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.
“Aw, things didn’t work out too well between me an’ my old mates. So I figured I’d show up here and bother you all some more. I – ” His face went suddenly pale. Below his breath he muttered, “Emperor’s black bones – I’ll swear off swearing and never drink again!”
Mark followed his gaze. Asya stood in the corridor leading from the cockpit, holding her cam in one hand and staring up at him with a blank look on her face. She had seemed ethereal since her rescue from the Vong, and more so now, realizing that Trevvik could not have known that she had been returned to them, alive. Looking back to Trevvik, he saw that he had sunk down to his knees, his widened eyes unable to break free of the spirit that stood before him. He actually trembled as Asya glided over to him, reached out and placed a palm gently on his rough face.
“It can’t be….”
“Believe it, Trev,” Mark said. “She’s for real.”
“Hi, Uncle Vik.” She said it so simply, as though nothing had ever happened.
Trevvik had never seemed so human – or so sober – as he did now, taking the girl in his arms and kissing her on the cheek. “Back from the dead….” Coming back to himself he got back to his feet and said, in true Trevvik fashion, “Well I bet you’ve got quite a yarn to tell your old uncle now, haven’t you? I can’t wait to hear it!”
Amanda ably guided the shuttle in a tight arc around the house, setting it down between the house and the hangar. Alex ran down the ramp as soon as Amanda opened it and pelted towards the house. She ran a quick scan. “There’s nobody in there,” she called down after him, “But I think there are people in the hangar!”
Alex ran into the hangar, calling at the top of his lungs. “Mark! Trevvik! Janet! Anyone here?”
Janet, halfway from the Stormcrow to her speeder, stopped to look strangely at the frantic man coming towards her from across the hangar. “Alex?”
“Jan! Jan! Jan!” He ran towards her as fast as he could, and she saw Amanda coming down the ramp after him, albeit at a slow walk instead of a full run. “Jan! What happened? Amanda sensed something. Is everyone OK? Mark? Trev? Les? Is it Asya? Did they… did they recover a body, or…”
Her mouth opened to say something, closed, then opened again, but nothing came out. She shook her head. “Alex…so much has happened, I don’t know if I can….” Clenching her fists, she looked away, organizing her thoughts. Putting off the bad news and the worse, she opted for the best and easiest first. “Asya has returned, she is alive.”
“Thank God! And the rest of your family? Has everyone else made it?”
Still she evaded his gaze. She could still put off the words she would rather not say just a little bit longer, telling him, “Trevvik just got back, he’s in the Stormcrow.”
Amanda had come up to them by this point, and Alex grabbed both of them by the hand, herding them up the Stormcrow’s ramp, as if he were afraid to lose sight of anyone ever again. As he veritably dragged them up the ramp he started calling Trevvik’s name.
“What are you doing?” As glad as she was to see Alex and Amanda again, there were some things she did not want to have to relate, if she could get out of it. “I’ve got an appointment at ops.”
He turned. “Just wait here a moment,” he said, not letting go of her hand. “I’ll come with you. Just give me five minutes.” He turned and looked into the ship again. “TREVVIK!”
“CAP?” Trevvik’s voice came barreling out to them like thunder. “‘ZAT YOU?” Striding out to meet him, he almost ran over them. Staggering back, he gave an unreadable, lopsided grin.
“It’s me!” he said, running towards the big pirate, but stopping just short of him. “I’m… I… regret some thing I said earlier.”
“What? Oh…pfft,” he huffed, spilling his foul breath over them. “I’ve been told worse, and probably deserved it. Wait – oh. Yeah, deserved it.” Still, his expression could not be deciphered, as he stood waiting to hear what else his old friend had to say.
He was destined to be slightly disappointed, because Alex was off and running to the next person. “Mark! Mark, are you here too?”
“Right here, old buddy,” he said, puzzling over the near-panicked way in which he was going from one of them to the other. But then, this was Alex. “Are you OK?”
“Oh, yes I am!” Alex said, smiling. He took in the whole party. “Mark… Trev… Jan… and Asya! Oh, sweetie, we’re so glad you’re back!” He looked around a moment and then his face fell. “The only one I don’t see is…” Suddenly he had that terrible sinking feeling one only gets when things have proved themselves even more terrible than anticipated. He turned to Janet, the one he’d known longest, and gaped at her. “Oh Jan… Janet Skyy, I’m sorry. Really, I am so, so sorry… I…”
The moment had come, and she could not keep the terrible truth of a horrible event from her face. She wondered if she looked to them as old as she felt. Evading it for one moment more, she told him, “Les is alive and well. And I really must get to ops.”
She stopped, she had to, hearing Mark tell them for her, knowing that she could not. “Les took a turn to the Dark Side. He…tried to kill Jinx.” There he had to pause, in that shocked silence, and rub a hand self-consciously across his forehead.
“Oh, God! You said Les was OK? What about Jinx?” Mark shook his head. “You mean… you mean that… Les… actually killed him?” He put his hand to his throat, shocked. “Les killed Jinx?”
“I did.” The words clawed at Janet’s throat as she spoke them, and left her lips feeling numb. Things swam out of focus for a moment, then returned, as the cold that had gripped her loosened its grip. Finding her voice again, she said, “I couldn’t let him finish off my son – as much as he deserved it.” Alarmed by the effect her act still had on her, she closed her hands into fists to keep them from shaking.
“I… I can’t… you?”
“I’m sorry,” she said, acknowledging Alex’s friendship with the late Jedi, which extended back as far as hers. They had been Katarn Commandos all, a very long time ago. Again that cold wave swept over her, and the color drained from her face. She was brought back by Mark’s warm hands on her shoulders.
“I don’t know what to say except… oh, Jan.” He swept her up into a hug. “You’re wrong,” he whispered in her ear.
A hug from her old friend did much to settle her, and she returned the embrace gratefully. “Wrong about what?” she wondered.
He pulled back, holding her shoulders at arms length from himself and looking into her eyes as deeply as he could. “No, no, don’t you believe it. Not for one moment. I don’t care what happened, what he’d done…” He trailed off, swallowed hard. “Les never would have deserved it. Not ever.”
Janet looked at him doubtfully, remembering the evil that radiated from him as he confronted his master; the pure, unbridled anger bleeding from his eyes; but she nodded with gratitude at his support. “Thank you for that, Alex. It means a lot.”
He nodded, letting the silence be for a full minute. Then, finally, he said, “I think we’d better head for ops now, don’t you?”
“Yes, we should,” Janet said, glad to put that story behind her for the time being, and grateful for the company of an old friend.
Joint post, Alex and Skyy