I have just returned home from a day out with another Star Wars Stormtrooper-themed vehicle (after the Stormtroopin’ Evoque of my very first driving post). Most of my driving posts have been based around solo ventures into the unknown. Today was a group effort, so I thought I would give you a little insight into what such a group mission can entail.
Myself and another ten members of the Rebel Alliance met at the crack of dawn at a secret location on planet Leicester. There the Millennium Falcon with its solo pilot was waiting to whisk us at light speed to Zouch on the Outer Rim (of Leicestershire). The journey only took 12 parsecs. For missions such as this, the Falcon is now equipped with a cloaking device allowing it to disguise itself as any means of transport. It was important that we did not draw attention to ourselves so the pilot chose the outward appearance of a large white Ford Transit minibus in order that we remained inconspicuous. Let’s just say that we wanted to avoid any Imperial entanglements.
During the journey, we sat quietly in nervous contemplation of the mission ahead, speaking in hushed tones only to enquire about the well being of our fellow rebels and their most recent missions. Actually the hushed tones were probably due to the fact that it was still quite early and most of my comrades were still half asleep.
At Zouch (known as Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the days before the evil Empire), we caught the first glimpse of our craft for the day’s mission – ten X-wing fighters sitting purposefully on the tarmac dripping in the morning rain. Like the Millennium Falcon, these craft were also equipped with cloaking devices and our chosen disguise for the mission was the small Transit Connect van. Humble, unassuming but worthy. To further fool the enemy, the cloaking device rendered the Transit Connect exterior with images of those feared warriors of the tyrannical Empire: Stormtroopers.
There was some delay as the craft were given their rigorous pre-flight checks by the ground crews and loaded up with vital equipment for their new owners. While we were waiting, some of my comrades exchanged some credits for refreshments from a conveniently located snack shuttle. One comrade tried a roast Wookie sandwich but found it rather chewy. That was in bad taste if you ask me.
Eventually, we were allowed access to our X-wings and we performed additional checks to ensure that everything was as it should be. Clean – check; no damage – check; spare wheel for the landing gear – check; flight manuals – check; service schedule – check; Death Star shaped air freshener – thrown on ground and trampled underfoot. Then we paired our communication devices with our allotted X-wing and set the navigation system for our destination.
Our mission was going to take us almost to the heart of the Empire, to a place called “Sky” – a satellite station on the edge of the capital in a zone designated as TW8. The people at Sky weren’t quite rebels themselves, more like a group of mercenaries taking on the established order and generally winning. Their tactic is to reduce the morale of the Empire’s citizens by depriving them of televised sport, leaving it as the preserve of only the wealthiest and those whose wives will let them subscribe (just saying, not that I’m bitter). Like the Rebel Alliance, Sky’s aim is to incite the oppressed minority to rise up against the Emperor. Unlike the Rebel Alliance, they make a lot more money.
The Millennium Falcon left ahead of us, its pilot turning south to scout out the route and ensure that the first staging post was clear of Imperial spies.
Then it was our turn to launch and a gaggle of X-wing fighters burst out from Zouch, keeping at ground level to avoid detection by the Empire’s scanners. Although we had our disguise to fall back on if necessary, it would be better to remain unnoticed if possible. At such a low level, it was tempting to have a blast at the womp rats that were hogging the middle of the canyon floors. But no, that may draw unwanted attention. Then it was out into deep space, heading through the Mid Rim and into the core of the Galaxy. I resisted the navigation system’s instructions to head towards the M1 skyway; the Force was telling me to head onto the A42, passing Tatooine on the left and then on to the M40 skyway. That would avoid the plethora of cone-shaped asteroids on the M1 skyway. On we swarmed, in singles and pairs figuring that we would be less noticeable in smaller groups. We stopped twice at space ports (the bladders of some of the older rebels are not as robust as they used to be) to replenish caffeine supplies and to relieve Greggs of a few sausage rolls.
Then it was back en route, keeping eyes peeled for Imperial TIE fighters. Most of us were lucky, all we saw were a few battered old transports, their owners probably as keen as we were to carry on their way without interference. However, we did lose one of our number to enemy fire – well, something flying up from the skyway and hitting his wing ….. mirror. He limped bravely on to our destination but had to divert to a local X-wing dealer to have the battle damage repaired.
Our X-wings performed admirably despite being laden down with tons of vital equipment destined for our comrades at satellite Sky. The extra weight did mean that the rate of climb was limited which is probably why each X-wing was equipped with a set of substantial ladders strapped to its roof (for extra climbing ability you see). Those ladders did cause some drag and a constant whine, an incessant haunting cry that threatened your sanity. But this is the sort of thing you have to live with when fighting the rebel cause.
Finally, we arrived at our destination without further incident after sneaking slowly through the outskirts of the capital to reach the satellite station. There we handed the craft over to our friendly and efficient Sky comrades. En route to zone TW8, we had received orders to leave the fuel tanks a quarter full. Arguably, my fuel gauge indicated the required quarter but a very tall human or a Wookie may have thought otherwise looking at it from a higher vantage point. To avoid any doubt, I lowered the pilot’s seat to its lowest setting before handover.
One by one we clambered back into the awaiting Millennium Falcon, excitedly chatting about the success of the mission. Once the last few stragglers were aboard, we settled down for the long trawl home to planet Leicester. To make the time go more quickly, we sang those time-honoured rebel anthems, “Ging Gang Goolie” and “Quartermasters Stores”, led by the musician amongst us, Sick Bag Steve. We spared a thought (but to be honest, not for very long) for our fallen comrade. After leaving his damaged X-wing at the dealer, he had to venture covertly on foot further into the Empire’s capital to a railed transport terminal in an attempt to catch the 14.25 to planet Leicester.
We have yet to hear if he made it.