It seemed like years since Janet had visited Indy’s office, so much had happened in the mean time. Once news was swapped and briefings on the current state of the war had been hashed over, the two women kicked back over a cup of caf and reminisced. After so many years and so many missions together, there were innumerable stories to call to mind, comrades to remember, and plenty of laughs to share.
But before they could get too comfortable, Indy’s comm went off. As she took the message, she smiled at Janet. “Two more back into the fold,” she told her.
“Alex and Amanda. Just cleared for landing on Wayfarer. I expect I’ll be seeing them shortly.”
“Excellent,” Janet replied, though she had to wonder how Mark would respond to the news. They had parted on less than friendly terms. She would have stuck around to greed her old friends, had her own comm not chirped and warbled in the pocket of her jacket, the tone Asya had programmed into it not long before she was taken by the Vong. The smile it brought to her face faded as she listened to what Mark had to say. Assuring him she would be right there, she closed the connection and rose with some haste and headed for the door.
“Got to run, Indy, back up to the Wayfarer – family emergency.”
“Asya?” she inquired, worry entering her eyes.
“Les. He’s – well, I’ll let you know when I find out,” she said over her shoulder, already making tracks down the corridor.
The Stormcrow shuddered as Janet guided it straight through the storm, not willing to take the time to fly around the storm cells pounding their fury over Shay Memorial. Lightning flashed all around and rain gushed over the windows as though trying to get through and blast the skin from her bones. The urgency in Mark’s voice – he was very worried, and not in a very good state of mind of late. It seemed just one more thing would push him over the edge. Once again she felt herself in the place of the strong one, the pillar the family clung to when the storms of life swarmed in from all around to engulf them in drowning waves.
The controllers gave her no problem, providing her with immediate clearance. Probably she had Indy to thank for that. She found Mark pacing up and down the floor, while Asya sat in the comfy chair in the corner, knees drawn up to her chest, peering out from behind the hair that had fallen before her eyes.
“What goes on?” Janet asked as she entered. “Where is he?”
“You just missed him,” a distraught Mark told her. He swept a hand through his wiry hair, more gray than black anymore. “I – I’ve never seen him like that, Janet. He was angry…so angry. And he wouldn’t talk to me – not a word!” Janet reached up a calming hand to stroke his hair. “I don’t know what’s going on, where he went, but find to him, Janet. Surely he’ll talk to you.” Eyes brimming with tears, he shook his head and gazed out at the stars. “I’ve got a really bad feeling about this.”
They turned to the source of the small voice that had spoken those two words that sent chills up their spines. Asya stood but a few feet behind them, her hair partially concealing her face.
“What did you say, honey?” Janet asked.
“He’s not coming back.” Her matter-of-fact voice was an emotionless monotone. Slowly her head turned to look out the window; they followed her gaze.
“By the Raven,” Mark uttered in disbelief.
Helplessly they watched the familiar configuration of the Stormcrow’s glowing engines receding quickly away to join the distant stars.
It was no longer the time to stand and gape; it was time to take action, and Janet was the only one with the presence of mind to do so. She took Mark by the shoulders and forced him to look at her. In his eyes she saw a man who had been pushed to the brink and couldn’t take much more.
“I’ll go after him,” she told him gently but resolutely. “I’ll bring him back, OK? You believe me?”
“I’ve always believed you, Jan.”
“All right, then. I’ll use all the power my rank provides me to get the fastest ship on the station. I’ll find him. You and Asya wait here for us, we’ll be back. Roger that?”
“Roger that,” he replied, trying to smile.
After a hurried goodbye, she found an old but true souped-up freighter she was able to requisition for her use, and sped off into the stars after her son.