Star Wars is the property of George Lucas and LFL. No profits were made and no disrespect is intended with this fic.



From Empire to Rogue
Part Twelve
by Banshee


Later that day, Terra, Tycho and Tootles were working on the cruiser. The maintenance crew had left them with specific instructions regarding the upgrades the trio could perform and then returned to their work refurbishing starfighters.

Tycho, who had changed into gray mechanics coveralls, was working on the under side of the ship while Terra started with the cockpit. He was just coming out from under the ship to join her when he came face to face with an Imperial Major.

The Major was several years older than Terra and slightly broader and taller than Tycho with light brown hair and hazel eyes. When he caught sight of the younger man, he smiled uncertainly, "Hello. I was told Terra -- ah, Commander Sharlee -- was around here somewhere."

Tycho was so stunned he couldnít speak; he just stood there, frozen. Terra could sense his alarm from the cockpit and came running. When she caught sight of the Imperial, she smiled in relief, "Casey." She joined the men on the hanger floor and addressed Tycho, "Celly, why donít you go help Tootles finish re-wiring the control panel."

Tycho nodded to her and with another hesitant glance for Casey, he headed quietly back into the ship.

Casey watched him leave with concern, "Is he OK?"

She sighed, it had always been hard for her to lie to him so she stuck close to the truth. "Yeah, heís just not real fond of Imperials," she replied softly. "When he was young, they killed his family... He saw it happen."

He nodded in understanding and looked down, "You want me to talk to him? I can come back later without the uniform."

"It would be better if you didnít but thank you for offering." She returned her full attention to the Major and smiled warmly, "So, what brings you by?"

He shrugged, "I was worried about you; Iíve come by several times the past few weeks. Everyone was sure you were here somewhere but no one seemed able to find you, not even Kathreene, and then the two of you disappeared for a week in the mountains..."

Realization dawned like an ice storm: the thing she had overlooked about her absence while she retrieved Tycho. She should have known her brotherís best friend would check up on her following the news of her fatherís death.

As young boys, Casey and Marx had become friends when they had met their first day of school. He had several sisters but was an only boy and had lost his father when he was very young. The two boys were as close as any brothers and Marxís death had hit him as hard as it hit the Sharleeís.

When she didnít respond, he looked around nervously, "Terra, is there somewhere we can talk privately?"

She nodded hesitantly and led him to a small lounge. After closing the door, they took seats facing each other. "Whatís up?"

He glanced around again, "I was going over some recent reports. Your young friend from Alderaan... Whatís his name? Lt. Celchu? Tycho?"

She shifted uncomfortably in her chair and nodded. One of his responsibilities was to notify local families if anything happened to a loved one serving the Empire.

"I am sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, especially right now, but he has been listed as MIA." Casey was watching her closely. "I wouldnít have noticed if it wasnít for the fact that his name fell just above someone from Slynorís and it sounded so familiar."

MIA? Not AWOL? Terra tried to cover her nervous surprise. "How long ago was he reported missing?"

"A few days ago," he answered softly. "Are you OK?"

She ignored his inquiry. "Where?" she rasped.

He frowned, "Terra, you know I canít tell you that. Besides, it wasnít in the report. Just his name and that he was from Alderaan."

She glared at him, "Is from Alderaan, you mean. He has been reported missing, not dead."

"Of course," he replied sympathetically. He lowered his voice and looked around again, "Terra, there is more."

His tone made Terra think of the listening device implanted in Tychoís uniform insignia. Since Slynorís forces were almost all natives, she didnít really think it was a possibility but wasnít sure she wanted to take the risk. "Casey, maybe you shouldnít tell me any more."

"Youíre the only one I feel comfortable talking to about this," he pleaded. The dread in his eyes made her nod reluctantly so he continued, "The Alderaanians in Imperial service are beginning to disappear. A lot of them have gone AWOL, which I canít blame them but..." He shook his head, "too many of them are being listed as dead or MIA. I wouldnít have thought much about it but a young man on my staff disappeared two nights ago."

She lifted her eyebrows, "Alderaanian?"

Casey nodded confirmation. "He was upset about Alderaan but I donít think he was that unhappy about serving here on Slynor. In fact, he commented to me that if he had been stationed anywhere else, he would have left months ago. And... there was a pair of new lieutenants who transferred in a day or so before he disappeared and now they are gone, too, and I canít find any records from their former post."

Terraís alarm built as he related the events. "I want you to forget about what you just told me and do not look into any further. Promise me, please." He nodded and she continued, "How much longer are you committed?"

He knitted his brows, "Another year and a half. Why?"

"I want you to file a request to serve with the Guardiens here on Slynor when youíre released from duty. Hopefully, by then, weíll be big enough that most of the planet will be under our responsibility anyway and weíll be able to get rid of the Imperial base."

He smiled knowingly, "I put in the request to serve with the Guardiens last month, just after I found out about Callow. From what Iíve been hearing, there shouldnít be any problem. I think the powers that be would rather have us leaving to serve with you than going over to the Rebellion."

She smiled in relief. "Is that why youíve been looking for me?"

"That plus I wanted to make sure you were doing OK. I miss having you around to pick on since youíve gotten so busy." He glanced at his chrono and stood, "Well, I guess I had better be going. I promised I would be home early this evening."

Terra stood and gave him a brief hug, "Tell everyone hello for me."

He looked briefly back toward the cruiser as he headed out of the lounge, "Are you sure you donít want me to talk with your mechanic friend?"

"Iím sure and he is one of my pilots," Terra replied quietly. Casey lifted his eyebrows but didnít respond; instead he simply nodded and turned toward the exit.

When he was out of sight, Terra headed back to the cruiserís cockpit where Tycho waited; she could feel his disquiet throughout Caseyís visit and had had a hard time clamping down on its resonance.

****

Tycho had watched Terra lead Casey into the lounge with a sense of foreboding; the Rebellion was sounding better and better all the time. He knew his skills would be put to good use but the past few days in the sims had taught him just how close to the surface his anger was hiding.

He had performed rather well but he could tell he was letting his emotions direct his flying. Anytime the scenario included a planet similar in appearance to Alderaan, he had lost control. He suspected Terra had instructed Tootles to push his buttons, if at all possible; and the little droid had succeeded rather admirably in doing just that. Terra had not meant it to be cruel, just self-informative, and indeed Tootles had been able to determine when to push and when to back off.

The pair emerged from the lounge and Tycho tensed even more when the Imperial glanced his way. He saw Terra speak to him and then Casey left and she turned in the cruiserís direction.

Tycho pretended to be busy with the co-pilotís control panel when Terra entered. She put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently, "Are you OK?"

Her touch had always had a calming effect on him and he felt the tension begin to subside. "Yeah. Just startled, I guess. Who was he and what did he want?"

Terra chuckled and lifted an eyebrow, "Demanding, arenít we?" She sat down in the pilotís seat and turned to face him. "That was Casey; he and Marx were best friends growing up. He wanted to check up on me to see how I was doing and to let me know you had been reported MIA."

Tycho knitted his brow in puzzlement, "Let me see if Iíve got this straight. Heís an Imperial serving on his home planet and Iíve been reported missing in action and he knew you and I know each other."

She could feel his tension beginning to build again. "He heard me talk about you a lot, Iím sure. I am more interested in why you were reported missing rather than AWOL. Do you think maybe Adair had something to do with that?"

He shrugged, "Could be. I thought that when the tracer was deactivated, I would have been assumed dead at first until the recordings could be analyzed to find out what happened. There would have been no question then that I was AWOL."

"Or dead," she added softly.

Tycho could hear the fear in her voice and decided to change the subject. "You still havenít explained how Casey ended up serving on his home planet. I thought that was strictly against policy unless he comes from a powerful family."

Terra smiled thinly and sat back in her chair. "Things are done differently here on Slynor plus his grandfather was the Governor when the Empire took over from the Old Republic. Our population at that time was composed of mostly biologists and medical personnel. We had one of the best medical schools in the galaxy," she told him proudly.

She told him about how peaceful the transition was since Slynor was far enough off the shipping lanes that its inhabitants really didnít know what was happening. It was pretty self-sufficient and without many resources other than an overabundance of nature but was far enough out of the way that turning a profit was next to impossible for vacation resorts.

"The only real difference was that our security volunteers began wearing Imperial uniforms and the base just north of here was built. This one just wasnít up to Imperial standards since it had arboretums and a view of the coast," she finished wryly.

Tycho chuckled softly, "Not to mention it was designed to be part of the landscape, no to stand out from it."

She smiled, "Guess I shouldnít complain too much, though. My grandmother, being the financial genius she was, was able to pick this one up pretty cheap. She had originally planned on turning it into a research hospital but itís not always easy for patients to make the trip here."

They returned to the work on the control panels in silence. After a while, Tycho spoke up, "G.A.?"

She lifted an eyebrow; she knew something was still bothering him about Caseyís visit. "Yes?"

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Are you sure about me staying with the Guardiens? What would happen if I was discovered?"

"You wonít be," she replied vaguely.

He frowned at her, "Youíre not being very realistic."

She slid out of her chair and knelt in front of him, taking his hands in hers. "Celly, I want you close." She held up a hand before he could respond. "Let me finish. I want you close for me; I need to know you are safe. I need to be able to turn on my comm and know youíll be close enough to answer."

When he realized she just admitted that she needed him, he stood, pulling her to her feet with him and holding her close. He chuckled, "And all this time I thought it was because you thought I couldnít look out for myself."

She laughed and pulled away enough to look up at him, her green eyes twinkling. "Oh, I know you can take care of yourself; I just like having someone around I can torment. Thatís the real reason I kidnapped you from the Empire, you know."

He snorted and lifted an eyebrow, "Is it still considered kidnapping even though Iím an adult?"

She sighed and ducked her chin, "Sorry. Iím doing it again, arenít I?"

A thought occurred to him and he pulled her to him, laughing. She looked up at him, puzzled. "Whatís so funny?"

He sat down hard and tried to control his laughter. He looked up at her, eyes twinkling, "If I ever am discovered, I can just tell them you abducted me so you could have a playmate. You think theyíll believe me?"

She barked a laugh and ruffled his hair. "Iím a bad influence on you. Maybe I should take you back," she responded impishly.

He smiled smugly, "Too late. Youíre stuck with me now."


Continued in Part Thirteen