“Concentrate all your fire on that super star destroyer!”
Admiral Ackbar’s order to the Fleet reverberated on his comm as Tann maneuvered his A-Wing into flight formation, serving as cover for Green Lead and Green Four as they dove towards the behemoth that was the Executor.
“Flight Two, Green Five,” he spoke, juking swiftly to avoid an incoming turbolaser shot. “Maintain cover for their attack run at high speed, see if we can draw the batteries away from ‘em.” He watched them plunge single-file towards the bridge, laser cannon fire pouring into the last remaining deflector dome. It erupted into a gaseous explosion seconds later, and the bridge’s shield envelope collapsed.
Suddenly, forward turbolaser volleys poured out from the bow of the massive vessel, trying to hit anything and everything on their fire control computers.
“Ah, that got ‘em spooked!” Tann remarked. “Haul ass out of here and regroup for another run!” As those words left his lips, he caught Arvel’s A-Wing take a glancing strike on its left side, putting the craft into a near-uncontrollable spin.
Come on, Arvel! Get out of there! We can follow up and take that monster down.
He underestimated his Wing Leader’s situation… and sheer resolve, as he watched the fellow A-Wing pilot regain control of his stricken fighter, heading straight towards the command bridge.
He’s actually going to do it?!
Green Leader’s A-Wing pierced into the Executor’s bridge with the force of a high-explosive battering ram, cutting through transparisteel like a vibroknife through nerf butter, with explosions racking the entire bridge. The entire vessel listed downward, having lost heading control and captured by the Second Death Star’s artificial gravity well.
Tann closed his eyes just briefly, before witnessing the Executor crash bow first into the battlestation in the largest column of plasma and fire that he had ever personally-witnessed.
We won’t forget you, old buddy. May the Force…
“… be with you.”
<Talon Base, Validaan, the Colonies region; two years after Endor>
A mutter influenced by the past, and a sip of watered-down Corellian Whiskey left a bittersweet taste on Tann’s tongue as he set the glass down on the faded wood of the hooch’s bar top.
Today was the second anniversary of Endor, now known across the galaxy as Liberation Day. In reality however, much of it remained in Imperial control, particularly the Core where Palpatine’s hanger-on’s resided in the form of the Inner Circle, or the Expansion Region and the Mid-Rim where warlords like Zsinj reigned with fleets far larger than their sense of unity. The Emperor died and left more than a dozen smaller ones in his wake.
Labels didn’t really matter. Star destroyers were star destroyers; “eyeballs” were “eyeballs;” stormies were stormies. Even if they all fought for different masters.
Tann gazed into his diminishing glass of whiskey, remembered all of those pilots he’d flown with during the Alliance years. Many of them were now legends, with medals and maneuvers named after them, most of them posthumously. Those that survived now commanded units of their own or were part of elite squadrons now tasked with special operations missions.
Speaking of his own unit, it had been deactivated a week ago, with its pilots reassigned to new ones. A sign of turbulent times ahead. He had waited for transfer orders to come down the routing chain, but none had arrived as of yet.
Truth be told, Tann was getting wary of it all. He was ready to return to his homeworld and begin a new life for himself. Or rather, make up for the one he had been absent from.
He raised his glass for another sip, maybe for a longer one…
“Major? Major Danzel?”
Maybe not. He set the glass back down.
“Over here,” he said, not turning his head to look. He heard some footsteps, and after a brief moment, a young blonde flight officer peered over his right shoulder.
“Sir, I have orders from… h-have, have you been drinking on duty?!”
“I don’t see a fighter squadron anywhere around here,” Tann replied, taking a small sip to reinforce his point. “Do you?”
She paused briefly, taken back a bit by his behavior. But she regained her composure and presented a datapad.
“Transfer orders, sir! You have received a new assignment and have been requested to depart on the next available outgoing transport.” Tann didn’t reply, but he set his glass back down and received the datapad from her. He scrolled down the screen… before stopping, shifting his head to meet the gaze of her soft brown eyes.
“Azure Squadron? That unit doesn’t exist.”
“As of… 0600 CST, it does now, sir,” she explained. “Your orders are to relocate to the destination, help stand-up the new squadron and be ready to conduct combat operations ASAP.”
Tanthiel… now where have I heard of that planet before?
Then it dawned on him. It was from a star system of the same name in the Colonies region, just a hyperjump away from the main Perlemian Trade Route. This new unit was going to be part of the push into the Imperial Core.
Tann was going to be training a bunch of greenies, trying to keep the old heads from the Alliance days from hanging them, try to keep a squadron of finicky A-Wings from breaking down at the last second prior to launch, and try to keep these beings from getting killed before they have a real chance to do some damage. He was going right back into the thick of it all.
He stifled a sigh and stood up from the barstool. He passed back the datapad to the flight officer and gave her a knowing smile.
“While I’m packing… tell them “thanks” for me.” He started for the door, intending to return to his quarters.
“Thanks?” she asked, puzzled. “Thanks for what?”
Tann turned his head back to respond.
“When you’re older, and a little wiser, you’ll understand.”