a few weeks out of flight school.” He leaned back in his chair. “My squadron had just been assigned to a brand new base on an asteroid in a deserted system.”
“A secret base?”
“No, not really secret. Just new.” He waited a moment for another question. “So anyway, in the middle of the night we get any alert. We all run to our TIEs, in various stages of dress. We get our flight suits on and climb into our fighters. Half the pilots are cursing the base commander for calling an alert. While we are doing out combat pre-flight, an announcement comes over the comm saying that this wasn't a drill.”
“Now most of us get quiet, but I could hear a couple of low curses over the squadron frequency. Our squadron commander silences them quickly.”
“Why?” His listener asks earnestly.
“Well, back in those days there was a lot of indoctrination in the academies and service, especially in the Fighter Corps. The empire only wanted the most fearless pilots.”
“Oh, Okay. Isn't it still like that?”
“Well, yes. But not to the degree that it was back then.” The listener nodded in understanding. “As for me, I was young. I thought I could single-handedly crush any rebels that dared stick their noses in our system.”
The listener, sitting in the pathetic remains of the Empire, mercifully didn't laugh.
“We launched and got our orders. The New Rep―The Rebels,” he corrected himself. “Had sent a Mon-Cal Star Cruiser and three or four corvettes. We found out later that they were just passing through. They didn't even know that the base was there until we launched. The capital ships weren't even heading for the base. The Star Cruiser just launched a squadron of X-Wings.”
“Our Squadron commander ordered us to an intercept course and to spread out. The X-Wings do the same. The commander comes back on and tells us that the X-Wings are Rouge Squadron. I hear a few more muttered curses. With anticipation dripping in his voice, the commander tells us that we are going to end their reputation today.”
“I followed my wing man. At about three and a half klicks one of my squad mates started shooting. By two klicks everybody on both sides were. I tune everything else out and start juking as I am trying to score hits on this X-wing bearing down on me. I hear screams over the squadron frequency.”
“My TIE gets hit about a quarter of a klick from the X-wing. I spin out of control, missing the X-wing my mere meters. I recovered from the spin and check my targeting scopes. My whole squadron—eleven TIE-fighters—is gone. One pass. Just like that.” He took a deep breath, reliving the painful moment. “For about half a second I think about doing a loop and trying to take them from behind. Then I have to cut off my own cockpit alarms and overheating engines.”
“After about twenty minutes I coax enough power to my starboard engine to limp back to what was left of the base at about one eighth speed. By the time I get there the Rouges and the rest of the Rebels are long gone. I find a level piece of open ground and conducted a managed crash. A few other survivors are trying to clear some debris off a shuttle. I help and we clear it, and escape in the shuttle.”
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