The Cardooine Aerospace Academy: Tale 2
Landing his B-wing in the CRS Liberty's main hangar, Prowler flicked
his engines to standby, his repulsorlifts to full power and slowly
settled the fighter on the hangar deck where the technician had
been signaling him. He popped the fighter's canopy open and clambered
down the ladder, his legs stiff from remaining motionless for several
hours. The recon run with Wolf had turned up nothing, just another
six hours of quiet and boring travel through empty space.
He headed to the Lounge to relax and have a drink before crashing
into his quarters. He cleared the threshold between the corridor
and the Lounge a few minutes later and was greeted all around by
ten pilots or so. What the hell?!
Then he remembered something and felt like slapping himself across
the head for forgetting that he would be continuing the story he'd
started the previous night.
Lots of pilots here tonight. Guess that yesterday's audience
blabbered about my story, he thought as he walked to the bar, ordering
a mug of lum instead of rye whiskey. His throat was dry and in need
of moisture, plus the fact that he knew this tale was going to take
a while. He was also very thirsty. Mixer handed him his drink and
he took a long pull at it, letting the icy-cold fermented brew soothe
his dehydrated entrails. He then turned around, smiled theatrically
to Condor, Darklighter, Kid and Vids and then turned to the new
group of interested listeners: Wolf, Kallysto, Animal, Hellcat
and Syntax. Huh? Syntax? What's he doing here?
"Um, Syntax, why are you here? You're a droid," he asked, perplexed.
"How perceptive of you to notice," answered the droid, in his
closest approximation of a sarcastic tone of voice. The others chuckled.
"But to answer your question, I'm here to assimilate data on my
flight partners. My programming always suggests that knowing your
surroundings is a good way to be 'comfortable' in them. You don't
mind my being here, I hope?"
Prowler shook his head slightly, "No. Stay. Please. The more that
are here now, the less I will have to repeat my story tomorrow."
The droid nodded and sat down.
Prowler set himself and said, "Gentlemen. What I am about to tell
you is part of my past, a past that I try as often as possible to
forget, as it brings back dreaded memories. While I will never truly
forget them, I will temporarily ignore them while with you, fighting
against the Empire and for freedom. So, for this evening, I am sharing
with you my past and would appreciate you paying much attention
to my story so that I do not have to repeat myself many times over."
The ten pilots seated around him nodded in silence.
Prowler grabbed a self-conforming seating-pouch and plopped himself
into it and took a deep breath. "I believe I will name the second
part of this tale... Challenges."
The visit of my family made me completely reorganize my train
of thought and my values in life. So far, loyalty and trust had
never hit me "smack on" in the face, due to the fact that I was
extremely interested in the commercial spying side of my parents
business. (Spies should never really be trusted. Just look at Imperial
But when I realized that all I was doing was being a childish
brat and throwing away something much more valuable than money or
commercial value: friendship and life experience. I looked inside
myself and almost barfed. It was time for a change, a major change.
From that point on I radically altered my social behavior. My
tone of voice with my superiors was no longer scornful, but filled
with respect, as I realized with my new views that the experience
and knowledge these men and women had to offer could save my life— and has, very often. My assignments were given back on time and
I became respectful with my comrades, compromising when our opinions
My teammates couldn't believe how I had changed and soon we became,
quite definitely, the best friends one could have. Real, genuine
compadres. Our team scores rose far beyond what we had ever hoped
for and teamwork became a natural stance for us. We did everything
together; as the training instructors told us we'd have to.
It had been a year and a half that I was at the academy and soon
came the time for a real, live-fire combat session against the other
teams at the academy.
Around forty teams of men and women, including ours, were sent
out into the great tropical forest that covered a quarter of the
equatorial continent. We were given a blaster power-pack belt, a
blaster carbine permanently locked on "stun", a blaster with the
same, protein-boosted rations for a day and other survival equipment.
Our goal was to make our way to a secret air base, conveniently
located somewhere in the middle of the forest, to survive our way
there without getting stunned by another team, which would result
in our elimination from the tournament, then get to the fighters
there and then proceed to accomplish a mission in those fighters,
which would be specified to us once inside the secret air base.
Believe me when I say my teammates and I prepared for this exercise.
We trained like nutcases for two months prior to the start of the
mission. We reviewed ground tactics by the ton, put them into practice
against our training officers in the field and survived— pretty
much— two-thirds of the time. We also started tactical situation
analysis, to be able to modify our plans at any given time during
a mission, if a crisis arose.
We advanced our scouting and reconnaissance techniques and practiced
all of our combat skills until our own physical restrictions made
And soon enough, the day came.
Dawn that day was wet and foggy, as it seems to be on every single
day that is really important in life.
A personnel carrier flew us and the other teams up to an altitude
of 6000 feet over the forest, where we jumped off in repulsorlift
parachutes, one team at a time.
Soon, my team's turn to jump came and I ran out the rear hatch
of the craft. The void tugged at me as I plummeted for the ground
below. At the preset altitude, the parachute opened, breaking my
descent in a sharp tug and slowly I sailed towards the surface.
A few minutes later, my team and I were quickly eliminating any
traces of our landing in the woods nearby. We cut out our parachutes
and folded them up to use as blankets or as a short-notice roof.
We then used our SatPos—Satellite Positioning— units to make our
way across the planned intervals we'd given ourselves, reducing
our distance to the base by twenty-four kilometers. I distinctly
recall thinking, Only another 95 km left, a joyride.
For those of you that do not know me well, I confess that sarcasm
is always evident in my voice.
Our instructors had told us that the first day or so would be
calm, as the forty teams would each be starting off from where they
had landed. It would be when we all reached the twenty-five kilometer
radius perimeter that surrounded the airbase that all hell would
Again, they were right.
The next two days were calm, punctuated occasionally by a spike
of fear and adrenaline as a hunting carnivore would jet past us,
hot on the tail of a keffa, the local small, yet swift,
herbivore. We fed on keffa beast, hunting them with our knives,
as a stun-blast is much to imprecise to shoot down a small and nimble
creature. They're actually very good, when you can find a decent
chunk of meat through their bony bodies.
We could, of course, have eaten our protein-boosted rations on
the first day, but we decided against it, keeping our most nutritious
bit of food for the last day of the exercise.
The fourth day was when the action started.
We saw another team run by on the opposite side of a mountain
ridge, as they jogged quickly to the bottom of the hill. Somehow,
they hadn't noticed us. I've always though it was because of the
sun that was behind us, even though we were in a great forest.
We followed them for two kilometers or so, right until they stopped
at the edge of a river, where they were probably going to refill
their gourds. Mach and I climbed up in a huge tree, making our way
above them for a clear head shot, while Chrizze and Cloud crawled
along the ground to circle them. It took exactly six stun shots
to knock them down and one more to still the person that was twitching.
We then signaled the supervising pickup crafts to come and grab
the silent team. They arrived fifteen minutes later, took their
four new passengers and told us that we could take what we needed
of their equipment. We appropriated the remaining foodstuffs they
had and a few blaster power packs. They then took off as if they
hadn't been there, leaving us to continue the exercise.
We kept on going for the day, more cautious then than ever before,
as the encounter with the other team had alerted us to the action
We heard several blaster fights going on for the next day. They
were at a fair distance, obviously, as we had to strain to hear
them clearly. We avoided them as best we could, but eventually our
luck came up short and another team ambushed us. Blue flares of
coherent energy erupted from carbine nozzles all around us; the
only warning we would get.
Incidentally, all four of the members of our team had developed
a rather bizarre technique to circumvent the effect of being knocked
to the ground by a stun shot. It involves developing the reflex
of jumping into the air as soon as you hear or see the shot being
fired. More often than anything, the stun shot will hit you lower
on the body than the attacker would believe, therefore avoiding
a knockout shot to the head or the torso. While you're legs might
be suddenly asleep, you can still move and you are still conscious.
What happened was that we fell to the ground as if the other team
had knocked us out, but when they approached us to contact the transport,
we stunned them. The personnel transport arrived to pick them up
and then we took off, now within twenty-five kilometers of the airbase.
Somehow, we made our way to the airbase without any further encounters
with other teams. We were exhausted beyond our belief and the five
hours of sleep offered to us by the personnel on the base before
we'd be given our briefing for the mission were accepted with gratitude.
On a side note: of the forty teams that were launched into the
woods, eleven successfully made their way to the air base. We were
the fourth team to arrive.
I awoke from the two hours of sleep feeling groggy and terribly
sloth-like. But two glasses of juri-juice and a body filled with
adrenaline later, I was pepped up and ready for anything the CAA's
roughnecks could throw at me, and so we're my comrades.
Prowler lowered his head silently and inhaled a deep, calming
breath. He looked up a few seconds later, his eyes shining in the
dark room, their rims a crimson color. He nodded once and said,
"So far, this tale is just the recounting of my youth and there
are no reasons for me to be... leaking from the eyes." He shook his
head, "But that part will come soon, you'll see."
The other all leaned back in their seats and stared at him as
he cleared his throat.
"I think you've heard enough for tonight, my friends, and that
you've had a bit too much to drink, " he added with a smirk.
"Naw'that just ain't true," slurred Condor, his voice thick with
the effects of alcohol, "I'm still gud t' go fer sum more."
The pilots all laughed as Prowler said, "Perhaps, but your attention
is always divided at this point in the night. I think I'll pursue
the story during our next free evening."
Condor shrugged, "Suit 'urself, but I wuz havin' a jolly gud time."
At that, the pilots all stumbled out of the Lounge, on the verge
of being roaring drunk and stumbling constantly, ready to let dreams
roam their minds for a few hours.