One of my hobbies is writing. Currently I’m working on a YA science fiction novel. Keeping focused, however, is not a strong point of mine! Sometimes you need something to encourage the writing skills without stressing you out. That’s where fan-fic comes in! The world-building is already done for you (and even characters if you aren’t doing an original character) which allows you to just focus on story-telling.
I was feeling a bit down about my work in progress, and I saw a Star Wars fan-fic contest over at Writers Domain. I decided to give it a shot to see what happens! I wrote about a young woman who is an Imperial fighter pilot (we just don’t get enough stories from the Empire’s point of view!). After some nerdy research on TIE fighters, the second Death Star, and the Battle of Endor- “For Mirium” was born two days later. I’m pretty proud of the final product (especially for being written in 2 days!), so I thought I’d share it with you all!
The lurch from realspace to hyperspace hardly bothered Mayla anymore. She was always amazed at how much she had gotten used to since graduating from the Imperial Flight Academy. She had been on dozens of missions, stationed onboard five star destroyers, and entered and exited hyperspace more times than she could count.
If you had asked the poor, dirty little girl living on Lothal twenty years ago if this is what she imagined her life would become, you would have gotten a resounding negative. But here she was, a major in the Imperial Navy. Commander of her own squadron of TIE fighters. Her parents would have been proud.
Would have. That was the key phrase. They would have been proud if they hadn’t been killed by Rebels when Mayla was just ten. Mayla could still remember cradling her mother’s head, watching her take her last breaths. Her father’s whispered voice saying, “For the Empire!” before coughing and dying.
Now, Mayla looked out the observation window and saw the warbled blue light streaking by. She had no idea where they were headed- only that they had been called away from their previous position to this new one. Mayla figured there was a serious problem with the Rebels. They had been causing a lot of problems lately. And for the life of her, Mayla could not figure out why anyone would want to be a part of something like that.
She had voiced this opinion to her sister, Mirium, the day before. Mirium had just recently graduated from the Flight Academy and was currently flying patrol missions over Malastare.
“I don’t understand these Rebels. Why keep fighting? It’s practically hopeless!” Mayla had said over the holotransmission.
Mirium hadn’t replied at first. “I guess that’s why they do it. It’s practically hopeless, but not completely.”
Mayla had raised her thin eyebrows. “The Rebels killed our parents.”
Mirium had held up her hands in defense. “I’m not saying I agree with them! I’m just saying that they believe they have a little bit of hope.”
“Well then it’s up to us to stamp out that hope.”
Mayla’s comm buzzed. It was a message from one of her closest friends and comrades, Pax. She had graduated with Pax, and the two had been delighted to find that they were stationed together.
“Mayla, there’s something you need to see. Now.”
“Can it wait? I’m supposed to be on-duty in an hour. Wanted to take a quick nap before we exited hyperspace.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Mayla sighed and headed for Pax’s quarters. When she arrived, she saw Pax’s face was drawn and white.
“I think you need to sit down,” Pax said quietly. She pulled out her datapad. “I debated on whether or not to share this with you because you technically aren’t supposed to know.”
Mayla eyed Pax suspiciously. “You’re going against regulations?” Pax never broke regulation.
Pax ignored her. “One of my jobs is to go through this data to send out as news transmissions throughout the Empire. This particular story caught my eye because it took place on Malastare.”
Mayla nodded. “There’s a lot of unrest there—”
“A squadron of fighters was shot down yesterday evening, Mayla.”
Mayla blinked. Fighters shot down? That was awful! She shook her head in disgust. “Those Rebels—”
“All pilots were killed. Including Mirium.” Pax put her hand on Mayla’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”
“What? Mirium? But that can’t be. I just spoke with her yesterday morning! You must have wrong information. That can’t be true.” Mayla felt her chest begin to constrict. She was having a hard time breathing.
Pax bit her lip. “I’m so sorry, Mayla. I wish I was wrong.” She handed Mayla the datapad with the list of the deceased.
There it was. Mirium Iona- Killed in Action. Mayla’s eyes began to burn. She let the datapad slip out of her hands onto the floor.
“Is there anything I can get for you?”
But Mayla didn’t hear her. TIE pilots were the toughest of the tough. Of the thousands of people who entered the Imperial Flight Academies each year, only 10% ever graduated. They were taught that they were expendable. Their deaths were for the greater good. And the pilots prided themselves in that. No shields. All guts. But this was different. Mirium was just another pilot to the Empire, but not to Mayla. Mirium was the only family she had left. And the Rebels had taken that from her. They had taken everything from her.
Mayla clenched her fists and bit the inside of her cheek. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. An alert on her commpad brought her back to the present. She was now on-duty.
She barely had time to process how she was going to get through her shift when the ship lurched into realspace. Mayla looked up at the small window in the room, something she did every time she entered back into realspace.
Pax’s mouth dropped open. “What is that?” Her voice was barely audible.
Ahead, a huge construction site was taking place. It wasn’t finished, but there was no question about what it was. “Another Death Star?” Pax answered her own question.
Mayla stood and numbly walked to the window. She could hardly believe it. After the first one had been destroyed, Mayla didn’t think the Empire would try to rebuild. But the Empire was always full of surprises. “I guess the Empire wasn’t going to give up that easily,” she mumbled.
Surrounding the half-completed Death Star were dozens of star destroyers. TIEs were being deployed from the hangars of most of them. She glanced to the left of the window. A Rebel ship was taking fire. Two X-wings zoomed past her.
Mayla stared, a lone tear dripped from her right eye. This wasn’t going to be a simple skirmish.
Alarms sounded throughout the ship.
“All pilots, report to your designated hangars immediately.”
Mayla brushed the tear on her cheek away. No time for tears now. The Rebels had caused enough grief in her life already. They would pay for what they did. She hurried to the hangar bay. Already, dozens of other pilots were flooding in. Alarms echoed through the cavernous hangar. Ground crewmen were scurrying around like mouse droids prepping the TIEs.
Admiral Letta marched toward Mayla and the other pilots assembling in the hangar. He was flanked by three stormtroopers on both sides.
“Rebels. X-wings and that blasted Falcon. Take them out.”
The pilots around Mayla nodded their agreement. “Aye, sir.”
Mayla ran to the shining black TIE Interceptor she would be flying. No shields. All guts. She sucked in a deep breath. Her guts would have to be enough now. Her mind was still reeling from her sister’s death, but her psychological training was kicking in. Use that anger. She told herself. Focus it. Mayla climbed up the ladder above the ship and dropped into the cockpit. As she let her body slide into the cramped chair, she couldn’t help but wonder what Mirium felt like climbing into her cockpit for the last time.
She wouldn’t have known. Mayla told herself. Just like you don’t know if this is your last time. The thought hardly crossed Mayla’s mind anymore. Climbing into a TIE was like climbing into death’s mouth, but after doing it hundreds of times, one tended to forget.
She locked her helmet into place- the hissing noises of the oxygen filled her ears. It was a sound she never got used to, but it was like home. Like the wobbly front step she always tripped on going into her house. And now, the hissing provided some sort of grounding sensation for Mayla. Lights flashed on the cockpit. She flipped switches, engaging the systems. She glanced over the sensors, checking to make sure all was well.
As Mayla went through the pre-flight checklist, she felt her eyes starting to burn again. She blinked the tears away. She had a squadron to lead. Mourning would come later.
“This is Phantom. All systems are go.”
The other pilots echoed out that they were ready as well.
Mayla pulled her TIE out of the hangar into space, the rest of the squadron following after her. As she left the hangar, Mayla gawked at the sight before her. She had been involved in small battles before, but this was different. Hundreds of other TIEs were already in space. Everywhere she looked there were star destroyers. The looming metallic shell of the second Death Star was just ahead. Three green laser bolts shot past her.
“All right, it’s show time. Follow my lead.”
The adrenaline pumping into her bloodstream caused her to forget the pain and grief. Now all she could think about was staying alive. One hit from the Rebels, and she would be gone in a fiery explosion. The TIEs were built to be efficient and cheap. No shields, no life-support, and no hyperdrive meant that the fighters were some of the lightest spacecraft in production. Able to move in any direction in almost a split second’s time. But the efficiency had a high cost. Almost daily, reports of dead pilots appeared.
That thought seemed to stop time for Mayla. Her sister was one of those dead pilots. Her name would be on the list in the morning. Mayla bit on her cheek again, fresh blood flooded into her mouth. Now her goal was to make sure her own name didn’t end up on that list as well.
Mayla locked onto an X-wing in front of her and fired. She pulled her TIE up and over the explosion. She didn’t want any of the debris to hit her ship.
“Great shot, Major.”
She didn’t have time to revel in her success. One downed fighter wasn’t going to win the war. One downed fighter wasn’t going to make up for her sister’s death. Two laser bolts shot dangerously close by. Her onboard computer screens showed that three Rebel X-wings were pulling up behind her.
“Evasive action!” Mayla commanded her squadron. She pushed the floor pedals so that her fighter took a sharp left around the bridge of a star destroyer. Two other fighters pulled up next to her. And then a blast of green and fire. The TIE to her left was nothing more than mangled metal.
No shields. All guts. Fly high, pilot. Mayla thought to herself as she spotted two Rebel fighters ahead. Their S-foils were in attack position, ready to fire on the star destroyer’s cannons. She moved to get the enemy ship into range.
Even though sound was non-existent in space, Mayla knew what she sounded like approaching the enemy fighter. The scream of the twin ion engines was iconic. There was nothing like it in the entire galaxy. It put pride into the hearts of the loyal citizens of the Empire, and fear into those who were not. It reminded citizens that the Empire was there- protecting them, watching them.
It was that same scream that had caused Mayla and her sister to apply for the Flight Academy. As youngsters on Lothal, they watched the Empire rise from the ashes of the fallen Republic. They watched stormtroopers paste Imperial propaganda posters on the walls of buildings. Every morning, they were woken by the sounds of the TIEs flying overhead. Mayla would run out of her family’s small home to watch in awe as the Imperial fighters raced above the city. They were so close, she had felt like she could reach out and grab them out of the sky.
“One day,” she had told her father. “I’m gonna fly one of those.”
That was the day before her parents had been killed.
Now Mayla sucked in the cold oxygen that was provided to her through the hoses connecting her helmet to the life support chest box. She was flying one of those. And she was good at it. The X-wing was locked in. She pressed the fire button on top of her control, and the Rebel ship spun widely out of control. She pulled back, watching it for a moment before it crashed into a formation of five TIEs.
Five more dead pilots.
Five more names joining Mirium’s.
One of her pilots radioed in. “Major, I can’t shake them. I—”
She had just lost one of her own.
Mayla swore and turned her ship up and over the debris from the crash. Even a small piece of metal could damage her own fighter. As she brought her ship back into formation with the remaining fighters in her squadron, she noticed something outside her cockpit window. Another piece of stray debris, perhaps?
Not debris. A helmet. Black, with the Imperial cog printed in bright white on the side. One ripped hose was still attached, moving eerily in the vacuum of space.
Snap out of it, Mayla! You’re an Imperial pilot! One of the best in the galaxy. And you’re going to end up just like that if you don’t get your act together.
Her fighter shuddered. Mayla jerked her head to the right to see what happened.
An entire Rebel ship had just exploded.
“What in the—” Mayla looked up to see the lasers of the second Death Star engaged.
“Ooh, yes!” A voice boomed through the comm in her helmet.
“Rebel scum doesn’t stand a chance,” came another.
The new Death Star was operational. Mayla felt like a huge load had been lifted off her chest. All the grief she had been feeling seemed so small in comparison. She wanted to cry, not from sadness, but from relief. Surely the Rebels wouldn’t keep up the fight after this. They would have to surrender. They wouldn’t be given any mercy, but the rebellion would be over. The fight would be ended. The Rebels who killed her sister would be punished. Mayla could fly her TIE over Lothal, letting her engines comfort the citizens there. Her sister would not have died in vain.
Her relief was like a balm. Like she was floating on a cloud. The next minutes were almost a blur. Target locked. Fire. Target destroyed. Repeat. Over and over again.
The fools! Why do you keep fighting?
The Rebel ships were converging on the Death Star. Including the Millennium Falcon. Mayla smiled to herself. She knew how much the Empire hated that ship. To destroy it would make her a hero. She put her TIE in pursuit.
The eclectic band of Rebel ships entered the unconstructed area of the space station. Seven other TIEs had joined her in pursuit of the ships as they headed down the unfinished ventilation shafts. Mayla locked onto an X-wing into range and fired.
The Rebel ships split off and began to head back to the surface.
Mayla was in pursuit.
“All fighters return to the Executor immediately.” The orders rang throughout her helmet.
Mayla turned her TIE back towards the Imperial dreadnaught. Its cannons were firing on Rebel fighters when one damaged one slammed into the Executor’s bridge. Mayla watched in horror, knowing full well that no one on that bridge would survive the impact.
Debris was flying in all directions.
“Fighters, get away from there!”
Mayla pushed the pedals, turning her TIE sharply to the right. But she wasn’t fast enough. A loud thud sent her fighter spinning.
Mayla tried to get control of her ship. Alarms were ringing.
She watched in horror as the sensors began blinking critical alerts. She felt her fighter begin to spiral.
“Eject. Eject. Eject.” A soothing voice echoed through the cockpit. Mayla tried to regain control, but it seemed useless. She fumbled for the eject button, but the spinning was too fast. Too hard. The G-forces were too strong. Mayla felt herself begin to lose consciousness.
She would crash or explode in a matter of seconds. It didn’t matter. Both options would end her life.
But she would not be dying in vain. She had avenged her parents. She had avenged her sister. She had given her all for the Empire. She would be hailed a hero. The thought brought a smile to Mayla’s lips.
As her vision tunneled, Mayla focused in on the half-constructed Death Star. A weapon that would end the rest of the Rebels. A weapon that would end the war and bring peace to the galaxy.
Her vision began to fade, but her smile did not.
Flames engulfed the small black fighter. For the Empire. For Mirium.
Thanks for taking the time to read! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story or about writing fan-fic in general!