My Month with the Gods
After the medics had finished cleaning my various cuts, scrapes and bruises, I went in search of the Rogues. I started with the bacta tanks since that was where Hobbie was. Sure enough, they were all there except Wedge and Tycho.
Wes had pulled a chair over close to Hobbie's tank and was just staring blankly. Corran was sitting inconspicuously in a corner with his eyes closed in concentration and a far away look on his face; as usual, Ooryl, the Gand, was by his side.
The others were scattered around the room talking quietly. All conversation stopped as I entered the room and walked over to stand behind Wes. He jumped slightly as I placed my hands on his shoulders. "How is he?" I asked quietly.
I could barely hear him as he spoke, "He'll be out of the tank soon, just a minor wound." He chuckled softly before adding, "This time."
I sighed in relief. My guilt was beginning to eat at me. "I'm sorry," I told him. "This is my fault."
He turned to look at me over his shoulder, "How do you figure that one?"
I was spared the need to answer as Admiral Ackbar entered the room followed closely by Wedge and Tycho. "General Xen, I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am that you are alright. I assure you we will do everything in our power to find out who is responsible for this attack," he said in the gravelly voice I had come to associate with most male Mon Calamari's.
I took a deep breath before answering. "That won't be necessary. I already know who it was."
I could feel the eyes of the Rogues watching me. The expression on Wedge's face was concerned as he asked, "What do you mean?"
"They were from an elite Imperial force, the Vipers of Jovan. And, Admiral, they were here to capture me, not kill me." I turned to look through the viewport into the room where one of the captured attackers was being treated. The room behind me was complete silence. "The attack on their main base was one of the few ground ops I've ever been involved in and I suspect their leaders want to watch me die."
The Admiral made a wheezing noise that sounded like an approximation of laughter, "According to your file, you planned and lead that attack -- that you were personally responsible for the destruction of the Vipers."
I snorted and waved toward the next room, "That isn't exactly true and apparently the Vipers were not totally destroyed. They were recruited from all branches of our military and security forces; we never really knew who was and who wasn't a Viper. They were the Empire's version of our Underground. Only without a conscience."
I leaned against the viewport and sighed deeply wondering how much I should tell them about what happened. I decided they had a right to know. Wedge had a right to know. "I never really knew much about my father or his family. He died before I was born and Mother decided it would be more advantageous for us to have the family name of Xen rather than that of some dead fighter pilot."
Wedge snorted, "That sounds about like her."
I smiled knowingly at him as I continued, "Shortly after I joined our Starfighter Command, I met one of my father's cousins. He introduced me to Tino Guerdon." I paused and looked up to gage Wedge's reaction.
"Tino and I became close and I visited him often at his base. I thought it was just another branch of the service. I didn't realize they were Vipers until they tried to recruit me." I could feel the unshed tears as I remembered how heartbroken I was to learn who my lover really was. "I was already a member of the Underground by then.
"We had been trying to get someone on the inside for years and our leaders thought it was the perfect opportunity. We also knew that if I turned down the offer, chances were they would have me killed fairly quickly. I had to do it," my guilt was evident in my voice. "The Vipers had to be destroyed or at least mortally wounded if we were to have any hope of regaining our independence from the Empire."
Corran opened his eyes and looked around the room before turning to me, "We have all done things to earn death warrants from our enemies. It comes with being good at what we do. Why does this one feel so... personal?"
I couldn't meet his gaze, "Because it is. The attack was set up for a time when we knew the majority of their leadership would be there as well as a good number of their members. Tino was rather highly placed within the organization." I couldn't bring myself to look anyone in the eyes as I continued, "The private ceremony that was to be our wedding was a pretty important event."
Inyri broke the silence with a whistle as realization set in. "I've heard of leaving them at the alter before, but blowing it up...?" her voice trailed off at the glares she got from the assemblage of mostly male pilots.
Wes grunted, "I would have thought a simple 'no' would have sufficed."
Wedge was watching me closely with an expression I couldn't read. I tried to reassure him, "I'm sorry. I didn't intend to put anyone in danger. It's been almost four years and there haven't been any signs of the Vipers since then."
The Admiral responded, "Perhaps extra security would be in order."
A new thought occurred to me, "I really don't think that will be necessary. As long as I confine myself to Rogue HQ, I doubt they will try anything. I'm more worried about them going after a more accessible target."
Corran spoke again, "Your grandfather."
I nodded, "Or XM. They need to be warned."
"The Forth Fleet is in the area. I'll see if they can send in a Special Forces team to see to your family's safety. Discreetly, of course," Admiral Ackbar said.
"Thank you," I told him gratefully.
"In the meantime, I'll assign two Rogues to accompany General Xen at all times," Wedge added.
"I think that would be wise. If you'll excuse me, I need to be going now," the Admiral said and left the room.
Wedge walked over to me with the hint of a grin, "Are there any other old boyfriends I need to know about?"
I pretended to think before answering, "Well, there was this young Corellian freighter captain when I was a teenager but I'm not sure if he could be considered a boyfriend." Laughter accompanied my words as the mood in the room lifted slightly.
Wedge shook his head with the air of infinite patience a parent reserves for a wayward child. I had gotten the impression over the past week and a half that he had a lot of practice with this in his years with the Rogues.
I lifted an eyebrow teasingly, "Why? Know someone who might be interested?"
Wedge joined their laughter as he pulled me into his arms possessively. "I might," he whispered in my ear too softly for the others to hear. Catcalls, jeers and other less-than-polite noises reminded us we had an audience and we quickly stepped back from each other, my face as red as his.
Gavin's voice could be heard over the din, "Maybe Wedge should take the first shift at escort duty."
I turned to glower at the young pilot. "And maybe Gavin should spend the next week cleaning the hanger floor with a toothbrush."
Wedge spoke up, "Hey, this is my squadron. Any discipline to be handed out will be decided upon by me."
I rounded on him with a glare that used to make my squadrons take a collective step backwards, "Well?"
To his credit he didn't even flinch, just grinned evilly. "Make it two weeks. And Gavin gets the first shift at escort duty with me," he stated as Gavin moaned.
We were spared further embarrassment as a medic came in. "It's time to take Major Klivian out of the tank. I'm going to have to ask all of you to wait for him down the hall."
Wes was the first one out the door I noted with a smile.
Continued in Part Twelve