“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…”
“I’m having a hard time putting a word to it except… no, wait. Tragic. Something tragic has happened. To our friends.”
“The Wylers. I sense… pain from them. All of them. Especially Janet and Mark. A deep, pervasive sadness.”
Alex swallowed hard. Not a week ago he had resigned and set off with Amanda for parts unknown, a life together, not just because he wanted to finally be with her after the universe had tried its hardest to keep them apart, but also because he’d felt betrayed by his best friends… those who’d been like family to him. Memories flooded back. Of his anger… of feeling like he was being asked to hold an entire family of broken people up on his own shoulders. Of finding Les and Amanda talking in the quarters she shared with her…
The door swished open. “Les, you better get back to your family,” Alex said coldly. “Tell your mother I’m sorry, but this can’t go on.”
“Why?” he asked, jumping to his feet, fearing something bad had happened. “What’s wrong?”
“Your father and his brother have reached what can only be described as a new level of stupid. You’re family is broken, son, and I’m tired of holding you all up by myself.”
A stunned Les quickly recovered and lowered his brows. “Take that back.”
“Go play Mr. Terrifying with someone else. C’mon, get outta here. Go go go!”
As confused as he was angry, Les was herded out of the house with the door shut behind him. He just looked at it, wondering what was going on, and realizing he didn’t get to thank Amanda for talking to him – and for listening. He raised a fist to knock on the door, then lowered it to his side. Amanda was right. He was going it alone, and getting nowhere but lower and lower. In spite of how things had ended up, his father had been willing to listen to him earlier…maybe he would again. Suddenly he couldn’t wait to get home. Turning, he began walking home.
“What are you doing?” Amanda asked.
“I’m done. I’ve had enough. I don’t want to play anymore. I just want you and me to pack up our things, hop a ship, and find some quiet corner of the galaxy to disappear in.”
…and of leaving Trevvik and the rest to fend for themselves, exhausted and tired of dealing with it…
As Trevvik reviewed the Malady’s diagnostics for the day, he looked up to see Alex and Amanda pull up to their ship. He watched as they opened the baggage compartment and began offloading a substantial amount of luggage. And then he realized: Alex hadn’t been fooling. He came screaming up to the ship that Amanda and Alex were packing their things into. “What are you doing? Are you really going?”
“Yes, Trevvik, we are. You see, we’ve played this game a good long time – hell, longer than you’ve even been alive. And that’s it. I’m out.”
“What? Who’s been playing you? Gimme his name, I’ll go have a little fist to mouth talk with him.”
“Sure thing. You got it. Do you have a piece of paper? I’ll write it down for you.”
“Uh, yeah, got one someplace. Hang on.” He rummaged in his pockets.
“Thanks. And, uh, pen?”
“Right, here you go.”
“Thanks ever so much. And if you look on here, you’ll find the name of my aggressor.”
Trevvik took the paper, ready to exact punishment upon the name written thereon. He read it. He read it again. Looking up at Alex with a confused expression, he said, “This says ‘Trevvik Wyler.’”
“DING DING DING DING DING! Congratulations! You win! Because, you see, Trevvik, people like yourself are the ones who make it absolutely impossible to carry on around here. I considered you and your brother and his wife and kids my family. Now it’s apparent that family isn’t working. And so, just like my adoptive parents before me taught me to deal with family issues, I am going to abandon you to whatever hell fate throws your way and go live my own life in peace and quiet. Thank you, Trevvik. Goodbye. Game…. Over.” And he walked back up the ramp.
“Cap!” he hollered as he took off after him. “What the heck is this all about? What’d I do?”
“You and your brother can do whatever the hell you like, you fool, but once you start messing with Les and other innocent people… that’s it. You’re selfish, you’re stupid, and you let your petty arguments destroy the lives of everyone around you. I’m abandoning ship before you crash.”
Trevvik shook his head as though to clear it. “Selfish and stupid and destroying people’s lives, okay, I get that part. But the rest has got me confused,” he said, starting to get angry. “You’d better start explaining.”
“Trevvik. Get off my boat.”
“Not until I figure this out, cuz you’re not making any sense, Cap.”
“Preflight’s done,” Amanda said, walking into the room. “We’re ready.”
“So there it is,” Alex said. “Unless you’re ready for a trip to the edge of the galaxy, it’s time for you to go.”
Trevvik shook his head, still in denial that his Cap and best friend was parting ways with him like this. It just didn’t figure. “That an order, Cap?”
“Now, me giving you an order would imply some level of trust and respect from me to you and that just isn’t going to happen anymore. So instead, I’m just gonna ask you like a gentleman to please vacate my property.”
Looking steadily into Alex’s eyes, seething with anger directed towards him, it felt as though his own big knife had been drawn from its sheath and been buried in his chest. It was clear to him then that there was nothing he could say or do to alter his opinion of him, or that in a few moments he was about to be left alone on the tarmac, watching his best friend leave him behind. Probably for good. He nodded once, snapped to attention, and presented Alex with his smartest salute. Then with a quick about-face, he retreated swiftly back down the ramp and went straight back to the Malady, where he could close himself in the hold and not have to watch him leave.
Alex called after him as the transport’s engines started up. “By the way, you can go ahead and tell your brother to go take a leap off the tallest building in Quis, as well. Have an fanTASTIC life!”
He walked back to the cockpit. “You sure you know what you’re doing?” Amanda asked.
“Nope. But I know I can’t do it anymore. Let’s go.”
And now Amanda was telling him that something had happened to them. Something bad.
“Amanda,” he said, taking her hand, “Do you have any sense of who? Or what?”
She shook her head no. “So much pain. So much… sadness…” There were tears forming in her eyes.
He turned to the comm array and entered frequencies that only last week had been used almost constantly, usually under happy circumstances. Trevvik Wyler’s comm channel buzzed several times. There was no answer, so he left a message. “Trevvik? Trevvik it’s Ca…” he trailed off. The affectionate title didn’t seem like one he could use anymore. “It’s Grentarii,” he finished a second later. “Page me.”
He repeated the same excercise on Janet’s comm, then Mark’s, and then on the Wyler household line. Nothing, from anyone.
“Amanda, take off again. Take us to the Wyler’s. Please. Land on their front lawn if you have to.” He flopped back in his chair. It was Amanda’s turn to notice the emotional fragility of her partner. “What is it?”
“I hope I haven’t done it again,” he said.
“Once upon a time,” he said, “my words drove someone else to do something rather rash.”
She nodded, remembering that day all too well.
Amanda stood up. “I will not return to the New Republic,” she said softly.
“What?” Alex asked. “The New Republic needs us.”
“Needs? Needs? Surely you remember why we overthrew the Emperor, don’t you? Because of the atrocities he visited upon helpless worlds! Look at what the Republic has done, Alex!”
“Mind your feelings,” Cerius said. “Don’t give in to your anger. That leads to the dark side.”
Amanda snarled. “Dark side? I’m supposed to support a government that allowed one of its worlds to be destroyed so it could gain a military advantage?!”
“Amanda, please,” Starbow said.
“I can feel your anger over this, too, Starbow,” Amanda grated. “You don’t like the idea that we…and an entire world…were hung out to dry, do you?” She turned. “I’m leaving.”
“I order you to stay,” Alex said in a voice wrapped with durasteel. “That’s an order.”
“No.” The Intelligence agent took two steps towards the airlocks, where the other ships were docked.
Cerius grabbed her wrist. “Amanda, don’t give in to this!”
Amanda turned, her pent-up anger beginning to unleash. “You wanted me to give up Alex, didn’t you? You adhere so strictly to the ancient Jedi code…a code created during a time when the Jedi numbered more than a handful! When the government was just! You always knew, at some point, you would force me to choose between my relationship and my training. I have chosen.”
The enraged woman swung her free hand toward Cerius. The elder Jedi could feel her drawing on the Force. Oh, no…
Bluish-white lightning flickered from her hands, playing over the Jedi Knight. Cerius gasped in shock, releasing Amanda. As Starbow stood and Stalker took a step forward, Amanda raised her other hand and poured more lightning over the entire group.
“It’ll be alright this time,” She said.
“I know,” he said aloud, but all he could think inside was, “I wish I could be sure of that…”