“It looks so much bigger up close.”
“I have felled larger beasts. Size alone is insignificant.”
“That is still a pretty big ship—andt now it’s launching fighters.”
“Ah… The tussle before the kill. Very predictable behavior, yes.“
“You almost hadt me convincedt,” Tali sroka replied glumly as she fidgeted with a minor thruster tuning knob in her cockpit. Behind her, R3-N3 gave a binary sigh and undid the adjustment to maintain level flight. The sleek E-wing held its position beside the Trandoshan’s squat Star Wing, the assault gunboat bristling with firepower but still not matching the escort fighter, despite its upgraded engines.
Inside its angular cockpit, Grot licked his lips with anticipation. He had every weapon armed and ready and as more targets appeared on his scanner, he was feeling a familiar tingling in his trigger fingers. Space combat was not quite as fulfilling as hunting on foot, but there was a certain undeniable glee in turning an enemy fighter into a blazing inferno of scrap that spoke to his violent soul. And he could always rationalize it later as merely scrapping metal, rather than blasting the pilots within, that counted for something as well.
“There seem to be quite a few of them out there, lady Sroka,” a new, lower voice joined the comms exchange. “I have no doubt in your abilities, but you are only two ships. Are you sure you would not benefit of some assistance?” The concern was palpable, even if muted by decorum and self-restraint imposed by a Csillan upbringing.
“Ve can handle one squadron of TIEs between us, can’t ve, Grot? You just stay back andt keep yourselves safe from those bombers, Strong,” Tali replied, letting out a calming breath as she gripped the controls with renewed determination. A lot was riding on their success here, but the Force was with them, she was sure of it.
“Fighters inbound, cut the chatter,” Grot grunted, his reptilian mind now solely focused on the kill. “Cover me. I will draw their fire and break left.” All joviality had left his voice as the targeting matrix locked in on the lead TIE and he adjusted his deflectors for the inevitable first pass. It was the most dangerous of maneuvers, a mug’s game for sure, and he could tell the enemy pilot—no, enemy starfighter—was surely thinking the same. That would make their response predictable.
He aligned the jamming beam upon the lead TIE, muffling its comms and playing havoc on its targeting systems. The fighter swayed, no doubt from the pilot hastily trying to mitigate the sensor baffling, and that was the moment he opened fire.
Streaks of red lashed out, whizzing over and under the TIE’s bulbous canopy as Grot zeroed in his aim. The effect was immediate, as the distracted starfighter hurriedly blurted out a stream of emerald green return fire and broke formation, trying to evade the murderous fire.
The Trandoshan did not care. His eyes were already on the second fighter that found itself leaderless and struggling to contact the visibly still intact squadron commander. Confuse, disorient, demoralize, the same tenets he lived by on the hunt applied in the void as well. The hesitation to break cost the second fighter dearly, ruby red bolts from the Star Wing’s laser cannons perforating its starboard wing, the craft breaking apart a moment later as a major power conduit overloaded catastrophically.
The first pass concluded, Grot veered left as he passed through the enemy formation, the TIEs fleeting past his vision in a blur of grey and black. Flying in after the Star Wing, Tali managed to snap off a parting shot, catching a TIE in its port solar array but to little effect. Her own shields shimmered with a few near misses, but held firm as R3-N3 immediately rerouted power to ensure their integrity.
“The squadron is splitting up. Take care of the others, I will pursue these five. Good hunting.”
Tali would have liked to protest about him choosing the ‘lesser’ prey, but there was no time to argue in the middle of combat. There was but to do or die.
“Breaking right. May the Force be vith you.”