Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Christopher Levy and Tara McLaren.

Seven years before the battle of Yavin (28:9:28) in the Roche system: Caritas Ascendant and Valiant.


Lieutenant Augustus Hood, Major Kalnor Pssgana (death), Flight Officer/Flight Lieutenant Randi Trainor, and Valeria.


Randi Trainor stood at attention on the flight deck of the Nebulon-B frigate Valiant. She had recently been commissioned a Flight Officer in the Imperial Navy and this would be her first assignment. The young Corellian woman had been a pilot almost her entire life and was fortunate to have been one of but a handful of recent graduates from the Vensenor Flight Academy ... and the only female. She was dressed in the intimidating black uniform reserved for starfighter pilots and Stormtroopers. She had gotten up extra early that morning to polish the blue and red rank insignia pinned to her chest.

Lieutenant Augutus Hood marched onto the flight deck of the Valiant to review the new pilots. The officer was tired of being an executive officer of such a small, insignificant vessel in the Mid Rim. As he came upon the young Flight Officer Trainor he sneered ... another woman. He could not understand who thought it was a good idea to have a woman in the cockpit of one of his fighters. "Flight Officer Trainor ... welcome aboard the Valiant," he said to her, condescendingly, before stepping aside to let the squadron commander have a chance to speak.

Major Kalnor Pssgana stepped forward next, a man in his early forties who had been one of the earliest non-clone pilots in the Imperial Navy. There was a scar running down his right cheek from a close call he had with smugglers some years ago. He was a hardened man and he was quick to kick pilots out of his Scylla Squadron who did not meet with his expectations. "My, my. What have we here?" he asked as he studied over the features of the young Corellian pilot. She was certainly attractive, but could she fly?

"Trainor, Randi, sir," Randi replied, without moving her head as she maintained proper military discipline. She looked straight ahead at the TIE/ln starfighter that was opposite her, which she longed to pilot. At the academy they had not allowed her to test an actual TIE/ln, but she felt as if she was moments away from her chance.

"Well, Trainor, Randi..." Kalnor continued, as he walked around her, and his eyes moved slowly over her back. "It says here you were first in your class at Vensenor. That's good. Damn good..." he said, as he kicked at the back of her left boot to get her into a more proper state of attention. "Better," he said, as he walked back next to her and stood next to Lieutenant Hood. "I suppose you think because we're out here in the Roche system that we're a second-rate outfit and you won't see any action, Flight Officer?" he asked, as his arms came up in front of chest to study her features as she replied.

"Sir, yes, sir," Randi replied quickly, but suddenly her eyes went wide and her mouth hung open as she realized what she had said. "I mean ... sir, no, sir," she said, as she brought the palm of her left hand up to her forehead, completely distraught over the blunder she had just made. "I apologize, sir," she said, as she turned her head back forward and swallowed awkwardly.

Kalnor could only smile at the young woman's blunder and he wondered if she had the mental capacity for the assignment or if she had merely used her physique to earn her rank and position in his squadron. "Very well, Flight Officer," he said, as he turned to Lieutenant Hood. "Assign Flight Officer Trainor here to Scylla 8," he said, with a firm nod of his head, before proceeding to the locker room to get suited up for duty.

Lieutenant Hood reached into a utility pouch on his belt and pulled out two stimulants and handed them to Randi. "Take these, Flight Officer," he said rather forcefully, as he noted in his datapad which craft she had been assigned. "I require all pilots aboard to take them. It will make you more alert in the cockpit," he said, as he walked away to leave the rest of the pilots to get ready.

"Sir, yes, sir," Randi replied as she willingly accepted the stimulants and shoveled them into her mouth. Almost instantly she felt a jolt of energy surge through her body that caused her eyes to widen and her brain to single. She staggered slightly, finding it hard to maintain her balance. "Woah..." she muttered to herself, before she regained her composure and headed to the locker room to change. She failed to notice that her hands were beginning to tremble. Unfortunately, the young blond was oblivious to the side effects she was beginning to experience.

Flight Officer Randi Trainor nervously grasped the flight controls of her TIE/ln starfighter. The young Corellian was breathing rather heavily as it was her first 'active' flight with the starfighter corps. She was beginning to fog up the interior lenses of her helmet as she began to panic slightly as all of the stars seemed to disorientate her. "Breath Randi," she said to herself, as she closed her eyes and steadied herself. After a moment she opened her eyes and all seemed to fall into place, and she maneuvered her craft slightly to port to fall into line with her flight of 4 TIE fighters. Her hands were deftly gripping the flight yoke now and she seemed to have a much better handle on the controls. In the distance her mother ship, the Nebulon-B frigate Valiant, was conducting scans as part of Governor Bane Nothos' blockade of the Roche asteroids.

At that same moment a Corellian Engineering Corporation Vanguard-class heavy gunship was leaving one of the main asteroid settlements of the insectoid Verpine. The Roche belt was not densely littered with the type of hazards that one would see in the Hoth asteroid field, at least in the settled areas. There was not anything like a speed limit in space, given that all velocities were relative, but the gunship was accelerating rapidly as it left. While this system was not exactly a smuggler's haven, it did have the occasional criminal traffic, and occasionally traders would try to acquire military hardware in order to sell to terrorist elements or other criminal types. At the moment the ship wasn't exactly screaming to be interdicted, but it was a hot ship, and those tended to be favored by smugglers. Additionally, the Empire didn't give out a whole lot of registrations authorizing civilians to even own gunships.

The Vanguard-class heavy gunship appeared on the sensors of the lead TIE/ln starfighter and Major Kalnor 'Kapps' Pssgana's eyes went wide as the heavily armed vessel was displayed on his tactical display. His left hand moved from the flight controls to the comm panel as he locked in on the gunship's frequencies. "To the gunship currently leaving the Roche asteroids," he began, speaking in a calm, but stern military voice. "Please slow to 20 MGLT and prepare for Imperial customs inspection. Over," he concluded, as he and his three wingmen began to maneuver towards the Vanguard.

Onboard the Caritas Ascendant Valeria would send a response, glancing over to her R3 unit with a mischievous smile as she started to talk, transmitting audio only. Thankfully with any luck the TIEs were standard and not equipped to handle more than that, anyways. "This is the Vweilu Nut Serpent Surprise. I'm thinking you might be mistaking me for another vessel." Almost imperceptivity the gunship made a slight course change, started to head towards one of the denser portion of the asteroid field.

Major Pssgana sighed as he listened to the response ... this was not going to be a standard engagement. "Valiant, this is Scylla 5. We have a Vanguard-class heavy gunship attempting to run the blockade. They are refusing to comply with our inspection. We are moving to engage. Over," he reported to his command ship, as he began accelerating his starfighter towards the gunship at top speed. "Scylla flight. Break formation. Clear to engage," he reported to the other three starfighters as they split into two groups of two and accelerated to attack speed.

"Oh, we have so totally got this, R3." The droid seemed to be a lot more stressed than she was. It was magnetically locked into a position in the co-pilot's station, its scomp linked plugged into the controls to allow for it to assist in piloting. Valeria flipped the communications back as she send another message to the TIE flight. "Um, hey, Surprise here. I just wanted to say, I hope you aren't getting the wrong impression about all this. I'm having a little trouble finding the retro rockets and uh...I recognize that might sound like a very transparent lie."

Flight Officer Trainor was the first to reach the Vanguard-class heavy gunship and she depressed her trigger unleashing a blast of six green bolts of energy from her TIE/ln starfighter's dual laser cannons, which was matched by her wingman. The two TIE fighters were soaring overhead of the gunship as they attempted to slow it's cruising speed so that it could be thoroughly inspected by the Imperial patrol.

Valeria turned off communications as she noticed the dome on the R3 rotating the droid's main optic towards her. Somehow the droid managed to make the look accusatory despite the fact that it was incapable of expression. "Okay, so maybe I could have been more subtle, but at least this way we're out of range of the frigate's main guns. Start transferring power to the engines." Valeria had just left after some business with the Verpine ... a streamlining of her hull that she hoped would improve its maneuverability. She didn't even have illicit cargo on board, but for obvious reasons she wasn't going to submit to an Imperial inspection. It wouldn't be hard for them to find a reason why she shouldn't be in possession of a gunship.

Major Pssgana's flight approached quickly at the ventral hull of the Vanguard-class gunship and began opening fire as well. "Unidentified gunship. I repeat. You are ordered to slow to 10 MGLT and submit to an immediate inspection or we will disable your vessel and board you, Over," the clearly irritated pilot respond over the comm, as his hands skillfully piloted his TIE/ln fighter below the vessel. In the distance, the Nebulon-B frigate Valiant was closing an addition eight TIE/ln starfighters were moving towards their section of the Roche asteroids.

"I'm sorry, was that ten or twenty? I just got my pilot's license so I hope you understand my confusion." As her replied came over the communicator the gunship steadily accelerated. The Caritas Ascendant was heading towards the denser portion of the asteroid belt. It was clear that Valeria was going to try to make her escape there. "Don't worry, R3. If the holovids have taught me anything, its that being a young, attractive female makes me immortal." The astromech blurted out a series of angry beeps and whistles. "No, we're not going to go splat on a rock. I told you, I'm charmed."

One of the inexperienced TIE/ln starfighter pilots crashed into an oncoming asteroid, but managed to his his eject button which sent his body spiraling out into space in the nick of time. Flight Officer Trainor swiveled out of the way, barely managing to avoid slamming into the man's helpless body. "Major Pssgana, this is crazy! We're all going to get killed in here," she warned as she maneuvered deeper into the asteroid fields. Next to her two asteroids collided and produced a massive explosion that caused her cockpit to flash brilliantly.

The smuggler started broadcasting to the TIE squadron even as she put both hands on the controls and barely managed to avoid colliding with a smaller chunk of asteroid. "Oh dear. I did tell you I was a beginner, didn't I? It seems I've wandered into a navigational hazard. Maybe you ought to write me off and save yourselves, huh?" In truth Valeria was not really wanting this encounter to result in the death of anyone, but she knew Imperials were a persistent bunch. It would be hard to dissuade them from following her, if the rumors of TIE pilots being a bloodthirsty bunch had any truth to them.

"Stay on target, Ran," Major Pssgana ordered to the junior pilot in his flight. The experienced pilot wished he had someone more skilled on his wing as he guided his nimble starfighter through the asteroid field. He was beginning to feel the nerves as they were beginning to get more clustered to one another. There felt there was barely enough room to navigate and the lack of shielding really started to concern him as small pieces of debris began to deflect off his hull. "You're going to get yourself killed trying to navigate the Roche asteroids. Stop your vessel immediately," he ordered, as he checked the progress of Randi and the other pilot on his ring.

"I'm sensing a bit of distrust. Are you saying you don't believe me when I say I don't know how to turn this ship around?" Valeria would switch off her communicator and then began flying aggressively through the belt, trying to raise the stakes in order to make the TIE pilots reconsider what they were doing. "R3, start plotting two hyperspace jumps for once we clear this field. A micro jump to get us out of here and then another one so the Impies can't follow us." At that moment the ship was rocked from a near miss with a small asteroid. The powerful gunship shields held however.\

Flight Officer Trainor kept firing off blasts of energy from her TIE/ln starfighter as she chased down the gunship when suddenly the unthinkable happened ... her wingman slammed into an asteroid and exploded right in front of her and she did not see him eject. "No!" she screamed beneath her helmet, as she broke formation and began heading out of the Roche asteroid field. "Major Pssgana, I'm not crazy. I'm not going to get killed chasing down a ship just because it doesn't want to get inspected. Let her go!" she yelled over her comm as she began to accelerate out of the asteroid field like a coward.

Major Pssgana was now alone and he accelerated to his top speed, cursing underneath his helmet at Randi as she pulled out. As he continued towards the Vanguard he squeezed down on the trigger and begin firing rapidly. He was skilled enough as a pilot to avoid the asteroids, and continued his dangerous pursuit of the gunship.

Valeria voice came through the comm as she hailed the remaining TIE. Her voice sounded nervous and maybe even a little bit remorseful as it transmitted. The smuggler sounded young. In fact she was only eighteen and probably not used to being a cause of people's deaths. "Listen, I-" Her words were interrupted as the laser cannons of the TIE thudded against her rear shielding. "..I've got you outgunned and I really..think you should back off." The dorsal turret on the Ascendant would begin targeting, but  aimed for and hit an asteroid ahead of her instead of the TIE pilot. "Please, just..." Her breathing sounded somewhat heavy. " this one off."

"Not a chance. You are in defiance of the Imperial blockade. You will shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded," Major Pssgana said over the comm, as he squeezed back on the trigger and unleashed another wave of deadly bolts of green energy at the gunship once again. He had to pull up sharply to dodge an oncoming asteroid, but he managed to evade in the nick of time. "That was too close," he muttered under his helmet as he descended back down towards the gunship, firing once again.

Valeria flipped off the computer and increased her speed, hoping that she could take the option of pursuing her away from the TIE pilot. Her shields were taking a steady beating from impacts with small asteroids, along with the occasional hit by the TIE's lasers. Meanwhile, her R3 unit was more than occupied by using the lasers to obliterate obstacles and adjusting the shields.

"Gaah!" Major Pssgana exclaimed as the debris exploded in front of, sending his TIE/ln starfighter spiraling out control. Before he could eject his fighter collided with a large asteroid and exploded, sending his body smashed into oblivion.

Valeria let out a cry of dismay onboard her ship, cursing as she slammed her fist down on the control panel. "R3, I need quick reprogram of a torpedo." The beeping didn't sound agreeable. "I don't care if you have to stop shooting at the asteroids, just do it!" Shortly afterwards the vessel would fire a single proton torpedo. Acting like a beacon, it had been programmed to travel through the field and impact on an asteroid nearby to the one TIE pilot who had for sure safely ejected from his ship. Her ship then cleared the asteroid field, but didn't exit to hyperspace immediately. Instead it merely floated through space mournfully for several minutes, before finally making the jump.

Inside her helmet Randi was visibly shaking and in tears at the deaths of her two wingmen, but she had survived ... by being a coward. "This is Scylla 8 to Valiant. The rest of the flight is dead. I am returning to base..." she said meekly over the comm, as her TIE/ln made it's way back towards the command ship. It was a less than glorious start to her career, but any day you come back alive is a good one. At least one of the other pilots had apparently made it, she thought to herself as she slowly landed her TIE in the frigate's docking bay.

Hours after having landed on the Valiant, Flight Officer Trainor was still seated in front of the two empty lockers that had been cleared out. It was a rough first flight for the woman. At least the rescue ship had returned with the one pilot that had managed to eject. Her body was still shaking, but she thought it was from the hectic nature of the flight, but in reality the stims were negatively affecting her.

The door to the locker room and in strode Lieutenant Hood. "I am sorry for what happened out there, Flight Officer," he said, as he placed a reassuring hand upon her shoulder. He was not a fan of female crew members, but he still believed she deserved consolation for what she had just been through. "It must have taken a lot of skill to have escaped the asteroid field alive. You are to be congratulated," he said, as he waited for her response.

Randi's head sunk dejectedly as she listened to the praise from the Lieutenant. The truth was she was a coward and she could not help but think Major Pssgana would still be alive had she not pulled out of the engagement. Tears began to flow from both of her innocent blue eyes as her body began to convulse from the combination of the stims and the trauma of what had happened.

"Perhaps this news will stop your tears, Flight Officer," Augustus said as he pulled away from her and began to head out of the locker room. He could not stand to see someone cry. He felt it was rather pathetic and that no one in the Imperial Navy had any reason to shed a tear. "I have spoken with the Captain and he has designed to promote you to Flight Lieutenant," he said, unable to believe such a hasty decision had been made. Still, it was not his decision to make, but he vowed when he achieved his command he would not make such foolhardy decisions.

Newly promoted Lieutenant Trainor could not believe such a foolish decision had been made either. If only they knew what a coward she had been, she thought silently to herself as she brought gloved hands to her eyes to wipe at her tears. She had survived her first flight and achieved a promotion, but it was not the way it should have been. She did not feel like herself ... something was off. It had to be the stimulants, she thought to herself, as she vowed never again to subject herself to them.

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