Part Two, Section One
Tycho looked up from his datapad to see Terra standing in his office doorway. "I take it you survived your night with Wes and Hobbie?" He asked as she entered his office.
She snorted. "The only problem I had was with Kat and Kayla when I had to wake them up to drag Wes out of their bed this morning. I just dropped them off at their quarters before coming here and before you ask; no, they didn't embarass themselves or the squadron too badly."
She was dressed in her Guardien uniform with her hair pulled back, Admirals' insignias present in the gold piping on her collar. What made the rank impressive was that it was one she had earned. It was not honorary like so many who commanded a private fleet nor was it just a title of affection given her by her co-workers.
She was looking around his office when she noticed a holo on his desk of Tycho with an attractive, white-haired woman. "Is this Winter?" When he nodded, she asked, "So, when am I going to get to meet her? Or are you afraid I might scare her away?"
It was his turn to snort. "It would take a lot more than you to scare Winter."
"Good. Sounds like she's just what you need." She grinned playfully, "I notice you didn't answer my question."
He frowned, "Which one?"
"The one about when I get to meet her...." her voice trailed off.
The look on her face prompted him to ask if something was wrong.
"Just thinking about how much my Little Celly has grown up."
Terra's grandparents had met on Alderaan where her grandfather, who was a financial genius, had numerous investments. She had always wanted to see the planet that meant so much to them so when it was announced that her homeworld would be sending a team to the girls' smashball championships to be held on Alderaan that year, she had eagerly tried out and made the team. She was fifteen.
It was a move that provided many of the associates and acquaintances that she would later need in acquiring security contracts with the professional sports teams she now called clients.
She made sure to take time out of her schedule to finally meet some of her father's relatives who were friends of Tycho's parents. She could still remember the little, boyishly pretty 10-year-old who had accompanied her second cousins to the arena to watch her practices and games. Tycho was rather small for his age: petite, but deceptively strong. What had impressed her most, however, was his maturity and intense personality. He reminded her of a younger version of her older brother who had been killed recently and they quickly became close friends.
She later applied and was accepted to the University of Alderaan. While attending classes, she lived with her father's relatives and then the Celchu's when those relatives moved too far to commute easily. She served as chaperone, chauffeur, tutor and best friend for the Celchu children.
She was also a highly skilled pilot so when Tycho told her of his own dreams of becoming a pilot, she taught him to fly her small skyhopper. She was so impressed with his innate talent that she began teaching him to fly more complicated craft and by the time he was accepted into the Imperial Academy, he could fly a wide variety of ships.
"I really am proud of you, you know." As she sat on the edge of the desk she added almost too quietly for him to hear, "Your family would be, too." He answered her with a pain-filled smile.
Wedge's voice in the doorway interrupted them. "Can I assume that since you're here that Wes and Hobbie are, too? Or are you here to file a report?"
"Good morning, Wedge. Your two incorrigibles are in their quarters. Probably sound asleep. Again," she said with a frown.
This time, Wedge was sure he didn't want to know. A thought struck him. "Terra, I went to the gate this morning to leave a guest pass for you but was told you didn't need one. You have a security clearance that rivals mine." It was a question more than a statement.
Tycho looked at her, "I hadn't thought about it. I assumed Wes and Hobbie had arranged for a visitor pass when you got here."
Her amusement was hard to hide. "General Cracken knew my parents. As the Guardiens grew, he made a point of introducing himself to me. I think he wanted to make sure I was my mother's daughter considering the fleet I was assembling under the banner of a private security force. Especially when you consider how much of the Alliance's munitions were being hidden on some of my ships."
"That still doesn't explain your clearance," Tycho stated.
She shrugged. "Cracken got tired of having to arrange one for me every time I came to Coruscant, so he set up a permanent one. It's not as extensive as you think and I think it's Cracken's way of keeping an eye on me since I'm sure he tracks my pass and knows when and where I use it."
"That sounds about par for him," Wedge agreed wryly.
Tycho decided it was time to change the subject. "I don't know about the two of you but I'm hungry. Wedge, would you like to join us? We might even be able to talk Terra into discussing our strategy for the simulations we have planned for the new recruits."
Wedge's poo-doo eating grin was unmistakable. "Actually, when I found out she had the necessary clearances, I was hoping to talk her into serving as an objective evaluator for the sim runs." He turned to Terra and added, "Our meetings for this afternoon have been cancelled so I can offer you the rest of the day with Tycho as a bribe, if necessary."
She feigned thought for a moment and then returned his grin before answering. "Only if I get to fly. I'm a little rusty but I am current in an Interceptor."
"That would work out great. I called a couple of the Wraiths but only Kell and Tyria were available so I was planning on the two of them, Tycho and myself in TIEs. If you're willing to fly on a wing with Tych that would let me handle the evaluations without distractions. Tycho, you think the four of you could handle fourteen Rogues and potential Rogues?"
His grin mirrored theirs, as he answered, "They won't stand a chance against us. Terra can even fly lead if she wants."
She looked at her old friend. "It's your squadron so you should fly lead. Contrary to popular belief, I can follow orders when I want to," she replied.
Tycho frowned sarcastically at his CO, "By the way, were you going to ask me if I was willing to serve as a bribe?"
Wedge continued to grin, "No, I was just going to make it an order."
"Thanks, I think." Tycho grimaced, "Hobbie is going to love hearing this."
"Oh, no," she reprimanded. "I don't want anyone to know it's me until afterwards. Agreed?"
"Agreed," both Rogues replied at once.
The monitors went blank as Terra pulled off her helmet and began extracting herself from the simulator. She looked over to see a smile on Tycho's face as he joined her. She knew she made a rather comical figure in one of his flight suits, the cuffs of the sleeves and pant legs were rolled up to prevent the extra material from interfering with cockpit movements.
She had not thought it was going to be so easy to convince the legendary General Antilles to allow her to fly in the sims so she had not brought her own. He had offered her a NR issue orange, but she had opted to borrow one of Tycho's trademark black suits.
"That wasn't so bad, even if I am a little rusty," she told him as she unzipped her flight suit and pulled it down to tie the sleeves around her waist.
A pair of pilots joined them. The man extended his hand to Terra with a smile, "If that 'wasn't bad', I'd hate to meet up with you when you're on a role. Tycho, with her around, why did Wedge need us?" He indicated the woman with him, "This is Tyria Sarkin and I'm Kell Tainer, Wraith Squadron."
Terra identified herself and squadron as she shook his hand and acknowledged Tyria. Terra couldn't help but laugh at their looks of shocked recognition. "You're pretty good yourselves. If you ever decide you want a change of pace, be sure to look me up."
Tycho interrupted, "We probably should head to the briefing room, Wedge is going to be waiting for us." Tycho led them down a hallway and entered a nearby room.
Due to Tycho's and Hobbie's involvement, Terra had followed the Rogues and was familiar with most of its personnel so she was able to pick out the veterans. The others in the room she didn't recognize and assumed they must be the new recruits.
Wedge stood in the front of the room. The look he gave her was an equal mixture of awe and mirth. When Terra caught sight of the lopsided Corellian smirk and dark hair falling into his soft brown eyes, she couldn't help but return his smile. Does he fly as well as he looks? she wondered to herself.
As soon as Hobbie caught sight of her, he moaned. "Wes, I told you it was her."
Tycho repeated Hobbie's words of last night, "Sorry I didn't say anything but she wanted to surprise you." His passable imitation of Hobbie's voice brought chuckles from around the room.
"I liked your surprise better," Hobbie pouted.
Wes' normally cheerful disposition was sour as he glared at her, "You shot me!!"
Terra turned innocent eyes to Wedge as she pointed at Tycho, "He told me to!"
"Since when have you ever followed orders?" Hobbie grumbled.
Only Wedge's years as Rogue Leader kept him from showing his true emotions. He was able to put a scolding look on his face before regaining the room's attention. He wondered what it would have been like if Terra had been a Rogue. She would make an even better Wraith, he thought wryly.
"First I'd like to introduce our guests. I think most of you already know Kell and Tyria from the Wraiths." They acknowledge him with a nod as he continued, "And our special guest, Terra Sharlee of the Guardians' Angel Squadron. And before Wes asks, no, we are not keeping her."
Wes was still sour, "Good. And after last night, I thought we were friends."
Terra saw Tycho raise his eyebrows at her out of the corner of her eye. She just sighed, shook her head and tried hard to ignore them both and focus on what Wedge was saying.
Following the briefing, Terra and Tycho joined Wedge in his office to discuss performance evaluations while the rest of the group headed to the lounge for drinks.
"I have to admit it. I'm impressed," Wedge told Terra as he closed the door.
"I told you so," Tycho said.
Terra's eyes roamed the room as they took their seats. Her gaze returned to Wedge as she spoke to him, "Your pilots are pretty good." She grinned wickedly. "It would be interesting to pit them against my squadron. The Angels could sure use the challenge."
Wedge chuckled. "I don't know. If they're anything like you, I'm not sure the Rogues could handle the blow to their egos."
Tycho spoke up, "It would probably do them some good to have to face a little competition."
Wedge shook his head in resignation, "I'll have to think about it. Maybe after we've chosen the replacement pilots and had time to get them used to the rest of the squadron."
The threesome reviewed each prospective pilot's performance in the simulators and found they had given the pilots close to the same marks. Wedge was again impressed with Terra as she gave her perspective of all the pilots, not just the candidates.
Terra wanted to meet the others in a more relaxed setting so she and Tycho sought out the Rogues in the lounge, leaving Wedge to finish the paperwork. They entered the lounge to find them at an oversized booth in the corner. Tycho handled the introductions.
Gavin was delighted to finally meet the lady Biggs had spoken of so often in his letters home. Biggs apparently had a crush on her and it was not hard to see why. From what Gavin had heard, the cadets at the Academy either loved her or hated her. Most of the prospective pilots fell into the latter category except Biggs and a few others. Most of who had ended up flying for the Alliance at some point.
Wedge joined them a few hours later. He knew the Rogues would accept her not only because of her friendship with Tycho but also due to her reputation, which had been backed up by her performance in the sims.
He was concerned, however, that Terra may be overwhelmed at having to deal with the entire squadron all at once. He was amazed to find her completely at ease.
After several more hours of story swapping, she announced reluctantly, "It really has been fun, but I have a long day tomorrow and I do have some work to do. It was a pleasure meeting all of you."
Tycho offered to accompany her back to her hotel. He caught the look of mischief on Wes' face and chose to ignore it as they left the other Rogues.
Continued in Angel 2:2