“How bad were our losses?”
At the other end of the comm channel, Izra Dargan grimaced. He looked no worse for wear except for a cut above his eyebrow and some soot on his face. “Six pilots and almost a squadron’s worth of fighters. Ten more wounded to varying degrees and another squadron’s worth of starfighters damaged, but repairable.”
Alextravia Judas Grentarii could not be said to be a happy man. Not just in general – that was absolutely expected by anyone who’d ever had the occasion to spend even a few minutes with the man. But even at this exact moment, as he trudged up to the meeting alongside Janet Skyy (now Wyler), he was in a particularly unhappy mood. Alex was suffering under the kind of unhappiness that strikes when you are completely and totally undecided about what you want to do with yourself. Thinking back over the course of the last several months – a task that was surprisingly difficult since he spent most of it in a state of unconscious hibernation – he had been all over the map. All told it was very difficult to say what he wanted to do with his life any more.
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.
“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…”
“General? Colonel Bridger needs you in ops.”
Tag straightened, stacking a pile of papers against her knee and depositing them on the corner of the desk as she turned, glancing toward the technician standing in the doorway. “Right away?”
“Why are we back here again?”
“Because the Force wills it to be so. I thought I was to come back for you but something is drawing me back.”
“I don’t suppose it matters to you that my will wills me to be far far away from those two whiny little man-babies?”
“Come on,” she said. “You remember what happened the last time we tried to run away from destiny?”
Someone once said that the Force was, “an energy field created by all living things.” It surrounds, it penetrates. It binds the galaxy together. And some, going back deeper and deeper in the annuls of history, believed that the Force had a will of its own.
Of course, nobody really knows the will of the Force, or if they do they aren’t telling anyone about it. For all that is known, there might be an old man (or woman; the Force does not discriminate based on gender) on a mountaintop somewhere on an uncharted planet who knows precisely what the Force is planning and why it’s doing it. But since nobody knows this man or woman (should they even exist) it really has no bearing on the story. Continue reading