Birthday Challenge
by Ili

Hobbie gave a frustrated groan and tossed his hydrospanner to the side. He looked down at his grease covered arms, sighed, and looked over at Wes. "I don't think this shuttle will get fixed any time this century. Everything I try is wrong."

Wes gave his wingmate a sympathetic look, "Wish I could help, but...." he looked ruefully down at his right arm in a sling. He and Hobbie had had a rough landing in the woods of some backwater planet when some crucial component had failed. Basically, instead of landing at the only spaceport on this side of the planet, they'd undershot it by a few hundred kilometers and gotten stuck in the forest.

Hobbie chewed on his lower lip, "S'okay Wes, it's not your fault."

Wes tried the comlink again and only got a buzz of static. He glared at the offending object. "The com systems on the shuttle won't work and I can't get the comlink tuned right."

"I'd better get back to working on the shuttle, then." replied Hobbie ruefully. As he headed out of the shuttle, movement caught his eye. "What was that?"

"I dunno," Wes remarked, "Probably just some forest animal."

Ready for some diversion from the mechanic work, Hobbie picked up his blaster. "I'm going to check it out, I'll be right back."

"It was probably nothing." commented Wes.

"Well, I want to check, okay?"

"Alright, don't take to long, I might think that some monster or something got you."

As Hobbie followed the animal or whatever it was, he didn't notice the secretive grin tugging at the side of Wes's mouth. After Hobbie was well away from the shuttle, Wes pulled out a hidden comlink and spoke into. "Phase One is a go."


Hobbie was just out of sight of the shuttle when he caught a glimpse of the animal again. He took off after the fleeing figure then lost sight of it again. He stopped and listened closely to the forest and then heard the crunch of leaves behind him. Hobbie whirled around to see a dark shape hurtling toward him. Before he had time to react, the shape impacted with him, and Hobbie went falling to the ground. He next saw darkness when he knocked his head on a tree trunk in the process of falling.

Later, Hobbie blinked his eyes blearily, and felt an odd weight on his chest. As he opened his eyes fully he saw a pair of dark, animal eyes staring back at him, framed by a face of fur. "Ack!"

"Oh, you're up, that was a nasty fall you took," said a voice that didn't belong to Wes. Hobbie looked up and saw Wedge looking down at him. "Wedge?" he croaked.

Wedge grinned, "Hi. Meet the mysterious animal you chased into the forest." he pointed to the furry thing on Hobbie's chest. Hobbie stared at the creature...that wasn't a creature at all, but a stuffed Ewok.

The blonde pilot groaned and pushed the Ewok off of him. "How'd you get here, by the way?"

Wedge gave an innocent look, "Wes got the comm working."

"Uh huh, and what's with the Ewok?"

"Weell....Just Wes's idea of a prank."

"Somehow, I get the feeling that it's worse than that."

Wedge smiled, "Well, actually....yes." He pulled out a party hat from somewhere and stuck it on Hobbie's head. "This whole thing was a set- up to get you to admit you're getting older." Wedge pulled Hobbie up and dragged him out to where the whole squadron was waiting. When they saw them coming, the whole group shouted, "Surprise!"

Hobbie shot everyone a mournful look and pouted, "Alright, who let out when my birthday is?"

Wes materialized out of the crowd, grinning. "Guilty as charged, but cheer up, there's plenty of pizza."


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