Call Me PiggyAugust 6, 2012 at 12:00 am | Posted in Star Wars Books | 1 Comment
Tags: aaron allston, Mercy Kill
There are many characters in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and one of the most unique is a flying pig named Voort ‘Piggy’ saBinring. Piggy has been many things: an Imperial, scientific test subject; an elite commando, starfighter pilot; a friend and a hero. But it all started in Aaron Allston’s novel Wraith Squadron.
(Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson interviewing candidates for Wraith Squadron, not too long after the Lieutenant Kettch Ewok joke…)
“It’s getting late. But we have only two candidates to review.”
“Today or total?”
“Total. Your slave-driving habits have gotten us almost through the first phase of the evaluation process. Next is Voort saBinring, a Gamorrean.”
“Very funny. You had me going the first time, Wes, but that joke won’t work twice.”
“He’s a Gamorrean.”
“It’s impossible to train Gamorrean males to something as complicated as fighter piloting. They have glandular balances that make them very violent and impatient.”
“He’s a Gamorrean.”
“Just keep up your little joke, then, and show him in.”
Janson spoke into his comlink. A moment later a Gamorrean – 1.9 meters of glowering porcine presence, dressed in the standard New Republic pilot’s uniform, the bright orange of the jumpsuit clashing nauseatingly with the creature’s green skin – walked in and saluted.
Janson smiled ingratiatingly at Wedge. “Yub, yub, commander.”
Like all Gamorreans, Piggy speaks with grunts and squeals. However, unlike other Gamorreans, Piggy has a translator device implanted in his throat which allows him to speak Basic. The translated voice is a bit mechanical sounding, but it cuts through the grunts and squeals so he can be understood. But that isn’t the only trait that sets him apart.
Piggy was altered by a corporation called Binring Biomedical Product. Emperor Palpatine wanted controllable Gamorreans that could be used for espionage, so the company made alterations to their biochemistry. The Gamorrean test subjects (taken not of their own free will) were given superior attention spans, genius level mathematical skills, and the ability to control their emotions, especially their anger. Piggy was their only success.
“How many like you are there?”
“None. I am the only success.”
“The other transformations were fatal?”
“In a sense. All the other subjects committed suicide.”
“If I knew, I would be among them. But I am certain it has something to do with isolation. How would you feel if you were the only thinking human in the galaxy, forced to live among Gamorreans, and all the other humans you met were bloodthirsty primitives?”
“A good point.”
One of Piggy’s creators, Tuzin Gast, taught him to fly various Imperial and Alliance vessels through simulator programs. The idea was to help him escape. It’s hinted that his creator felt guilty for the work he was doing. Somehow Piggy pulled off his escape and made it to the library world of Oboa-skai where he learned a lot. From there, he decided to join the Alliance.
“By the way, what do you like to be called? Voort?”
“I am content with Voort. But many others call me Piggy. I am content with it, too, for I can ignore the definite derogatory component that goes with it.”
“The lieutenant and I once knew a very fine human pilot who went by Piggy. There’s no ‘derogatory component’ to it in this squadron. Rather, it’s a badge of honor I hope you can live up to.”
“I will try to do so.”
In the Alliance, Piggy ran into some trouble. Being a Gamorrean made him the butt of many jokes and a target for pranks. His commanding officer took a dislike to him and tried to punch him. Piggy blocked the blow but was written up for the altercation. The incident was a black mark on his record and ultimately let to his candidacy for Wraith Squadron, a special band of misfit pilots put together by Wedge Antilles.
In training, Piggy started off as Gold Three. Once accepted into Wedge’s experimental espionage squadron, initially known as Gray Squadron, Piggy became Gray Twelve and was paired with Wes Janson. The original members of Gray Squadron were as follows: Wedge Antilles, Wes Janson, Myn Donos, Kell Tainer, Garik ‘Face’ Loran, Falynn Sandskimmer, Ton Phanan, Jesmin Ackbar, Voort ‘Piggy’ saBinring, Hohass ‘Runt’ Ekwesh, Eurrsk ‘Grinder’ Thrilag, and Tyria Sarkin. The name ‘Wraith Squadron’ was Tyria’s idea.
Runt: “What is a wraith?”
Tyria: “Something I heard about in my childhood. Dark things that come in the night for you. That’s what I think we are. For the Empire, for the Warlords, we’re the phantoms under the bed, the monsters in the storage cubicles.”
But with Allston, you must always remember: with darkness comes humor.
Face: “I can’t believe you, Tyria. I thought I had that pass locked up.”
Tyria: “What squad names did you suggest?”
Face: “Well, there was Silly Squadron.”
Tyria: “We’d have to repaint the X-wings.”
Face: “Then there was Rogue Squadron.”
Face: “I know, but it was a good idea. Then there was Dinner Squadron.”
Tyria: “I take it you were faint from hunger when you were coming up with these.”
Face: “How did you know?”
Later on, Piggy became a tutor for none other than Jaina Solo and a member of her Twin Suns Squadron (Twins Five).
“My name is Sharr Latt. I’m a Wraith.”
Jaina asked, joking. “And is this one a Wraith, too?”
“I am,” the Gamorrean answered. Jaina jumped. “My name is Voort sa Binring. You can call me Piggy.”
During the New Jedi Order series, Jaina was adopting the personae of the Trickster Goddess and the Alliance was using it against the Yuuzhan Vong. Fellow Wraith Sharr Latt focused on instructing Jaina in the ways of psychological warfare while Piggy taught her small unit starfighter tactics.
“Did you used to be a starfighter pilot?”
“I did. I served your father on one campaign.”
“I think he told me about you when I was very young. One of those ‘you can be whatever you want when you grow up’ stories. ‘The Gamorrean Who Became a Fighter Pilot.’ I thought he’d made it up.”
“I have kept a low profile since those days. I have not done much flying.”
“That sort of suggests that you might not have much to teach me about small-unit tactics.”
The Gamorrean smiled, a broadening and curving of his mouth that revealed more teeth – teeth far cleaner and straighter than most Gamorreans enjoyed, Jaina saw. “I think I will surprise you.”
In both Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand, Piggy had a few lines, but nothing too substantial. He was just a minor character making a cameo while Jaina, Luke, Han, Leia, and Wedge carried the show. Even in Wraith Squadron, his first appearance ever in the EU, Piggy was just a side character filling in one of the numerous slots in the roster. The primary character in that story fell to Kell Tainer, much like Corran played the main role in Rogue Squadron.
What is interesting is the opening of Solo Command, the third Wraith book in the X-Wing series. In the first few pages of that novel, readers get a glimpse inside Piggy’s head. And it was no small moment, either. An assassin tried to kill Admiral Ackbar, ended up shooting Piggy in the gut, and then Piggy drug himself off the ground, picked up a table, and crushed the assassin’s skull, saving Ackbar’s life.
Pilot. Strategist. Hero. Piggy has lived up to the legacy of Porkins and the name Piggy. Mercy Kill continues his story like never before. Readers will get another look inside his head. You’ll get to see the scars of the Yuuzhan Vong war, the loneliness of being the only one of your kind, and also the longing to be a part of something again, to make a difference. The flying pig has one more adventure before him and it’s a long trip. We hope you’ll enjoy the journey as much as we did.
X-Wing: Mercy Kill will be out in hardcover, digital, and audiobook formats on August 7, 2012.