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Duty's Burden

Written by: Hawkins and posted on: Sep 12, 2015

 

Duty’s Burden

By CPT Hawkins

CPT Hawkins slumped into the chair in the pilot’s lounge, and waved over one of the service staff. A drink was hurriedly prepared and delivered, and Hawkins downed it with barely a pause. Whatever it was, it had insufficient a kick to satisfy, and a flavour that could best be described as bland. Wouldn’t do to be drunk on duty, and the staff in the lounge knew well enough the burden of duty placed on every one of the pilots of the TIE Corps during the current operations.

Hawkins gazed through tired eyes at the holo-display, names and statistics swimming across its surface. He smiled at what he saw, despite his deep fatigue. The Warrior Battlegroup was driving far into the territories occupied by the Republic, well ahead of her sister ship, the Hammer and her battegroup. He waved for another drink, took it, and raised it to the Warrior. He must have spoken aloud, for a tired chorus joined in with the informal salute. He glanced around the room, and saw several pilots that looked equally as drained as he was.

The pilots of the Warrior, the whole TIE Corps for that matter, were a proud bunch, and would not let so simple a thing as fatigue prevent them from flying missions, especially when speed was of the essence. Victory in this campaign would be won through an unrelenting drive onwards, never allowing the Republic to recover or mount a counter offensive. Such a tactic was undeniably effective, but it took its toll. Hawkins looked again at the holo-display, shook his head and smiled. The mission count of many top pilots was incredible. His own Commander has set a target of 150 sorties flown in 30 days. Five combat flights a day... and some of the pilots were already approaching double that. When did they sleep?

He suspected he knew the answer. Along with the drinks provided, there were plenty of combat stimulants available. Many swore by them - "like ten hours of good, deep sleep, and four square meals" – that was what they said. You felt like you were invincible; that your missiles would never run out, enemy fire would bounce harmlessly off your shields, hell, that you could fly your ship right through the bridge window of a Calamari Cruiser and out the other side without so much as a scratch. Time seemed to pass by in a blur, ships wheeling around before your eyes... and yet, never so that you couldn’t track and take them down.

Hawkins didn’t care for stims. He liked to know his kill count was his own, and not that of some chemical cocktail. That said, a good cocktail of more common chemicals, those of the alcoholic variety, would go down a treat right now. Those would have to wait. Orders were to push on, and there was no way to do that and get the sleep he so sorely needed.

A siren wailed twice, announcing that the pilots were needed once again. Hawkins stood with the others and headed for the door, and onwards to the hanger bay. No time to stop even for briefings, objectives could be reviewed in flight. As he approached his ship, a member of the medical staff approached, autosyringe in hand. Hawkins tilted his head, exposing his neck. The autosyringe hissed as it filled his bloodstream with the stims he knew he needed if they had any chance of success. Clamping on his helmet, he climbed into the cockpit as the familiar sensations flooded his mind. He knew there would be a price to pay, a physical exhaustion like never before, once all this was over. But right now, he didn’t care. He was invincible, an impossible pilot – immune to any harm, armed with an unlimited arsenal. He was going to single handedly destroy entire fleets, single handedly drive the Republic from Emperor’s Hammer space.

Sleep could wait.


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