“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.
“Feed from the Illuminator keeps flickering, probably due to time lag and shield interference. Feed from Hope Leader is solid.” The detachment they’d dispatched to aid the GDF at Aten-Re had been designated Hope Wing, after a unit now long dead. Izra Dargan was flying Hope Lead, over objections. He wouldn’t hear of it, though—if Slate Bridger was going, so was he.
“Better pray we don’t get attacked at home while you two are out playing cowboy,” Indy had said.
Nylan had his fingers and toes crossed on that one. Their luck was running thin these days—as always.
Indy nodded, perching on the edge of a dark console. “Put Hope Lead’s feed up on the big screen. Do we have audio?”
“Not good audio,” Nylan warned, stretching and leaning back in his chair. What time was it, anyway? He glanced at his console. Ugh, 0330. Two and a half hours more before shift-change. He could hope to get some sleep when the day shift came in, but he wasn’t placing any bets on that, either. He flicked a few switches on the board, kicking the feed they were getting from Izra Dargan’s modified X-Wing up onto the main screen at ops.
“Any evidence they can trace the new tight-beam tech?”
Nylan barely smothered a yawn, blinking at Indy. “Nothing that we’ve picked up, but per orders I doubled the patrols.”
Indy glanced at him, her tone mild. “Are you going to be okay if we end up in a combat situation unexpectedly?”
“If we enter a combat situation unexpectedly, I’ll be fine.” He’d just have to refresh himself. That and the adrenaline that would start pumping would be enough. “Will the XO be joining us this morning?”
“No. If she’s following orders, she’s getting some sleep.”
Nylan nodded again. I should make some caf anyway. If Indy’s here, Tag will be showing up soon enough. He started to stand up, scrubbing a hand over his eyes. “I’ll put on another pot of caf, Admiral.”
Indy nodded absently, watching the images on the screen, a headset dangling from her fingertips. The tinny sounds of the audio feed with a slight lag from the video feed were audible, though bursts of static often cut off any voices. Nylan’s brow furrowed, wondering for a moment what she was thinking.
“Which ship is Slate aboard?”
“Unless I miss my guess, the Illuminator,” Indy said quietly, eyes searching the screen. “I’m not worried about him. He can take care of himself.”
Nylan followed her eyes, watched what she watched. It dawned on him half a beat later than it usually would have. Eagle Squadron. Mary and Corsem. Of course.
He cleared his throat. “They’ll be fine, Indy.”
She smiled weakly, nodding slightly. “I know.” She slipped the headset on. Nylan watched her face blank as she got lost in the comm chatter. He touched her shoulder for a moment, then moved past her, heading to the break room to start another pot of caf.
Tag was coming out of her office, expression grim, shrugging into an old flight jacket over her dark jumpsuit. She looked more awake than he felt—and if she was, that meant she’d taken to sleeping in her office, since he hadn’t seen her come in or leave—and the only way to her office was through operations.
If she snuck past me, I must be losing my edge. “I’m putting some caf on now, Tag.”
“Good,” she said. “General Skyy is going to need it.”
Nylan frowned. “General Skyy is still in bed, on the admiral’s orders.”
“Not for long.” She was past him and headed out before he could get a word in edgewise. Nylan sighed.
Indy’s not going to be happy. Then again…she’s not going to be angry at me. That made the Jedi smile, just a little. He headed into the break room to make caf, mulling over how he was going to explain to his boss that their cousin was going to go wake up her sleep-deprived XO.
It was 0340 in the morning, and someone was leaning against the call button at the front door. The stream of curses Arin Bridger Kel-Solan uttered under her breath was endless. Mercifully, her ward and her daughters were sleeping through it. Dressed in sleeping pants and a tank top, barefoot, she stormed down the front hall of the house and threw open the door.
Tag stopped leaning against the button, straightening. “Put some clothes on and get your practice room ready. Someone needs sense beaten into him and I’m not sure I can handle that with quite the same panache as you.”
The former bounty hunter scowled. “You woke me up three hours before dawn for that?”
“It can’t wait, Arin. Trust me on this.” Tag’s eyes narrowed. “Your son would want you to help.’
She frowned. “Who am I going to be hitting with sticks?”
“Les Wyler. Get dressed, please. We’ll be here in an hour or less.”
Her heart froze for a moment, then started beating again. God, of course. Of bloody course! She nodded slowly. “Come ‘round to the garden door when you come back. Don’t want to wake Chance.”
“Waking Chance might help,” Tag muttered, turning to go. “An hour or less, Arin.”
“I heard you, Tag. Go round up the wayward soldier of the Force. I’ll be ready when you get back.” She watched as the Jedi headed back to her speeder and shook her head slightly. Good thing you’re at Aten-Re, Chase. Wouldn’t want you in the middle of this mess.
She knocked once, then twice at the Wyler’s door. Then she pressed the call button and waited—waited for someone to answer. It was almost 0400. Dawn wouldn’t come for another two hours.
She was about to press the call button again when Mark Wyler opened the door, one arm hanging limply. He squinted at her in the dim light.
“General Rendar? It’s four in the morning. What are you doing here?”
“My job. I’m sorry for the hour, but you’ll thank me for it later.” Her diminutive size helped her in this endevour. She slipped past the much taller man and marched back toward the spot in the Force that was her newly earned “apprentice” of sorts. She threw his door open without knocking.
“Mr. Wyler,” she said sternly. “On your feet. Your training begins now.”