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Imperial Flight School, Coruscant Branch
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Star Wars: Episode VIII: Binds of Tyranny Forum Index » Coruscant » Imperial Flight School, Coruscant Branch
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Shayera Jendob
Huggably, Lovably Able to Kill You


Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 313
Location: Coruscant

 Post Posted: Fri, April 17th 2009 11:32pm    Post subject: Imperial Flight School, Coruscant Branch
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"Good morning, Exarch Jendob," Air Marshal Tan Maarek Stele greeted, with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

I groaned inwardly. "Good morning, sir."

It had been two weeks since I started fighter training. Of course, the beginning was all academics: the Empire didn't allow someone who didn't know an altimeter from a rectal thermometer to get into the cockpit of a high-performance starfighter armed with potentially enough ordnance to crack a cruiser and capable of accelerations several thousand times standard gravity. Studying Imperial starfighters, past and present, until every technical detail and cockpit layout was drilled into my head.

Of course, it didn't help that the rest of training group was a bunch of early-twenties men and women, hoping to get into the Empire's fighter wings, at their peak of physical ability. Then there was me.

And I suspected a touch of string-pulling on the part of getting Stele to include me in the current group. Still, he didn't seem to complain, so neither did I. After all, the man was a legend. He started off as a lowly pilot, interdicting Rebel-allied smugglers after Hoth, then he helped resolve the Sepan Civil War and exposed the treachery of the admiral tasked with the mission. After that, he served under Thrawn and a secret order within the Empire, ultimately putting an end to the rogue Grand Admiral Zaarin. Of course, the only way I knew that second part was my clearance was just high enough to be aware of Palpatine's various secret cadres of Force users.

Son of a bitch knew how to network.

By the time of the Battle of Endor, Stele was the best-scoring TIE pilot in the Empire, and probably one of the best starfighter pilots in the entire Galaxy. Of course, since most of his accomplishments were highly classified, Colonel and Baron Soontir Fel was widely considered the Empire's top ace. Then again, he earned that reputation without any Force ability...

I took my seat in the training room. Flight trainees were still filing in. The faces I knew, but names were limited to a small group. As far as knowing the people themselves... well, that wasn't a priority. We were here to learn to fly in high-performance spacecraft, not socialize.

After the trainees had settled into their seats, Stele began speaking. It was still five minutes early, but we already knew what happened to tardy trainees. "Well, ladies and gentlemen," he said with a mixture of raw contempt and feigned amazement with a light dusting of drill-sergeant hardass attitude. "By some miracle, some of you managed to pass the written flight exam. Perhaps you're not all simply a batch of cannon fodder for some hotshot Rebel pilot."

He tapped several keys on his lectern, and our terminals began to light up. "I've posted your individual results to your terminals. Any questions?" he smiled.

There were none. We knew that question was nothing more than a charged blaster pointed at our heads. Two weeks in, it was sink or swim. If someone didn't get it now...

Then I remembered the test, and glanced at my screen. It had been a technical test, mostly to show that we at least knew enough to set foot in a cockpit. It was also a handy ass-covering mechanism and excuse to chew out a panicked trainee when they grabbed the wrong control in a cockpit.

I scrolled down through the list of questions, wincing at the periodic "incorrect" markers. Finally, a number displayed. My jaw almost dropped. For a brief instant, I felt like a cadet back at the Academy... Ninety-two percent.

"Those of you have qualified for flight simulation training, come with me. Those of you who have not may make another attempt on a secondary exam. It's already programmed." Stele paused. "And those of you who failed the examination; your discharges from this training facility will be processed by the end of the day. I suggest you take the time to find a branch of the Imperial military you can actually function within."

I qualified! I beamed inside. Yet, I also felt a pang of pity for those that washed out. And by the looks of the people packing up, nearly a third of the class was done for. Fully half were working at their terminals, presumably taking their second-chance exam. The rest of us logged off of our terminals, grabbed our datapads and collected at the front of the room, near the Air Marshal. He gave some quick instructions to an assistant, then looked at our small group. Glancing around, I guessed there were a little over a dozen of us.

"So, you sixteen are the best this group had to offer," grumbled the fighter ace. "The future of the Imperial Starfighter Corps. Maybe we would be better off if we went with droids. That's something Intelligence is looking into, right Exarch?"

The personal address was a bit surprising. "I can neither confirm, nor deny, sir," I replied coolly.

A very thin, genuine smile touched Stele's lips. "Of course not. Not in the middle of all of these rookies." The smile was quickly suppressed. "Now then, the flight simulators are this way."

We proceeded down a corridor that terminated in a vast room filled with large, pod-like machines. In long pits were computer terminals manned by technicians. Stele's resonant voice spoke up from behind the now-dispersing flight trainees. "This is where you will be spending the next four weeks of your lives. You will learn to fly and fight with every last starfighter in the Imperial arsenal."

Well, not all of them, I mused. Some were still quite classified.

"You have ten minutes to get into your flight training gear and report back here."
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Colonel Shayera Jendob - Chief of Security for Supreme Moff Jendob
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Shayera Jendob
Huggably, Lovably Able to Kill You


Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 313
Location: Coruscant

 Post Posted: Fri, May 29th 2009 02:46am    Post subject:
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I twisted the control yoke to swing my bomber around as the buzzer sounded. My thumbs pressed the cannon triggers down, but it was too late. The holographic vista beyond my transparisteel cockpit vanished.

The simulator pod opened and the cockpit lights came up. Finally, a report resolved on the CMD.

"Congratulations, Exarch... you've qualified as a pilot on the TIE Surface Assault."

I pried off my helmet to look at the adjutant instructor. Obviously, Stele had better things to do than hover around a bunch of trainees at this point. "Thank you, Commander."

I glanced back at the report. Thirteen laps... 30,000 points. Wow... I did better than I thought. A lot better. I flipped to the next page of the report.

"Whoa, three hundred targets killed," I gasped.

"Yes, ma'am." The Flight Captain's acknowledgment made me realize I'd exclaimed the record aloud. "Most trainees find the Gunboat and Bomber give them the most kills."

Makes sense, I guess. With the TIE bomber only able to make eighty megalights combat speed, with essentially a trickle charge on the laser cannon capacitors, there was more time to pick out the target, line up, and fire off the fatal bolt. The Gunboat was only a little faster, though most trainees simply dumped their shield power into the engines for a speed boost.

And slower moving meant better accuracy against fixed targets. In the Interceptor, between the wing guns (apparently, they never reprogrammed the flight sims for the uprated model) and screaming around at standard escape velocity, I took shots as I could instead of going out of my way to land a bolt.

"Would you like to move on to Combat, ma'am? Or continue flight with another craft?"

I shrugged. "I guess I'll try for the Gunboat. Get all of the assault ships out of the way for today."

He nodded. "As you wish. I trust you can find your way to the Gunboat simulators."

"Yes, Captain. I know you've got your hands full," I noted.

"Much appreciated, ma'am. And good luck."

I hopped out of the simulator and gave him a quick salute before heading to the next simulator room. The gunboats had different simulator units from the TIEs because they came from Cygnus, not IMC, which meant different control setups, different cockpit design... different everything. And that, in turn, meant the simulators were in another room.

Fortunately, the complex was laid out in an easily navigable pattern, and in no time at all I was in a sim module and running through the pre-flight checklist. Training was almost over for the day, and I wanted to get in one more qualification before the day was over. I already had full TIE/ln credit, flight and combat. The first combat mission started off a bit rudimentary, but after shooting down some Z-95s one at a time (no trouble at all with a TIE--the cannons were very powerful and made mincemeat of the old Headhunters), they came in a pair, then a three fighter group. The pair was pretty easy, but I got winged during a head-on approach from the triplets.

Fortunately, the ship was still flyable, so I was able to drop in behind them and shoot down their left flank while the leader and right flank split. I caught up to the right flank and finished it quickly with a burst, but the leader had dropped in behind me. I panicked a bit, and threw the fighter into some insane maneuver... and found myself on the lead's six o'clock. I drained my gun capacitors at him, and somewhere in the spray of laser bolts, he took enough hits to blow up.

Of course, then I had to slow down to about 75 megalights recharge my guns quickly... and by the time I had half charge, four Headhunters were coming at me, head on. There was a quick exchange of laser fire, and two Z-95s and one TIE Line fighter exploded, and that was the end of that mission. Still, I passed and scored a few bonus objectives.

The next three missions were progressively more difficult in terms of primary objective, from holding off a Rebel starfighter attack on a base and knocking out freighters trying to steal cargo to taking out a shipyard full of starfighters and shuttles that were just coming online, and then hunting down a Rebel probe a thousand kilometers away while A-Wings and X-Wings took potshots.

I was able to complete the primary objectives, and in some cases the secondaries and even bonus objectives, for all of them, so I had my little gold TIE fighter medal and a bronze (so far) on the Interceptor. Unfortunately, the bitch of a minefield from the third combat mission was giving me problems, so I had moved on to flight qualification with the Surface Assault.

And I scored three hundred kills, I smirked to myself as the simulator module darkened and I was once again presented with the familiar hexagonal tunnel of the flight obstacle course.

Of course, the view was slightly different. Rather than seeing it through the spider-web cockpit from the TIE series, it was more like a miniature Lambda cockpit. I quickly scanned the readouts. Reticule, OTIA, missile loadouts (both launchers read zero), weapon power indicators, speed indicator, sensor panels, shield power, weapon capacitor charge, engine power, CMD, and damage indicators. Everything was where it should be. Hours of poring over holos and drawings paid off.

A moment later, the first turn came up. I banked and was a little surprised by how maneuverable the big ship was. Not quite as nimble as a TIE fighter, but no brick either. And beyond that lay the first targeting segment. My speed was ninety megalights, and in the corridor ahead lay what was sarcastically termed "the greatest threat to Imperial starfighters ever known": colored pyramids clinging to the walls.

One laser bolt quickly eliminated each of the offending polygons. With the gunboat's average speed and fair maneuverability, I was able to pick off the targets with a pretty good degree of accuracy. I had no illusions about my skills as a pilot: I was no Fel, no Stele, not even an Antilles or Skywalker. But it seemed I was good enough to qualify.

After passing through a few targeting tunnels I noticed my gun capacitors were low. But, above the drained laser cannon indicators was a series of shining blue bars. Hmmm. I wonder...

I switched to my ion cannons and maneuvered through the tunnels until there was another obstacle course. Here goes nothing. I twisted and turned my fighter until the reticule was over one of the dreaded pyramids of doom, and pressed the trigger. A bright blue bolt leapt from above my cockpit and connected with the target. And to my surprise, the gunnery target vaporized as if struck by blaster fire.

"Ha ha!" I cried out jubilantly. Of course, then I remembered I was on an open mic and blushed under the black helmet. "Sorry about that, guys."

I quickly switched back to my laser cannons and finished out their charge, sometimes burning away the multicolored polygons, sometimes merely burning simulated durasteel, then went back to my ion cannons. They still had a fair amount of charge by the time I lapped the course. Still, I'd be needing to charge up my guns soon... and I had a full charge on my shields, which was decidedly unneeded. I'd flown the course enough times to know nothing shot back.

Frak, where is that transfer panel? I tried to keep my eye on the moving vista--crashes cost time and score... if not the craft--while desperately scanning the control panel for the right button. After what seemed like an eternity, my eyes fell on the appropriate button. I stabbed at it, looked up, and jerked the control yoke to the right to avoid the wall.

The capacitor indicators lit up like a Life Day tree. I tapped the button a couple more times until all four cannons had full charge, turned into the gunnery practice corridor, and blasted away. Now there were new targets: massive, floating ellipsoids. Fortunately, I knew from my runs in the TIE Line, Interceptor, and Bomber that one bolt would handily dispatch them.

With the Gunboat's powerful shields and the low durability of the targets, I had an ideal energy sink to keep the cannons going without cutting my speed. I finished out the second lap, shifted in the cockpit seat a little to get comfortable, and readied myself for the new target: large three-bladed fan-like objects. They would be static on the third lap, but eventually they'd move, creating a greater flight risk and a harder gunnery challenge. They also got harder to destroy, so I took my shots early on to get some target diversity in the scores.

Ultimately, I had a decent system going until the middle of the fifth and final required lap. I drained the last few ergs from my shields, but my lasers and ions weren't fully charged. "Damn," I grumbled. I cut the maintenance power to the now-depleted shields, then boosted my cannon recharge to one-eighth of my craft's total power. When the holographic scenery seemed to be moving quicker, I glanced at the speed indicator. One hundred one and quarter megalights.

I smirked to myself. I was going a bit faster than a TIE fighter, had twice the firepower (as far as the training was concerned), but only 90% of the maneuverability. Now things get interesting, I mused as I pulled out of the turn and into gunnery tunnel. By now, things had gotten to a level where I had to pay attention rather than simply blazing through. A salvo of bolts from my linked laser cannons the hub and two blades off of the first Fan of Death, exploded one of the Floaters of Horror, and caught a pair of Pyramids of Doom. The lone fan blade kept whirling as I flew under it, and a stream of ion fire tore into the next spinner. This time, I only knocked off one blade and the hub before my fighter blew past. A couple more quick kills of opportunity were made as I adjusted my course for the final obstacle: a large metal panel that sealed the end of the tunnel... save for a small trapezoidal opening, barely larger than my fighter.

If I made it further, they'd spin on lap six, then there'd be two of them on seven... both spinning. Their speed maxed out around lap ten but it was a real bitch to pull off in a Bomber or even the Interceptor: the first was too sluggish to maneuver, the latter was simply too fast to make a sudden course correction if everything didn't line up properly. The TIE line had a good mix, and I was confident in the Gunboat. My own piloting... well, I was fine with the fact that I'd never fly wing on Vader or Fel. I was just in this to--

--To what? A grin crossed my helmeted, hidden face. To see if I could... And of course because it was required for my transfer, but that was beside the point. I was flight certified on the standard TIE craft, and combat certified on the two space superiority fighters in that group. Dammit, not only could I do it, but I did do it. With that thought, I gunned the accelerator and sent my ship roaring through that small gap in the end cap.

If I qualified flight on the Gunboat--which I was a mere quarter lap away from doing--and combat on both the Gunboat and the Bomber, I'd have all the credentials I needed. But I realized that even if I wasn't an adept starfighter pilot, I didn't just want to do the bare minimum requirement. No, I was going to take fighter training by the throat and show it who was boss... I'm gonna go up to the Defender... and beyond, if I can.

My grip on the control yoke tightened, but my movements became more fluid and relaxed as the realization and purpose set in. I was, as the fighter jocks said, finally "in the zone." And I liked it. The Assault Gunboat became an extension of my mind rather than a balky machine to be controlled and manipulated from within. My guns began striking their mark more often, my turns tighter, and my awareness sharpened. Adrenaline and endorphins began to surge as I shot through segment after segment until I came out of the final turn and back to the starting point. I could see out of the periphery of my vision the numbers in the CMD moving as my remaining time from the last run was scored in, and the clock reset with a shorter interval.

And back down the long tunnel I flew, toward that first turn... going in for the kill.
_________________

Colonel Shayera Jendob - Chief of Security for Supreme Moff Jendob
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Last edited by Shayera Jendob on Fri, May 29th 2009 02:48am; edited 1 time in total
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