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.

Jaded
Part Five
by Lyta "Jaded" Skywalker


The office of Admiral Ackbar, Commanding Officer of the Alliance Military was crowded. Most briefings usually taking place in larger rooms, however, this briefing only included a half dozen people, as the mission was of the utmost secrecy. In attendance, Admiral Ackbar, though he did not feel the time was right for this mission, he had been over ruled, by higher ups within Alliance Command. General Salm, Commander of Starfighter Training - Y-Wing, for whom this mission was his brainchild. Commander Wedge Antilles, Commanding Officer of Rogue Squadron, and close friend of the two pilots picked for this mission. Captain Lyta Skywalker, Jaded to her friends, the second best TIE pilot in the Alliance, Captain Tycho Celchu, second in command of Rogue Squadron and the top TIE pilot in the Alliance, and Lieutenant Wes Janson, the XO for the Rogues, and Wedge’s co-pilot for the drop off and pick up of the insertion team. They were all gathered as General Salm went over the mission assigned to Captains Celchu and Skywalker.

General Salm stood next to Admiral Ackbar’s desk, a hologram of Coruscant, also known as Imperial Center, floating in the air in front of him. Salm used a laser pointer to mark the objectives of the team. "Commander Antilles will pilot a Corellian YT-2400 freighter, with the cargo bays gutted and rails set in for two short range TIE fighters, which Captains Celchu and Skywalker will fly into Coruscant," he stated as he punched some keys, the display changed, showing the freighter and fighters. "Commander Antilles will fly them in to the outskirts of the system, dropping the TIE’s before continuing on to drop cargo at an Alliance location," he informed the group. "Now, Intelligence has managed to obtain entrance codes for the double shields surrounding Coruscant. Captain Skywalker will utilize her abilities as a slicer, with Captain Celchu’s assistance, and slice the computers within the Imperial Government. They will have 48 hours to gather as much Intelligence as they can, before Captain Skywalker is to pull an exit code for them, and depart. They will leave the planet and rendezvous with Commander Antilles in the outskirts of the system and will bring back the information they collect," he finished, as the display showed the two TIE fighters dock with the freighter. "Any questions?"

Commander Wedge Antilles listened silently to the briefing, waiting for the General to finish before speaking up. "Admiral Ackbar, I must protest this misuse of pilots. Captains Celchu and Skywalker are members of Rogue Squadron and under my command and are my responsibility. This idea of sending them into Coruscant to spy the land is beyond what they should be doing, as well as breaking up the squadron when we are still in the middle of a war. They are both excellent pilots, and are both trustworthy, however, they are not Intelligence, and I do not think we should be assigning them to jobs that need to be handled by trained Intelligence people," he spoke strongly, the fact that he had a bad feeling about this mission was something he tried to keep at the back of his mind and out of his argument.

Admiral Ackbar met Wedge’s gaze, "Commander, I argued the same points in every meeting prior to the approval of this mission, I also voted against this mission. However, the Provisional Council over ruled my vote, and agreed that this mission should go forward as laid out. I am sorry, but this is out of both our hands," the Mon Calamari Admiral replied, speaking softly.

Wedge stared hard at Salm, his control iron tight, "You’re behind this one, aren’t you Salm," he demanded, his voice deceptively calm, "You just hate the way I run the Rogues, so you took the first chance you got…" Wedge continued, before the light touch of Jaded’s hand interrupted his train of thought - he emitted a low growl deep in his throat before he could finish his statement.

Jaded was listening to the arguments for and against the mission, she too had a bad feeling about this mission, however, she could not think of anyone who could do as good a job as she and Tycho. When Wedge turned on Salm, she reached out and lightly touched his arm, stopping his tirade mid sentence. "Commander, though I can only speak for myself and not Captain Celchu, I feel that they have chosen the correct people for the job, no one knows Coruscant better than myself and Captain Celchu and I would not trust anyone else to be able to slice deep enough to get the information the Alliance needs. So as I see it, they need us to do this job, and I am going to do it," she responded softly, letting the tone of her voice, take the sting out of her words.

"I concur with Captain Skywalker, Commander," came the deep tones of Captain Tycho Celchu, "I feel that we are the best choice for this mission, and as it IS a voluntary mission, I am volunteering for it," he finished, his eyes flashing to Salm, letting him know that if no one else realized it, both he and Jaded had volunteered for this mission and not been chosen.

Wedge glanced down at both Jaded and Tycho, he hated this mission, he thought it stank like bantha poodoo, however, if Jaded and Tycho agreed to go, he had no recourse other than to accept their decision and make sure they got in and out in their respective pieces. "I don’t like it, however, I will do what I have to in order to make sure my pilots come back alive and sane," he stated quietly, his eyes never leaving Salm’s.

Salm turned off the display, "Very well, Commander, Captains, and Lieutenant, you will be departing within the hour," he stated smugly - he appeared to think he had managed to get something over on those in the room as he left.

Admiral Ackbar watched as Salm left and shook his head, "I suggest you get ready to depart, and make sure you are out of here on time, and May the Force be with you," he told them, his gravelly voice holding a hint of sadness.

Wedge saluted before turning and leaving the room, Jaded, Tycho and then Wes, who until this point had been uncharacteristically silent, followed him.

Wes moved around Jaded and Tycho - he caught up with Wedge, stopping in front of him and halting Wedge’s forward momentum, waiting for Jaded and Tycho to catch up to them before speaking, "All right you three, you want to tell me what just happened in there, because I sure as sith missed something," he stated blandly.

Wedge turned and faced the other two pilots, "He’s right, I somehow get the distinct impression that this briefing was for mine and Wes’ benefit only: so you two want to tell me what has been going on," he asked, his tone brooking no argument from his subordinates.

Jaded and Tycho looked at each other for a moment and finally Tycho nodded, as if they had been communicating on a different level from everyone else. Jaded turned her attention back to Wedge and Wes. "Wedge, before you decide to blow a gasket or three and take off after Salm in your X-Wing, I want you to hear me out," she stated softly, her voice firm. Wedge nodded, indicating she should precede, "General Salm approached Tycho and myself about three weeks ago, asking us if we would be interested in planning a mission for Intel into Coruscant," she told him, watching as his face went passive, in an attempt to hide the anger roiling just below the surface. "After looking over the information and what their objectives were, we talked between ourselves, and presented the mission to Salm, however, instead of Intel going in, it was Tycho and myself. Our primary condition being that you and Wes handle the insertion and extraction, as neither of us would trust anyone else with it," she finished, and waited for Wedge to blow up.

Wedge took a deep breath, suppressing the anger he felt at Salm daring to approach ANY of his pilots behind his back, he was not angry at Jaded and Tycho, they had done the same thing he would have done - they had put the needs of the Alliance before their own personal lives, feelings and needs. "Alright, this is a breach in protocol I will take up with the good General at a later date - I believe we have a departure window to make," he stated, his quiet voice calm. He turned and headed for his quarters, followed by the other three Rogues - once inside the door, he leaned back against it, forcing himself to breath deeply. He still had a very bad feeling about this mission. Wedge finally pushed off the door, and walked into his sleeping quarters - he heard the door hiss open in the outer office, and knew it was probably Tycho getting his stuff, he jumped when he heard Jaded’s quiet soft voice.

"Wedge, are you alright," Jaded asked, her soft voice filled with concern for her friend. "I know we should have told you when Salm came to us, but, it was just supposed to be a simple planning session for mission for Intel - it was after several sessions that we realized the only people who could pull of the mission were Tycho and myself, so we volunteered. I know we should have told you, just things got so hectic pushing it through the Provisional Council that it just slipped our minds," she told him, her voice quiet, "I am sorry if we betrayed your trust," she finished, her voice no longer masking her fear.

Wedge took a breath, calming himself before turning around to face Jaded, "You know, I really need to change that lock code," he said lightly, a soft smile for one of his closest friends lighting his features. Sighing, "You did not betray my trust - what you did do, was make a decision that in your opinion was the best one for the Alliance and that is what you are paid to do, just like myself," he told her, picking his words carefully so as not to make her feel that he disagreed with the decision she and Tycho made. "I just don’t like the idea of the Rogues being split up, even for a short period - however, you have to do what you feel is right for yourself and the Alliance. So are we still friends," he asked, holding his hand out to Jaded.

Jaded smiled, relieved that she had not just lost one of her closest friends. Taking his hand, she pulled him to her and hugged him tightly, "Thank you Wedge, I know this is hard for you, but Tych and I really are the best choice," she whispered softly. After several seconds, she pulled away and turned to leave, intending to leave him to pack - she turned around a soft smile lighting her features, "Oh and Wedge, you know Tych would give the code to me anyway, otherwise how else can I sneak in here at all hours of the night to torment you," she teased him, as she turned and left the room, letting the door slide shut behind her.

Coruscant

Captain Lyta Skywalker and Captain Tycho Celchu glided through Coruscant’s atmosphere, heading for the interior planetary shield, their exit codes already programmed into their TIE fighters. Tycho let go of some of the tension he was feeling, relaxing just a bit, as they glided through the interior shield - however, neither pilot was very surprised however, when the outer shield failed to allow them to pass - their mission had gone just too smoothly. Groaning inwardly, Tycho flicked on his comm, "Jaded, we have a problem here. Is there any way you can override the system and open that outer shield? Preferably before we attract company," he asked, his deep voice calm and steady over the comm.

"Working on it Tycho," came the reply from the pilot of the second TIE fighter, as Jaded worked the keypad of the portable access terminal she had brought with her on this mission. Suddenly, as she was about to access the data terminal in which the codes were kept, her terminal locked. "Sithspit," she cursed, "Tycho they are on to us, I expect the company you mentioned should be arriving at any moment now," she informed him, her voice tight. Jaded began doubled checking all her vital systems and weapons as she prepared for the coming fight "Looks like we are going to have to either fight our way out of here or fight our way to the surface - which will it be lead," she stated matter-of-factly.

Tycho considered their options for just a moment, as his sensor board lit up with an incoming cruiser and TIE’s, "Neither two, you break and make for the surface, and get out of here as quick as you can - get that information back to the Alliance - I will keep them off your back as long as I can," he told her.

Jaded listened, not wanting to believe her ears, "No way Tycho, either we both go or we both stay - there is no other way," she told him, not willing to leave the person who was so much more than just her wingman, "I am not leaving you," she stated defiantly.

Tycho took a breath, and took on a softer tone; a tone that said he would brook no argument from his best friend and lover, "Jaded, listen to me - one of us has to make it back or we both die in vain. You have the data the Alliance needs - that means you have to be the one to get out of here," he informed her, before softening his tone to that of a lover, "Jaded, please do not make me order you out of here," he pleaded with her, his heart already aching as he turned to face the ships coming in.

Jaded was torn her heart felt as if it were being ripped out of her chest as she watched the incoming ships - Tycho was right, no matter how much she hated it, no matter how much it hurt her personally, the Alliance had to come first, before her personal feelings of loss. "Tycho…" she began, as she turned her TIE and sighted on an inbound freighter she could shadow to get back through the lower shield. "I love you," was the last thing she said to him as she moved into the sensor signature of the freighter - she turned and saw the ships converge on Tycho’s position, saw him fighting for all he was worth - giving her the time she needed to get to the surface.

Tycho smiled grimly, as he watched Jaded’s fighter begin to turn, "I love you too Skywalker," he said softly, letting his feelings for Jaded emerge and control him for a moment. Seeing her enter the sensor signature of the freighter, he turned his TIE around and faced the approaching storm of ships fighting with all he was worth.

Jaded was surprised to see that the freighter was heading towards the outer shield - taking one last look at the battle, she turned her attention back to her piloting, biting back the tears stinging her eyes as she stayed within the freighter’s sensor shadow until it reached its departure vector an entered hyperspace. Kicking in her twin ion engines, she entered her own departure vector that took her to the rendezvous with Wedge and Wes, vowing she would return for Tycho. When she was out past sensor range of the planet itself, Jaded tuned her comm over to the frequency for Rogue Squadron, "Lead, this is five, I have one package for pickup," she hailed, as a freighter dropped out of hyperspace on and approach vector with her.

Wedge looked out the view port and saw only one TIE fighter, wondering which friend he had just lost when he saw only a single fighter on his vector. "Copy five, maneuver for pickup," he told Jaded, closing his eyes at the thought of losing yet another friend to this war. Turning to his co-pilot, "Wes, keep it steady, I’m going to check on the state of our package," he told his friend, keeping his voice level knowing Jaded would be in pain at the loss of Tycho. Wedge entered the hold as soon as the indicator light showed atmosphere and walked up to the ball canopy of the TIE as Jaded jumped down, her datapad and terminal in a bag - Wedge did not stop, but walked up to Jaded and enfolded her into his arms, holding her close and letting her know she wasn’t alone.

Jaded stood stiffly, biting back the tears stinging her eyes, "Commander, I have the data from the mission," she informed him - handing him the bag with the information. "I think we need to make good time to the fleet so this can be analyzed and a plan for rescuing Captain Celchu can be made," she stated quietly, struggling to keep her voice even.

Wedge looked at Jaded and nodded stepping back, "So you believe that Tycho is alive Jaded," he asked her, afraid to feel the hope he wanted to, that he held in his heart for his friend.

Jaded stopped and turned to look directly at Wedge, "I know Tycho is alive - I can still feel him," she stated matter-of-factly, her voice firm with her conviction.

Wedge nodded - if Jaded said Tycho was alive then in Wedge’s book that meant Tycho was alive. "Wes, plot the fastest course to the fleet - we have a Rogue to go get," he informed his best friend and co-pilot over the comm as he and Jaded made their way to the bridge of the little freighter. "Jaded, if you say Tych is alive then that is all the information I need - as soon as we turn this information over to Intel, we will get the Rogues together and go back to get him," he assured Jaded, his voice confidant in his convictions.



Tycho Celchu sat in an interrogation room aboard the Lusankya - he was bruised and battered badly from the battle and subsequent capture - however, Jaded had gotten away, he had seen her exit within the sensor signature of a freighter that had left Coruscant during the battle - that was what mattered to him - as long as Jaded was safe, he could die in piece. He glanced up as the door opened.

A tall, handsome woman with black hair, streaks of white framing her face, regally entered the room: her most distinguishing feature were her eyes, the right one was ice blue and the left a pure molten red. "Captain Tycho Celchu, Imperial traitor - it is good to see you back among your friends and family - I will make sure you are able to appreciate this chance you are about to get," she stated, her voice as cold as her right eye.



Jaded and Wedge sat in Admiral Ackbar’s office, waiting impatiently for a determination about what actions would be taken in the rescue of Tycho Celchu: both pilots stood as Admiral Ackbar and General Salm entered the office after meeting with members of their staff. "Sir, when do we leave," Jaded spoke, before realizing, she should wait and allow Wedge to speak for her and the squadron.

General Salm turned his attention to her, "Captain Skywalker, both you and Captain Celchu knew the dangers of this mission - as far as we know, Captain Celchu is dead and you are the one who pulled the trigger. Right now the only reason you are not in the Brig, and awaiting trial for treason is because you brought some very valuable information back with you - if I had my way, you would never be allowed near a starfighter again, much less the most elite fighter squadron in the Alliance. Furthermore…"

He got no further as Wedge was already in motion, tackling Salm, landing atop of him with both knees in Salm’s ribs as he swung several times, knocking Salm’s head from side to side as he hit him.

Admiral Ackbar watched the events unfolded before him somberly: "Commander Antilles, stand down," he stated firmly, "NOW."

Wedge stopped, his breathing still even, and stood returning to his seat next to his pilot - Salm stood, brushing his uniform off, "Admiral, I want this man arrested - right now," he exclaimed pointing at Wedge.

Ackbar watched Wedge and Jaded for a moment to make sure there would not be a repeat of Wedge’s performance by either of them before turning back to Salm. "And just what would you like to arrest him for General, you slipped and fell, Commander Antilles merely assisted you up - you really should watch those wet spots in my office you know General," he replied in his gravelly voice, the look he gave Salm informing the other man that he would not stray from his response.

"You think you’ve won this one Antilles, but you haven’t," Salm sneered as he turned to leave the office, stopping just long enough to throw Ackbar a half hearted salute when he was halted completely by Jaded’s quiet voice.

"General," came the soft voice of Captain Skywalker, "I just want you to know that I will never forget what you have done, not for as long as I live," she stated flatly, her tone calm, belying the fact that she was ready to murder the General on the spot.

Salm snorted and stalked out of the office, not even bothering to respond to Jaded - Wedge stood, taking Jaded’s arm, he indicated that she should return to her seat, before turning to address the Admiral. "Admiral, is what the General said true - we are not going after Tycho," Wedge asked the Mon Calamari Admiral.

Ackbar took a deep breath and looked at both the pilots before him, "I am sorry Captain Skywalker, but the Provisional Council has feels that any rescue attempt would be in vain, the records of your ship show that a scenario not even the best pilot could survive. I am sorry for your loss," he told her, his voice quiet and soothing.

Jaded stood, looking at the Admiral - her face composed, "They are wrong Admiral Ackbar, Tycho is alive, and if it takes the rest of my life, I will find him and rescue him," she stated flatly, turning she left the room, not waiting to be dismissed.

Ackbar nodded to Wedge, dismissing him, as Jaded left the room. Turning, Wedge left the office at a trot in an attempt to catch up with Jaded before she did something they would both be forced to regret, however, she was nowhere to be found - shaking his head, he turned and headed towards his quarters. When he entered, the first thing he noticed was the sound of sobs coming from Tycho’s sleeping quarters - walking quietly, he approached the door and opened it, seeing Jaded curled up in the middle of Tycho’s bunk, her arms wrapped around his pillow crying.

Jaded heard the door open, she looked up and saw Wedge standing there causing the tears to fall harder - she opened her mouth, intending to tell him to go away but her voice failed her - she screamed with the frustration of not being able to tell him to leave. She buried her face in the pillow in her arms hoping that he would leave and let her be alone in her misery.

Wedge’s heart wrenched as he watched the woman he knew to be so strong torn so powerfully by the loss of the man she loved. He walked across the small room to the bed sat down on the edge - reaching out he pulled Jaded to him and wrapped his arms around her pulling her onto his lap, never once attempting to remove the pillow she clutched in her arms as he pulled her to him. He held her tightly - stroking her auburn hair as she cried - something she had not done in a long time as far as he knew, it was something she had never done.

Jaded stiffened as Wedge pulled her into his arms, resisting the strong touch - she was terrified he would try to take the only thing left to her that still held any residue of Tycho, the only thing no one else had ever touched. When he did not, she let him hold her, sensing that he needed to do that for her as much as she truly needed someone to hold her. After several long minutes, Jaded’s sobs began to quiet down, even as they tapered off Wedge made no move to release her and she made no move to pull away. Finally, her breathing ragged, she pulled back just enough to meet Wedge’s eyes, her own eyes red, face blotchy from her tears, "Please tell me we are going after him," she said quietly.

Wedge took a ragged breath - Jaded’s voice had been a quiet plea for him to reassure her that they would not abandon Tycho. "If I have anything to say about it, yes we will - however, right now I do not and for that I am sorry," he responded his voice full of the anguish he felt for himself at the loss of a good friend and for her at the loss of a large part of her soul.

Jaded nodded, "Thank you Wedge," she said softly, putting the pillow on the bed, she moved to get up, but was detained by Wedge’s arms still wrapped tightly around her - she looked at her friend for a moment before laying her head against his shoulder and allowing him to continue to comfort her.

Wedge still had business to address with Jaded, business he was not ready to address, but had to be done. "Admiral Ackbar and I have discussed this, and until we can locate and get Tycho back, you have been promoted to 2nd in command of the Rogues," he told her softly, knowing the words would hurt her more than help, but knowing he had to tell her now, as they would be preparing for a mission soon.

Jaded sighed against Wedge’s shoulder, "I’m sorry they forced you to make such a decision at such a time, though I am sure that Salm is none to pleased with it," she said quietly, her voice muffled by the material of Wedge’s shirt.

"I don’t particularly care what that pompous ass thinks, Tycho was the only choice for the position when Luke left - you are his logical replacement. As much as I hate that, I have to work within it for the benefit of Rogue Squadron. Besides, I can’t think of anyone else I could want watching my back," Wedge told her using a finger to lift her chin so she faced him - he suddenly realized just how green Jaded’s eyes were, his head moving of its own accord as he bent and brushed her lips with his.

Jaded should have been shocked by the sudden kiss, but instead her emotions were so raw, nerves close to the edge, that the light touch of his lips against hers, sent her over the edge of another steep drop on the emotional roller coaster she had been on since Tycho’s capture. Her hands moved of their own accord to twine around Wedge’s neck, her body seeking to physical touch of another. She allowed Wedge to deepen the kiss, wanting…needing the touch of her beloved, "Tycho," she whispered, forgetting where she was and whom she was with.

Wedge stopped, shame and embarrassment suddenly coloring his face, "Oh Jaded, I am so sorry," he stammered - releasing her he moved to stand and leave the room when her hand stopped him.

"No apologies Wedge, I think we both have found ourselves in positions of needing the touch of another human being - please stay," she spoke softly, her eyes pleading with him.

That was Wedge’s undoing - sitting down on the edge of the bed, he pulled Jaded into his arms and kissed her, a deep and intense kiss that seemed to pull at his very soul as he felt her surrender to his touch. Wedge pulled back looking deeply into Jaded’s green eyes, seeing a need in her which, at least for this moment in time, mirrored his own.


Continued in Part Six