by Lyta "Jaded" Skywalker
Jaded stood by the hatch of the shuttle as it docked with Home One after a long trip from Raltiir to Fleet headquarters. She almost bolted through the hatch as it was opened, wanting nothing more than to see her best friend and love, Tycho Celchu, who had finally escaped from an Imperial Prison and made his way back to the Alliance in a stolen shuttle. As Jaded reached the bottom of the ramp, she glanced around, expecting that Tycho would meet her and Wedge when they returned from their mission, however, he was no where to be found as she searched the shuttle bay for him. Turning back to face her companion her expression one of puzzlement, "Wedge, where could he be," she asked as he joined her from the shuttle.
Wedge stood at the bottom of the ramp with his friend and aide, he too looking for his friend, "I don’t know Jaded, I would have thought he would meet us if at all able," he replied as he steered Jaded out of the path of other departing passengers. "I would suggest though, that we go log in and let Admiral Ackbar know we have arrived," he told her as he led her into the corridors of the Mon Calamari cruiser.
Jaded nodded and followed Wedge through the corridors of Home One somewhat saddened by the fact that Tycho had not met them, they had been the only personnel to leave the shuttle without anything, as their belongings had been shipped ahead, and should already be in their shared quarters aboard the ship. Therefore, they made their way to the office of their immediate commander, Admiral Ackbar, were waved through the outer office by an aide, and were greeted by Ackbar and General Salm. Both Wedge and Jaded snapped to attention and saluted the Admiral and General.
Admiral Ackbar stood as Wedge and Jaded entered the office, "At ease, Colonel, Captain and please have a seat, we were just discussing you both," he told them, indicating they should take one of the seats in the office across the desk from the Mon Calamari Admiral.
Jaded followed Wedge into the office and took the seat farthest away from Salm, as she could barely stand to be in the same room with the man, somewhat distrustful of the fact they had been ‘discussing’ the two former Rogues before their arrival.
Wedge waited until Jaded was seated before taking the chair next to her, "Thank you Admiral," he replied as he glanced around at the two flag officers, "Though, I somehow believe this has nothing to do with our recent trip to Raltiir," he stated calmly, waiting to see what Salm had come up with now.
Nodding, Admiral Ackbar took his seat behind the desk, "General Salm, if you would like to begin," he stated, his gravelly voice low as he indicated Salm should proceed.
General Salm stood, turning to face Wedge and Jaded, "I am sure you will both be happy to know the Provisional Council has made the decision to reform Rogue Squadron, with the two of you at its head," he informed them quietly.
Wedge looked between the Admiral and General for several long seconds, "That is wonderful General, we will get on the roster just as soon as we have a chance to see Tycho," Wedge replied, turning his attention back to Ackbar, "So where is he," he asked calmly.
Before Ackbar could respond Salm moved within Wedge’s line of vision, "Captain Celchu is currently being held in detention until after he is debriefed, after which time we will determine if he will be tried for treason," he stated arrogantly.
Jaded was moving before anyone had a chance to react, if Wedge had not been sitting between her and Salm she might have just made it to him, though as it was, she made it out of her seat, only to be roughly grabbed around her upper arm and put back down in her seat, Jaded turned and glared at Wedge, his hand still wrapped around her upper arm, as if asking why.
Wedge met Jaded’s stare, his eyes hard as he returned the tight glare, "Sit down Captain," he said quietly as he leaned close to her, "This will get us nowhere, just sit there and I will handle it, I always have," he explained to her, his voice nothing more than a whisper.
Jaded nodded slighting, indicating that she understood what Wedge was saying, "I am sorry Wedge," she replied quietly, meeting his brown eyes once again with her green ones.
Wedge nodded slowly before turning once again to face Salm, "General, on what grounds are you holding Captain Celchu," he asked, his voice low with tightly controlled anger.
Salm glared at Jaded, knowing what she had attempted to do, and wishing she had gotten closer, "Colonel, Captain Celchu has admitted to being held in Lusankya by Ysanne Isard herself, in the eyes of the Provisional Council, this makes him a potential traitor. No one has ever escaped Lusankya," Salm stated flatly.
Jaded closed her eyes tightly, refusing to give Salm the ammunition he so rightly deserved, finally after several long moments, she opened her eyes again and faced Ackbar, "Admiral, would it be possible for me to see Tycho," she asked quietly, choosing to ignore Salm.
Ackbar nodded, "Yes, I believe that can be arranged, and may even be a good idea," he replied, touching a button on his communit which called his aide into the office. "I will have the Ensign take you down to detention to see Captain Celchu, I know he needs all the friends he can get right now," he told her as a young dark haired man entered the office. "Ensign Smithers, please escort Captain Skywalker to the detention center to see Captain Celchu," he informed the officer as Jaded stood to follow him.
Jaded turned as she reached the door, "Thank you Admiral," she responded quietly before facing Wedge, "I will speak with you later Colonel," she said softly as she followed Smithers out of the office and into the corridor. They went down several levels before reaching the detention area where Tycho was being held, it was only after verifying her identity through retinal scans was Jaded allowed into the cell that held her lover. As she walked through the door she saw Tycho sitting on the bunk, his eyes meeting hers as the door slid shut behind her. "Tycho," she cried quietly as she saw how much weight he had lost and how pale he looked, it was with that one word, Jaded was suddenly wrapped in the strong arms of the man she loved.
Tycho closed his eyes against the onslaught of emotion the mere sight of Jaded brought to the surface, emotions buried deep over the months and years he had been a prisoner, "Jaded, I was so afraid you wouldn’t be here when I came back," he whispered, his voice broken with emotion. "I was afraid I would lose you," he continued as he held her to him like a drowning man clutching a life preserver.
Jaded buried her head against his shoulder, inhaling deeply of the fragrance that was her lover, "I was so afraid I would never see you again Tycho, they wouldn’t let me come after you, I didn’t know what to do," she blurted out, her control over her emotions weakening the longer she was in his arms. Finally, after several long moments, she broke the embrace, and stepped back, holding Tycho’s hands in hers, "I was so afraid you were lost to me," she whispered as she took in every detail of this man who had been gone for so long.
Tycho smiled, the site of Jaded enough to fill his heart with joy, "No my love, I am not gone, I am right here, I came back to you Jaded, I had to come back to you," he replied as he led her to the bunk, and pulled her down next to him, facing each other so they could talk. "What has happened in the last two years Jaded," he asked, starving for information from her life and the lives of their friends.
Jaded frowned as thoughts raced through her head, "I was promoted to second for the Rogues about a month after the mission, about six months after that the Rogues were disbanded, Wes and Hobbie sent to the new academy to train pilots, the others sent to other commands and squadrons. Wedge and I did a meet and greet tour around the Alliance, trying to promote the ‘Hero of the Alliance’ - that is Wedge," she babbled, trying to tell him everything, but wondering if he needed to know all.
Tycho took in the features of his lover, his thoughts going to the short time they had been together before he had been captured, "Jaded, I know you can’t tell me everything, I understand that. I may never get my clearance back or be able to fly again," he began, catching her green eyes once again with his blue ones. "Jaded you have to accept that we may not be able to be together again either, not if the council believes I am a threat, and right now they do," he told her softly, trying to break that news to her as gently as he knew how to.
Jaded nodded, "I know that Tycho, I have already been told that you were kept aboard the Lusankya, and that you escaped after they moved you to a the Imperial prison on Akrit’tar, I also understand the implications of what that means, I have dealt with people Iceheart has programmed, a couple tried to take out Wedge on our tour. So I know the threat you may be, however, I do not believe you are a threat, though I do know things that may make you reconsider coming back to me, after you are exonerated," she replied softly, her voice catching as she thought of telling him about that night two years ago.
Tycho looked closely at Jaded, his eyes carrying his love for her, "Jaded, there is nothing that could have happened that will ever make me stop loving you, NOTHING," he told her, pulling her tightly back into his arms and holding her close to him.
They were both startled when the door to the cell opened once again to admit Wedge, Jaded and Tycho stood to greet their commanding officer, "Wedge, how did the rest of that meeting go," Jaded asked quietly, not knowing what he would be able to tell her in front of Tycho.
Wedge smiled at his friends, "Tycho it is good to see you well, I was very happy to hear of your return," he told his friend as he clasped the taller man’s forearm in a companionable greeting. "Jaded we can discuss this later, right now, we both need to say hello to Tycho, though I believe they are going to chase us out of here soon," he explained to Jaded, his voice soft and apologetic.
Jaded nodded, her throat tight, "I understand Wedge," she replied, turning her attention back to Tycho, "I will be back later and we can talk some more," she said quietly as she turned to leave the room.
Tycho watched as Jaded moved to leave the room, waiting until she was out of the room and the door slid closed before turning his attention back to Wedge, "What happened while I was gone," he asked indicating that Wedge should take the chair, "Jaded seemed to be a bit nervous when she came in."
Wedge took the offered seat, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath deciding what he should say to his friend, "There was a lot of stress after your capture, nothing she did in those first weeks was her fault," he replied, not knowing just how much he should say to Tycho.
Tycho watched Wedge for several long minutes until the guard finally opened the door signaling an end to the visit, "Colonel, I am sorry, but I have to ask you to leave," the MP stated softly.
Wedge stood and moved towards the door, almost leaving the room before turning back to look at Tycho, "Whatever happened over the past two years is for Jaded to tell you, not me," he told his Alderaanian friend.
Tycho made his way down the corridor he had been told housed Jaded’s quarters, after months of interrogation and outright rudeness he had finally been released from the brig, and allowed if not to serve the Alliance, to at least see his friends, one in particular he wanted to see was Captain Lyta Skywalker. He had been told by Wedge that Jaded would be off today and had come by her quarters to see her, and to hopefully talk her into moving in to the little apartment he had found just off base with him. He reached the door that was to Jaded’s office/quarters, and lightly touched the chime to announce his presence.
Jaded was working on the latest roster given her by General Salm for the appointees to Rogue Squadron, though each of them had to qualify by their own right, they were still being appointed by government officials, something neither she nor Wedge Antilles, Commander Rogue Squadron, had agreed to, just something that had been forced on them, she was startled by the chime at her door, and glancing up took a breath before answering it, "Come," she called, figuring it was most likely Wedge wanting to discuss the new roster with her.
Tycho smiled at the distraction he heard in Jaded’s voice as he entered the room, "Hi," he said quietly as he walked over to her desk, and laid a single white rose in the middle of it.
Jaded smiled and stood, stretching sinuously in an effort to get the kinks sitting for hours on end seemed to leave in her muscles these days, "Tycho," she exclaimed as she walked around the desk and threw her arms around him.
Tycho hugged Jaded close, needing the feel of her against him to bring him to the reality that he was alive, and was free of the Empire, "Happy to see me," he asked, his voice light and filled with good humor.
Jaded smiled up at the blonde pilot, her face reflecting the joy at seeing him outside of the brig brought her, the same thought brought home the truth, that she had betrayed him while he was captured. Pulling away, Jaded led Tycho over to the couch sitting in the corner of her office and sat down, pulling him beside her, "Tycho, there is something I have to tell you, something I do not know how to tell you," she began, the words sticking in her throat.
Tycho shook his head, stopping her words with his fingertips, "It really does not matter, you can tell me or not, it is not important, you know I love you no matter what," he replied, feeling that Jaded needed this reassurance.
Jaded shook her head sharply and pulled back, standing to put some distance between her and Tycho, "Yes Tycho it does matter, it matters a lot to me, and I believe it will matter to you," she said quietly as she began to pace the room trying to find the words to tell the man she loved.
Tycho watched Jaded pace the tiny room before him, his emotions caught in his throat as he tried to see things as Jaded saw them, but was unable to, "Jaded, then just tell me, I am sure you will find that once you have said the words, they will mean little," he told her, wanting to find a way to reassure and comfort her.
Jaded stopped and turned to face Tycho, meeting his crystal blue eyes with her jade green ones, "You think so Tycho," she asked her voice breaking with the emotion she felt, "I do not, think that after I tell you I slept with one of your best friends not a month after you disappeared, that you will be so understanding," she stated softly, the pain evident in every word that she spoke.
Tycho just stared, nothing had prepared him for what Jaded had just told him, nothing he could ever imagine, "Who," was the only word he could get out as he felt his heart breaking at the thought of losing her to another man.
Jaded closed her eyes, wanting to take it all back, wishing she had not just hurt the man she loved for no reason what-so-ever, "Wedge," she whispered, dropping to her knees before him, "It just happened, neither of us planned it, we just," she began again, attempting to explain what had happened that night so long ago.
Everything suddenly became clear to Tycho, Jaded wasn’t telling him about a long standing affair, she was trying to tell him, that in her pain at his loss, she had turned to another for comfort, "Jaded, please, I understand, there is nothing to feel sorry for, no one is to blame for what happened," he explained, pulling her once again into his arms and holding her tightly.
Jaded buried her face in Tycho’s shoulder, amazed that he could still feel love even after she confessed her betrayal, "I am so sorry Tycho, I never meant for it to happen, Wedge never meant for it to happen, they had just told us that we would not be allowed to go after you, and Wedge was trying to comfort me, and it just happened, it was only the one night, I promise you," she babbled on, still trying to apologize for the incident.
Tycho tilted Jaded’s face up to meet his, "I understand Jaded, it happened, it was neither the fault of you or Wedge, things just got out of hand, and I can and do understand that," he responded trying to reassure her of his emotions.
Jaded reached out and traced Tycho’s face with her finger tip, not willing to believe he could forgive so readily, "I never stopped looking for a way to find you, to come for you," she whispered, as she relived the two years of hell while he had been in Imperial hands.
Tycho smiled as he caught the tip of Jaded’s finger with his teeth, "I know you did Jaded, whenever I was conscious enough to think I thought of nothing but you, and being with you," he replied as he caught her eyes once again with his, "You were my sanity within the insanity, my light at the end of a long dark tunnel," he told her, as he bent his head and captured her lips with his.
Jaded sighed lightly against Tycho’s lips, pressing her body against his, a body starved for the touch of the other half of Jaded’s soul. After long moments, Tycho stood and picked Jaded up off the sofa and carried her into her bedroom and laid her down gently on the small bunk and looked down at his angel, the one who saved his sanity while he was tortured by Isard.
[i]Admiral Ackbar’s Office, Folor Base
Wedge and Jaded entered the office of Admiral Ackbar on Folor Base, current home of Starfighter Command Training station, both snapped immediate salutes and held them until they were returned by the Admiral. "Thank you for seeing us sir," Wedge responded as he relaxed into a parade rest stance.
Jaded relaxed next to Wedge, her hands clasped behind her and in the small of her back as she watched the other figure in the room, that of General Salm, the bane of her existence.
Admiral Ackbar watched Colonel Antilles and Captain Skywalker, knowing they would not have insisted on this meeting without good reason, "As always Colonel, it is good to see you and Captain Skywalker," Ackbar stated quietly, indicating that the two Rogues should take a seat. Ackbar waited until everyone was seated before he cut to the crux of the matter with Wedge, "Colonel, General Salm here seems most impressed with the Rogues, as am I, I know the fleet will benefit greatly from having them within their ranks," he began, hoping to defuse what was most assuredly a volatile situation.
Wedge glanced in the direction of General Salm, "Yes, Sir," he replied, taking a deep breath before continuing, "I wished to speak to you about that Roster, Sir - apparently there were several changes made without mine or Captain Skywalker’s consultation," he explained quietly.
Salm faced the brown haired Corellian pilot, his face closed to any suggestions Wedge might have, "Colonel, there are circumstances beyond our control, which made these changes necessary," he stated briefly, expecting that to be enough for the Commanding Officer of Rogue Squadron and his Second in command.
Wedge turned in his chair and faced the General, "Yes, Sir, I am well aware of that fact, I understand that Lieutenants Hobbie Klivian and Wes Janson are needed to assist in the training of new pilots, I also understand that about half my slots are going to political appointees, I may not agree with it, however, I do understand the reason for it," he stated calmly, holding tightly to his temper and emotions, as neither would allow them to accomplish the goals they had set for themselves and had come here to get.
Ackbar turned his attention to Wedge, his eyes focusing on the young man sitting across from him, "However, you do not approve Colonel," he asked flatly.
Wedge bit back a sharp comment, "Admiral, Captain Skywalker and I have spent a good deal of the last two and a half years touring worlds new to the Alliance because someone decided our new allies needed to see that we did indeed have heroes - that we were not all the bandits the Empire made us out to be. I have given speeches, kissed babies, and been shot at, by the sister of one of my closest friends. I have bitten my tongue when this same command refused to go after one of our own, and have since endured the fact that one of our own has been cast aside by the same people who created this monster we are now calling Rogue Squadron. I do not for one moment believe that the Empire is going to lie over and die because Rogue Squadron is back in action. We have had the highest mortality rate of any squadron out there because frankly sirs, we do the impossible, I and Captain Skywalker both accept that as our lots in life, however, I want people that I stand a chance of keeping alive during battle, and I do not believe that political appointees are it," Wedge stated firmly, saying more than he had expected to say in this meeting.
Admiral Ackbar looked pointedly at Jaded, "Captain Skywalker, do you have anything to add to what Colonel Antilles has just stated," he asked his gravelly voice quiet.
Jaded glanced at Wedge who nodded almost imperceptivity, "Yes sir, I do. While I too understand the need for our allies to be represented within the Alliance’s most elite Starfighter unit, I believe we must be prudent in our choices of those pilots, if we do not want our allies to have martyrs on their hands. Therefore, Colonel Antilles and I have come to the conclusion that the following changes would be beneficial to both Rogue Squadron and the Alliance," she stated calmly as she pulled a datapad from one of her pockets, and went down the list of things she and Wedge had discussed previously. "First of all, we need pilots who are just that Pilots, as well as intrusion experts, and other skills that seem to always be needed by those of us within Rogue Squadron, and we have chosen a roster that mostly fills that need, with a couple of exceptions," she stated blandly, not looking in the direction of the human General in charge of Folor Base’s Training Center.
Salm looked between the other three beings in the room before turning his attention to Jaded, "Captain, just what exactly did you have in mind for changes," he asked, his voice tight and dangerously quiet.
Jaded took a deep breath, glancing in Wedge’s direction and once again getting the ok to proceed from her CO, "First would be Rogue eight sirs, Lieutenant Deegan," she replied, her eyes staying on her datapad.
Admiral Ackbar looked a bit confused at the choice, "Lieutenant Deegan is an excellent pilot," he stated matter-of-factly.
Jaded nodded, "Yes Admiral he is, however he is also from Corellia, and with Corran Horn and Colonel Antilles, that makes three Corellians within Rogue Squadron - one could see a prejudice in that decision," she responded softly, knowing this would be the easy part of this fight.
Salm was the first to respond to her statement, "I can see that possibility and understand it, however, did you have anyone else in mind," he asked Jaded.
Jaded took a breath and centered herself before continuing, "Yes Sir, Gavin Darklighter," she replied quietly, she and Wedge had gone over the pros and cons of using such a young man in the Rogues, and had found over hours of discussion, that the pros most definitely outweighed the cons.
Salm laughed, a sharp painful sound, "Gavin Darklighter is just a Tatooine farm boy who thinks that the ability to shoot womp rats from a speeder can make him a hero," he replied hostilely.
Jaded turned and glared at Salm, her patience starting to wear very thin in this discussion, "Begging the General’s pardon, but Luke Skywalker was just a Tatooine farm boy whose ability to shoot womp rats from a speeder DID make him a hero. I do not see a correlation between being a Tatooine farm boy and an able pilot for the Alliance," she stated quietly, her voice dropping an octave with her aggravation.
Salm continued to glare at Jaded, the hostility filling the room as the situation escalated, "You mean to tell me that a sixteen year old child with little or no Force ability is of use to Rogue Squadron," he sneered, "I would have expected more intelligence from you Captain Skywalker if not from Colonel Antilles," he stated harshly, seeming to close the issue.
Admiral Ackbar, however, was not satisfied with this, "Mr. Darklighter’s age aside, why have you chosen him for Rogue Squadron, Colonel," Ackbar asked, turning his gaze to Wedge.
Taking a deep breath, Wedge centered his thoughts, "Admiral, Gavin came to me personally, because I had known Biggs, and was such a good friend to him, he wants to serve the Alliance and frankly I feel an obligation to him in this. I have reviewed his test scores and they are high enough to qualify him for the Rogues, therefore, I feel I need to give him the chance, Sir," he responded calmly.
Ackbar considered this for several moments, "Colonel, you do have to admit that this Gavin Darklighter is rather young," he asked, concerned over the number of martyrs the Rogues had already committed to the Alliance.
Wedge considered the Admiral for several moments, "Sir, are you saying that no one, no where within the Alliance hierarchy would take Gavin because of his age," he asked, his voice incredulous, "I do not think that for one moment, Colonel Varth would not hesitate at the opportunity," he stated calmly, knowing that if he blew up he would lose both fights.
Salm looked like he was about to laugh, "This may be true, however, Colonel Varth has a much better record of keeping his pilots alive than you do," he stated harshly.
Jaded looked over at Wedge when Salm said this, seeing the pain on Wedge’s face, she spoke next, "General, I would like to see you take any one of your squadrons against not one but two Death Stars, and see how many of your pilots come out of it alive, Colonel Antilles has done everything a commander can do in order to keep his people alive, it is no reflection on him that people die in the types of missions we seem to get every time out of the hanger," she stated, her voice resembling a frigid day on Hoth.
Wedge laid a light hand on Jaded’s arm as a warning before continuing, "Admiral, Gavin takes the Redemption scenario in three days, and I feel that his scores will be acceptable for Rogue Squadron," he informed Ackbar and Salm.
Ackbar glanced over in the direction of the General, "Outside Gavin’s age, do you have any other problems with this," he asked Salm.
Salm looked at both Jaded and Wedge before answering, "No, if his scores are as good as Colonel Antilles, and Captain Skywalker claim, I see no reason why he cannot be assigned to the Rogues," Salm replied.
Wedge took that moment to take a deep breath and get his emotions under control before addressing the issue of Tycho Celchu, "Now onto the position of my Executive Officer," Wedge began, opening up a can of worms he was not all that sure he would be able to work with.
Ackbar was taken aback by Wedge’s opening, "Colonel are you suggesting that Captain Skywalker here is not up to the job," he asked, managing to hide the surprise in his voice.
Wedge glanced over at Jaded once more before speaking, "Admiral, Captain Skywalker is an excellent pilot, and an excellent 2nd in command, however, her abilities are innate, and though she is quite able to teach up and coming pilots, she is impatient with them, and as my goal here is to keep as many of our pilots alive as possible, and though I feel Captain Skywalker is able in that capacity in the air, she and I feel that she would be a liability in training them," he explained to Ackbar and Salm.
Salm turned his attention to Jaded, "Captain what is your opinion in this matter, do you feel as Colonel Antilles does, that you would be better off in a less hands on role with training pilots," he asked, his tone giving the impression he was looking for a reason to pull her from the Rogues.
Wedge did not wait for Jaded to respond, "No sir, that is not what I said, I explained that while Jaded is an excellent pilot, and I would not want anyone except her assisting me in the running of the squadron, I she is not a trainer," he reiterated his point to the human General.
Ackbar decided to head off the coming argument before it could start, "Colonel, just who did you have in mind for Executive Officer to Captain Skywalker’s 2nd in Command," he asked pointedly.
Taking a deep breath, Wedge brought himself under complete control, expecting the worst when he informed Ackbar of his choice, "Captain Tycho Celchu, Sir," he stated matter-of-factly.
His expectation of Salm’s reaction was not off by any measure, "NO, NOT NOW NOT EVER," he exclaimed, "Just because Captain Celchu is not in prison, does not mean I would want him anywhere within my command," he stated sharply.
Wedge turned and faced Salm, "Excuse me General," he responded quietly, reining his anger in tightly, "Captain Celchu has done nothing that warrants such treatment," he informed the General.
Salm glared at Wedge incredulously, "What else do you need to know Colonel Antilles, he is possibly a traitor and definitely a threat to the Alliance, therefore, I see no reason to continue this ludicrous discussion, I will not allow it," he responded vehemently.
Jaded had reached her endurance, "General, Captain Celchu is a hero to the Alliance, he fought with honor at Hoth, he and I flew against the Death Star at Endor and gave Colonel Antilles and General Calrissian the opportunity to take out the power core, he flew with distinction at Bakura, and the both of us VOLUNTEERED for your mission to Coruscant during which he was captured, he finally managed to escape from Iceheart’s clutches, and you brand him a traitor, I find THAT ludicrous," she stated harshly, her voice tight and dangerously low.
Wedge reached out and laid a hand lightly on Jaded’s arm, "Captain Skywalker’s point, is that Captain Celchu is trustworthy and she and I both trust him with our lives," he began letting that bit of information sink into both flag officers, "We have all three discussed this at great length and Captain Celchu is willing to remain under a ‘house arrest’ when not in the company of Captain Skywalker or myself, as well as being open to interrogation as need be, and having his computer records and correspondence monitored at all times," he informed them, pausing to give them time to react.
Ackbar spoke up before Salm could respond to either Rogue’s challenge, "Colonel," he asked, attempting to direct Wedge’s attention to himself instead of Salm, "Where exactly is Captain Celchu now," he asked softly in his gravelly voice.
Wedge broke eye contact with Salm, turning his attention to Ackbar, "He is in the Simulator Complex, Sir, assisting with the Redemption scenario," he stated softly, not wanting to stir the soup much more, for fear of losing both battles.
Salm exploded, "He is where, Colonel," he demanded, standing and placing himself in front of Wedge’s chair, "Just who do you think you are, Colonel," he demanded glaring at both Wedge and Jaded.
Ackbar called in his aide, "General, please sit down," he said firmly as a young Lieutenant came into the office, "Please get Captain Celchu and escort him back here, you will find him in the simulator complex," he told the young man waiting until the Lieutenant left before continuing, "Colonel do you really think it was wise to allow Captain Celchu to participate in a simulation," he asked Wedge, his voice even.
Wedge glanced over at Jaded, "I apologize, I may have jumped the gun in allowing Captain Celchu to participate in this simulation, however, because neither myself nor Captain Skywalker could participate I felt that he was the best choice for the job, sir," he replied, keeping his voice calm.
Jaded shook her head, amazed at the situation she was seeing, "Sirs, as Colonel Antilles and I had to be here, we needed someone to lead the Redemption scenario against Corran Horn, who is extremely good, quite possibly one of the best in the group, we agreed that since I could not take the TIE lead in the scenario, Captain Celchu would be the next logical choice, I do not see…" she began before being cut off by Salm’s angry retort.
Salm’s face was turning purple with anger at the two Rogue pilots, "Captain Skywalker, you may not care about your own safety, and in my opinion, you too are suspect as you currently share housing with Captain Celchu, so I hardly believe you are an appropriate judge of his guilt or innocence," Salm stated sharply.
Jaded stood to force Salm to retract his words when two things happened, Wedge laid a hand on her arm, pulling her back down into her seat, and Tycho walked in the room, meeting her eyes questioningly as he picked up the residue of her anger, "I apologize Admiral, Colonel," she responded tightly.
Ackbar glanced over at Tycho as he entered, "Captain Celchu, I understand you have agreed to many strictures to be placed on your person in an effort to join Rogue Squadron," he stated quietly.
Tycho looked at those around the room, wondering what exactly he had interrupted when he entered, "Yes sir, I have," he stated confidently.
Ackbar nodded, seeming to digest the information, "Why would you agree to such things Captain, you will be treated no better than I was as a slave to Moff Tarkin, in fact worse, as you will not even be allowed to be with the people you care about," he reiterated to the Alderaanian pilot.
Taking a deep breath, Tycho met Jaded’s eyes, trying to communicate to her through that look that he loved her no matter what, "Yes sir, I do understand that, however, I am a warrior, and my closest friends and family are also warriors, so I will do whatever it is I must do to assist the Alliance as that was the choice I made a very long time ago," he stated quietly, not allowing his emotions to cloud his decisions.
Salm sneered, glaring at both Tycho and Jaded before turning his gaze to Admiral Ackbar, "What else would I expect from a traitor to the Alliance," he asked belligerently.
Jaded was moving before anyone even realized it, Tycho, the only one between her and Salm, moved just as quickly grabbing her by the arm and swinging her around to face him, "You will do none of us any good with that behavior Skywalker, so sit down and let it go," he told her, speaking barely above a whisper where only she heard what he said.
Taking a breath, Jaded nodded, and turning, returned to her chair next to Wedge, "Again I apologize Admiral, Colonel, Captain," she said reluctantly refusing to face Salm.
Wedge glared at Jaded, knowing her temper was as short as his, however he seemed to have a better grasp on the fact that they both needed to keep their tempers in check to win this battle, "Sir, Captain Skywalker has been under extreme stress in setting up the squadron, as well as the stress of her personal relationship with Captain Celchu, I ask that this incident be forgotten and not held against her," he stated calmly, though just under the surface he was boiling.
Ackbar nodded, "Noted Colonel, as far as I am concerned, nothing has happened here today, except for the fact that I will accept your recommendation Colonel, and appoint Captain Celchu to be your Executive Officer with the provisions laid out," he responded to Wedge before turning his attention back to Jaded, "Captain Skywalker, I strongly suggest you get better control of the stress in your life, before it causes you difficulty that neither myself, Colonel Antilles nor the Skywalker name will be able to get you out of, am I clear Captain," he asked, his voice quiet and low.
Already berating herself for allowing Salm to get to her in the way he did, Jaded looked directly at Ackbar, "Yes sir, you are crystal clear," she replied softly, her voice tight with control.
Ackbar nodded, "Very well, you are dismissed," he responded, standing as they did, "Oh, and Captain Celchu, how did the simulation go," he asked the taller man.
Tycho smiled and faced the Admiral, "If what I saw today was representative of the pilots for Rogue Squadron, I do not believe the Alliance has anything to worry about," he replied.
Wedge smiled proudly at the praise of the pilots he had chosen for Rogue Squadron, "Did you manage to get Horn," he asked politely, hoping for an affirmative response.
Tycho chuckled as they moved towards the door, Jaded following close behind, "Yes, though not as much of him as I would have liked," he responded as they left Ackbar’s office.
Once through the door and out into the corridor away from Ackbar’s aide, Wedge turned and faced Jaded, his anger very evident on his face, "Captain, just what exactly was that stunt you tried to pull in there," he demanded, his voice low and quiet.
Jaded met Wedge’s eyes, only because of years of training to do so when addressed by a superior officer, "I do not know sir, however I am immensely apologetic as I nearly lost everything for our cause," she responded, her voice tight with emotion as she silently cursed herself for her actions.
Tycho stepped between Wedge and Jaded, breaking some of the tension building, "Wedge, I do not think this is necessary, Jaded will do a much better job of beating herself up than you will, so let her alone for now," he said softly trying to defuse the situation between the two friends.
Wedge looked at Tycho for several seconds before nodding, "You are correct Tycho, Jaded we will discuss this later, go torture someone in a simulators," he told her, and watched as she turned and walked away before turning his attention back to Tycho. "If you ever do something like that again Celchu, I will personally see to it that you occupy that cell Salm wants to put you in," he stated quietly.
Tycho shook his head, "Wedge you know as well as I do that she is much better at dressing herself down than either of us will ever be, so it is always better to just let her do it and get it out of her system before she gets herself hurt," he told his friend as they turned to walk down the corridor.
Wedge thought for several moments, "I understand what you are saying Tycho, however, she almost cost us everything we were working for with that stunt, I believe she needs to be made very aware of that," he responded.
Tycho nodded, "Yes she did," he agreed, "However, she also is quite aware of that fact, I saw it in her eyes when she sat down again, she was terrified that she would lose the chance to get what you need for the Rogues, so she will beat herself up over it for a long time now, and you are going to have to be the one to pull her up out of it, because as of the end of that meeting I am currently under house arrest and will not be able to do it," he explained to his friend.
Wedge stopped and turned to look at Tycho, "I am sorry Tycho, I forget that sometimes, and I think Jaded does to, though I believe hers is more of a conscious decision than actual forgetfulness. I will do my best to make sure she does not do anything stupid," he replied, letting the weight of everything settle again around him.
Tycho decided this was the moment he had to discuss with Wedge what Jaded had told him several weeks earlier, "I need to know something Wedge, and it is not going to be easy for either of us," he said quietly finding the words to say what he needed to, "What happened that night Wedge, why did you sleep with Jaded," he asked, knowing the answer he would get from his friend, but still needing to hear it.
Wedge was taken aback by Tycho’s question, "I did not make a conscious decision to sleep with Jaded that night, it happened and it is not something I am proud of," he responded the pain of his guilt coloring his expression.
Tycho thought for a moment, digesting Wedge’s answer, "You should have known better Wedge, you knew she was grieving yet you took advantage of that and her, how could you," he asked, his voice deadpan instead of hostile as one would think it would be.
Wedge dropped his eyes to the deck, "You are right Tycho, I should have controlled myself, I did know better, and I hurt two people that I care greatly about - I took advantage of my closest friend who was grieving the loss of her lover, I knew better but I did it anyway," he replied, his voice low and full of pain. After several moments he looked back up and met Tycho’s gaze, "However, can you in all honesty tell me that if our rolls had been reversed, and I was the one missing and involved with Jaded, the same thing could not have happened with you," he asked, his voice quiet and his tone that of an honest question.
Tycho considered Wedge’s words for a long time before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, finally, he opened his eyes and met Wedge’s gaze honestly, "No, I cannot say that should the roles have been reversed that I would not have done the same," he answered the question with all the honesty he could muster.
Wedge nodded as two MP’s approached them from the direction of Admiral Ackbar’s office, "Thank you, I will take care of Jaded, I have been for two years," he replied as Tycho turned and left with the guards.
[i] Star Wars X-Wing Book 1: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole
To be Continued….
Back to Jaded's fic