The space above Endor was abuzz with the Imperial Fleet. Palpatine’s grand trap had been laid, and soon this primitive backwater system would be the final resting place for the pathetic Rebellion.
The 142nd Honored Vindicators had arrived on station some days prior, to attend a special briefing with Vice Admiral Achillus Bruckdt – their sole patron. Their orders were to provide space superiority in the coming battle, and received brand new TIE/D Defenders to aid them in completing their the task. Even more, they were to launch from the Super Star Destroyer Executor
for the battle. The days followed were spent in the simulators, getting accustomed to the much more agile (and shielded) craft. Other than Mirabelle Singh, Kazuhira had never beheld a more beautiful sight.
Locked into their cradles in the hangar, each TIE/D carried slate gray striping outlined with a thin red pinstripe on either side. Just like their battle dress uniforms, and dress uniforms. He stood in awe of them, putting the finishing touches on his pre-flight cigar amid the rest of the squadron. Even the hard-nosed Captain Krael couldn’t be put in a sour mood today, even wearing a most uncharacteristic smile. It was just a matter of hours now, until this war would finally come to an end. And less than an hour before their watch was scheduled. The pilots had been briefed—a handful waited in the hangar with their Captain, but most were busy finalizing their pre-flight checks. Others saw fit to squeeze one more meal in their belly before it was time to go.
Many units had been given the distinct honor of launching from the Executor
, but none of the others had earned the right to fly TIE/D’s. It seemed someone over the rank of Vice-Admiral favored these veterans above others. Each pilot in the 142nd was a veteran of this brutal campaign. All of them felt loss at the hands of the Rebellion, and none of them dared delude themselves into thinking their loss was any greater than their wingman’s by now. These were hardened pilots, who had nothing else left to lose but their faith in the Empire.
But their Emperor’s gaze was fixed upon them this day, unlike any other time in their collective careers. Subsequently, their will was bolstered greatly. The whole of the Empire’s might had been gathered for the final, decisive victory over Endor…
Kaz himself was in the sweet spot—near his squadronmates but not engaged in interaction with any of them. He observed them in their own pre-flight rituals, he had come to know quite well in the last months. If the Captain could have remained in one place for all time, it would have been here at the calm before the storm. He was so much in the zone, that he didn’t hear the footfalls of his second approaching from behind.
A gloved hand met Krael’s shoulder with a brief pat, robbing Kaz of his revelry. He wheeled around on his heels to see face-to-face Vandon Kar’sayn. An otherwise unremarkable human male, save for being one-eyed. “Almost forgot, Top.”
Vandon began, digging into his flight suit for a single code cylinder. “Victory dance.”
Taking the cylinder, Kazuhira cracked the case to find a fresh cigar and nodded to his second with a wry sort-of half smile that turned his neatly-kempt beard up on one side. “Ready to rock, brother?”
Kaz fired back, removing the short stub of cigar from his mouth. “I feel like I could take on the whole Rebellion myself.”