Title: At All Costs, updated 6/1, Chapter 16
Description: Sequel to Shades
Jesina Dreis - September 22, 2008 04:27 PM (GMT)
At All CostsAuthor:
approx. 15 ABYCharacters:
Rogues, Wraiths, others (see Dramatis Personae
AU, Action, Drama, Angst, Romance (in that order)Rating:
Wedge is given the opportunity to learn what Hekrig's game is - and with that, why one of his oldest friends has died - and put a stop to it. But to take that chance may cost him his career - and his life.A/N:
This is the fourth story in my Jesina!verse. The first story is A New Path
, set during the OT. The second is Bitter Reunion
and the third is Shades of the Past
. You can read this story without reading A New Path
but you'll probably struggle if you don't read Bitter Reunion
The timeline for these stories, since people were getting confused (me included):A New Path
started about the time of A New Hope, with the Prologue set about 9 months before Yavin and the Epilogue right before Empire Strikes Back.Bitter Reunion
started a couple of months after Starfighters of Adumar, a little more than 13 years after Yavin, and ended a few months before Shades of the PastShades of the Past
starts approximately 14 years after Yavin, and will cover a time span of several months. At All Costs
begins about a month after the close of Shades of the Past, almost 15 ABY, and will cover a couple months' time.A/N 3:
My plan right now is to update weekly, at first, potentially moving to semiweekly. There are about fourteen chapters complete as of right now.Dramatis Personae:
Note: I will add characters as they are introduced, if necessary. Rogue SquadronGeneral Wedge Antilles
- Human male from Corellia
Lead - Colonel Tycho Celchu
- Human male from Alderaan
2 - vacant
3 - Lieutenant Ensa'Dura
- Twi'lek male from Coruscant
4 - Captain Bror Jace
- Human male from Thyferra
5 - Major Wes Janson
- Human male from Taanab
6 - Lieutenant Kiel Devan
- Shistavenen male from Uvena Prime
7 - Colonel Jesina Dreis
- Human female from Alderaan
8 - Captain Myn Donos
- Human male from Corellia
9 - Commander Corran Horn
- Human male from Corellia
10 - Captain Ooryl Qrygg
- Gand male from Gand
11 - Flight Officer Rinaa So
- Rodian female from Rodia
12 - Captain Gavin Darklighter
- Human male from TatooineWraith SquadronCommander Garik "Face" Loran
- Human male from PantolominLieutenant Shalla Nelprin
- Human female from IngoLieutenant Tyria Sarkin
- Human female from ToprawaCaptain Kell Tainer
- Human male from Sluis VanLieutenant Hohass "Runt" Ekwesh
- Thakwaash male from ThakwaaLieutenant Dia Passak
- Twi'lek female from RylothNew Republic IntelligenceGeneral Ada Daliis
- Human female from Onderon Agent Iella Wessiri Antilles
- Human female from CorelliaAgent Winter Celchu
- Human female from AlderaanAgent Kirney Slane
- Human female from CoruscantAgent Zan Driix
- Human male from ChandrilaOther New Republic PersonnelAdmiral Ackbar
- Mon Calamari male from Mon Calamari General Garm Bel Iblis
- Human male from Corellia Captain Dehra Ackrand
- Human female from Anaxes Captain Jeskha
- Mon Calamari male from Mon Calamari Major Iline Jesmin
- Human female from CommenorMajor Pash Cracken
- Human male from ContruumCommander Nuko'us
- Twi'lek male from RylothCaptain Inyri Forge
- Human female from KessellImperial PersonnelAdmiral Ytach Hekrig
- Human male from CaridaCaptain Varik Meday
- Human male from ThyferraKalira Astar
- Human female from Alderaan
Jesina Dreis - September 22, 2008 04:30 PM (GMT)
Tycho stood at the back of the briefing room, conscious of Leia Organa Solo to his left and Winter to his right. He listened to Wedge rehash the events at Udaaro, marveled at his ability to draw attention to the few positives in the midst of the tragedy.
“Inyri Forge, Captain, retired. Please step forward.”
Inyri started and Tycho saw Wes give her a gentle nudge in the shoulder. He knew that Wedge had specifically asked her to come but it’d taken Wes’s intervention to convince her that she should really be there. He had some idea why but wasn’t certain.
“Captain Gavin Darklighter, please step forward.”
He saw Gavin frown slightly but do as he was told. “On the ground in Udaaro, you were both forced to take control of a difficult situation following the loss of a superior officer.” Wedge’s words were formal, stiff, and he was clearly avoiding as best he could identifying the exact circumstances although they were fresh in everyone’s mind. “You displayed impressive leadership under fire and your actions saved many lives. For that, you have both been awarded the Medal of Honor.”
Jesina stepped up, bringing her hands from behind her back. She produced two medals and although all he could see were the red ribbons as Wedge placed them over first Gavin’s and then Inyri’s heads, he didn’t have to see it to picture the award. He’d watched the very same medal awarded many times, and possessed one of his own. It was, however, the first time he’d seen it awarded to an Alliance officer no longer in service.
Wedge gave them both hugs and Jesina smiled. Gavin stepped back and Inyri moved to follow suit but Wedge caught her arm and shook his head. “I’m not finished, Inyri.”
Tycho caught movement out of the corner of his eye and turned, frowning, to watch Leia move to the front of the room. She stopped in front of Inyri and Wedge moved to the side, exchanging a whispered word with Jesina before they both focused on the Chief of State.
“Approximately fifteen years ago, I stood on the bridge of the Death Star and watched my homeworld destroyed. Governor Tarkin was under the assumption that Alderaan’s destruction would cripple us, and he died for his error in judgment. Alderaan’s death galvanized us, reminded us all of what we were fighting for and while I wish my home had lived on to see the fight through to its conclusion, whenever that may be, it is only fitting that we honor its sacrifice. The Star of Alderaan was established to honor a person serving our military forces for gallantry in action against an enemy. It is my own honor to award the Star, sadly posthumously, to Major Derek Klivian.” She accepted a small, open box from Wedge, which she in turn presented to Inyri. “On his behalf, Captain Forge, and my condolences on your loss.”
Valin_Halcyon - September 22, 2008 08:38 PM (GMT)
It has begun.
*plays imperial march*
Wait, no one died during the prologue?! :P
This makes me wonder what the rest of the medal ceremony at the end of ANH was like.
Corellia's Dream - September 22, 2008 10:45 PM (GMT)
Oooo, nice new story to look forward to.
Good, bittersweet opening. I especially liked Leia's speech - that is very well done.
Bran_Stark - September 22, 2008 11:21 PM (GMT)
Great start. Can't wait for more, Jes.
Demon28 - September 23, 2008 01:37 AM (GMT)
Definately a good start. Wondering about Tycho's reactions; he seems unsettled.
Rogue SG-1 - September 23, 2008 04:41 AM (GMT)
A new Jes story- this is a good day!
Looking forward to the next chapter.
Durell - September 23, 2008 08:31 PM (GMT)
ohhh, you already posted the first part. Uiiii!!!!! :dancing:
PS: Yes, Im just a bit giddy. :P
Jesina Dreis - September 24, 2008 01:26 PM (GMT)
Val - Nope, no deaths in the Prologue. :P Just you wait... :devil:
CD - Thanks! :) Leia's speech was my favorite bit... the whole prologue was written for that little part.
Bran_Stark - Thanks :) More coming, probably this weekend.
Demon - Well, you'll see more about Tycho and where his head is at later on. What about this made you think he seemed unsettled? *curious*
Rogue - Glad to be of service :D Next chapter will be up in a few days. And I promise it will be longer than this one was.
Rell - :laugh: Just you wait...
Jesina Dreis - September 24, 2008 11:22 PM (GMT)
Since the prologue didn't really have anything to it, I decided I'd post Chapter 1 early...
Wedge cast a sideways glance at Tycho, sitting to his left, after surveying the group assembled in Home One's largest conference room. It was far from the first time he'd been to one of these meetings, but there were an abnormally large number of people present, from a variety of ranks and from units assigned to all corners of the galaxy. "This has to be about Hekrig."
The Alderaanian lifted an eyebrow but otherwise didn't move. "Was there really ever any doubt?"
"No, not really." Wedge glanced back up toward the front of the room, where he recognized a tall, thin woman who was General Cracken's replacement at the top of the food chain that was New Republic Intelligence. Ada Daliis hadn't been in the position long, but he was impressed with the way she'd settled into her role and was handling the situation.
Daliis stepped to the front of the room. "As you know, Admiral Hekrig has been suspiciously absent from the galaxy of late. As you are also no doubt aware, we have little intelligence to guide us in attempting to determine what his plans are. He's made no serious move against Coruscant; his last and only true offensive action was against Udaaro, in search of a lab destroyed by a team loosely aligned with the New Republic."
The team she referred to had been led by Elscol Loro, a former Rogue who spent her days liberating worlds still under Imperial control. Udaaro hadn't been the first time Wedge had relied heavily on her help for a mission-sanctioned by the New Republic or not.
"We have come into some information as to the nature of that lab. Intel gathered during the mission indicated that the lab had, during the Emperor's reign, served as a research facility for a weapon potentially more devastating than the Death Star."
Wedge had been in possession of this information already; it was Elscol who'd told him and he'd been the one to pass the data on to Intel. All the same he felt a chill run down his spine at her words. A couple of others near him stiffened and quiet murmurs flitted through the room.
"At the time we left Udaaro, we had no data as to the potential nature of that weapon. Now, however, we do."
Wedge looked up, his jaw about level with the table in front of him. That was news. He glanced at Tycho, who was still catching up on everything that had gone on during the Udaaro mission. He'd been on leave from the squadron for several months while he recovered from depression and a near suicide attempt. He was still a little out of the loop, but Wedge had filled him in on the really important pieces. "I take it this is new to you, too?"
"Very." He tapped his fingers on the table. "There shouldn't have been any information left about that lab. Elscol blew it up within minutes of finding it-as soon as we jumped out of the system."
"Maybe they took advantage of the downtime while they waited." Tycho shrugged, his eyes still on the front of the room.
"We aren't releasing the information we have at this time, for various reasons. However, it gives us cause for concern. If Hekrig's interest in the lab was intended to aid his own research or project development, we could be facing a new superweapon when he does finally come out of hiding." She shifted, hands coming from behind her back to rest on the table. "The greatest concern in that is the complete lack of information coming out of Hekrig's camp. The Emperor's plans were a sliced and blown data file compared to whatever Hekrig has in the works."
Ackbar rose, his gaze traveling the length of the room before he spoke. "We're initiating concerted efforts to obtain further information but our avenues right now are severely limited. We're in little more than a holding pattern at this point and our first priority is protection of Coruscant and vital member worlds. The Lusankya task force will depart for Thyferra within the week. Home One will orbit Coruscant, with its capital support just outside the system. Neither force will be sufficient to withstand an assault by Hekrig should he bring to bear the forces we know him to possess."
"What is his known capital ship complement?"
"He has in his possession currently a minimum of one Executor-class super star destroyer, three Imperial-class Mark II Destroyers, one standard Imperial-class Destroyer, one Victory-class Destroyer, and at least one Corellian cruiser."
Wedge let out a low whistle. He'd probably known about most of those but to hear them listed out was quite another thing. "Do we have any idea how he came into possession of that large a capital fleet?" More to the point, how had he ended up running around the galaxy in an SSD?
"Hekrig disappeared shortly after the Emperor's death and very little is known about his activities throughout the last decade. The list of former Imperial officers we have struggled to track over the years has never been short and whatever armaments they held in their possession at the time they went to ground are closely guarded secrets. That yet another Executor-class Destroyer has been around the galaxy without our knowledge is disconcerting to be sure, but we do not believe that there is an Imperial shipyard we know nothing about. Our primary concern is with Hekrig's whereabouts and his future plans, not from whence his armaments came."
"All squadrons assigned to the Lusankya and Home One forces are on high alert, effective immediately. Further orders will be transmitted in short order. Any questions?"
Wedge shook his head, pushing himself to his feet. "This is going to end badly."
Tycho nodded, stepping out the door in front of him. "And not any time soon."
"Lieutenant Devan, Flight Officer So." Wedge returned the new recruits' crisp salutes and smiled, an attempt to make his mood seem better than it was. "Welcome to Rogue Squadron."
Kiel Devan, a Shistavenen male who made Wedge think back to Riv Shiel, one of the squadron's first pilots after the reformation, bared his teeth in a smile of his own. "I am honored to serve you, sir."
"Your honor should come from serving the squadron, not myself." He looked down, closing his eyes tightly for a moment before raising his head. "Devan, you'll be flying as Rogue Six, paired with Major Wes Janson. Janson's been flying a very long time; he can teach you things that might help keep you alive."
He looked over at Rinaa So. The Rodian stood stiffly, her face impassive. He'd had a couple of Rodians in the unit over the years, one of whom had been one of the squadron's first casualties, dying at Borleias as the Alliance had sought to move Coreward. "So, you'll be flying as Rogue 11. Your wingmate is Captain Gavin Darklighter."
"I'm familiar with him, sir."
He raised an eyebrow at her stiffness but nodded. "Good. Both of you see Colonel Celchu, in the next office down the hall. He'll make sure you have everything you need. He'll assign you quarters and take you through inspection of your fighters before you head up to Lusankya." Behind them Wes appeared and Wedge waved him in before he could escape. Janson had been dodging learning of his wingmate assignment, unwilling to have anyone replace Hobbie. Wedge understood the sentiment, sympathized with it, but they all had to move on. And now was as good a time as any.
"Janson, your wingman, Kiel Devan. Devan, Major Wes Janson. And this is Rinaa So, who'll be flying with Gavin."
Wes glared lasers at him for a moment before turning a grin on the wolfman. "Nice to meet you."
Devan bared his teeth once again and nodded. "An honor to fly with you, sir."
Wes waved him off. "Yeah, yeah. You don't have any problems with Ewoks, do you?"
Wedge groaned. Devan blinked and shook his head slowly. So cleared her throat, drawing Wes's attention to her. "Are there Ewoks in this squadron?"
"Occasionally," Wedge replied. "Janson here is our resident practical joker. Do yourselves a favor and ignore any brilliant idea he comes to you with. You'll save yourselves a lot of KP duty."
Wes shook his head. "Ignore him. The rest of us do. Boss, catch you later."
"Take these two down to Tycho, would you?"
The Taanabian shot Wedge a look over his new wingman's head and nodded. Then he grinned and Wedge regretted not letting him walk out. "It'll give me a chance to give you the DL on the rest of the squadron."
"How you doing?"
Wes watched as Inyri stood, crossing the small office to open a cabinet. She deposited a stack of carefully labeled datacards and drew out a couple blank ones before she closed the drawer. "I'm... bored out of my mind." She laughed but she didn't seem to be in particularly high spirits. "I miss flying. I even miss flying in dogfights." She looked down at her slightly rounded stomach and then raised her eyes to his. "Mostly, I'm lonely."
He nodded. She'd been working at the Palace, in Starfighter Command's ground HQ, for a month, ever since she'd resigned from Rogue Squadron. For most of that time the unit had been on the ground, though they'd be heading up to Lusankya to prepare for departure within a couple of days. He'd made a point of stopping in to see her whenever he had the chance.
It wasn't like he and Hobbie had had the conversation; Hobbie hadn't asked him to look out for her if anything happened to him. They didn't think like that.
Not to mention Hobbs hadn't been confiding a whole lot in him in the months before his death. Janson hadn't known there was anything between Hobbie and Inyri until they'd left on the mission to Udaaro. And Inyri had been the one to tell him that his best friend had been planning to retire, that they'd talked about starting a family.
All the same, Hobbie had been his best friend and Inyri, aside from being a squadron mate and earning Wes's loyalty through years of flying and camaraderie, had been Hobbie's fiancé. He might not have promised Hobbs he'd look out for her but he would; he owed it to his former wingman.
"I mean," she went on, dragging his attention back from the darker spots it frequently wandered to lately, "I'm doing things, getting ready for the baby..." she smiled and her cheeks reddened. "And the people here are nice. They're friendly and sympathetic and one of the girls always goes to lunch with me." She sighed and circled her desk. "But it's not the same as going to the tapcaf with you guys or hitting the sims."
"I'm amazed you haven't gone crazy." He raked his fingers through his hair. "I would have."
"Truth is, I think I might be on the way." She leaned her elbows on the desk and looked up at him. "How's everyone doing?"
"Tycho's good. Most of the time you couldn't tell he'd been out for as long as he was. Now and then, though, he still looks a little..." he shook his head. "I don't know. He's better, for sure, and I'm glad he's back. But once in a while he doesn't seem quite ready."
"He will be. When it counts, you'll see." Her fingers traced the edge of the comm unit on her desk. "Do you have a full roster yet?"
Wes scratched the back of his neck. "You knew Bror Jace was back, right?"
She nodded slowly. "And even if I hadn't been there when he came back, I'd still know because you've told me twenty times." She reached across the desk and squeezed his hand. "Have they replaced me and Hobbie?"
Wes huffed and slouched down in his chair, but didn't let go of her hand. "Today. A Rodian named So is flying in your spot and a Shistavenen is flying for Hobbie."
Inyri offered him a sad half-smile. "Jesina flew for Hobbie over Udaaro."
"That's Jes." He shrugged. "It was temporary... call signs get shuffled in rough situations. Not the same. I haven't had a wingman other than Hobbs since Wedge and I were training Wraith Squadron. Before that... we've flown together since Endor, Inyri."
"I know." She rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand and let out a shaky breath. "I wish I was still with you guys. I'd give anything to be there when you blow Hekrig out of space." The bitterness that crept into her tone had been present more and more lately and it left him uneasy.
"You just take care of that kid." He slid forward and stood. "You leave Hekrig to the rest of us."
"You're leaving soon, aren't you? For Thyferra?"
"A couple days."
"If I don't see you again, take care of yourself." She pushed herself up and out of the chair. "Say hello to everyone for me, too. I'll be thinking about all of you out there."
"You think about her." He'd decided on the trip back to Coruscant that she was having a girl. Somehow it just seemed like Hobbie would have a girl. He always did cry at sappy holovids.
He stopped short, almost landing on his rear end as he turned back toward her. "Are you serious?"
She nodded and the smile on her lips actually looked genuine for the first time since Hobbie's death. "I found out yesterday. I'm going to name him Derek." Then she shook her head. "Don't tell anyone, okay?"
"I won't. Take care of yourself, if I don't make it back before we head out."
"You take care of yourself; let me worry about me."
Wes left then, fully intending to head for Jes's quarters on base. But with the image of Hobbie's smile at the breakfast table the morning they all found out about his engagement in his mind, the first tapcaf inside the base's perimeter seemed to call to him.
Corellia's Dream - September 24, 2008 11:57 PM (GMT)
This is nice, smooth, clear writing. I think you're really getting across what you want to, and doing it well.
I'm looking forward to seeing whether Tycho will hold it together when it comes to the crunch.
And the passages about Hobbie, and his friends coming to terms with their grief, are good.
Durell - September 25, 2008 06:43 PM (GMT)
so here it starts for good.
I still miss Hobbie in it. Its well written how everyone deals with it on their own and how they are trying to carry on without him. For some reason I feel the most sorry for Wes.
Jesina Dreis - September 27, 2008 04:29 AM (GMT)
CD - Thank you! And Tycho's mental state has a big role in this, for reasons not yet revealed :P As for the parts about Hobbie... they're making me cry as I write them. I haven't ever regretted writing something so much. Ever. :/
Rell - I miss Hobbie too :cry: Yeah, Wes is having the hardest time of it in this, except maybe for Inyri
Update early next week sometime :)
Valin_Halcyon - September 29, 2008 12:50 AM (GMT)
Hm, I never thought about the loss of Hobbie from the tactical, Wes has to find a new wingman point of view. But I guess I never thought about the loss of Hobbie :P
Somehow it just seemed like Hobbie would have a girl. He always did cry at sappy holovids.
Hobbie always was the sensitive one. :P
More about the weapon! :D
BigFatty - October 1, 2008 03:45 AM (GMT)
Confession: I just read the three stories previous to this one in *looks at clock* under 36 hours. Can't wait to see what happens in this one. Just do us a favor? Fake all the deaths you want, but please don't make any of them real. Inyri's storyline is sad enough; I don't need another one.
Jesina Dreis - October 1, 2008 05:18 PM (GMT)
Val - :P Poor Hobbie. He deserves to be mourned, at least! And, yeah, his loss is kind of a blow not just in terms of the loss of a friend. They need skilled pilots, especially in light of what's coming :devil: And you'll get more of your weapon :P I need to talk to you about that, actually...
BigFatty - Welcome :D I love new readers. And I've had a few of those marathon sort of reads myself. :thinking: Faked deaths, huh? Maybe I should poll whether Hobbie's should have been faked... :mischief:
Hoping to update this tonight :)
Jesina Dreis - October 1, 2008 11:46 PM (GMT)
This chapter is unfortunately on the short side for me but it broke that way... I'm not altogether pleased with it but... *shrug*
"General Antilles. I am Admiral Ytach Hekrig. If I was not known to you before, I trust that recent events have remedied that undesirable situation." The image paused, as if for effect, and Wedge felt his blood boil. "I've found in you a most worthy adversary, General. I always believed that the Emperor underestimated the Rebels and his successors did little more than follow in his erroneous footsteps."
Hekrig folded his hands on the desk in front of him and gave a feral smile. "Indeed, you, General, and your unit have proven yourselves quite formidable foes. And while I respect militarist genius the likes of which the galaxy has long since lacked, things simply cannot and will not continue as they have. I pride myself on not making the same mistakes that killed my predecessors, sir, but the simple fact is that you cannot win this fight. And you won't. I intend to finish what I started at Riflor."
The image flickered a moment and Hekrig looked away, then back, his square chin up in the air. "Your General Cracken, your Colonel Garnik. Your Major Klivian. These casualties can all, General, be traced to you. My quarrel isn't with these men. My quarrel isn't even really with this government you call the New Republic. I've no desire to rule every world in this galaxy and I was never possessed of any great love for Imperial Center. But I will not allow myself to be trampled on by a Corellian smuggler, a criminal with the good fortune of having been in the right place at the right time to become, what is it they call you, General? A living legend?"
Wedge's left hand balled into a fist and he fought the urge to curse at the comm unit, even as the stylus in his right hand snapped in half.
"Toward the goal of bringing this to a swift conclusion, General, I offer you a proposition. I'll provide, in a separate message, coordinates. Turn yourself over to me and bring my crusade against your people to an end. You can only evade me so long, General, and I suggest you ask yourself this question. How many more of your very close friends will die before the inevitable ending to this fight?"
At Tycho's voice, Wedge jerked in his chair as the image of the Imperial admiral faded to black. "How long were you there?"
"Long enough." Tycho folded his arms. "You should probably have closed and locked the door."
Wedge tore his eyes from the comm screen and looked at his XO. "I wasn't exactly expecting Hekrig to reach out to me."
"I can see that." The door slid closed with a hiss and Tycho sat down on the edge of a chair. "Wedge, you can't let him get to you. He says he's not going to make the same mistakes the others did and up to now he hasn't. But listen to everything else he said. He claims that it's inevitable that he's going to win. And that means one of two things. He's either making exactly the same tactical errors every Imp leader before him has made, or he has a plan and he knows you well enough to know exactly how to get to you."
"Everything he's done has been about us. He had Luke kidnapped and beaten for no reason at all other than to throw the New Republic off-balance and to cast a momentary suspicion on the Jedi. The smoke bomb at my wedding, Corran's kidnapping-"
Tycho nodded. "And, of course, murdering Marck Garnik, a man you've met all of, what, twice in your lifetime, to conceal his dealings with Jericho-that was all about petty revenge on Rogue Squadron for having the gall to survive him. Killing Airen Cracken, one of your absolute best friends in the galaxy, was all about you."
"Wedge, listen to yourself. You blame yourself for the disaster at Udaaro. Everyone who knows anything about you knows that, and he's playing on it. He's counting on it. Hekrig's smart. For that reason alone you knew we were in trouble from the moment Elscol told you who we were dealing with. He knows that your people are your greatest weakness. You can't let him do this to you. Sacrificing yourself for no good reason isn't going to do anything but cost the New Republic-and the squadron-another good pilot. What you're talking about is suicide." He gave a self-deprecating smile. "I should know."
"It may not be the exact same thing but it's close enough. Hekrig will play you for all you're worth to him and when he's got what he wants, it's over." Tycho leaned forward, his expression earnest. "Hekrig wants power. If nothing else, he's proven that much. Besides, no one as smart as he is launches this kind of campaign just to satisfy a vendetta. Letting him kill you isn't going to stop him."
"It doesn't have to be a suicide mission."
Tycho looked up from his computer terminal and frowned. "What?" Then he rolled his eyes. "You're not still thinking about this?"
"We've lost too many people at this point and we have nothing to show for it. We can't keep doing this. If Karrde is right, if the information his people got to Jesina is right, he's got a weapon we know nothing about and sooner or later he's going to use it. We don't know where he is, what it is, and he doesn't seem to share the Emperor's interest in letting the plans slip into our possession. If I do this, if I meet him and the New Republic tracks me, we might actually have a chance at getting somewhere."
"Even if there was a snowball's chance on Tatooine that this would actually work, it's still a suicide mission."
"Can you think of any other way?"
"The same way we've always done this? By having intel teams do intel work and basing our movements off of the information they provide?" Tycho shrugged. "It's just an idea, really, but it seems to have panned out for us in the past."
"He's handing us a way to get to him. We'd be foolish not to take it."
"We'd be showing our desperation if we did take it and that's automatically gives him the edge." Tycho drew a deep breath and counted to five as he exhaled, more because he needed the time to think of a reasoned argument to talk Wedge out of this insanity than anything else. He didn't like the direction his CO's thoughts were taking. "Listen to me. No matter what spin you want to put on it, no matter what outcome it might deliver for us, this ends only one way: with you dead. And I, for one, think Rogue Squadron has had its roster shaken up enough in the last few months and that we can do without any more instability."
"The only information we have on anything Hekrig is doing is coming from smugglers. Our people are treading water, trying not to drown."
"That's because until very recently there was someone in NRI actively keeping information out of our hands. Give Daliis some time; she'll get it done. Jes is confident in her; you should be too."
"What if we don't have that kind of time?"
"What makes you think we don't?" Tycho countered, his elbows resting on the desk in front of him. "He may have this weapon we don't know anything about, but if he was willing to put as much time and energy as he did into Udaaro because he wants to refine it, he's not ready to use it and he's not going to use it until he is ready. That's the way he does things; he doesn't go off half-cocked." He opened his hands. "Not to mention, Hekrig hasn't so much as glanced in our direction since Antoinn imploded. I don't know why but I'm not going to complain."
Wedge dragged his fingers through his hair. "It's only a matter of time. The longer we sit here and do nothing-"
Tycho let his head fall back and spoke to the ceiling. "We'll deal with it when it happens, just like always. You'll get your shot at him, Wedge, but from a fighter where you actually have a chance of surviving."
He watched Wedge turn and leave without a word of acknowledgement and tried to ignore the slowly forming knot in his stomach. One thing was clear. Hekrig's drive to put them all on edge was working.
Corellia's Dream - October 2, 2008 12:28 AM (GMT)
Seriously tense stuff here. Wedge's determination to look out for his people is definitely a weakness that can be used against him. Tycho needs to remove that message from Hekrig so Wedge can't watch it again and get himself further stirred up. Wedge serioulsy needs to be able to distance himself a little from this taunting.
Valin_Halcyon - October 3, 2008 08:09 PM (GMT)
Killing Airen Cracken, one of your absolute best friends in the galaxy, was all about you."
This made me laugh- even in death, Cracken is Cracken.
I hope Tycho keeps a look out for Wedge... a bit ironic, isn't it?
Durell - October 3, 2008 08:12 PM (GMT)
I agree with CD. It is defently one of his biggest weaknesses if you can call it a weakness to look out for your people. ;)
I like the conversation between Wedge and Tycho. Especially that Tycho is level headed on this one. Tycho strikes me as the type of friend who calls you out if you lose perspective.
And as it is fic by Jes we know more evil things are going to come. Much more evil....
Jesina Dreis - October 7, 2008 03:41 AM (GMT)
CD - I think that's Wedge's biggest weakness, and has been exploited time and again, by both sides - even Ackbar, in convincing him to take his promotion. Both his enemies and his friends know it, sometimes to his benefit and sometimes to his detriment :worried: And yes, Wedge needs to distance himself but what are the chances he will? :/
Val - I couldn't resist that line. :P And, well, Tycho's been out of the game for a while so what better way to get back into it than protecting Wedge from himself - as per usual? ;)
Rell - If it can be exploited, it's a weakness :mischief: And you know I'll exploit it. Tycho has his level head now, yes, but will it stay that way? :devil: And yes, evil.... :jenn:
Jesina Dreis - October 7, 2008 03:42 AM (GMT)
A nice, long update for y'all this time, but we're still moving slowly. Sorry...
"This direct approach he's taking is very disturbing." Ackbar studied the frozen image of Hekrig. "Don't you agree, General?"
Wedge nodded. "There's not much about his approach so far that hasn't been disturbing, Admiral."
"Touché." Ackbar swiveled his head to look first at Wedge and then at Garm Bel Iblis. "What do you make of his contact with General Antilles?"
"It's simply his latest effort. He's already proven himself highly unconventional. He's passed on many an opportunity to batter us simply because the timing didn't fit his plans. In many ways he reminds me of Thrawn... he plans things, almost to a fault. His tactics, however, bear no resemblance."
"To anything," Wedge muttered bitterly.
"This is true." Ackbar leaned forward. "You have a thought on this, I presume, General?"
"We've played right into his hands with every move we've made. Our only information on his movements, on his activities on Antoinn, the AL is coming from Karrde and I'm not comfortable relying on his goodwill. Whatever his intentions here, he's given us a way to at least move toward him." He forced himself to look around the room as he spoke, unwilling to give the impression that he had any reservations about what he was proposing.
Ada Daliis's eyes widened. "Surely, General, you aren't suggesting that you take Hekrig up on his... invitation?"
"I'm suggesting exactly that. There's no doubt in my mind that he's been trying to keep us off-balance to prevent us from learning anything about what he's doing, and it's worked. We don't even know where he is. We have no idea what his interest in Antoinn V is all about. We know about this weapon he supposedly has because Karrde happens to like us. We don't know who else in our ranks might be working for him, or which of our member worlds might be entertaining the same thoughts Jericho was. He's going to hit us, and hit us hard, and it will be on his terms and not ours. I've been through that once before and it was disastrous."
"And how, pray tell, do you suggest that walking directly into what is so obviously a trap might help remedy those problems?"
"Luke Skywalker did the same thing at Endor. He turned himself over to the Emperor and Vader."
"As I recall," Ackbar interrupted and stood, one eye rolling in Wedge's direction, "Luke had reason to believe that the Emperor wanted him alive. You have no such belief. As a matter of fact, I'd say we have every reason to believe you might be killed on sight."
"Hekrig had Cracken killed. Granted, Joss Layfee was probably responsible for that, but AL forces made it into highly restricted areas of the base and the Palace. If Hekrig really wanted me dead, I'd be dead. He won't kill me, not at first. He'll be only too happy to have me stand by and watch as his plans unfold."
"He still intends to kill you."
"That's correct. And Luke knew at Endor that the Emperor would kill him if his plans failed."
"Which very nearly happened." Ackbar frowned. "What plan have you in mind, General?"
"Admiral, I must protest-"
Ackbar cut her off with a wave of his hand. "You will learn, General Daliis, that the easiest way to deal with General Antilles is to at least feign interest in his proposals." Wedge winced, though he thought he detected what passed for a smile on the Mon Calamari's face.
"My assumption is that he plans to have someone meet me at the coordinates he's provided. I'm fairly certain it would be someone dispensable, in case the New Republic decided to spring an ambush."
Daliis sat back in her chair, frowning. "Which you would not have us do."
"No. Killing a lackey will do nothing but annoy Hekrig." He exhaled. "At any rate, I'd meet whoever he sends, probably slave my ship to theirs, assuming both the craft and crew were indispensable, and therefore quite small. NRI can rig something to transmit from Gate or even from some sort of locator on me or within my belongings-"
"Gate?" Daliis rested her chin in her hand and Wedge wondered whether it was the situation or simply he himself that was exhausting her.
"My astromech droid. He's a G8 model."
"Would such a thing be possible, Ada?"
"It would, theoretically. However, the amount of time it would take for sufficient forces to track the General through hyperspace to whatever his eventual destination might be, would leave more than sufficient time for Hekrig's people to locate and dispose of any tracking method we might attempt to utilize. This is a very risky proposition, Admiral, and every instinct I have points to futility. I have no doubt that the only outcome here would be the loss of the General's life."
"Your proposal is not without merit, Antilles, and I understand that there is a personal stake in this for you. It does seem, at this point, that much of Hekrig's game-playing has been at the expense of you and your people. However, the risks of this operation far outweigh the potential gain. The timetable he provided in the second message gives us insufficient time to bring our forces together. Even if we were able to locate you, just given the armament we know him to have, we could not muster a sufficient force to attempt to retrieve you."
Garm Bel Iblis, silent up to now, stepped away from the wall. "Your proposal does, as the Admiral has said, have merit, General, and I commend-as always-your willingness to place yourself in harm's way for the greater good. However, I'm equally concerned by it. I believe you know full well the weaknesses in this plan and that to execute it would be in very poor judgment. You've allowed your personal feelings and the persecution Hekrig has subjected Rogue Squadron to, to cloud your thinking. For that reason alone I'd recommend against this action."
Wedge set his jaw and nodded. There wasn't an individual in the galaxy not fully aware of what the Rogues had endured over the last few months. Tycho's hospitalization after Corran's supposed attempt to kill Wedge had been fodder for the sludgenews for months. The funeral they'd held on Coruscant for the men and women who'd died on the Udaaro mission had been little more than a circus, with every holonews reporter for a dozen sectors hailing Hobbie as a hero of the Rebellion, Piggy and Elassar as heroes of the hunt for Zsinj. Janson had helped Inyri move twice, the last time under a false name. Apparently, tragedies like what she'd suffered made for good holodramas. Some producer had asked her to sign off on a holovid about her life in exchange for several million credits. She'd suggested not so politely that he jump in the Maw.
Ackbar took his seat once more. "Any further communications from Hekrig, General, please forward at once to my office."
"If there is nothing else, we will adjourn."
Daliis hung back to talk to the Admiral but Bel Iblis followed Wedge out the door. "Hekrig's reign will come to an end, Antilles. And you have my word that Rogue Squadron will be there to see it happen."
"I've no doubt, but at what cost?"
"An untenable one, I'm sure." The older man rested his hand heavily on Wedge's shoulder for an instant before turning to walk away.
Wedge reached his office at the same time as an out-of-breath Wes Janson and his very frazzled XO. Cringing inwardly and certain that he didn't want to know the answer, he had to force himself to ask, "What's going on?"
Tycho answered for the both of them. "Inyri was shot at. She's in the hospital; it's barely even a graze but they're keeping her for observation, probably because of her pregnancy."
"Do they know who went after her?"
Wes scowled. "Who do you think?"
Tycho sighed and rolled his eyes, speaking to the ceiling. "Enough, Wes."
"Why would Hekrig want Inyri killed?" Wedge keyed open the door but Wes remained in the corridor.
Janson threw up his hands. "Why's he done any of this?"
Tycho grabbed the Taanabian's wrist, wrenching it down. "Wes. Back off."
Wedge frowned at him. With the games Hekrig was so fond of playing and the timing, coinciding so perfectly with his communication, he was inclined to think Janson was right-and Tycho probably agreed. "He's not saying anything you aren't thinking so what's the problem?"
The Alderaanian folded his arms. "I know what you're thinking, Wedge. That's the problem."
Wes hissed in frustration, punching the wall a little too forcefully for Wedge's comfort. "This is ridiculous. What are we going to do, Wedge, let this guy have his flunkies try to pick us off one at a time? She left, Wedge. This is over for her and out of all of us he's still going after her."
Tycho growled. "Shut up, Wes."
Janson opened his mouth but snapped it shut again and looked between them. "What?"
Tycho's eyes narrowed and Wedge pushed his XO through his office door before the man had a chance to say anything. He slapped at the door controls. "Hekrig kindly sent Wedge an invitation to his own execution. He's just come from Ackbar's office where, I assume, he was told he wouldn't be attending."
Wes blinked and repeated himself. "What?"
Wedge brought the comm message up and hit play. Janson watched in silence as Hekrig's vitriol filled the room and by the time it ended his face was ashen. "Ackbar knows about this?"
"And Bel Iblis, and Daliis."
"And what are they going to do about it?"
"Absolutely nothing. And telling them about this isn't going to change their minds." If he'd thought there was a chance in hell that it would, he'd be dragging Wes with him right back to Ackbar's office. "Where was she when it happened?"
"Leaving work. An MP was the first to respond, no sign of the shooter. They have a guard outside her room at the hospital but I'm thinking I might stay there tonight." He frowned. "If I can get in touch with Jes and let her know. She had to meet with intel about working with Karrde and I haven't heard from her since."
"Daliis was at the meeting I just had with Ackbar and Bel Iblis." Wedge reached for the comm. "I can't imagine who else she might have met with."
He was about to punch in her comm number when his door slid open and Jesina walked into the office. "Mind if I crash the party?" He shook his head, wondering if other squadron commanders actually enjoyed the luxury of privacy.
Wes spun around, but not quickly enough to hide the look of relief that flashed over his face at the sound of her voice. "I've been looking all over for you."
"Sorry. An... associate of Karrde's is on-planet and wanted to meet with me. His people don't quite trust Daliis yet." She looked distinctly uncomfortable as she spoke and Tycho must have noticed because he reached behind her and closed the door.
"What's going on?"
"What Daliis said, at the meeting on Home One a couple days ago?"
"The meeting you weren't at?"
She gave him a grin. "I'm still the go-between, Wedge, and Daliis doesn't know anything that hasn't come out of the Smugglers' Alliance. Anyway, what she said about the lab, knowing something about the nature of the weapon that was under development there?"
"I'm not going to like this, am I?"
"You're not supposed to know about this," she countered. "It might have actually been in our best interests to let him have the lab rather than deny him the information he might have found there."
He'd expected all sorts of doomsday revelations but that had definitely not been one of the possibilities to pass through his head. "How in the name of the Force could we have been better off letting him get his hands on one of Palpatine's toys?"
"Because he already has it. The only thing stopping him from using it is that he's attempting to refine it, so that it can destroy, for example, a single capital ship rather than everything in an entire system." She leaned back against the closed door. "You understand why no one's supposed to know about this."
"I think we can get there." Tycho sat on the corner of Wedge's desk. "And this is what you were discussing with Daliis?"
Jesina shook her head. "She doesn't know that yet. I've been trying to track her down but she's not in her office." She frowned. "And her assistant won't talk to me; she got rid of the woman who worked for me and Cracken."
"Daliis was in the meeting I just had with Ackbar and Bel Iblis, and stayed back when I left. She's probably still in with him."
She looked over at him with interest. "What was your meeting about? Our orders?"
Wedge scowled at his XO. "Stop causing trouble."
Tycho looked over his shoulder at him. "I know how little use for odds you have, but I'm betting on them. Maybe if you hear enough people tell you not to listen to a word he says, you might actually listen."
"Not likely," Wes muttered and Wedge held up a datapad, a silent threat to peg Janson off the head with it. The Taanabian shrugged and pointed at Tycho. Jesina elbowed him in the side.
"What's going on? Who shouldn't Wedge be listening to?"
Wes opened his mouth but shut it when Wedge glared, leaving Tycho to answer. "Hekrig sent a communication directly to Wedge. He received the message this morning. He's offered to back off from the New Republic and go live out his days terrorizing only the worlds he already controls."
Jes folded her arms. "In exchange for what?"
"Wedge. Seems his sick of Wedge flying all over him and since it's really only a matter of time before he wins and we're all destroyed, he thought he'd give Wedge a chance to turn himself in. He dies and we all get back to business as usual. And Wedge went to Ackbar looking for permission to do it."
She looked blankly at Wedge. "You aren't that stupid."
"Luke Skywalker did the same thing at Endor." The argument hadn't worked on Ackbar but he hadn't really expected it to. It might have a slightly better shot with his subordinates, though not likely from the look on his XO's face.
Wes leaned over, his face microns from Wedge's, his palms flat on the desktop. "Luke almost died on the Death Star. Not only did the Emperor electrocute him but he barely got off the thing before we blew it up." His eyes narrowed. "And how would you have felt if he'd been on it when it blew?"
Wedge squared his shoulders, eyes narrowing. "I don't know. But Luke had to do what he did-"
"And you don't have to do this. Wedge, listen to yourself."
"I tried that already." Tycho shook his head. "He isn't. That's the problem. If any of us was saying the same things, he'd be threatening to space us."
Jesina frowned at him. "I understand what you're thinking. And I know you realize that there's no way he'll back off if you turn yourself over to him. But there are better ways to track him down and there are better ways of gaining the information we need to bring him down. What you want to do might work; I'll grant you that. But there's one way and one way only that it would end for you. We all know that when we do move against Hekrig, Rogue Squadron will be there. Do you really think, after everything that's happened, that your people are going to be able to hold it together knowing you might still be aboard his ship? If you're even still alive?"
"We did at Endor."
Tycho rolled his eyes. "You didn't know where Luke was at Endor, Wedge. As far as we knew, he was on the ground with Han and the rest of the strike team. And even if you had known, the circumstances were very different then. There was more at stake. Luke wasn't our CO and the squadron hadn't just been through hell."
"The whole rebellion was hell."
"You know what I mean."
Wedge scowled. "He's targeting Rogue Squadron."
"Let him. We've never run before and we're not going to start now." Jesina waved her hand toward the door. "There's not one person in the unit that doesn't want a piece of him and they'll get it, in due time."
"It's not just us," Wes said quietly. "Someone took a shot at Inyri as she was leaving work today. No one saw anything; no sign of the shooter by the time the MPs showed up."
"And you think it was Hekrig's people?"
"No, I figure it was one of the reporters she told to kriff off last week." He frowned at her. "Who else would it be?"
"Why would Hekrig go after Inyri? That doesn't make any sense, Wes."
"Why did he have people hanging out in the asteroid belt at Hoth? Why did he kidnap Corran? Why does he keep dropping by Coruscant? Why the kriff does he do anything he does?" He glanced at his chrono. "I told her I'd head over there as soon as I got the chance; she's okay but they want to keep an eye on her." He exhaled. "I know I said I'd stop by but I think I might stay at the hospital... they have a guard on her but I'm not sure I trust them. I'll talk to you later."
Jesina watched him go, her lips set in a thin line, until Tycho touched her arm. "He feels responsible for her, like he owes it to Hobbie."
"I know that." She looked back to Wedge, visibly pushing Wes out of her mind. "You can't do what you're thinking, Wedge. It's Tactics 101: you never let your enemy pick the battlefield."
Bran_Stark - October 7, 2008 03:51 AM (GMT)
:bounce: Nice update.
|Ackbar cut her off with a wave of his hand. "You will learn, General Daliis, that the easiest way to deal with General Antilles is to at least feign interest in his proposals." Wedge winced, though he thought he detected what passed for a smile on the Mon Calamari's face.|
Nice comparison of Wedge's plan to Luke at Endor. Poor Wes, first Hobbs dies, then Inyri gets shot at. It was nice also to see Jes acting as a go-between.
Corellia's Dream - October 7, 2008 02:24 PM (GMT)
Ooo - a lovely long chapter with plenty of room for development. There's lots of lovely character work here, like Ackbar's joke about feigning interest in Wedge's plans, and everone's reactions to Wedge.
I'm really enjoying this, and looking forward to the next part.
BigFatty - October 8, 2008 02:29 AM (GMT)
If only Piggy were still alive. Then they could just have him sit on Wedge until the whole thing was over and prevent him from committing suicide.
Valin_Halcyon - October 9, 2008 02:09 AM (GMT)
Ada Daliis's eyes widened. "Surely, General, you aren't suggesting that you take Hekrig up on his... invitation?"
It sounds like Daliis ships Wedge/Hekrig, made even more amusing by the gravity of the situation. :P
Ugh, evil going after Inyri. And Wedge needs to have a better plan than Luke did if he's going to try to outwit Hekrig...
Demon28 - October 9, 2008 09:12 PM (GMT)
Ok, I'm very behind in commenting how much I'm enjoying this story...
In answer to your "curious" question for the 1st part I felt that it was Tycho's frown as Leia stepped forward to give Inyri Hobbie's award. It felt as if he wan't pleased or happy to me; just a gut reaction to that one word "frowning". Of course, I could've been reading more into that frown because of Tycho just coming out of his depression or at least try to come out of it.
You've written very well the feelings and how each member is handling Hobbie's death, especially Wes. Don't know how well he going to handle another wingmate; he & Hobs were like twins in that they knew how the other would react to any situation without thinking.
Hekrig with a super weapon is a definate threat not only to the Rogues but to the rest of the galaxy. No wonder Wedge is seriously thinking of taking up Hekrig's offer if it would end the threat to Rogue and the galaxy. The good of the many over the one...
Hekrig has hit Wedge right where he knew it would hurt...his feelings and responsibilty for his friends. Tycho needs to try harder to talk Wedge out of this suicide mission.
Good job comparing Wedge's plan to Luke @ Endor. Jes is right on how the Squadron would react to attacking Hekrig knowing that Wedge was his captive.
Wedge needs to listen to his friends...
Looking forward to the next update
Jesina Dreis - October 13, 2008 05:03 PM (GMT)
Bran_Stark - I like bouncing. :P And yes, poor Wes. Poor Tycho was the mantra of Shades; Poor Wes may be the mantra of AAC :whistling:
CD - There are a fair number of long chapters in this... for some reason, maybe just that there's a lot going on. But it's already around 50,000 words and only about 20 chapters. :blink: I've always liked the interactions between Wedge and Ackbar in the books because Ackbar understands Wedge. I think they're actually a lot alike except that Ackbar's hands are often tied by his command position. I think he likes giving Wedge just enough rope to hang himself and seeing him come back without managing to get himself killed. :P He respects what Wedge tries to do and trusts him enough to let him do it.
BigFatty - :laugh: He'd spend the whole time playing traffic control, too.
Val - Wedge/Hekrig??? :blink: You trying to break my brain, or what? :raisedbrow: Jeez... Wedge will figure something out... :mischief: maybe...
Demon - I was bouncing in place when I saw your post, lol. I love long reviews; they make me all warm & fuzzy. :D I didn't write Tycho frowning intentionally... apparently, he did it all on his own. The characters in this are doing that with alarming frequency of late... That said, I do think unsettled is probably a good way to describe Tycho's current frame of mind and I think it's doubtful that he'll become any more settled anytime soon. :worried: As for Wes, I think he's taking Hobbie's death harder than anyone else, even Inyri, and any reminder of it is likely to push him closer and closer to a somewhat precarious edge. :devil: And on the subject of Wedge, he's never shied away from putting his life--or his pilots' lives--in harm's way for the good of the galaxy, no matter what the likely result. And the only thing he consistently values above all else are his own internal principles. And will they allow him to sit back and watch Hekrig methodically break the New Republic down when there's something he can do to stop it? :jenn:
Update either today or tomorrow...
Jesina Dreis - October 14, 2008 02:34 AM (GMT)
And the hints of evilness have begun. Points if you can guess...
"I need to talk to you."
Iella raised her head and reached for a cup of caf. She gave him a weak smile and sighed. "Please tell me that whatever it is, it has nothing to do with Hekrig or the Empire or the New Republic or anything even remotely work-related. Or anything I have to remember for more than thirty seconds. If it is, I don't think I can take it."
"It is. And you need to hear it."
"Oh, that sounds promising."
Wedge took her hand and pulled her to her feet, sliding his arm around her shoulder as they walked to the couch. She pulled away from him before they could sit down and turned to look at him. "What's this about, Wedge?"
"I got a message from Hekrig, direct to my office."
She blinked, lowering herself slowly to the sofa. "What?"
"He asked me to meet his agents, at coordinates he's provided. He claims that if I turn myself over to him, he'll end his assault on the New Republic. He won't, of course; I'm not foolish enough to believe him. But I think, if I take him up on it, I stand a chance of getting valuable information back here. Until we know more, all we can do is wait for him to come after us. We can't do that. We can't let him keep calling the shots like this."
Her eyes went wide. "And allowing yourself to be picked up by the Empire and brought aboard a Super Star Destroyer is? Wedge, that's suicide."
"I tried convincing the Ackbar and Bel Iblis and Daliis to back me up in this but they won't. I'd prefer if they would but I won't keep doing this. I won't keep dancing to the tune that Hekrig's calling. He's providing us an opportunity we can't afford not to take."
Her light brown hair bounced furiously as she shook her head. "You can't afford to take it, Wedge. Hobbie is dead. Inyri is going to raise his child without him. And while that's a potential reality we've all accepted, I'll be damned if I'm going to watch you leave here with the express purpose of getting yourself killed."
"You'd rather see us sit here and do nothing? Head out to Thyferra because the New Republic wants to look like they're doing something, even though they have no idea what they're doing? What he's doing?"
Her eyes flashed and she jerked away, standing, her back to him. "Given the choice between that or watching you turn yourself over to Hekrig? Do you have to ask that? He will kill you. What you're talking about is suicide."
"I've heard that applied to a lot of what I do."
She spun back around, grabbing for the nearest chair to steady herself. "There's a difference, Wedge, the difference between going EV in a flight suit and going EV in nothing but a tunic and trousers. Certain death versus possible death, Wedge, and that's all the difference in the galaxy. Do you really think I'm just going to give you my blessing and watch you walk away?"
"If he wanted me dead, he'd have come after me here. I don't know why but he wants me alive, at least for a while, and that might be long enough."
"Might be long enough?" She shook her head slowly, one hand on her hips. "Wedge, I left NRI to go after Iceheart. I put everything on the line for you at Adumar. I love you and I've stood by you and supported you through everything you've done. But I won't, I can't tell you to do this. And if you do..." She shook her head again and swallowed hard. He stood, reaching for her hand, but she pulled back. Without another word, she walked out of the house.
"How's Inyri doing?"
"She's fine. Barely even a burn." His eyes narrowed at the holovid playing, an old Imp propaganda piece being nitpicked apart by a couple of New Republic historians. For most people it was probably comical. For him, it was painful to hear the deaths of good men twisted around by Imp writers.
"That's good." Jes glared at the holo terminal for a moment. "It makes me question the intelligence of the human race to know that people actually believed this drivel. Though Loran really wasn't that bad." She sighed and then turned her eyes to him. "I thought you were staying at the hospital tonight?"
"I know the guard they brought on for the night shift." He shrugged. "Plus she threatened to shoot me if I didn't leave."
A small smile graced her lips. "I can see that." She looked back at the holo, and then back to him. "Where were you last night? I thought you were coming over."
Wes hesitated, his hand on the remote. "I meant to stop by but I wasn't feeling up to it." He flipped over to the news, sheer morbid curiosity making him wonder what the rest of the galaxy had to say about Hekrig.
"Where'd you go? You weren't at home, or at least weren't answering your comm."
He looked over at her, curled at the end of the couch in sleep pants and a loose top. "Jes..."
She frowned, eyes narrowed in some blend of concern and confusion. "Just asking."
He squared his shoulders, trying to bleed away some of the tension in his muscles, and rubbed the back of his neck. He opened his mouth, fully intending to tell her the truth, but the words that came out weren't the ones he'd planned on. "I just went home; I kind of felt like being alone." He switched off the terminal and tossed the remote down next to him as his eyes drifted ceilingward. "Inyri found out the baby's going to be a boy. She's naming him Derek... and all I could think about when I left was the look on his face at the table, the morning she started wearing the ring he bought her. I knew him for fifteen years, Jes, and I don't think I ever saw him like that."
Her fingertips on his knee brought his attention down. "I hate platitudes; you know that. But there really is nothing wrong with remembering his happiness. I know it's hard to think that he died just as things were going right for him, but look at it this way. He lived long enough to find something that made him that happy. At least he had that before he died. I'm pretty sure he never expected to get there."
"He was going to resign."
He looked back to the dark screen and blinked rapidly, trying to clear the tears from his eyes before they could fall. "Inyri told me. He didn't know about the baby... she didn't find out until after he died. But they talked about it, I guess. He wanted kids, and he was going to resign and she was going to keep flying. Another few months and he'd have been out. If Hekrig hadn't chosen now to kriff with us, Hobbie might have been married now, painting a nursery or something."
Jes reached over, tracing her finger over his cheek, catching a stray tear. "Can you imagine that, Hobbie getting ready for a baby?"
Despite himself, Wes chuckled. "He'd probably have driven Inyri crazy."
"And you'd be right there with him, painting x-wings on the walls." She slid over on the couch, brushing her hand over his. "For sure, he'd have no shortage of Ewok dolls in his crib."
He grinned at her, tears all but gone from his eyes, ideas dancing through his head. Inyri might kill him, but it'd be worth it. "You think we'll be back before she has the baby?"
Jes let her head fall against the back of the couch. "I should have kept my mouth shut."
"This is the first Rogue kid. We have to initiate him into tradition."
"She's going to kill me. I know better than to give you ideas." She shook her head, eyes on the ceiling. "I don't need to give you ideas."
"Sure you do. I can always use more ideas. Pretty sure the squad's getting tired of some of the old ones."
Jes grinned over at him and he felt his lips curve into a smile, though it faded a minute later when he saw the look in her eyes change. "Oh no. What's that look for? I hate that look."
"I know." She twisted on the couch to face him fully. "Are you okay?"
He nodded, trying to ignore the sudden knot in his stomach. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"
She bit her lip. "I don't know. You seem... different. And I understand, I mean, I know Hobbie's death has to still be weighing on you. I miss him too. But... I'm worried about you. And I think Tycho is too."
"I'm fine." He glanced toward the kitchenette. Like any good Corellian, Jes kept a fully stocked liquor cabinet and the thought of taking advantage of it was tempting. But getting up and downing half a bottle of whatever whiskey she had on hand would be pretty hard to explain away.
"Would you tell me if you weren't?"
"Of course." The lie almost stuck in his throat. "I watched what Tycho went through too, Jes."
She reached for his hand. "I know. It's just that... I was terrified when Tycho came to us that night, Wes. And some of the way you're acting now reminds me of the way he seemed before. And I'm scared."
"You have nothing to be afraid of." His eyes darted toward the kitchen again and he licked his lips, mouth suddenly dry, and then forced his attention back to her face. "I promise." He reached for her hand, giving it a hard squeeze. "You think Wedge is going to do it?"
"I think Wedge isn't as stupid as he was talking today and I think the rest of us are exactly that stupid if we think we talked him out of anything. I just wish I knew what was actually going on in his head."
"See, now, flying with him for a decade and a half kind of beat that desire right out of me. You haven't been around long enough yet, obviously, or you'd have given up too."
"That's because Tycho's the one person in the galaxy who can actually manage to think the way Wedge does. The rest of us just sit back and watch. And enjoy the entertainment." He pushed up off the couch. "I should get going."
She hopped up and caught his arm before he was halfway to the door. "Wes, wait."
She stood in front of him, rocking on the balls of her feet, her lip caught between her teeth, and suddenly she seemed more like the woman he'd mourned on Hoth than the one who'd come back to them a year ago. "Stay." She stepped up to him, one hand in his and the other on his hip. "Please."
His hand slid up her arm and around her back, fingertips stroking gently through the thin material of her shirt. "Are you sure?" He almost swallowed the words and then kicked himself for offering her the chance to get away.
She nodded, almost shyly, and licked her lips. "Please, stay."
With a feeling in his stomach he almost didn't recognize, it'd been so long since he felt it, he let her wrap her arms around his waist. She rose up on her toes, brushing their lips together before tugging him away from the door and back toward her bedroom.
Demon28 - October 14, 2008 12:10 PM (GMT)
The real evilness is the Ewok dolls!
Hekrig's driving a wedge between Wedge & Iella with his plan when Wedge needs her support. She has very valid points against the Wedge's plan to turn himself over to Hekrig but Wedge's points for the plan are also valid. Wedge needs to know he has Iella's support at this time; knowing he doesn't will weaken his resolve which will lead to him making mistakes.
Wes is not handling Hobbie's death well but how can he? The question is will he be able to hold it together when he has to? He is walking a very thin line; it won't take much to push him over. Jes maybe the one to keep him sane during this time of stress. Wes is trying to hide something from her; she needs to break thru the wall he is building.
I liked the line about Tycho being able to think like Wedge; he could be the key to keeping Wedge alive if Wedge goes thru with his plan to turn himself over to Hekrig.
Wonder why Hekrig wants Wedge alive, for a while aleast? He's proven that he can get around security and could easily kill anyone of the Rogues whenever he wants. Hekrig is playing the Rogues using their strengths against them.
And I still think the first hint of real evil is the Ewoks in the nursery....
Corellia's Dream - October 14, 2008 10:31 PM (GMT)
This is some lovely, grown-up writing here. The scene between Wedge and Iella is almost painful to read.
I love the touch of one of Face's old holodramas being used as a lesson in making propaganda - and Wes' reaction to the Imperial slant on actions that have a personal connection for him. I suspect that at other, happier times, Wes would have found it comical too, but with Hobbie's death so much in his mind, the deaths mentioned in the drama are too real.
It looks as though Wes is heading for a drink problem soon. Not good for anyone, let alone a fighter pilot.
small note: Iella's hair is brown/light brown. She's not blond.
Durell - October 16, 2008 10:09 PM (GMT)
Sorry i got behind.
Tycho seems to get to be his normal confident again. Even though slowly. Just the impression the way he stood up against Wedge.
I like Jes and Wes as a couple. They fit I think and are not the usual fanfic mushy romance.
I dont like it of coures what you are doing to Wedge and Iella. :nottalking: But then again thats just you being evil so who am i complaining to. :P
Valin_Halcyon - October 17, 2008 03:37 AM (GMT)
"He was going to resign."
Evil sis! Reminding us of how close they come to escaping your grasp.
This is really chugging along. Getting that perfect "calm before the storm" feeling. Want more!
Jesina Dreis - October 17, 2008 05:09 PM (GMT)
Demon - Janson would take offense to the suggestion that Ewoks are evil :nottalking: Though I have to say that his squadmates would probably agree with you. ;) I think Iella's hoping for his resolve to weaken so he won't run off like an idiot (like a Corellian?) Wes and Jes - Wes does have his secrets and he's definitely not interested in sharing. Hobbie's been his confident, the one person able to keep him grounded, and he's not at all sure that Jes can step in and fill that void. And neither is she :worried: The line about Tycho understanding Wedge was inspired by a quote from... Rebel Dream, I think it is. "I can be them as well as I can be you. And of course you can be you better than I can be you but if you're them and I'm you then everyone's thinking outside the box." (I might have messed that up; it was from memory :silly: I defy anyone to say that to someone in RL and keep a straight face. :P Hekrig... has his reasons, for everything (even if in some cases he hasn't revealed them to me yet). Remember, though, that Hekrig isn't the first to give the New Republic the run around and he's learned from his predecessors mistakes--as well as their successes.
(Long review FTW You get bonus points :P)
CD - Corrected Iella's hair, thanks. I swear the comics depict her with blond :headwall: But I recall the description you gave from the books. I really don't do enough with Wedge and Iella generally, so she has a bigger part in this story than usual. :) On the holovid, I think you're right; Wes would have found the propaganda comical, just as the Rogues on the mission to Coruscant couldn't resist seeing how the Empire had spun the events of the war. But right now it's just a rehash and a mockery of the lives he's seen prematurely lost. And Wes has been a pain in the rear for many reasons in this fic and his drinking isn't the least of them. (This is me you're talking about, here :devil: )
Rell - No problem :) Tycho's regaining his composure and confidence, yes, but this wouldn't be one of my fics without a hydrospanner thrown into the works so it's probably best that he doesn't get too comfortable. :mischief: He knows what's best for the squadron and for his friends, but he's wary on what's best for himself. Jes/Wes... don't talk to me about them right now. I'm ready to space them both :nottalking: And what am I doing to Wedge and Iella? :angel:
Val - He just couldn't quite make it. Poor boy :P You've got a little bit more coming and then, well, suffice to say you'll see plenty of storm :jenn:
I'm planning to post again sometime next week, though I can probably be persuaded to update sooner than that :whistling:
BigFatty - October 17, 2008 05:25 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Jesina Dreis @ Oct 17 2008, 01:09 PM)|
| I'm planning to post again sometime next week, though I can probably be persuaded to update sooner than that :whistling: |
I didn't pick up on any clues to what's going to happen in the story's future. So maybe you should post the next part and try and help me out. :batting:
Jesina Dreis - October 20, 2008 03:04 PM (GMT)
I'm an evil, misleading person. But you all already knew that. Couldn't get on my own computer over the weekend, but I'll try to update tonight, and that should indeed clue you in, BigFatty :)
Jesina Dreis - October 22, 2008 12:54 AM (GMT)
Tycho alternated his gaze between his chrono, watching the seconds count off, and the expressions on both Janson and Jesina's faces. The rest of the squadron seemed a little ill at ease at the absence of their CO but they didn't have reason to be overly concerned.
He, on the other hand, had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that, while he might not know exactly where Wedge was at the moment, he had a pretty good idea of where he was headed.
Once they hit the ten-minute mark, he got a question from Rinaa So. The Rodian raised a hand and waited for him to call her name before asking the obvious question. "Sir, I was given to understand that General Antilles was involved in the day-to-day operations of the squadron. Was that understanding incorrect?"
"No, it wasn't. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that circumstances dictate the General's activities from time to time." Circumstances like Wedge taking off in the middle of the night for a clandestine meeting with Imperials are not, however, the norm. "Janson, Jes, my office. The rest of you... hit the sims. Run the Executor scenario." That particular simulation had been designed by Wedge and Janson, intended to duplicate certain aspects of the battle at Endor-leaving out the presence of a Death Star for the SSD to ram itself into, of course. It'd been years since any of them had flown against a Super Star Destroyer and it was only a matter of time before they ran across the Ascendant. The broad scale of the Endor battle-particularly the degree to which they'd been outgunned-leant itself to the looming face-off with Hekrig.
Behind the closed door of his office he punched in Iella's office comm number and had his confirmation the second her image appeared on the screen. She was a good actress, with years of practice at bluffing and lying her way out of potentially deadly situations, but he'd spent enough time around her that she couldn't fool him easily. "He left, didn't he?" Wes stepped up behind him and Jesina leaned on the desk.
"I don't know where he is, Tycho."
"I have nothing for you. I'm sorry." Her words were tight and clipped and the underlying implication was clear. They were on the base's comm network and while it wouldn't take long for the high-ups to learn that Wedge had taken off, he couldn't blame her for keeping mum on the subject. Her eyes darted to the side and then back to his face. "I have to go. I have a meeting." She ended the connection before he even had the chance to reply.
"I don't believe this." Jesina pushed off the desk and dropped into a chair with enough force to send it sliding backward into the cabinet behind her. "I can't believe he would be so stupid."
Wes shook his head. "I really didn't think he was that on edge that Hekrig could get to him like that." He leaned back against the desk and stared at the wall. "What the kriff is he thinking?"
Tycho switched off the comm unit and lowered himself into his chair, looking up at Wes. "He's gambling that he knows how Hekrig thinks and he's probably right. He won't kill him outright. He's planning to make Wedge watch him batter us and as long as Wedge is on board with him, he has a chance to end this."
"How? By stabbing him in the back with a vibroblade like the Noghri did to Thrawn?" Jesina stretched her legs out, crossing them at the ankles. "There's a little bit of a difference between that situation and this one, Tycho. Thrawn trusted the Noghri to watch his back. Hekrig'll keep Wedge in shackles in a cell for his people to point and laugh at. And then he'll get bored, stage an execution, and send the holovid out to the news sources for the whole galaxy to watch."
"Hekrig's made it perfectly clear he can get to us here. If he wanted Wedge just to put a blaster bolt into him, he'd have killed him on Coruscant without staging something like this. He wants him alive, at least for now, and Wedge is going to try to use that to his advantage."
"He's going to end up dead."
Tycho threw his hands up in the air. "Jes, I told him not to go. I commed Iella and warned her about his stupid ideas. I'm not the one you need to be yelling at here." He exhaled hard and toyed with the zip on his day uniform, looking down at the desk. "He's AWOL. I have to report him to Ackbar."
"Right. So if he does make it back, he can face charges of desertion."
"There's a bigger issue than that," Jesina said quietly, her eyes focused on the floor rather than on either of them, "especially considering he's probably not going to make it back for any charges Ackbar dreams up to be a problem."
"And what's that?"
"We're leaving for Thyferra in two days because we expect Hekrig to move against them and our CO hasn't seen combat in over eight months, since before he went into a psych hospital." At long last she raised her head to look him in the eye and he had to fight to keep his own head up. "Are you ready for that?"
Having spent so much of their relationship on opposite ends of the galaxy, Tycho and Winter had always tried to make the most of their time together so sharing lunch when they both happened to be on base wasn't itself out of the ordinary.
The desperation he felt for her reassurance, on the other hand, was a little less familiar. They sat down on opposite sides of a booth tucked away in a corner of Winter's favorite café. "Iella told me Wedge left last night."
He nodded, toying with his cup of caf, still too hot to drink. "I just came from telling Ackbar. He asked me if I'm prepared to command the squadron. Jes asked me the same thing."
"And are you?"
He looked down at his hands, then at the food set in front of him, and realized he'd lost whatever semblance of an appetite he'd had when he'd walked in. "I've flown more sims in the last couple of months than I think I flew in the decade before that. But the last time I flew in battle was almost eight months ago. The last time I flew in a hostile situation was when I shot down Corran's double. I've barely even been in a real cockpit since then."
"Tycho, if you don't feel ready, then you aren't. There's a big difference between combat flying and leading a unit in combat. You can be ready for one but not the other." Winter tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear. "I'd like to think that Wedge wouldn't have done this if he didn't have faith in you, if he didn't believe you could handle it." She sipped her water and speared a bite of her salad. "Not that I'm thrilled he did this at all. It's a stupid move, and all the more so for what your unit has been through the last few months. Your people need stability and he's denied them that."
He nodded wearily and pushed his lunch aside. "I told him exactly that. And I thought that Ackbar, Jes, and Janson telling him how crazy his thinking was would have convinced him not to do something so astronomically idiotic." He looked down and tried to reign in the bitterness. "He's too Corellian for his own good. Sometimes I wonder how he's managed to live this long."
Winter's lips quirked into a grin. "Most of the Corellians I know have stubbornness and stang luck in equal measure, and more than their share of both. The difference with Wedge is that he pays attention to the odds. He never does anything without knowing how it could end. He knows what he's getting himself into, but the price is worth it if he can succeed."
"To him, maybe."
"Yes. But to Wedge, that's the way it's always been. His service, the goals of the New Republic, and justice have always come before self-preservation-justice above all. He's genuinely afraid of what Hekrig can do and I can't blame him. He's so far out of our reach right now and I think Wedge might be one of the only people outside NRI who realizes just how far. We can't touch him. And, as much as I hate to say it, I think that Ackbar and Bel Iblis and Daliis should have worked with him. I think it was a good chance, even knowing how things would probably end." She frowned and looked down, playing with her fork. "Will probably end."
"We've lost so much."
"There's more to the New Republic than Rogue Squadron, Tycho, and as much as you lost on the Udaaro mission everyone else stands to lose much more if the threat that Hekrig represents can't be neutralized. Wedge's plan was our best chance at hastening Hekrig's departure from the galaxy and we refused to take it."
"You think he's right to do this?" He hadn't intended this conversation to be about Wedge's actions at all, mainly because he'd suspected Winter would make exactly the argument she was making and he hadn't wanted to argue.
"Under the circumstances, without backup from the government, no. But I think Ackbar and Bel Iblis were wrong to refuse him." She pushed her plate aside and reached across the table to take his hand. "But we're here to talk about you, not him. Do you think you're ready to do this?"
He stalled, pouring half his caf down his throat to give his brain thirty seconds to work out an answer to a question that he'd been struggling with since he'd first walked into Wedge's office to hear Hekrig's voice. The caf had gone from too hot to too cold in record time and he made a face as he set the cup down. "I don't know. And if I'm not sure, I shouldn't be doing it."
"Then tell the Admiral that."
"What if he pulls me from the squadron altogether?" Once he'd made up his mind to return, the uncertainty of whether he'd be allowed back in had nearly given him fits. He couldn't go through that again.
"He won't. There's a very big difference between following orders and giving them. Not being ready for the responsibility of command is very different and Ackbar will realize that. So will the others."
"What message will it send to the new pilots?"
"A much better one than watching you freeze up in combat would." The look in her eyes softened the words but he still felt their sting. "If you can't handle it, you can't. Don't push yourself harder than you have to, not now. You can't afford it and neither can they."
"What do you think?"
"What I think doesn't matter, Tycho. The only thing that matters here is what you believe. If you don't believe you're ready then you won't be. If you do, you will. And whatever you decide, the squadron will keep faith and follow you."
BigFatty - October 22, 2008 02:13 AM (GMT)
Poor, Tycho. At least he's honest enough with himself to admit that he shouldn't be leading. I wonder if you're going to put Janson or Jes in as CO.
As for Wedge, I'm not entirely convinced he's gone to see Hekrig. I have a feeling he and Iella have a skifter up their collective sleeve.
Rogue SG-1 - October 22, 2008 05:56 AM (GMT)
Yeah, I agree about the skifter. There's a difference between going in with a plan that people know about and just going on in. He'd have a plan.
Another great chapter, Jes.
Corellia's Dream - October 22, 2008 12:14 PM (GMT)
I really do hope Wedge has something of a plan - more than simply letting Hekrig take him prisoner. He got Tycho onto Coruscant secretly in 'Wedge's Gamble', so I'm hoping he's got something similar planned now.
It's nail-biting stuff to read though.