This is a work of fanfiction. 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 Four
by Banshee


Tycho was awakened by a beeping coming from the comm panel next to the bed. He looked down to see Terra still in his arms, just beginning to stir. She groggily rolled over and spoke into the comm, "Alright, Tootles. I'll be there in a minute." She switched off the unit and turned back to face him.

"Tootles?" he asked with some amusement.

She grinned lopsidedly, "My astromech. We'll be coming out of hyperspace soon for a course change." She watched him studiously and then added, "How are you feeling?"

He shrugged and winced, "I think the painkillers have worn off."

"I'm not surprised. We've been asleep for close to eighteen hours," she told him as she stood and stretched tight muscles. "You want to join me in the cockpit? I need to change your bandages and I don't know about you, but I'm hungry."

He smiled, "When have you ever known a pilot to turn down food?" He stood and followed her to the cockpit, her laughter echoing down the corridor.

A black R2 unit with aquamarine panels greeted them as they entered. "Hey there, Tootles. I'd like you to meet Celly. Celly, this is Tootles."

Tycho smiled. It had been too long since anyone had called him by the nickname she had given him shortly after they'd met. Prior to that, he had always disliked nicknames but he suspected the fact that it was Terra who had given it to him had something to do with his acceptance. His brother had also adopted it rather quickly as had some of his closer friends.

Tootles greeted him cheerfully, or at least he assumed so. "Nice to meet you, too," he told the droid and then glanced at Terra. "Nice color scheme."

She smiled proudly as she slipped into the pilot's seat. "It matches the new Guardiens' uniforms. You should see them. They're rather snazzy, if I do say so myself."

"Uniforms, huh? Moving up the galaxy, aren't you?" He sat in the co-pilot's seat and studied the unfamiliar control panels. He noted that the ship was rather new and quite up-to-date, not to mention, the military looking weapons systems. Translation: expensive.

"Yeah. We now have three transports and seven fighter squadrons. And with all the pirate activity lately, I've managed to convince a couple of the smashball teams to let me submit proposals."

"I've been hearing some really good things. I'm sure you won't have any problems getting the contracts."

She grinned mischievously, "Of course, it doesn't hurt that a lot of them have seen me in action on the court. Usually in the process of my planet's girls' team kicking the tail of their planet's girls' teams."

He chuckled at the memory of the championship celebration. The year they had met, Terra was playing in the girls' smashball championships being held on Alderaan. Her grandfather was a native and therefore still had numerous relatives on planet, including some that were friends of Tycho's parents

"So, where are we heading anyway?" he asked curiously. It was a question he had just now thought to ask, a sign of how much he truly trusted Terra.

"Home. Officially, I'm on leave to spend time with Mom. I still have a couple of weeks at our home base before I report back to my ship," she told him.

"And then?" he persisted.

She could hear the anger in his words and feel it in his heart. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, not sure how to explain what she wanted to tell him. "I know you probably had other plans, but I was hoping you would stay with me... and the Guardiens, for a while."

He was surprised and delighted by the offer, "The Guardiens? Me?"

She nodded, "You and Mom are the only family I have left now and I want you close by."

His delight turned to bitterness, "So you want me to be a Guardien because you want to look over my shoulder, not because you think I'm a good pilot?"

She sighed; this was not going well. "The fact that you are an excellent pilot means I can assign you to fly with one of the squadrons stationed on my ship without having to answer too many questions about who you are and where you came from. I can't and won't play favorites among the Guardiens; you will be expected to earn your position."

Any response from him was interrupted by their reversion to normal space. Tycho watched as she checked the data and reoriented the ship on its new course. A few minutes later, they re-entered hyperspace.

"This leg will take about four hours. Then the last one will be another twelve," she said as she patted the little R2 unit on the dome before heading for the door. She glanced over her shoulder before leaving the cockpit "You coming?"

Tycho was admiring the little yacht's speed and finesse as he stood and followed her aft. "Nice ship," he commented. "How did you manage to get this weaponry on a private vessel?"

She smiled knowingly, "I convinced the right people that I was interested in my clients' protection, not politics. Of course, it helps that the Guardiens have their own maintenance hangers so we install most of the upgrades ourselves." She frowned and added, "And our little organization takes some of the heat off the Empire by taking care of pirates for them so they can concentrate on the Rebels."

He grimaced, "So you're helping the Empire?"

She stopped in her tracks and turned to face him, "Unfortunately, in a way, yes but it also helps to not draw attention to us. By maintaining 'neutrality', we can help the Rebellion in other ways. For example, many of the people we hire as temporary help are actually Rebels who need transport to other bases with their salary going into a fund that can be accessed by special ops people. And some of our old ships that are officially in line to be scraped are actually being funneled to the Alliance as well."

He smiled and shook his head. "You are a sneaky one, aren't you?"

"I learned from the best," she replied smugly, her eyes twinkling. "You want to take a shower while I fix something to eat? Then we can change your bandages."

He shrugged and winced again as pain shot through his shoulder. "Sounds good."

She laughed at the look on his face, "Sorry, I know it's not funny. Maybe you should take something first."

He nodded and they stopped by her cabin. She handed him the painkillers and nodded toward the dresser. "There should be anything you need in the top drawer and pants and tunics in the closet behind you."

She started to leave but he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. "Thank you," he told her softly.

She wrapped her arms around his waist and looked up, her deep green eyes meeting his sky blue. "I will always be there when you need me," she promised.

He nodded, "That's why you're my G.A." He had nicknamed her Guardian Angel years ago because he always felt her presence, like a protective shadow, whenever he needed her. He wasn't sure how or why but had learned long ago not to question it.

****

After his shower, he followed the smell of food to the galley. "Um... Smells good," he said, sitting down at the table Terra had just finished setting with food and drinks for both of them.

She watched him as he tried to eat with his off hand, the right shoulder being the one that had held the tracer. She tried not to laugh but couldn't help herself.

He scowled playfully at her, "I'm glad someone finds this amusing."

She couldn't resist teasing him and asked sweetly, "Would you like me to cut it up and feed it to you?"

He snorted. "I don't think I'm that bad off."

She snickered and her tone became one of mock hurt, "And all this time, I thought you liked my attention."

He smiled to himself; she would probably never know how accurate that statement was. He had felt inexplicably close to her from the moment they had met; their friendship quickly developing into a deep bond similar to the ones he shared with his siblings. But she had always been, to a certain extent, just out of reach.

As they ate, she caught him up to date on the Guardiens. What had started out as a group of mostly female pilots flying stunts for holodramas had turned into a full-blown private security force. She was able to recruit leaders who, in turn, helped her secure investors.

Currently, her clientele consisted mostly of entertainers but she was hoping to add professional sports teams to the mix. She had developed a rather unique niche for her organization: providing security as well as transportation between various locations.

He was pleased that she was doing so well. He knew that serving with the Guardiens had become something of a status thing among pilots. Only the best were recruited; and they were paid accordingly.

Tycho also knew Terra was the heart and sole of the Guardiens. She believed in her organization's goals and insisted on complete loyalty. Her charisma and willingness to serve and protect inspired the beings who worked with her. They had even begun calling her Commander, out of respect.

When they were finished eating, she gingerly removed the dressing on his shoulder and grimaced. "Looks like it's trying to get infected. I'll be glad when I can get you into a bacta tank." She gently cleaned the incision and redressed it.

He nodded in agreement, "You and me both. I still can't believe they managed to put that thing in me without my knowledge."

She shrugged, "Considering some of the rumors I've heard about the Empire's mind control and scanning research, I'm really not that surprised. Since you were friends with Biggs and Hobbie, you were tagged as a flight risk."

The alarm Tycho felt at the hotel was beginning to return. "Do you think they'll be able to tell anything from what they heard of our conversation?"

Terra grew thoughtful as she replayed the scene in her mind. "I doubt it. Maybe just that Doc was on planet and that the Alliance is aware of their toys, but I think they already know that. My voice shouldn't show up in any of the recordings so hopefully they'll assume from what you said about not wanting to wear an Imperial uniform again that you joined the Rebels."

He started to ask her more but she stopped him. "Celly, you should probably get some rest." She hesitated briefly, "There are two other cabins on board if you would rather stay in one of them."

He searched her eyes for a moment but saw only concern, "If you want me to..."

She smiled, somewhat relieved. "Just thought I'd offer in case you wanted some privacy. I'm going to take a shower and work on some proposals and budgets. I'll check in on you after we make the last jump."


Continued in Part Five