- "It saddens me when one of our warriors has to be removed from the fight for any reason. It saddens me even more when a woman of Pepper's capability has to remove herself because of guilt and pain. Fortunately, she can continue to contribute in her own way and, perhaps, she will be ready for front-line action again someday. Now, she is performing invaluable service anyway—even if she doesn't recognize that fact."
- ―General Airen Cracken
Margo "Pepper" Flarestream, a Human female born around 35 BBY, defected from the Imperial Academy to the Alliance to Restore the Republic in the early days of the Galactic Civil War. A skilled pilot, Flarestream rose to the rank of Flight Commander, flying Z-95 Headhunters and earning the nickname "Pepper" at some point. Flarestream led the starfighter forces during the evacuation of the Alliance base at Refnar. Although the engagement at Refnar was technically a victory for the Alliance—it evacuated almost 70 percent of all forces—Flarestream became guilt-ridden after her actions led to the destruction of many transports at the hands of an Imperial cruiser.
Haunted by her actions, Flarestream requested a transfer away from combat duty and was assigned to Sleeper Cell V-16, based in the capital city of Fabrillan on the planet Malthor. Although she descended into alcoholism, Flarestream was a capable member of the cell. She knew many of the other pilots who frequented Fabrillian's cantinas, and she used her personal Ghtroc Industries freighter, the Pepper's Hope, to extract Alliance operatives on the planet when the need arose. Despite Flarestream's emotional state, General Airen Cracken, head of Alliance Intelligence, was pleased that an individual of her caliber was still able to contribute to the Alliance, and he hoped that she would return to combat duty one day.
Margo "Pepper" Flarestream, a Human female, was born around the year 35 BBY. When she was old enough, she enrolled in the Imperial Academy, but she defected to the fledgling Alliance to Restore the Republic during the early days of the Galactic Civil War. Enlisting in the Alliance Starfighter Corps, Flarestream qualified to fly Z-95 Headhunters. Acquiring the nickname "Pepper," Flarestream fought in several battles and eventually rose to the rank of Flight Commander. At some point prior to the Battle of Yavin in 0 BBY, Imperial forces discovered an Alliance base on the planet Refnar, in the Pakuuni sector of the Outer Rim Territories. An evacuation was ordered, and Flarestream was placed in command of the starfighters charged with defending the fleeing transports and freighters. It was Flarestream's first time in command.
The plan was simple and familiar; Flarestream and her pilots were to engage and delay the Imperial force—which consisted of a line cruiser and TIE/LN starfighter support—long enough for the freighters and troop transports to escape into hyperspace. The starfighters were not expected to defeat the Imperials, but to survive long enough to accomplish the mission and withdraw. Standard tactics were to deploy in a picket line, forcing the enemy fighters to pass through their formation to attack the fleeing starships. However, Flarestream had other ideas. The TIE/LN starfighter had become the standard Imperial fighter, and since its deployment, average Alliance losses during a retreat had risen sharply. Alliance tacticians expected to lose between 60 to 70 percent of their starfighter forces and 30 percent of their transports during a withdrawal. Faced with that information, Flarestream decided that she did not like those kind of odds.
Flarestream deployed her starfighters in an over-under formation. Visually, it looked the same as a picket line to incoming forces but had one crucial difference; one wing of ships would be in advance of the other, allowing the second wing to jump the TIE starfighters while they were engaged with the first wing. The TIEs assaulted the apparent picket line high and hard, striking the first group of Alliance fighters. When the first line began taking evasive action, the second Alliance fighter group struck. The Imperial starfighters, caught in a trap, were systemically destroyed by the older Rebel craft. As Flarestream led her fighters around for a second pass, she watched as the TIEs' home cruiser lurched into action. Usually, during similar engagements, the line cruiser stayed out of range, allowing its starfighter complement to engage the enemy. However, the commander of the cruiser was caught off-guard by Flarestream's actions and threw his ship into the battle. Several transports were destroyed by the cruiser before they could retreat into hyperspace.
Despite the cruiser's attack, Flarestream's tactics saved over 70 percent of the fleeing transports and nearly all the starfighters. However, Flarestream was broken by the battle, losing one too many of her friends to enemy fire. The image of the cruiser casually destroying the transports stayed in her mind; the Empire, she realized, had more firepower than it needed to destroy the Alliance, and she began to believe that there was nothing she could do but fight a losing battle. With that in mind, she decided to hang up her flight suit and retire from active combat duty, requesting a transfer to a posting that she considered to be "less heroic."
Although removed from combat, Flarestream was assigned to Sleeper Cell V-16, based in the city of Fabrillan, capital of the planet Malthor in the Tandon sector of the Mid Rim. Flarestream was one of the five core members of the cell—which included Berren Sid Té, a street vendor and information broker; Bakku, a Reigat enforcer; Reginna Bel Typolla, an information gatherer; and the Spek-Man, a droid expert—who would occasionally meet to discuss missions and operations that focused on acquiring information and assisting other Alliance operations on the planet. Flarestream, haunted by the guilt she felt over her actions at Refnar, became an alcoholic and frequented Fabrillian's bars as she waited for her orders. Only sober when on a mission, Flarestream descended into a drunken stupor as soon as her tasks were completed. She knew many pilots who were based in Fabrillian and used them to accomplish Sleeper Cell V-16's goals when necessary. When Alliance operatives not based on Malthor conducted operations on-planet, Flarestream was usually the one to extract them, using her personal Ghtroc Industries freighter, the Pepper's Hope.
Personality and traits
Margo Flarestream was considered to be mature for her age when she was younger, and some of her Alliance contemporaries considered her to be a "visionary" for defecting from the Empire before the practice became more commonplace. An able pilot, Flarestream had experience flying starfighters, space transports, and older-model starships, and was able to operate ground vehicles and repulsorlift craft. She was also trained as a gunner, with expertise in vehicle blasters and starship and capital ship gunnery. Flarestream also had to the ability to plot courses through both space and hyperspace, and could operate communications equipment and sensors. She was knowledgeable in the operation of deflector shields aboard starships and could repair space transports if the need arose. Trained to use a blaster, Flarestream always carried a pistol with her, along with a knife. She was trained in survival and first aid, and had an interest in other cultures, languages and planetary systems. She typically wore an unmarked flight suit and blast vest.
At one time a confident and capable pilot, Flarestream had also shown a talent for command, although her only experience in that regard came during the battle that would see her remove herself from combat. Flarestream's feelings of guilt over the deaths of many Alliance soldiers during the battle at Refnar overwhelmed her, turning her into an alcoholic. As a result, she always carried a liter flask about her person. General Airen Cracken, head of Alliance Intelligence, was aware of Flarestream's mental state and was saddened that a capable pilot like her had had to remove herself from front line duty. He was heartened that she was still contributing to the Alliance with her work in Sleeper Cell V-16, and harbored the hope that one day she would be fit to return to combat duty.
Behind the scenes
Margo Flarestream was mentioned in Cracken's Rebel Operatives, a supplement for the Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game that was published by West End Games in 1994. Her only visual depiction was illustrated by Mike Vilardi.
- Cracken's Rebel Operatives (First mentioned)
Notes and references
- In Cracken's Rebel Operatives, General Airen Cracken notes that it is a "short time after the Battle of Yavin," which took place in 0 BBY. Flarestream is noted to be thirty-five years of age, indicating a birth date approximately thirty-five years before the Battle of Yavin.
- Cracken's Rebel Operatives