Last week, we handed down an edict of the five X-wing pilots you should absolutely know before jumping into the cockpit yourself when Star Wars Squadrons lands on PC and consoles this fall. Plenty of readers locked their S-foils into position and made an attack run, firing their “but how could you forget this character” proton torpedoes into our thermal exhaust inbox. We’re back in action like Wedge Antilles against yet another Death Star to fill in some blanks and appease the masses with four more fighter jockeys who deserve to blast their way into your consciousness with quad-linked Taim & Bak KX9 laser cannons. (I should not be left unsupervised on Wookieepedia.)
One of the most persistent Star Wars mysteries surrounded the identity of this most skeptical of pilots in Star Wars: A New Hope. The script identified him as Wedge, and the voice was dubbed by David Ankrum, who also dubbed Denis Lawson’s performance as Wedge, but he was…clearly not. “Fake Wedge” became a persistent fan nickname for the character, because, well, no one knew what else to call him. This writeup from StarWars.com by Pablo Hidalgo does a fantastic job breaking down how it was discovered that Colin Higgins played the role. It is now known that Higgins was fired after one day of shooting, but his loss was the Star Wars canon’s gain of a fantastic character. (It was also his gain, I suppose, because the mystique of Fake Wedge has added to intrigue around his appearance at convention autograph halls.)
In the short story anthology From a Certain Point of View, released in 2017 for the 40th anniversary of A New Hope, the story “Duty Roster”, by prolific Star Wars author Jason Fry, sheds light on this guy. First of all, his real name is Col Takbright, but even his fellow Red Squadron pilots call him “Fake Wedge,” because of the resemblance. The doubting outburst we see in the movie is just one in a long string of argumentative incidents from Takbright, rendering him far less popular than the real Wedge, leading to some resentment, but over the course of the story, the two pilots develop a friendship, and he’s among the first to congratulate Antilles after the battle. To be frank, pretty much everyone who calls him “Fake Wedge” dies a fiery death above the Death Star, so that may have helped.
Voort “Piggy” saBinring
Do you like pigs? Do you like X-wing pilots? I have wonderful news.
Yes, I used that gag with the horse pilot in the last article, but some of the folks here at Holonet Marauders really liked it, and I need to make up for the pun overindulgence.
A Gamorrean genetically engineered by Binring Biomedical Product (never let them tell you Star Wars’ fixation with evil megacorporations started with The Phantom Menace), Piggy was introduced in the 1998 novel X-Wing: Wraith Squadron by the late champion of bizarre X-wing aces, Aaron Allston. The porcine pilot distinguishes himself in the fight against the evil Warlord Zsinj as a member of Wraith Squadron and as a fantastic dancer, but after Runt (okay, the horse pilot) is poisoned by the Yuuzhan Vong, he is forced to send him to the big stable in the sky as an act of mercy, after which he resigns from Wraith Squadron, even renouncing his barnyard nickname.
A decade and a half later, though, fellow Wraith Garik “Face” Loran is able to squeeze him back into an X-wing cockpit to investigate a sinister conspiracy. On this mission, saBinring serves as Wraith Leader, serving the Galactic Alliance valiantly and reclaiming his identity as “Piggy.” I had a lot to say about Piggy, so I didn’t use any puns. I didn’t want them hogging up space.
Like I said before, I get one per article.
Do you remember in the original Star Wars film when a triumphant Red Squadron pilot shouts, “It’s a hit!” when it looks like Red Leader has ended the Battle of Yavin early enough to prevent so many more losses? Do you lose sleep over how happy he sounded, how elated, how relieved? That’s tragic in and of itself, on both counts, but it gets worse. In a universe of extensive comic arcs about Luke Skywalker’s briefly-mentioned childhood friend Tank (see Empire: To the Last Man, Empire: The Wrong Side of the War, and Rebellion: My Brother, My Enemy from Dark Horse Comics), the hero of the Rebellion whose only crime was a premature declaration of victory known as Nozzo Naytaan would not appear again until 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Flying under the callsign of Red Nine in the Battle of Yavin, Decipher’s 1998 Special Edition Limited expansion to the Star Wars Collectible Card Game identified Jack Klaff’s character as Red Nine, which is also where he gained the name Lieutenant Naytaan. However, anyone who spent upwards of three hours a day aimlessly browsing the official Star Wars website all through middle school as I did knows that Jack Klaff’s character is the equally unsung and equally ill-fated John D. Branon, to appear in the forty-sixth installment of this article series, probably, if they let me stay after the hog pun. 2012’s Essential Guide to Warfare bestowed the name of Nozzo, but it was only in the Rogue One Visual Guide that an extra in that film is identified, finally, as Nozzo Naytaan.
Elyhek Rue flies at both the Battle of Scarif and the Battle of Yavin, but we don’t know much more. Besides sincerely mistaking the aforementioned Col Takbright for the aforementioned Wedge Antilles in the aforementioned “Duty Roster,” he hasn’t really done a whole lot besides fly and die. He appeared in no stories besides A New Hope in the Legends continuity. Besides “Grounded,” another short story in From a Certain Point of View, by Greg Rucka, that’s pretty much it for Rue content in the new canon. He flew as Red Seven, but the story seems to end there.
Why, then, does he merit inclusion on this list? Well, at the briefing, the only scene in which he actually appears on camera in A New Hope, he sits next to Lieutenant Lepira. We also don’t know a whole lot about Lepira, besides what we can glean from trading cards. Lepira himself would probably occupy this spot instead of Rue, to be honest, but as a Y-wing pilot, he does not meet the strict criteria in the headline. Do you see why I respect Rue? Let’s look at them side by side.
Rue and his Amish schoolboy haircut sat, presumably by choice, next to Lieutenant Lepira at the briefing before possibly the most historical event of his life in which he would participate: the battle against the Death Star. He presumably looked in the mirror that day. He knew what his hair looked like. He knew damn well what Lepira’s majestic mane looked like. And yet he armed himself with brazen confidence and sat his next to that and did so with his bowl-cut clad head held high. For that, as much as his valiant sacrifice, he deserves our respect. Red Seven, standing by, standing tall.