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.
His eyes adjusted to the light, and he looked around. He was in a medbay, not a brig – though now that he was conscious, he wondered how long that would be the case.
He wasn’t alone, either.
A dark-haired man–boy?–of maybe nineteen or twenty straightened from his lean against the wall near Logan’s head, brow furrowed. “Lucky to be alive,” he said. His voice held only a very bare trace of Corellia, otherwise devoid of any sign of his origins. He was dressed in a gray uniform, a toolkit on one hip with a lightsaber clipped to his belt. The insignia on the uniform, beyond his lieutenant’s bars, looked unfamiliar. “Though next time you jump in-system, I’m obligated to advise you not to do it right onto a New Republic warship.”
“I’ll keep that in mind next time I have to make a blind jump.” Logan rolled to a sitting position and eyed the lightsaber warily. “Where am I, kid?”
“Stay down,” Davil instructed quietly, gold-flecked green eyes flashing a little in the lights of sickbay. “You’re in the Kartuiin Sector. There’s an intelligence agent on her way to speak with you now that you’re awake. Where were you when you got jumped by the Vong?”
Logan raised an eyebrow, remaining where he was, but he made certain to keep his hands in full view of the kid conducting–for lack of a better term –the interrogation.
“Is that what that thing was? Alright, I’ll bite. My partner and I were making a delivery to Karis Station, and we got pulled out of hyperspace early. Some sort of asteroid grabbed us and started taking out our systems, one by one.”
“Sounds like the Vong to me,” a female voice said. She was nearly a head shorter than the first man, and instead of wearing fleet grays, she was dressed in the stark black uniform of New Republic Intelligence. She was the picture of an officer – except for the fact that she couldn’t have been more than sixteen or seventeen at best. She looked at the first man. “Did you get a name?”
“I thought I’d leave that to you.”
“Mmm. How kind of you, Dav.”
He inclined his head and stepped slightly aside, letting the girl step fully up to Logan’s bedside. She studied the spacer for a long moment before clearing her throat.
“I’m Agent Molly Losoda, New Republic Intelligence, Sector 27. I’m going to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind, and we’re going to start with your name, your homeworld, and any affiliations you and your ship might have.”
Now both eyebrows were raised. “Well,” said Logan, looking between the two, “I’d love to answer those questions, but I’m having a bit of trouble reconciling this. Can I see an identcard, ‘Agent’?” He started looking around for anything to defend himself with – his blaster had probably been taken, but there had to be something he could grab.
She arched a brow over an indigo eye, looking as innocent as a newborn. “Reconcile what?” She fished her identicard out of a pocket and handed it to him. It looks legit, right down to the holographic NRI insignia at the center of the card.
Logan stared at the card longer than was necessary. “Huh. Child prodigy, are you?”
He handed back the identcard. “Alright. Well, you probably already know this, then, but: Logan MacKenzie, Coruscant. My ship is the Seraph’s Wake. Is she okay?”
Davil shook his head slightly. “It’ll take at least three weeks to chisel the rock free, judging from the mess a ‘skip made of Commander Rameth’s X-wing. Fixing it up from there would depend on how much damage has been done underneath and the availability of spare parts. The engines need to be completely rebuilt. Anything else, I’d have to take a closer look.”
Molly nodded and looked back to Logan. “Does that answer your question?”
Logan visibly sagged. “I’m afraid so. There goes this month’s profits.”
He sighed again, looking back up at Agent Losoda. “Alright, I’ll work with you. Where do you want me to start?”
She considered his question for a moment, then perched on the edge of his bed and said, “You could start with exactly what happened, what you saw, and how you escaped.”
“He’s a little clueless about the Vong, Mol.”
She arched a brow at Davil. “…that’s possible?”
Davil shook his head. “For a civvy? I guess so.”
“Hmm,” she said thoughtfully, glancing back at Logan. “You’re a spacer, right? Been spending a lot of time away from home lately?”
Logan ignored the exchange between the two teenagers and stretched his arms. “I’ve lived full-time on the Wake for the past five years. I catch up on the news when I can, but I mostly stick to anything relevant to shipping contracts.
“Let’s see. We were pulled out by the…Vong…and it held us in place and stripped our shields. My partner, Jer, went back to try to modify the engines to escape, and…” He fell silent for a moment. “The thing blew out the engines, so I jettisoned my cargo and detonated it, which let me break free and make a blind jump.”
“You’re very lucky, you know,” Molly said. “Most people who run afoul of the Vong don’t survive to tell the tale. They’re killing whole planets.”
“What kind of cargo was it?” Davil asked, suddenly curious. It was almost as if wheels had begun to turn behind his eyes.
Logan frowned in thought, eyebrows furrowing as he tried to recall the manifest. “Aside from the two reactor cores for the station? Some food supplies, a couple crates of holovids, some hydroponics and seeds from Onderon and Ithor, and I think…” He hesitated for a moment. “There was a crate of Imperial armor and uniforms for the station’s museum.”
Davil’s brow creased for a moment and he started to pace away from the bed, murmuring to himself under his breath – something about trajectories and specifications and magnitudes.
Molly watched him go, shaking her head slightly. “…lovely. Well.” She turned squarely back toward Logan, studying him for a long moment. “That should keep him busy for a little while, until something else comes up. I imagine after I get a chance to double check your identification and your registries, you’ll be released, though that’s not going to happen until after we get back to Xenen.”
Logan winced. “I’ve got a permit for that stuff, you know. It’s not like museum stuff is contraband.”
The NRI agent blinked at him, then grinned. “…what, you think we’re going to arrest you for having a bunch of old uniforms? Oh, honey, if we were going to do that, you’d be in the brig, never mind that we’d have to arrest half of our forces from the old days. Davil said you scanned clean, so you’re not some kind of Vong sleeper agent – we think – but we can’t kick you loose until the Admiral’s staff signs off on it.”
“Hey,” Logan protested, defensively, “people hang on to grudges. Truce or no, you make one delivery to Bastion and everyone looks at you like you’re selling secrets to Thrawn.”
He slumped his shoulders. “When can I see my ship?”
Molly smiled faintly. “If you can get out of bed without falling over sideways, I suppose now. I’ve got a higher security clearance than most of the crew, so I don’t think they’re going to get that upset if I let you see your lady.”
Logan stood, wobbling slightly as his head tried to catch up with that strangely new direction called up. He glanced downwards at Agent Losoda – Emperor’s Black Bones, she was just a kid – and waved a hand in a vague gesture, conveying in the movement a whole nuanced statement of This Is Your Ship, I’ll Follow You. “Maybe you can catch me up on the whole Vong thing on the way down.”
She shook her head a little. “It’s messy business, but the long and short of it is that the galaxy might be well and truly screwed even harder than we thought we might be when the Ssi-Ruuvi invaded twenty years ago. Least, that’s how my mother put it.” Molly led him out into the corridor, heading down toward the hangar. A security officer began to shadow them a few moments after they left sickbay. Molly barely glanced back toward the man before paying more attention to the lift shaft in front of them.
“Once you see what they did to your ship, though, from the outside, you might have a better idea of about how messy this is. They crashed a frakking moon into a planet. I don’t think it’s going to get much better. No one around here seems to.”
They took the lift down to the hangar, where the Seraph’s Wake sat alone, though guarded by a pair of security officers. One nodded slightly to Molly, then eyed Logan for a long moment.
“You all right, Miss Losoda?”
“We’re fine. Our guest wanted to see his ship. I decided to indulge him.”
The security officer nodded and took half a step away from the ship, letting Logan get a better look at the damage.
Logan hadn’t believed the rumors about Sernpidal; crashing a moon onto its own planet was something that would probably take the New Republic’s entire fleet of Interdictor cruisers to manage in the time the reports claimed it happened in, but when the lift’s doors opened and he got a look at his beloved ship, he felt a whole moon’s worth of devastation at once.
The cheerful blue-and-white hull was marred by deep pits and bubbled patches of metal. He could see where each of the magma bolts had struck the Hawk transport; the damn things had splashed and spread to as much surface area as it could. Not content to stop there, the molten rock had eaten enormous pits into the metal before it finally cooled.
The engines were no longer smoking ruins – they had obviously been contained and cooled once the Seraph’s Wake had been brought onboard – but they were unrecognizable as engines. One had caved in partially; it was a wonder it had survived the hyperspace jump as it was – and the other was a still-cooling lump of melted durasteel.
This ship was his life. It was his entire reason of being. He was going to have to rebuild it, whatever the cost.
Molly hesitated for a moment, then finally touched his shoulder gently, as if she could feel his sudden change in mood. “When we get to Xenen, look up Mark Wyler,” she said softly. “He’s had to do…similar…repairs to the Stormcrow, I think.”
Logan continued to stare at the Wake, not giving any indication that he heard Molly’s words. Then he turned, fire in his eyes.
“I’d like to stay.”
She blinked a little, tilting her head. “Pardon?”
“I’d like to stay.” Logan waved his hand in the direction of his ship. “The Jedi kid said it already, it’ll take weeks to get her up and running again, if that. In the meantime, I’m grounded, and the time I’d be stuck dirt-side is profits lost. My contracts are drying up, and I’d be surprised to get any work after customers hear I blew up important cargo.”
He ran his fingers through his dark brown hair. “This ship is everything to me, and even when I get her fixed up, I can’t do anything but fly around and beg for work. I want to be in the skies, doing some good for once.”
She nodded slowly, crossing her arms. “I’ll make some calls, then. I doubt that we’re going to say no to willing recruits, ‘specially after the admiral’s call.” She glanced toward one of the security officers. “Jasper, think you can see him to temporary quarters after he’s done scooping up any personal effects? I need to talk to Commander Drake.”
The security officer nodded. “Yes ma’am.”
Molly smiled slightly and nodded back, then looked to Logan again. “That’s that, then. Commander Drake, the XO, might want to talk to you in a while.” She paused. “Oh. And y’might not want to call Dav ‘Jedi boy.’ Just a friendly warning.” She smiled and turned to leave.
Logan turned back and stared at the melted remains of his home. He’d get her working again; hell, he might even sharpen her teeth while he was at it. He never thought he’d be a service man, but there wasn’t a better alternative. He’d been honest when telling the kid his reasons; nobody’d touch him as a courier again once word got out about the attack, and if he was going to be without his ship, he might as well be in the air. And besides, if the Vong bastards were invading the galaxy and attacking the New Republic wherever they could, he might get a chance to give a little payback to the Sithspawn that attacked his ship.
For the first time since he had been rudely awakened, Logan MacKenzie smiled. Maybe there was a spark of defiance in his Corellian blood after all.
~ Joint post between Logan and Erin