Title: “Two Rabbits”
Keywords: TIE Fighter
Summary: Lieutenant Valen Narricks is one of the Empire’s best. But does he have what it takes to make it into Baron Fels’ 181st Squadron? He will push his TIE Fighter and himself to the limit in this exciting introduction into a life of a pilot in the Empires’ Service.
Disclaimer: This, and all of the stories to follow, are works of fiction inspired by George Lucas and the Star Wars Universe, which he created. This story is written out of love for this universe, and is in no way intended to infringe on any copyright laws or any other existing work. No Ewoks were harmed in writing this story.
“If you chase two rabbits, both will get away.” It was something his brother had often told him as they where growing up together. However, Valen had found over the course of his thirty years that his brothers’ childhood saying had proved true time and again. As the two Lambda-class shuttles broke from each other and sped away on different hyperspace vectors, he wished that he could resolve just which rabbit he should be chasing.
A raging dogfight boiled all around his TIE Fighter, making his decision that much harder. He had been ordered inspect and disable all fleeing Rebel ships, but his orders also made it clear that he was never to leave his flight group. As their commander, they would be lost if he was to go jaunting off without them. A TIE squadron without its leader quickly fell into disarray, and that leads to ruin with these young, inexperienced pilots.
The distance between the shuttles and Valen’s fighter grew in both directions, the range meter quickly scrolling off the exact area between them. Alright, he thought, time for a decision. He knew that one of these shuttles was carrying Rebel officers, and he had exactly 1.5 minutes to engage and disable their craft before they hyped out of the area. He gave them both a quick final glance, and then dumped all power from his lasers into his engines.
The engines gave an unearthly howl in response, pushing Valen back into his flight seat. He had chosen the Shuttle labeled Tropsobor by his target acquisition system because it had left the platform after the other shuttle, leading Valen to believe that the first was a decoy. His hurtling ship closed the gap between them swiftly. When the range meter hit 2 klicks, he recharged his lasers and set them to dual fire mode. This would slow his rate of fire, but significantly increase the amount of damage he administered. He lined up his shot, and the wail of his Heads Up Display let him know that he had achieved a solid lock. He let the sound fill his ears for a few seconds, knowing that the shuttles’ pilot knew that he was in serious trouble. Valen always liked his opponents to get nervous and make mistakes. Sure enough, the Tropsobor made one. It’s pilot went evasive, taking him out of his hyperspace route. If he had stayed on course, Valen thought, He would have taken some damage, but surely would’ve been able to jump before I finished him.”
Valen grinned under his helmet. The Lambda- class shuttle moved slower that a wet Hutt, and he quickly dropped in again on its tail. Valen followed the shuttle through a series of twists, turns, rolls, and dives before getting a perfect lock on the ship. He was nothing if not a perfectionist, and he liked his kills to be achieved with a minimum of laser fire. As the targeting receptacle went yellow and began to wail, he squeezed the trigger.
In that moment, several things happened. The Tropsobor exploded in a blinding flash, the other shuttle made the jump into hyperspace, and 5 Rebel A-Wings tore out of hyperspace and roared right over his fighter, all of which left Valen momentarily disoriented. He quickly realized his error: The Tropsobor was the decoy, and by going evasive, it had bought the other shuttle time to jump. Not only that, but its maneuvering had drawn him far away from his squadron.
The squadron to which the A-Wings raced to like panthers on the hunt.
Cursing, he rolled his ship around and dumped all power to engines. He looked at the range meter, and realized that there was no way that he could reach the battle before the Rebels cut his flight to ribbons. As he closed in on the action, he heard his comm channel buzzing with reports of wingmen dead and fighters damaged. Valen called quickly for reinforcements from the Harbinger, a modified Escort Frigate that was serving as their home ship. His request acknowledged, he could now do nothing but hope that his squadron fought well and didn’t get slaughtered like wolf pups away from the den.
Unfortunately, that was almost exactly what he found. Broken, twisted debris littered the combat area. Burnt and shattered solar panels from the Twin Ion Engines danced around, looking like sailing ships from Valens’ home world. The Rebels were busy mopping up the rest of the TIE’s, so they did not notice Valens’ approach. He made he most of that fact, taking out two starfighters before they had a chance to blink. The remaining Rebels turned their ire on him, and soon he was pushing the limits of the TIE Fighter to the edge in an effort to evade and attack.
He pulled back on the control yoke, taking his ship on a 90-degree climb that left the A-Wings under him, following his last path. He then slammed the yoke forward; throwing the TIE into a gut-wrenching dive that put him right on top of the A-Wings. He only managed to get a few hits, however, before the swifter Rebel fighters broke and reformed. With three to one odds, and reinforcements not having arrived yet, Valen knew it was time to lower the odds. Chasing two rabbits was bad enough, he thought ruefully.
He acquired the A-Wing labeled Red 5 and began to give chase. The sleek Rebel craft easily outpaced his TIE Fighter, and it had the added luxury of having a shield system. Let’s just even us out a little bit, shall we? Valen switched over to single fire laser and began to pattern-fire around the A-Wing. By firing all around him, I control where and when he moves. After a few moments, the Rebel craft sat right where Valen wanted it, and he let loose with a withering torrent of laser fire that dropped the A-Wings’ shields. Now, it’s just pilot against pilot, and I know I’m better.
The Rebel pilot jinked his craft away from Valens’ line of fire, twisting and diving to evade a strong lock. Valen followed through every move he made, peppering the small craft with laser fire. The A-Wing took a steep roll, and Valen broke off from his tail and snaked his craft in an “S” pattern which brought him right in line with the Rebel as he topped off his climb. Switching over to dual fire, he blasted the Rebel craft into a ball of brilliant gasses.
As the explosion subsided, he turned his attention to the other two fighters still left. Coincidentally, they had also turned their attention to Valen, and had launched missiles from both ports. The four red streaks tracked on his ship side by side, as if in a race to see who could bring death first. Valen cut all thrust, charging his guns to full power. Several tense seconds passed as the missiles came in range. Once he had a lock on the first, he fired and scrolled quickly to the next, not waiting to see if his shot was true. He again squeezed the trigger and scrolled, acquiring the third missile. Again, he scrolled.
To find that he only had time to throw his arms over his face before the missile shattered his hexagonal viewport and detonated in his chest.
Everything then went dark, and with a hiss of pressurized air, the simulation chamber opened. Valen sighed heavily, and pulled off his flight helmet. He looked up into the face of his instructor, the face of a living legend.
“Perhaps next season, Lieutenant Narricks” was all Baron Soontir Fel said to him. With a terse smile, he spun on his heel and walked out of the room. Valen had failed to qualify for the Imperial 181st Fighter Squadron. He yanked off his gloves and threw them in frustration into his helmet. Jumping down from the sim chamber, he began his lonely walk back to his bunk. Can’t wait to hear what Daddy has to sat this time,” he thought mournfully.