Ted Ellis


Return of the Welded Eye

I sit in my chair dejected, staring at the silver medal on my TV screen. For the ninth time I have come excruciatingly close to earning my 14th gold medal and thus unlocking the final bonus level of my Star Wars game. This last time my Y-wing fell victim to a stray laser shot moments before I could reach cover. Itís a quarter to ten and, for the time being, rouge squadron pilot doesnít pay anything, so I have to work tomorrow. But I was so close and Iím so deadly in flight, donít I owe it to those people on Endor, the rebel alliance, gamers everywhere, the universe, to give it another go? With that an R2 unit is dropped into my Y-wing and I take off to fight the Battle of Endor.

We make the jump out of hyperspace and I immediately turn around. Lando and the squid looking dude are barking out orders, but Iíve been here many times. I know that it is trap, I know that imperial forces are coming from behind, I know that they will target the medical frigate, I know that I will terminate with extreme prejudice. When the TIEís come into range I greet them with some laser fire. I send my wings off to fight and I start to mix it up myself. I have the trigger finger of a cold killer, I move swiftly, there are no doubts, no wasted fire, no leniency. My only wonder is if 
the fighters know that theyíre meeting their demise at the hands of the best. Things are moving very fast now, the fighters are seemingly floating into my crosshairs and already the TIE bombers have showed up. I move in behind the bombers and go to work as they make their assault on the frigate. One by one I send them to a fiery death until the squad fans out and I must give chase. Lando and the frigate lady are yapping at me for urgency before they normally do, but I shrug it off as a glitch, Iím flying too well to be in trouble. Sure enough, I get the last bomber and I advance to the next stage of the level.

Time to cut loose on some star destroyers. On my approach a squad of TIE interceptors try to slow my advance with a head on attack. I take aim on a fighter and rip it in half with a dead nuts laser blast. I get greedy and go for a second, but miss and am now slightly off course. Iíve made my first mistake. I right my ship and the lower shield generator that I must destroy is fast approaching. I slam on the brakes and open fire. Time constraints make a second pass impossible. The nose of my craft is mere inches from the shield generator when it blows up and I jam a hard right. A quick check of my shields finds them in decent shape and I realize Iíve dodged a wombat sized bullet. No time for reflection as I move towards the second destroyerís lower shield and quickly destroy it. Back to the first for itís top generators and some turrets to add to my kill count for good measure. I turn around once again and as imperial fire rains and fighters swarm, I canít help but chuckle at the irony of how, amid such chaos, my figure eight attack is executed with such precision that it seems scripted. Two more generators remain and my wings continue to beg for orders, and I continue to ignore them. Did Elvis stop singing to remind the chumps behind him to keep snapping their fingers? I take down the final generators and swing around to meet my last two targets, the heavily guarded bridges of the star destroyers. This is the cruelty of the battle above Endor, the last mile of the marathon is up a mountainside. I am pounded with lasers as I 
make my pass at the first bridge, but am on target with a fury of counterstrikes. My pass on the second bridge goes much the same way and I am able to hit the repair command and save my R2. I emerge from my passes with two bridges severely damaged and healthy shields. I can feel the weight of that gold medal on my chest as I make a hairpin turn to deliver the fatal blows to the crippled destroyers. Only a few shots on each bridge send the giant beasts plummeting into the oceans of Endor. As I fly off to cover, the scene behind me must resemble what Atlanta looked like over Shermanís shoulder.

Back in my chair my cold, confident, killerís heart is filled with the elation of a young boy finding a puppy under the Christmas tree. The gold medal shines on my screen as I scan my wining stats like an honor roll report card. Needing to cash in on my commitment to excellence, I unlock the final, elusive bonus level. But it ends with no medal earned. No glory. The elation of mere minutes ago is replaced with a familiar frustration. There is a lesson in here somewhere, but I care not to contemplate it. Sleep awaits me now and the toil between good and evil will continue another night.

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