"His name is Stitch and he's a…" Janson paused, flipping through the papers held by the metal teeth on his clipboard. "A collie? Or he was before he was run over by a convoy of trucks."
"He was a collie?" Wedge asked slowly, wondering if this "Stitch" was of the same class as Lieutenant Kettch. "If he was a collie before he was injured then he'd be a collie afterward."
"Actually, he wasn't injured by the convoy. Knocked unconscious but not seriously injured."
"Funny, Wes. But you need to work on your practical jokes a bit more. There is no way a dog could fly an X-wing. They don't even walk upright! And they aren't indestructible."
Wes looked up over the edge of the clipboard, something akin to nervousness dancing across his features. "Um…it would seem that this one is."
Lieutenant Stitch sat across from the Wraiths, his dark, shining eyes scanning the office while the little alien chewed on his own toes. As they watched the fluffy blue creature, Wedge realized that they were using the desk as some sort of barrier to keep Stitch away. Not that such a flimsy barrier would stop that thing. Gods, what has the Galactic Federation sent us?
Experiment 626 also known as Stitch had been created by a slightly mad scientist (only slightly mad because he'd been rehabilitated by a family on Earth). The little monster was supposed to be a creature of mass destruction but instead, the alien had become a loyal companion for a girl on Earth. It had been planned that Stitch would never leave the planet, being the constant companion of his human.
But then Galactic Federation had signed a treaty with the New Republic, establishing relations spanning many galaxies and cultures. To alleviate some of the conflicts that were bound to arise, both parties agreed to send troops from their respective military forces to work together to form a cohesive protective body.
To start this "good will" transition, the Federation had sent them Stitch. Someone must have told them I was looking for misfits, Wedge thought sourly. I should have been more careful with the phrasing. This was not what I expected!
The little alien looks more endearing than many creatures Antilles had seen in his travels across the galaxy. It was a medium blue with short, soft fur. It had four arms and two legs. Antennae graced the top of a head that was framed by large, slightly pointed ears. A few spiked appendages grew carelessly out of its back. Not really scary looking at all, but the reports he had received on the Lieutenant were disturbing.
Fireproof. Impact-proof. Highly intelligent with senses that far exceeded most living creatures, the alien should have been a commander's dream come true. He would have been if it weren't for that pesky little desire to create chaos wherever he went. But that tendency had been, supposedly, curbed by his time with a family on Earth.
Rather hard to believe that while the Lieutenant makes an hors d'oeurve of his own foot! What the hell did they send me?
As if sensing Wedge's nervous thoughts, Stitch focused large black eyes on the General. "HIIIEEEE," it…he?…it growled.
"Um..hello Lieutenant 626."
The blue creature cocked his head to one side, causing one large ear to flop over his head. "Not 626. Name is Stitch!" Wedge expected the outburst to sound angry, but it didn't. The voice had a gravely, growling quality but it sounded…patient? Then the creature took a deep breath and growled again. "My name is Stitch." It…he..leaned forward and offered Wedge one of his two paws right paws. "Heellow General Antys."
Hesitantly, Wedge took the paw and gingerly shook it, causing the alien to give him a toothy grin. "Me want to be Wraith," Stitch carefully enunciated.
Noting that his commanding officer had not been eaten by the blue "monster," Wes finally backed out of the corner he had been bonding with. "But what about your family."
"Ohana." When he saw the pilots' confusion, Stitch explained the belief that had brought him a very pleasant exile. "Family. In family no one gets left behind or forgotten. Me protect family until other pilot replace me." He pulled out a flat image of a little girl. "Me miss Lilo, but soon me go back home. Know family safe."
Wedge looked over his shoulder, wanting to see Wes' reaction to their strange recruit. The look of fascination and friendship on Janson's face made Wedge decidedly nervous. "When will your replacement arrive?" Wedge asked hastily, suddenly not liking the idea of the squadron's main source of chaos bonding with a creature that had been generically engineered to create chaos. The thought would plague him with nightmares until the Lieutenant's replacement arrived.
"One month!" Stitched announced, bouncing on the hard cushion of his chair. "Then me give report and go back to Lilo."
Wedge had to smile at the enthusiasm the alien showed when it talked about his family on Earth. Experiment 626 might have been created to cause destruction, but somehow the little girl in the picture Stitch clutched to his chest had tamed that instinct. Of course, Antilles was sure that the fluffy blue creature would cause as much (or more) mischief as the other Wraiths, but if Stitch was what the Federation promised, he would not endanger the Squadron. Well…not intentionally. Stitch's curiosity and exuberance might wreck the immediate area, but he would not attack anyone, which had been his main concern.
Now that that worry had been dealt with, it was time to deal with another. "Stitch, I'm sure you would make a fine Wraith." What's one more misfit to the bunch? "But we have to make sure you can fly."
Stitch nodded his head vigorously, causing his ears to flap wildly up and down. "Stitch fly good."
"I'm sure you do, Lieutenant, but we have to test you. Procedure."
The flapping ears stilled and Stitch gave Wedge a thoughtful look. "I understand. You see Stitch fly, then me become Wraith."
Suddenly, Wedge felt unnerved, realizing that Stitch truly was as intelligent as the reports claimed. "Wes, please take Lieutenant Stitch to the simulators and have him fly against some of the Rogues and Wraiths. Then we can decide if he'll be a part of the squadron."
Stitch hopped down from his chair, grinning at Wes. It seemed as if the human and alien shared some sort of kinship. Nothing like creative mayhem to bond beings together. Force, help us all…It'll be like having two Jansons in the squadron.
As if confirming his thought, both Wes and Stitch grinned at him. "Aloha, Commander!"
To be Continued...
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