Skint: X-Wing with no upgrades

The pilots of Whiskey Squadron could tell by the look on Bake Travnor’s grey stubbled face that their leader was not bringing good news along with the pitcher of Jawa beer he was carrying. The older pilot placed the grog in the middle of the table at the Steamline Tavern, a drinking establishment housed in a space barge cruising through the lawless Outer Rim of the galaxy.

“What is this swill?” asked Howe Hackett, one of the young pilots Travnor had recruited to help the Steamline side in the Tavern Wars, an ongoing dispute over booze shipments with a nearby rival drinking establishment. “Jawa beer may be fine on Tatooine, but isn’t their anything better behind the bar?”

Travnor’s dour expression didn’t change as he filled the squad’s glasses.

“Get used to it for now boys,” he said. “Lew says he’s short on funds. No fancy beer, and, more worryingly, no new astromechs, missiles or other toys until we successfully guard a few more supply runs from enemy attacks.”

Lew the Hutt was the joint’s owner, and all the pilots knew better than to bring their complaints to the angry green giant. Whiskey Squadron sipped their beers slowly, knowing the perils of mercenary life were now even more dangerous.

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X-Wing solo mission: Surrounded

The young pilot placed the empty beer mug down on the bar at the Steamline Space tavern, his hand as shaky as if he held a malfunctioning light saber. Bake Travnor waved for another round for the kid, who had just finished his fourth glass of Thuris Stout.

“I’m telling you Bake, they came out of nowhere. Tie Fighters behind us and a big Tie Defender dead ahead. There was nothing we could do.”

Travnor had been debriefing the pilot, the only survivor of the ambush. The attack was the latest clash in the Tavern Wars, an ongoing fight between two rival owners of bars that operated from separate barges in the lawless Outer Rim. Travnor led Whiskey Squadron, the mercenaries who guarded shipments and waged battles on behalf of the owner of the Steamline. Travnor’s boss, Lew the Hutt, would not be pleased  about this setback.

“I can’t believe Agry’s got ahold of a Defender. Those things are pricey,” Travnor said as he sipped his whiskey. “But what has me most worried is someone obviously tipped them off to our flight route.”

The older pilot scanned the dark bar, barely able to see to the end through the smoke from cigarettes and cigars that rose slowly to the ceiling. Someone had sold them out. And in a joint with more scoundrels than saints, finding the culprit wouldn’t be easy.

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X-Wing Mission: Interceptors vs Tie Swarm

Smoke from cigarras hung low around one of the tables of the Steamline Space Tavern as another round of whiskey and beer was delivered to a group of pilots back from a successful mission.

Bake Travnor, Whiskey Squadron’s leader, took a sip from his glass. Travnor worked for the owner of the Steamline, Lew the Hutt. Lew was fighting over shipments of goods with the owner of a rival Outer Rim joint, a conflict known as the Tavern Wars. Travnor scratched his grey beard as he looked over the other pilots, mostly young smugglers he had recruited. They were loudly debating the relative merits of different ships.

“I’m telling you, I’d take an Interceptor over five Ties,” said a young human named Wiley, a pilot who had made a name for himself running contraband for the remnants of what had once been the Black Sun syndicate. “Ties are no match for Interceptors.”

Travnor finished his whiskey and motioned for another.

“Interceptors are fine, yes, but unless you know what you’re doing a Tie swarm will ruin your day faster than an angry Zilo Beast.”

The pilots leaned forward, as they knew from experience that Travnor was about to walk down space battle memory lane. He told the group about the old Shadow Wing, an elite squad of Interceptor pilots operating around the time of the Battle of Endor. He described how they were ambushed by a host of Tie Fighters loyal to a rogue Imperial commander and how Shadow Wing’s superior ships were no match for the onslaught of the standard Imperial battle craft.

Travnor smiled, mostly because his drink was being refilled.

“Best not to trust in much, boys,” he said.

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X-Wing mission: Mayhem in the Hawkwind debris field

Rocks
 
A half-dozen pints of Andoan ale levitated inches above the long bar in a dimly lit space tavern, alternately amusing or frightening the regulars depending on their level of intoxication.

“Sarzo, stop that,” said Elmer, who operated Argy’s from a space barge stationed just outside the Aturi Cluster. “If the young Jedi Master could come here please. I pay you for your piloting and fighting skills, not to amuse the regulars.”


The glasses slowly lowered, then touched down gently on the wooden surface. Sarzo Lord, dressed in a dark brown, hooded robe, rose from his bar stool and walked over to the elderly proprietor.
 
“You’re crankier then Luke Skywalker was in his last years at the Jedi Praxeum,” Sarzo said. 
 
The two humans faced each other, a study in contrasts. Sarzo Lord was 30, tall with long, black hair that touched his shoulders; Elmer was north of 70 and short. The remaining strands of grey hair on his head were sadder than most of his patrons. 
 
“As one of the last graduates of that Jedi school you must’ve been a great disappointment to Skywalker. So many skills, yet your devotion to the bottle is as strong as your mastery of the Force.”
 
Sarzo laughed. “All the better for you, Elmer. What’s the next assignment?”
 
Elmer had hired Sarzo to be his ringer in the Tavern Wars, the ongoing conflict with a rival Outer Rim space tavern owner.

“Several enemy ships are making a delivery through the Hawkwind debris field, thinking we’d never go after them there. Take some pilots and stop them.”
 
Sarzo reflexively grasped the light saber at his side as he considered the mission. 

“Out there you’re just as likely to be killed by a piece of space junk or an asteroid as you are by laser fire.”
 
Elmer cracked a toothy smile, something he rarely did.
 
“Just use the Force, young Jedi.”

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X-Wing mission: A Jedi gets ambushed

Bake Travnor, the grey-bearded leader of Whiskey Squadron, couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“A Jedi? Elmer has a Jedi working for him?”

Travnor’s boss, Lew the Hutt, nodded his huge brown and green head as he motioned for his employee’s drink to be refilled. Lew owned the Steamline Space Tavern, and the gastropod was fighting Elmer, the owner of Argy’s Tavern, over the delivery of booze and beer to their establishments. The Outer Rim Conflict was known as the Tavern Wars.

“More of a Dark Jedi,” Lew explained with an intimidating chuckle. “Sort of grey, really. He has a bit of a drinking problem, from what I hear. You’d probably like him.”

The Hutt had an assistant bring a local star sector map over to a table in his office at the Steamline, which operated out of a large space barge. “He’s human. His name is Sarzo Lord and I’ve got a tip that he’ll be leading several ships on a delivery of Kowakian Rum to Argy’s tomorrow.”

Travnor sipped his Corellian Whiskey, then placed the glass gently on the table. The veteran pilot had spent years flying missions for the Rebellion and New Republic. He knew what Lew was going to say before the words were spoken.

“Your job, Travnor, is to stop him.”

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A solo mission for the RZ-2 A-Wing

Blue laser streaks singed the tail fins of the RZ-2 A Wing as Bake Travnor spun the tiny ship clockwise. Travnor, the leader of Whiskey Squadron, was fleeing three Mining Guild Tie Fighters. He punched the prime thrusters and checked to see if his cargo was still secure.

The small bottle fixed to the interior right side of his A-Wing was intact. Travnor exhaled, knowing if he managed to lose the Ties and get the Tevraki whiskey back to his boss at the Steamline Space Tavern he would be handsomely rewarded. Lew the Hutt was winning the Tavern Wars and had sent Travnor to pick up a jug of his favorite spirits to celebrate.

Travnor grimaced as more laser fire crashed into his shields. The grey-bearded pilot had one more maneuver to try….

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An X-Wing dogfight

Lew the Hutt watched as Bake Travnor, drink in hand, slowly climbed the steps to the Steamline Tavern’s office, from which the enormous green gastropod could oversee operations in his joint.

Bake entered Lew’s domain and stood in his boss’s presence, sipping his Corellian Whiskey on the rocks.

“It’s all set Travnor. The dogfight will be two days from now.”

The pilot nodded. Bake was the leader of Whiskey Squadron, hired by Lew to fight the Tavern Wars against pirates and mercenaries employed by Elmer, owner of Argy’s Space Tavern. Both the Steamline and Argy’s are housed in space barges located just outside the Aturi Cluster.

Lew had placed an enormous bet with Elmer – that one of his pilots could beat Elmer’s best in a space dogfight. Bake would represent the Steamline and he had chosen, much to Lew’s annoyance, to fly a T-65 X-Wing.

“You know Elmer’s guy will be flying something fancier and faster, right?”

“I’m most comfortable in the old snubfighter. Best to stick with what you know, Lew,” Bake answered as he finished the last of his drink.

Lew laughed as he assessed his employee – well into late middle age with grey hair and a close-cropped white beard. But something about Bake’s cocky blue-eyed stare always gave the Hutt confidence.

“Win this Travnor and I’ll give you more than enough credits to pay off your gambling debts,” the Hutt said.

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‘Bank right!’ Whiskey Squadron makes a run for it

Bake Travnor scanned the empty patch of space in front of him and looked at the sensors of his T-65 snubfighter. The screens showed no threats, but the leader of Whiskey Squadron didn’t trust them. He and his wingman, Glenn Sundowner, were flying old X-Wings and the electronics were as temperamental as a drunk Wampa.

“Whiskey Two, what do your sensors show?”

“Nothing, all clear,” Sundowner reported back.

The duo were returning to the Steamline Space Tavern after escorting a shuttle carrying the previous week’s band out of the dangerous space near the Aturi Cluster, the disputed area where the Tavern Wars raged. Whiskey Squadron flew for Lew the Hutt, the Steamline’s owner, and had to be wary of ships hired by Elmer, the  Argy’s Tavern boss and Lew’s rival.

Bake slowly rolled his head side to side, still hungover after finishing off the Steamline’s last bottle of Whyren’s Reserve Whiskey the night before with the band – a shoegaze rock trio from Scarif who easily matched the grizzled old pilot drink for drink.

“Aaah, incoming!” Sundowner shouted over the comm system. “I’m hit.”

Bake’s X-Wing shook violently as well as his rear shields took direct fire.  He spun his head around and saw several Tie Fighters closing fast.

“I knew these sensors were off,” he said to Sundowner. “Bank right and I’ll bank left. These are Argy’s ships and there are probably more. We’ll have to out fly and out run them. Good luck. Last one back to the Steamline buys the first round.”

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Captain Nym fights the Tavern Wars

The smugglers and rogues who frequent Argy’s space tavern just outsisde the Aturi Cluster are not an easily rattled bunch. Seeing as how disputes over who should pay for the next round often end in blaster fights the patrons, as a general rule, let slide many things that would frighten a herd of Bantha.

It was therefore notable that an uneasy pall remained over the joint as the dozens of regulars assessed what had just happened.

“Was that really him?” asked a nervous Gamorrean, clutching his pint so tightly his green fingers turned white.

“Yeah, that was Nym,” said his drinking partner, an older Wookie. “Elmer hired him on for the next few weeks to deliver his profits to the bank. The Tavern Wars are driving old Elmer crazy – and cutting into the geezer’s profits.”

Elmer watched Captain Nym, the legendary smuggler, exit his establishment and head to his spacraft, carrying credits from the last several nights of business at Argy’s.

“Drink up,” Elmer said, his bloodshot eyes bulging more maniacally than the regulars thought possible. “I need the money more than ever if you sorry lot want to still have this place open.”

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A Lambda-class Shuttle mission

Elmer, the elderly human who owns and operates Argy’s Space Tavern just outside the Aturi Cluster, squinted his bloodshot eyes as he examined the bottle of Corellian Whiskey. The strands of white hair on the top of his head swayed like skinny, sad flags as he repeatedly checked the number of credits in the register against what was left in the bottle.

“You’ve been over pouring again,” Elmer said to the Bimm bartender who worked the dayshift. The Bimm’s floppy ears drooped toward the ground. “This stash of whiskey has to last us at least another week.”

A group of smugglers nearby laughed.

“Elmer, you could have enough whiskey to fill two Death Stars, you’d still make sure we paid for every extra shot,” said Alffik, a Zabrak smuggler who had placed his blaster next to his pint of beer.

Elmer eyed the Zabrak with annoyance. The space tavern owner knew the rogue was right but didn’t care. In a week’s time another massive shipment of whiskey and beer was due to arrive aboard a Lambda-class Shuttle. That would keep his patrons happy – and his bottom line fat – for a while. Just so long as the spirits and suds made it to Agry’s – with the Tavern Wars raging there was always a risk they could be intercepted or destroyed by ships sent by Elmer’s rival Lew the Hutt, owner of the Steamline.

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