"You've got a what?" I was incredulous. The TIE/ad, also known as the TIE Advanced, TIE Avenger, or "Bright" to Rebel/Republic pilots, was one of the rarest finds outside of Imperial remnants. There were two others even more rare, but this...
The tech grinned. "Right this way. They never bothered to put environmental systems in these either, so you'll still need your EV suit, but I think you'll get a kick out of this one."
He wasn't kidding! Originally based on Darth Vader's one-off TIE Advanced x1, production Avengers used radically cut wing panels with a quartet of wingtip lasers, built in warhead launchers, and provision for a small hyperdrive. It also sported shields similar in strength to an A-Wing, but could out turn and out run any fighter fielded by the Rebellion/Republic during the Galactic Civil War. It had originally be slated to re-equip all TIE squadrons operating the TIE Fighter, however cost and Imperial doctrine dictating unshieled short-range fighters meant that the TIE Interceptor went into high rate production while the Avenger was restricted to a few elite unites.
Initial start-up and launch was standard for the type. The engine howl was as familiar as always, but once clear of the hanger pattern, what a difference between this and the other TIE variants I'd flown! At full throttle, the Bright tore through space like a scalded Gundark, leaving my A-Wing chase bird rapidly in its wake. Maneuvering was similarly aggressive. At 90% throttle, the Bright could practically turn on a ten credit chip and give you back nine credits of change.
Setting up some simulated threats in the practice area, the Bright could easily hold its own in 4-on-1 dogfights against A-Wings. Where things got dicey was when enemy pilots started bringing advanced missiles to the party. The Avenger's shields could shrug off a few laser hits, or even a standard Concussion Missile, but an Advanced Concussion Missile was a killing shot the moment it hit.
Common tactics for the Imperial squadrons that equipped the Avenger with to slash in, kill a few enemies with missile shots, dogfight if the odds favored them, and if not, throttle up and disengage. The Avenger's superior speed made it easily possible.
Cockpit comfort was typical TIE, however, which was to say minimal. I couldn't imagine spending hours stuck in one of these EV suits on a multiple jump hyperspace patrol. Then again, had I been an Imperial Navy pilot, it would certainly have beaten most of the alternatives I could be flying.
The Rebellion was fortunate this ship hadn't reached wider use before the Battle of Endor. Going up against squadrons of these, rather than TIE Interceptors, could have been absolutely disastrous for Rebel squadrons.