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
"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
"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
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
"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
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. "..call 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
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.