Mark Wyler held his hand out behind him for the tool he’d requested. Not feeling the cold steel slap into his hand as he expected, he repeated the order a bit louder. Still nothing. Grumbling, he backed out from beneath the control panel he was working on and found himself alone. Then he remembered Trevvik’s return, smelling of alcohol and full of stories that distracted Asya from assisting Mark in the job he was wrapping up, and then the two of them heading back to the living complex. That was hours ago. That recollection was followed soon after by that of the conversation he’d been carrying on.
To no one. Probably for quite some time. He sighed and rummaged around for the tool himself. Coming up with it, he put the final panel in place and locked it down.
“Well, Dad, the Sixth didn’t fall apart while you were gone,” Mikey said to his father as their shuttle glided toward the ISD-II Justicar, the seat of Michael Bullian, Sr.’s command. The pilot frowned when his father didn’t answer, glancing sidelong at the other man, who hunched over an oversized datapad with a stylus, muttering under his breath. “Dad?”
His father glanced up, blinking as if startled. “Were you saying something, Mikey?”
“Never mind. What’re you wrapped up in? Someone frak something up while we were gone and I didn’t hear about it?”
One corner of his father’s mouth twitched toward a smile and he shook his head. “No, nothing like that. Just a design I’ve been tinkering with since we left home.”
He came awake in a large, white room. It was all straight lines and right angles, and stank of disinfectant. Funny how the infidels of this galaxy seemed to use the same basic chemicals for that purpose. Even they made use of the gifts of Yun-Yuuzhan; infidels they were, truly, to not see the truth written right in front of them.
Carrying a small box of files and data discs and a small collection of office supplies, Janet entered her office. She stood there a moment, staring at the usual things that make up an office: a desk, couple of chairs, screens, various electronics, shelves. Though stone-faced, inside she felt overwhelmed. Not that she did not feel up to the job; she had been at this too long for that to be an issue. It was something else, something she could not put her finger on; like the entire galaxy was falling in on not just her but everyone; that this fight they were thrown into was turning out to be the one for the ages – and they may not survive. Continue reading →
Indy exhaled a quiet breath as she closed the door behind Janet and Alex, motioning them into the chairs across from her desk. “I apologize for leaving you in the dark,” she said to Skyy as she made her way around her desk and slid into the seat behind it. “You were dealing with a lot and I figured that our tactical situation could wait a little longer. After all, it’s not like the fighting was here.”
The look that her Skyy shot her was half grateful and half wary. “I appreciate that, but the way you’re talking now makes me think that perhaps I’m not going to like what you’re about to tell me.”
Hul Matuul’a knelt beside the fallen, unconscious shaper and drew his coufee. Unlike the fallen warriors around her, this one had not elected to suicide when the infidel gas began to fill their compartment. Instead, she had succumbed to it, and fell with her face pointed towards the armory which had been her charge, and a certain set of chemical reagents and triggers in her hands. Admittedly, it would have gone ill for his plan had she actually reached the armory and carried through with her intentions, but with communications down and an obvious boarding about to take place, she likely felt there was little choice
“I would have done the same,” the shipmaster whispered as he slit her throat. “There is no shame in what you tried to do, daughter of Yun Ne’Shel. Nor shame in failure. But I will not allow you to be captured, so go to the gods in honor.”
Behind him, and all over the ship, his few remaining warriors did likewise for those few who had not opened their own throats or bellies when the gas overtook them.
At the other end of the comm channel, Izra Dargan grimaced. He looked no worse for wear except for a cut above his eyebrow and some soot on his face. “Six pilots and almost a squadron’s worth of fighters. Ten more wounded to varying degrees and another squadron’s worth of starfighters damaged, but repairable.”
From a far enough distance, an outside observer would notice little difference between the debris filling a certain swath of the Aten-Re system. Yorick coral and durasteel alike, each was only a small, twinkling point of light, bathed in the soft blue glow of Aten. Were it not for the unnatural concentration in so small an arc, each little point would be easily mistaken for a distant star.
Alextravia Judas Grentarii could not be said to be a happy man. Not just in general – that was absolutely expected by anyone who’d ever had the occasion to spend even a few minutes with the man. But even at this exact moment, as he trudged up to the meeting alongside Janet Skyy (now Wyler), he was in a particularly unhappy mood. Alex was suffering under the kind of unhappiness that strikes when you are completely and totally undecided about what you want to do with yourself. Thinking back over the course of the last several months – a task that was surprisingly difficult since he spent most of it in a state of unconscious hibernation – he had been all over the map. All told it was very difficult to say what he wanted to do with his life any more.
Molly Losoda tapped Logan MacKenzie on the shoulder, smothering a smirk as the other man jumped. He’d been absorbed in mournfully watching some of the ground crew from Shay Memorial move his freighter from the Legacy’s landing bay to the tarmac–so absorbed that he’d missed the NRI agent’s approach. “You don’t have to just stand here, you know. You can get off the ship.”
“What’s this about?” Alextravia Grantarii asked Janet Wyler as they headed to a meeting at ops.
“I…well, it’s…something I should know but…it’s secret. Top secret,” she replied to her old friend from back in the Katarn Commando days. She winced at her lame excuse. Was she getting that old and forgetful? “It’s not to be discussed until we arrive.” Alex seemed to accept this and she breathed a sigh of relief.
“…no ma’am, I don’t have an ETA for it to be fixed. Lieutenant Bullian is down there working on the hyperdrive as we speak.”
Commander Dorrin Drake stood on the bridge of the Legacy, looking far to in control for the way he actually felt as he stared at a split-screen image of Admirals Indiana Bridger and Karen Wood.
“And what, exactly, did he say was wrong with the hyperdrive, Commander?” Karen looked none too pleased at being informed that the tough little Acclimator would be out of commission. Continue reading →
Arilyn Bullian went rigid, slowly turning her gaze toward the voice’s source. Karinlyyn Bridger Kel-Solan stood in the hatchway leading into the Firelance’s cockpit, dressed in the silver mesh armor of an Auyn, her honey-brown hair plaited into a braid. Ari swallowed bile as she looked her mentor up and down. The other woman was armed to the teeth.
Must be pretty serious Order business if the open Warmistress is on her way up. Continue reading →
Dorrin stared at the mottled ball of blue, green, brown, and white below them, looming large after the microjump. He glanced at Molly, who was back at the Legacy’s controls. “Y’sure you can handle landing this thing?”
“It’s just like landing a shuttle, Dorrin. Except about ten times bigger.” She smirked at him. “We’ll be fine.” Continue reading →
Logan approached his ship, getting ready to walk up the entry ramp.
A soldier on guard approached him. “Sir, temporary quarters have been arranged for you.”
“What?” Logan turned. “I was going to look over the damage, see if I could start repairing some of it.”
The soldier shook his head. “Standing orders; this ship is to remain untouched until it’s been fully inspected.”
Logan bristled. “This is my ship, buddy. Are you telling me I can’t touch my own damned ship?” Continue reading →
Nylan tried to smother a yawn and took a long swallow of caf, glancing at Indy. “Looks like Tag was wrong about Janet making it up here.”
Indy shook her head, still watching the feeds from Aten-Re. “First time for everything. Go to bed, Nylan. Rather have you sharp for tonight than keeping me company now.”
The Jedi considered this and glanced at the chrono. 0657. He could hit the sack for a few hours…she was right. Better he be sharp when he was actually on the watch later than falling asleep in a chair behind her.
“All right,” he said, and got up. “G’night, Admiral.” Continue reading →
Trevvik strode into the Stormcrow like he owned the place, calling loudly for his brother. Suddenly Mark appeared before him, looking very surprised to see him. Trevvik stood, swaying unsteadily, chuckling at the bewildered look his appearance had produced from his older brother, and couldn’t be happier to see a grin spread across his face.
“What the heck – Trev?” Mark rushed at him like he’d tackle him, but in spite of the drink, Trevvik was unmoved by his fierce embrace. Wrapping his big arms around him, he laughed and slapped the smaller man across the shoulders. “What are you doing here, you big bantha?” he exclaimed, backing away to see that he had indeed returned apparently unscathed from his Vong hunt. Continue reading →
A bright light and the pounding of his head brought Logan MacKenzie to consciousness, which he immediately regretted. Throwing an arm protectively in front of his face, he groaned and tried to blink away the glare.
He shouldn’t have even been alive. Forget the smoke inhalation, never mind the blow to his head when he was launched into the forward consoles after the first engine blew. Forty seconds in hyperspace without plotting a course first was probably the most stupid thing he had ever done.
But he was alive. Barely. Continue reading →
“I was wrong,” Amanda said as the shuttle touched down.
“I was wrong. Or we were wrong. We never, ever should have left.”
“And that’s why the force brought us back, right?” her fiancee asked from the copilot’s seat.
She shook her head, and looked at him. Only when she stared into his eyes, instead of looking out the viewport, did he realize the pain she was feeling. Not physical pain, but emotional. “You misunderstand me. Something has happened here. I don’t know what but it’s so much stronger than what was pulling me back. Something has happened that’s…” Continue reading →
Dorrin Drake stepped onto the bridge of the Legacy just as Davil Bullian shut down the holocomm. He arched a brow at the engineer as he took a sip from his mug of caf. “Who was that, Dav?”
“Ari,” Davil answered, heading back over to the console he’d taken over a few days ago, when the group headed out on maneuvers on the edge of the Xenea system. “She’s…I think she’s starting to break, Dorrin.”
The Legacy’s XO’s brow arched higher. “Your sister? Not a chance. I’m sure she’s all right. Probably still feeling echoes of a few weeks ago. Serpindal, Ion, all of that.”
“Maybe,” Davil said, frowning slightly.
Something started beeping on one of the sensor boards, followed by proximity alarms a moment later. The crewman manning the board, maybe two or three years older than either of his superiors, looked sharply toward the two men. “New contact, broadcasting emergency distress beacon, range four thousand klicks starboard.” Continue reading →
Logan MacKenzie frowned, sitting up in his bunk. His ship had never exited hyperspace that violently before – at least, he amended to himself, not since he replaced those faulty power couplings that had been giving him trouble over the last few months.
He checked the chrono. Six hours way too early. Continue reading →
The sun was just creeping up over the horizon in the east, the sky blood red, promising another storm in the very near future. Arilyn lay in bed, awake and sweat-soaked, staring at the view outside her window without quite seeing it. The dreams had come again. They always came. Continue reading →
When Tag had finished, Les stood silent for a long moment, eyes closed, contemplating all that she had said. Her words comforted him more than anything anyone had said to him lately. He wanted to believe them – he did believe them. Yet there was a side to him that remained guarded, cautious. At last he opened his eyes, and looked the Jedi in the eyes. If these people were willing to give him another chance, so was he. Marcus Leslye Wyler bowed his head and replied simply, “Yes, master.”
Tag frowned a little, moving to the side and seating herself on the reed mat, cross-legged. She brushed a few stray hairs out of her face and stared at Les for a long moment, as if choosing her words carefully. “You’re Marcus Leslye Wyler, son of Marcus Wyler and Janet Skyy, the nephew of Trevvik Wyler and the brother of Asya Wyler. You’re Chase Kel-Solan’s best friend and your baby sister’s hero. You’re part of the second generation of the Aurora Force, part of the legacy we’ll leave behind when we’re gone.” She paused, then said more softly, “You’re the padawan Jinx Katarn failed and the second student I’ve taken on since Indiana Bridger herself—the only one I’m not related to, too.” She smiled wryly. “You’re still you, Les. You’ve just…seen more, felt more, experienced more. It’s part of growing up. Not easy by a long shot, but…it’s part of the deal.” Continue reading →
It was a question that haunted him. At those times when he thought he had a grasp on the answer, he felt as though he were hiding the real, rock-bottom truth from even himself. So he replied as best he knew how, even if it made sense to no one. Continue reading →
Tag touched Les’s shoulder gently. The grip of the small woman was warm, firm, and she squeezed his shoulder before just letting her hand rest there. He’s more lost than I thought he was. Deeper into that dark place. I shouldn’t have sent him home with his folks tonight. I should have made him come home with me. She silently drew a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, finding her own center as she felt a fleeting sense of guilt that came from her, not from him. Too late to change that now. Continue reading →
With Les’ departure, the apartment seemed to settle into a peace that was slightly less uneasy. Mark and Janet stood in the living room, now lit with a single lamp by the door, staring blankly at the door after their wayward Jedi was taken away so suddenly in the night.
The question was not an easy one. Les, his eyes fixed on the featureless silver mask, knew the warrior behind it would accept nothing short of truth drawn from the deepest well of his soul. He took a long moment to reflect on those depths before forming his answer. Continue reading →
We are far, far more than the sum of our experiences. We are the sum total of the impact of the experiences of our teachers, our leaders, our parents and friends, of the trails we’ve lived through and the bottomless well of emotions we all feel.
Down in the bowels of the Illuminator, Slate Bridger leaned his head back against a bulkhead, eyes closed, listening to the sounds of a ship in combat. His rifle rested against his thigh, one gloved hand wrapped around the upper half of its barrel. He took a deep, almost meditative breath and exhaled it slowly. Continue reading →
No more words came until he was in the speeder and she was behind the wheel, racing away from the house. Every time he even tried to speak she simply held up a hand to forestall commentary. Once they had turned safely onto the roadway outside of the Wyler’s residence on Xenen, Tag cleared her throat, eyes intent on the road before them, her voice even—but barely. Continue reading →
So wrapped in his musings that he’d let situational awareness slide, Tag caught Les unawares. Realizing that he’d been caught off his guard, he flew to his feet with surprising quickness, pulling his saber to him through the Force so that it reached his hand before his feet hit the floor, but he stopped short of snapping it on, realizing at the same time just who it was that had invaded his room. All at once he locked the things he’d been turning over in his mind into a safe place; and as they faded from the fore of his thoughts and he looked his new mentor in the eye, all that they had discussed in her office that day as well as his honest and bare plea for help flooded his mind. He felt color rise to his cheeks, and he had to catch himself from casting his gaze elsewhere. Continue reading →
“How do the feeds from Aten-Re look?”
That was it. No preamble. No good morning, no admiral on deck. Indy was suddenly there, in the dim of base ops’ night watch. Nylan was too tired to even feign surprise. He was getting too old, Jedi or not, for these thirty-six hour days. Continue reading →
Janet awoke with a start and a gasp. Trembling, she sat up and reached for the lamp, but as the dream that had disturbed her sleep ebbed into reality, she thought better of it. Beside her Mark stirred and resettled on his side, his breathing evidence that his slumber hadn’t been interrupted. She watched him for a while, envying him that everlasting optimism that permitted sleep. Things, she knew, didn’t always turn out, no matter how much time would eventually go by. Cross the galaxy to and fro forever and nothing would ever cloud over the pulling the trigger on one of her oldest and dearest friends, or dispel the memory of the darkness seeded in the eyes of the son she had killed for. Nothing could ever make it better, make it all right. Nevertheless, if she could feel his arms around her, the steady and reassuring pounding within his chest – resting there, she could forget. For just a little while. Reaching out a hand to touch Mark’s shoulder, she almost did, but withdrew before making contact. Tears filled eyes already stinging from lack of sleep. Hadn’t he already been put through enough? The guilt was hers – it was a burden she had taken on herself upon drawing the weapon and ending the Jedi’s life. His life for Les. She had handed her only son a second chance, and yet…ohJinx….
OOC Note ~ Soundtrack to Battle of Aten-Re I: Agnus Dei
Astronomers were never quite in agreement on how to classify the Aten-Re star system; most called it binary, though a not insignificant minority disagreed. Aten, the system primary, was clearly enough a Class B blue giant. Re, the system secondary, provide something of a quandary. Depending on the astronomer, Re was alternately classified as a large Jovian with rocky moons, or a smallish Class M brown dwarf with rocky worlds. The fact that Re tended to lose and gain mass over a twenty year cycle, depending on how close it was to Aten, merely confused the matter.
“I wish you didn’t have to go,” Indy murmured, sliding her arms around his waist and burying her face against his chest. She listened to the quiet thudding of his heart as Mike folded his arms around her, inhaling deeply the scent of her hair. The wind keened outside the covered hangar. The transport stood about twenty meters away, on the rain-sodden tarmac. It was due to depart within the next twenty minutes, and he had to be aboard. If he wasn’t aboard, he’d never make the military transport dispatched to Wayfarer to take him and other personnel out of the sector, back to their postings. Continue reading →
“I’m sorry. We can’t come along on this one, Carlos.”
Carlos raised an eyebrow; Robert had the grace to look a bit shame-faced, though he wondered if the holonet would faithfully transmit his expression.
“You said you would, a week ago,” Carlos said. “What changed?”
“You on scrambler?”
“Remember who you’re talking to. I’m always on scrambler.” Continue reading →
Howie took a moment to ponder Indy’s words. Essentially, he was being offered a second chance. The opportunity to rebuild the life that he’d left behind all those years ago. On the other hand, he was going to have to fight a new war against a new enemy. The decision wasn’t going to be one he was going to make lightly.
He’d heard about the Vong, of course, but what he did know was limited mostly to what he’d caught on the holonet. News reports, hastily thrown together docuholos and the odd word of mouth encounter overheard from random barflies (which offered little more than wild rumours as to how they lived and what they did to the worlds they invaded). Whatever was true and what was false, Howie knew that they posed a serious threat to the New Republic. Continue reading →
“I’m not sure how deep you were, but there’s a war on, and for once it’s not about the Remnant. I put out a call to get everyone I could back here, but I’ll be damned if I got as many as I’d hoped. A few are tied up, can’t leave their current postings for reassignment. Few I couldn’t find—I’ve got Tag on that, now, thank the Force she’s back—and then a few are dead. You were in the latter category.” She stood up and began to pace. The hell were they thinking? How low can we stoop? She exhaled quietly through her teeth, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I need experienced commanders. I’ve got children. When we signed the peace with the Remnant…most of the veterans retired. I didn’t blame them—I still don’t. But they were replaced by a generation that’s half trained and wholly unready for what we’re looking at.” She managed to smile. “Hell, I’m not even sure that I’m ready for what we’re looking at, to be honest. But it says a lot that one of my best commanders is someone I chased out from under my desk when he was five.” She stopped pacing, stared out the window for a long moment, then looked back to him. “What do you say, Major? Want to get back in the saddle, or do you just want to be some sort of grunt on the front lines, in the trenches—wherever they end up being?”
Howie exhaled a long, loud sigh. He’d not thought too deeply about the years that had passed since he’d been pressganged into black ops. Also, he couldn’t go into the details of every mission he’d been on, so he decided to stick to the main points. It was good to know that at least a couple of things hadn’t changed. It somehow didn’t surprise him to discover Admiral Bridger still in command after all these years. Still business as usual in the Aurora Force.
He began. “It all began after a lot of the old squads were downsized and absorbed into each other. Cutbacks and whatnot.” He didn’t want to mention the losses Redstar squadron had suffered over the years. Some of those deaths had been pretty wasteful and needless. Hell, his squad CO had been killed by a faulty air conditioning unit in his quarters. Continue reading →
They’d kept him waiting, and for that she was going to have to apologize. Or was she? By all rights, he was a dead man. If he was who he said he was. She’d have to have Tag check on that, but when she’d left her meeting with Janet, Tag had still been in with Les and that was one conversation she had no intention of disturbing. Indy rubbed her face. Had she apologized for keeping Al waiting? Of course not. He’d reappeared in her cousin’s house. There hadn’t been any waiting. Good rule of thumb, if you want my immediate attention…reappear in my house. She blew out a breath through her teeth and looked at Nylan. “This isn’t some sort of trick, is it?” Continue reading →
Janet had come away from her meeting with Indy feeling somewhat lighter of heart, held together for a while longer by a friend’s embrace; her mind removed for a time from things she’d rather not think about by discussing business at hand – namely, a galaxy at war. Les, too, seemed less burdened after his private meeting with Tag Rendar. She didn’t press him about what they had discussed, but gathered from what he did tell that Tag had agreed to take him under her wing. Inwardly she breathed a sigh of relief, felt a glimmer of hope in the midst of a fear that gnawed at her incessantly. All she wanted now was to have her son back, for their family to be whole again. It was, she knew, too much to ask – but ask she would. Continue reading →
Flanked by his armed escort, Howie entered the base’s main entrance. Had it really been a decade since he had last been here? Much had changed and much had remained. The general outline seemed as familiar as ever, but there appeared to have been new buildings added that he didn’t recognise immediately. Various new departments had clearly been set up for a variety of purposes. Howie noted a brand spanking new office under construction for something called the “Personnel Support Service”. With all the new regs in this day and age, Howie wouldn’t be surprised to find an office dedicated to paperclip standarisation. Continue reading →
“Sir? Should we inform the admiral?”
Nylan Bridger didn’t bother to look up from his boards, monitoring communications, taking a slow sip of his cup of caf. “Who’s officer of the watch, Mr. Carelli?” Continue reading →
Howie sighed. Being stuck at gunpoint was nothing new to him, but this was just ridiculous. He guessed that these guys were out of work mercenaries, as anybody official would have just taken him into custody. If he made the wrong move, he was dead.
“You see,” the handler said, “We can’t have you blab our dirty little secrets. If word got out as to what we’ve been doing, it would look bad for the Republic.” Continue reading →
It was just another job.
That’s what he told himself every time they sent him in. He’d been doing this for many years now. Many more years than he’d been able to count. It wasn’t as if he had much choice either. Officially, he was dead. Officially, the pile of junk he had once called his ship had exploded upon takeoff, blasting him into his component atoms. A faulty power coil, the official investigation had determined. A terrible tragedy.
Problem was, he was very much alive. Continue reading →
Tag Rendar’s office—her new office, as the old was still occupied by the absent Alek Cannelle, Chief of Intelligence for Sector 27—had begun to take on the personality, slowly but surely, of its occupant. The cabinets slowly had begun to be filled again with pictures, mementos—an old flight helmet, holos of various stripes, a crystal bar set in one corner cabinet. A few blank pages of…paper?…were still scattered across the floor, half under furniture. Tag didn’t seem to notice their presence as she waved for Les to take a seat, sinking down into the chair behind the desk.
“Hear you hit a rough patch the past couple weeks, huh?”
Les wondered why he felt so suddenly shy. He shifted uncomfortably in the chair. “I guess so.” He coughed to clear his throat. Continue reading →
Tag was perched on the corner of Indy’s desk when the admiral walked in, juggling an armload of files and her own caf cup. Indy blinked at the other woman a moment, then shook her head.
“You still remember my lock code.”
“You still haven’t changed the overrides,” Tag corrected. Continue reading →