Molly Losoda tapped Logan MacKenzie on the shoulder, smothering a smirk as the other man jumped. He’d been absorbed in mournfully watching some of the ground crew from Shay Memorial move his freighter from the Legacy’s landing bay to the tarmac–so absorbed that he’d missed the NRI agent’s approach. “You don’t have to just stand here, you know. You can get off the ship.”
Dorrin stared at the mottled ball of blue, green, brown, and white below them, looming large after the microjump. He glanced at Molly, who was back at the Legacy’s controls. “Y’sure you can handle landing this thing?”
“It’s just like landing a shuttle, Dorrin. Except about ten times bigger.” She smirked at him. “We’ll be fine.”
When Tag had finished, Les stood silent for a long moment, eyes closed, contemplating all that she had said. Her words comforted him more than anything anyone had said to him lately. He wanted to believe them – he did believe them. Yet there was a side to him that remained guarded, cautious. At last he opened his eyes, and looked the Jedi in the eyes. If these people were willing to give him another chance, so was he. Marcus Leslye Wyler bowed his head and replied simply, “Yes, master.”
Tag frowned a little, moving to the side and seating herself on the reed mat, cross-legged. She brushed a few stray hairs out of her face and stared at Les for a long moment, as if choosing her words carefully. “You’re Marcus Leslye Wyler, son of Marcus Wyler and Janet Skyy, the nephew of Trevvik Wyler and the brother of Asya Wyler. You’re Chase Kel-Solan’s best friend and your baby sister’s hero. You’re part of the second generation of the Aurora Force, part of the legacy we’ll leave behind when we’re gone.” She paused, then said more softly, “You’re the padawan Jinx Katarn failed and the second student I’ve taken on since Indiana Bridger herself—the only one I’m not related to, too.” She smiled wryly. “You’re still you, Les. You’ve just…seen more, felt more, experienced more. It’s part of growing up. Not easy by a long shot, but…it’s part of the deal.”
It was a question that haunted him. At those times when he thought he had a grasp on the answer, he felt as though he were hiding the real, rock-bottom truth from even himself. So he replied as best he knew how, even if it made sense to no one.
Tag touched Les’s shoulder gently. The grip of the small woman was warm, firm, and she squeezed his shoulder before just letting her hand rest there. He’s more lost than I thought he was. Deeper into that dark place. I shouldn’t have sent him home with his folks tonight. I should have made him come home with me. She silently drew a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, finding her own center as she felt a fleeting sense of guilt that came from her, not from him. Too late to change that now.
The question was not an easy one. Les, his eyes fixed on the featureless silver mask, knew the warrior behind it would accept nothing short of truth drawn from the deepest well of his soul. He took a long moment to reflect on those depths before forming his answer.
We are far, far more than the sum of our experiences. We are the sum total of the impact of the experiences of our teachers, our leaders, our parents and friends, of the trails we’ve lived through and the bottomless well of emotions we all feel.
– Karinlyyn Bridger Kel-Solan, Auyn Warmistress
No more words came until he was in the speeder and she was behind the wheel, racing away from the house. Every time he even tried to speak she simply held up a hand to forestall commentary. Once they had turned safely onto the roadway outside of the Wyler’s residence on Xenen, Tag cleared her throat, eyes intent on the road before them, her voice even—but barely.
So wrapped in his musings that he’d let situational awareness slide, Tag caught Les unawares. Realizing that he’d been caught off his guard, he flew to his feet with surprising quickness, pulling his saber to him through the Force so that it reached his hand before his feet hit the floor, but he stopped short of snapping it on, realizing at the same time just who it was that had invaded his room. All at once he locked the things he’d been turning over in his mind into a safe place; and as they faded from the fore of his thoughts and he looked his new mentor in the eye, all that they had discussed in her office that day as well as his honest and bare plea for help flooded his mind. He felt color rise to his cheeks, and he had to catch himself from casting his gaze elsewhere.
“How do the feeds from Aten-Re look?”
That was it. No preamble. No good morning, no admiral on deck. Indy was suddenly there, in the dim of base ops’ night watch. Nylan was too tired to even feign surprise. He was getting too old, Jedi or not, for these thirty-six hour days.
Tag Rendar’s office—her new office, as the old was still occupied by the absent Alek Cannelle, Chief of Intelligence for Sector 27—had begun to take on the personality, slowly but surely, of its occupant. The cabinets slowly had begun to be filled again with pictures, mementos—an old flight helmet, holos of various stripes, a crystal bar set in one corner cabinet. A few blank pages of…paper?…were still scattered across the floor, half under furniture. Tag didn’t seem to notice their presence as she waved for Les to take a seat, sinking down into the chair behind the desk.
“Hear you hit a rough patch the past couple weeks, huh?”
Les wondered why he felt so suddenly shy. He shifted uncomfortably in the chair. “I guess so.” He coughed to clear his throat.
Tag was perched on the corner of Indy’s desk when the admiral walked in, juggling an armload of files and her own caf cup. Indy blinked at the other woman a moment, then shook her head.
“You still remember my lock code.”
“You still haven’t changed the overrides,” Tag corrected.
“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?”
Papers, not datapads, not holograms, littered the office, scattered like snowflakes across the floor, the furniture. Tag paced amongst them, frowning to herself deeply as she threw another paper over her shoulder.
“Fielder, file last as unavailable for duty.”
The old R2 unit beeped at her and she exhaled, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes. “Too much, Fielder. There’s just…just too much.”
“You could always take a break.”
She scrubbed her hands over her face, mumbling a quiet curse to herself, then raked her fingers up and through her hair, exhaling slowly as she marched herself into base operations. Nylan looked up at her mildly from where he was sitting, dressed in the same robes he’d worn the night before, then offered her his mug of caf.
“Whose idea was it to not tell me that an advance force took out the Fifth?”
Shocked, staggered, stunned, and incredulous in their elation, the Wylers spilled out of the Stormcrow before the echo of the engines had died away in the expansive hangar bay, one of many housed within Wayfarer Station. Tag was there to greet them, unable to conceal a broad smile. It wasn’t very often that she was privileged to be the bearer of good news about a family member to their loved ones in the midst of the dark days of war. It felt great.
It was 0354 local on Xenen, and Izra Dargan had just barely crawled into bed after playing designated pilot for some of the guests for the Bel Iblis-Bullian wedding. The small apartment he kept on Wayfarer wasn’t much to look at, but he stayed on-station so rarely it didn’t matter all that much. It had been more convenient the night before to stay on the orbital station rather than fly back to his modest house on the surface, so he’d schlepped there and collapsed into bed about two hours before his comm went off.
“It was a nice ceremony, wasn’t it?”
Nylan glanced up from his console in the dim of base operations, still dressed in his Jedi robes, a half-eaten piece of wedding cake at his elbow. He’d clearly dismissed the officer of the watch when he’d arrived-not long before, it seemed, because the mug of caf sitting with the cake was still steaming.
The Jedi Master grunted in response to his cousin and longtime friend. “It was. Maybe a bit unorthodox, but…”