A Slowly Swimming Planet
Secondly, this *should* have footnotes, but due to the media, well, it ain’t gonna happen. Therefore, please consider stuff in square brackets  to be a footnote. Sorry.
"So, what’s got up his nose?" Tyria asked Kell as Grinder stalked past them in the cafeteria, his fur every-which-way and looking very ruffled indeed.
He kept walking, almost knocking over an unfortunate non-com who happened to get in his way, before striding off towards his quarters.
"Oh, he’s just all huffy because he isn’t allowed on the next mission. We have been told there is no need for a codeslicer and High Command only want about half the Wraiths to go in anyway." The answer came from Kell’s wingmate, Runt, as he moved to sit down at the table with them, his large, almost bovine, eyes following the disappearing Bothan.
"How do you know about this, Runt? I didn’t even know we were scheduled for anything." Kell looked a little put out at being ‘out of the loop.’
"Just because Kell outranks us does not mean that he hears everything first," replied Runt, grinning broadly at his friend. "We were discussing arrangements for a social event with Commander Antilles when Lt Janson came in with the orders, and he told us a little before we were dismissed. He said something about ‘the relative value of fresh news’."
"So, do you know where we are going, then?"
Runt shook his head, the ponytail of long hair flipping over his shoulder.
"We were not told, Tyria."
"So, Wes, do we have any more information about this ‘special mission’ yet? All that I have here says is that they want me to take along half the squad, leaving the more technologically proficient ones. Says there’s ‘no need for them’."
"I bet Grinder loved that," said Wes, grinning.
"I’ve already informed him." Wedge grimaced at the memory. The Bothan had not been happy. "We don’t even know where we’re going yet."
"Well, we should be getting our final orders fairly soon. But scuttlebutt has it that our favourite Council member was pulling strings for this mission."
Wedge buried his face in his hands and groaned.
Wes looked how Wedge felt. Anything that Borsk Fey’lya had his claws into was guaranteed to turn out badly for the pilots involved. This was definitely going to be… interesting.
"Wedge, orders just came in!"
Wes hurried into his Commander’s office, holding a datapad which he tossed carelessly to the Corellian. He waited impatiently while Wedge scanned the contents, his eyes widening imperceptibly as he read.
"So, what’s the mission?"
Wedge leaned back in his chair. If he didn’t know that these orders were direct from the high council, he would’ve picked it for a Janson prank. (1) But… well, heck, it just proved the galaxy was an even stranger place than he had realised. (2)
[1. Janson Pranks are, on the universal scale of pranks, something
above apple pie beds and below the creation of the platypus. They
frequently involve Ewoks. Experience at your own risk.
2. Of course, had Wedge known about the existence of the platypus,
this would have been less suprising.]
2. Of course, had Wedge known about the existence of the platypus, this would have been less suprising.]
"They want us to find some sort of super weapon."
"Well, a Death Star’s pretty hard to miss, Wedge, how much trouble is it going to be? Borrow the Falcon from Han, get a few proton torps, go in, and home in time for dinner. Besides, you know how much Cubber loves painting all those new kills on."
Wes’ tone was light, humorous, but Wedge could see the shadow in his eyes, the instinctive fear any sane person, let alone one who’d gone up against and lost friends to a Death Star, felt at its mention.
"That’s the problem. It’s not a Death Star. We don’t know what it is. It’s been planned, and NRI has got wind of it somehow, and they want us to go in, find the plans and get them back here."
"So, stealing plans… remind me again why we’re not taking Grinder?"
Wedge glared at his lieutenant. Wes raised his hands in temporary surrender.
"All right, seriously, why aren’t we taking the whole squad in? Seems like it would be the smarter thing to do. And where are we going, anyway?"
"Well, NRI seems to think that some of the squad would be a little too conspicuous. And the guy who’s invented it is on a primitive, very low technology world. So we don’t really need Grinder. It’ll be you, Tyria, Kell, Face, Phanan is a maybe - apparently his prosthetics could cause some trouble - Myn, Lara and myself. Piggy, Grinder and Runt will be temporarily assigned to one of the other squads on base."
Wes looked vaguely horrified - Wedge’s list excluded all the non-humans in the squad, which suggested an imperial planet, but prosthetics being conspicuous?
That was just… weird.
"Wedge, what sort of crazy planet are we going to?"
"Well…" Wedge knew this was going to be difficult to explain. "You’re gonna love it."
Wes perked up.
"Endor?" The fun he could have with Wedge and live ewoks…
Wedge winced, thinking of those lavender short pants.
"No. It’s not really a planet, not as we think of them. It’s more a… world."
"Right." Wes gestured for his commander to keep talking.
"A world on a…" Wedge took a deep breath. "Giant star-turtle." He winced, waiting for Wes’ reply.
"Wedge, did anyone ever tell you there’s such a thing as too much payback? You’ve already got me with that little stunt on the Mon Remonda. A prank as lame as this merely insults me. The Discworld. Right. It’s a kid’s story, Wedge. So, where does this insane genius (3) who’s plans we’re stealing actually live, then?"
[3. Wes didn’t know how right he was in this description. Leonard
was loopier than the dual speed, steam powered roller coaster he’d once
designed by accident while trying to work out a way to make a floating
4. He called it the "Rising Slowly Above the Ground So as to
Bring Goods Across Rivers More Rapidly Device." (5)
5. No relation to Anathema]
4. He called it the "Rising Slowly Above the Ground So as to Bring Goods Across Rivers More Rapidly Device." (5)
5. No relation to Anathema]
"Wes, I’m serious. That’s where we’re going. Ankh-Morpork."
Wes looked carefully at his commander. He did look serious.
"Wedge, is this a bad time to tell you about Lara Croft?" (6)
[6. For some reason known only to the intergalactic society of games designers, in every plane of existence, an anatomically impossible female figure of desire is created as a hero. She is usually called Lara Croft, for some reason. Except on the planet Traal where the dominant species are the great Bugblatter beast, and there she is known as Hnnguurj. And is a he.]
In answer, the Corellian tossed the datapad back to his friend. "Have a look, Lieutenant."
Wedge was right. This, this - impossible was the word that came to mind - place really existed. And they were supposed to go there and find a weapon that the High Council ("Borsk Fey’lya," Wes mentally translated) felt was vital to the New Republic.
"Figures they give this one to the Wraiths" he muttered. "That planet’s as screwed up as they are."
To be Continued...
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