Luke and Lorelei sat in their transport and before taking off, Lorelei brought out a small communications devise. After pressing the correct codes, an image of a tall black man appeared in a holo image. He was very muscular and covered in a teal and silver uniform. His thick black hair was done in multiple braids.
"Ah, I am glad to hear from you two. How are the plans going, Master Skywalker?" the man asked.
Luke looked at the man and nodded, "All is going well, we are on our way to a meeting to plan for the trip up to the system," he said calmly.
"Good." The man smiled with a look of relief on his face. "I want to thank you for asking the New Republic to help in our situation. We are not sure what they are capable of."
"Just remember, we are here to try and work out these problems you are all having not to start a war." Lorelei broke in.
"She's right General, I am getting some of our military involved, but only for back up incase Terra Firma does not negotiate, this is in no means to act as an iron fist." Luke agreed.
"I understand," The man nodded.
"We are off to the meeting, we will contact you again afterward to update you." "Thank you Mr. Skywalker," The man said as his image disappeared.
Lorelei closed the top of the communications devise and looked at Luke.
"You ready to go, Lorelei?"
"Yes Master Skywalker," Lorelei nodded.
The speeder took off and headed for the direction of the base.
Wedge walked the short distance back to the base on Coruscant and found the others already waiting for him. He showed his ID to the sentry and was allowed entry. He waited for the others to catch up so that he could go to his office. He commed Colonel Tycho Celchu and Major Hobbie Klivian, telling them to meet him at his office and finally he also commed Major Wes Janson, his personal aide and filled him in, telling him he was on his way in and with who and that Tych and Hobbs would also be joining him. Wes was also Wedge's personal body guard and told him that he would be right there to pick all of them up and escort them all to Wedge's office.
The entire gang made it to the base and waited out side to be escorted in.
Wedge found a quiet place to sit while he waited for Wes; sitting on the ground cross-legged, he leaned his back against the wall of the building and closed his eyes to think about what Luke was asking for this up coming mission - Anything to get out of the office and back into the cockpit, he thought to himself. He was jarred out of his thoughts when someone kicked the boot of his right foot. Without opening his eyes, "Hi Wes, we ready to go?" He then looked up at his long time friend and aid with his dark brown eyes and waited for a reply.
"Always sleep in public, Wedge," Wes asked, trying to hide a laugh as he offered a hand to his CO to help him up off the ground. "I'm ready when you are."
Wedge ignored Wes' offered hand and stood with the grace and ease of a cat as he gathered his feet beneath him. "Ok let's get moving." He looked around and saw that the others had arrived and where waiting outside the fence to the base; he motioned for them to follow him and Wes as they walked shoulder to shoulder into the building and towards the lift that would take them down into the bowels of the base and eventually to the section given over to Rogue Squadron offices, living quarters, meeting rooms, ready room, gym, chow hall, hanger, etc.
Meanwhile, Han pulled Chewie aside as Wedge, Wes, and the others made their way into the building, "Remember Chewie, even though we're helping out our old friend Luke here, we can't let him know that Leia is directly involved in this, ok? It'll make things more complicated and we don't need that right now. So, keep your thoughts to yourself. Think you can handle that?"
Chewie growled in agreement and they walked into the building, several yards behind everyone. Han had to make sure that he kept his thoughts silent, which of course will be difficult around Luke. All he could think about was Leia and his children right now. They were depending on him more than ever. Leia was the one that told Han to agree to this mission, knowing full well what the stakes were. Han, of course, reluctantly agreed even though right now he wished he hadn't. 'Just act like your normal cocky-self and everything will be fine. You've done this before and you can do it again,' Han thought as he entered the room where everyone were taken their seats, knowing that the only thing that mattered was that he kept his promise to Leia.
Aquilla - a world of nothing but water, there is land, but only on the ocean floor, too deep for anyone to go. The planet is made up of settlements: tiny islands of metal that were made decades ago with the aid of the Terra Firma planet. The Ocean world was a colony of fisherman and merchants. They struggled hard to survive with the little equipment they had. The present conflicts with their sister planet only made things worse.
General Emid Maharba sat quietly in his office on one of the settlements. He had just gotten off a connection with Luke Skywalker. He seemed rather relieved and anxious at the same time...Time was running out. Terra Firma's leaders have been so unpredictable for the last few years. It was hard to believe that a war could happen with the once close allies. He wanted peace again, in fact, he was going to talk to the leaders of the other planet in a simple conference, but his commanding officer motioned against it, stating that he should wait until neutral help arrived to sit in. The general agreed, but how much time did they have left?
Wedge took his seat behind his desk, Tycho sat to his right, Wes to his left and Hobbie to Tycho's right, that left just a couple of chairs and the couch for people to sit. As everyone was getting comfortable, two small furry beings came out of Wedge's bedroom, their eyes still glassy from sleep - one wandered over Wedge, the other to Tycho, crawled into the laps of their respective owners and snuggled up to each man making cooing sounds to them. Wedge absent-mindedly stroked the fur of Emote while Tycho set Emic down next to him and scratched behind his ears.
Luke, Shadow and Han sat on the other side of the desk, while Lorelei and Chewie took the couch. The giant Wookie looked huge compared to Lorelei's small frame. She looked at each one of the men in the room. She seemed a bit uncomfortable not knowing any one but Luke, Yavin was so much more comforting since she had friends there, but she was the one who wanted to get out more.
She then noticed two furry creatures walk out of another room. She smiled; their cute innocent faces warmed her with comfort a little bit. She looked at Wedge and smiled, "They are adorable. Ewoks, right," she asked. They looked the creatures Master Luke described in a story about Endor and the second Death Star.
Wedge looked at the young woman, "Very sophisticated droids actually," he answered her. "However, they are like live Ewoks in every respect; they think, grow mentally and even eat. This is Emote and Tycho's is Emic." Wedge whispered something into the Ewok's ear; he clambered down off Wedge's lap and went over to Emic. They spoke to each other and then went over to Lorelei and Luke. Emic approached the young girl while Emote crawled up onto the Jedi Master and began to poke and probe at him trying to peer into his nose, ears and mouth. Wedge tried to contain his laughter, "It won't work here Luke like it did on Endor, they aren't alive and but, the funny thing is, they have more affinity to the Force than I do. They are actually quite Force sensitive if you remember."
Luke's face was a combination of annoyance, humor, and surprise all in one, everyone in the room started to laugh, "Very funny Wedge," Luke remarked.
"Hey come on Luke, I thought you loved little furry creatures," Han slightly remarked.
"If you think they are so great Han, you hold him," Luke laughed, looking the Ewok droid in the eyes.
"No way, I had enough of them on Endor," he remarked as Chewie let out a chuckle.
Lorelei giggled, she was kneeling on the floor playing with Emote, petting his ears, both were laughing.
She looked at Wedge, "These guys are amazing, you must have so much fun with them."
"Ok, Luke," Wedge said looking at his friend and making a slight motion that caught Emote's attention and had him return to Wedge; Emic did the same and returned to Tycho's side, "We're all here, so fill us in. Give us the details and, when do we leave?"
Luke nodded and Emote jumped down and returned to Wedge. He leaned in and placed his folded hands onto the desk, "Well, as I said in the cantina, there is more to this story then meets the eye."
Everyone quietly listened to Luke and he began to talk.
"I was talking to General Maharba of Aquilla, he told me that Terra Firma had some sort of weapon built in case of a war." He looked to Lorelei who then stood up to face the group.
"We were checking past logs of credit reports and supply orders of both planets and Terra Firma's resources and money exchange went through the roof in a 4 month period." She explained. Luke looked at Wedge, "These numbers for the orders indicate they are using a lot of resources of metal and fuel. They are building something, something big."
The first thought that went through Wedge's mind was they were building a new Death Star but he dismissed that thought just as quickly. But it had to be some sort of Super Weapon, "Any ideas what, Luke?"
Luke shook his head disappointedly. "No, whatever they are building...they don't want anyone to find out. That is why we are going and we need the fleet for back up with what ever it is."
Han cleared his throat, "And what are you gonna do? Just walk in and ask them what they are building," Han asked bluntly.
"Unless, you know where you're getting more ships from Luke, all I've got is my command ship the Mon Cal MC80B, The Echoes of Endor and the starfighters that are assigned to her, Rogue Squadron, the A-Wing squadron Battle Axe and the squad of B-Wings Strike Force. I have room on there for one more squad - I will contact Cracken and see if we can't get Wraith squadron to fill out our complement." Wedge looked Luke dead in the eye and waited for his answer.
"We might not even need that much, Wedge," Luke said plainly. "We have been researching this for months and still haven't come up with a strait answer from anyone, but I want to be safe. What we have is fine." Luke said confidently. He knew he sounded too safe in the decision. With past battles he knew how necessary having enough ships was but if for some reason, their research was wrong or the danger wasn't as bad, he did not want to use all the Republic's resources.
"Ok Luke, but just say the word and I can have the Wraiths assigned to us in no time. It might prove useful to have their intrusion and covert skills buddy, so think about it."
"Wedge, I trust you with my life, so what ever you think is best, do it." Luke said. "I am planning to leave in 2 days. Can you be ready by then?" Luke stood at looked at his friend.
"Luke, we could be ready to leave in two hours if you needed." Wedge gave Luke his version of the patented cocky Corellian smile, "I'll contact Captain Loran and tell him to get his people together and join us here in two days."
Luke let out a small laugh, "Thanks Wedge." He then looked at Han. "You think you are ready to give diplomacy another shot Han?" Luke grinned.
Han looked at Luke. "Diplomacy? What? No action? No adventure?"
Chewie jokingly agreed with a low grumble.
Luke looked at Han with a determined look.
"Ok, ok, you got us...but we are taking the Falcon."
"If you insist Han." Luke agreed. He looked over at Lorelei, and nodded his head. She stood up and both faced Wedge. "We will tell the Aquilla officials to be expecting us in a few days, the trip should take about one week at lightspeed. Unless you have anymore questions we are done," Luke said to Wedge.
Wedge smirked at his fellow Corellian, "Sorry Han, the action and adventure is reserved for the Rogues and Wraiths this time out. The only diplomacy we do it target locks with our lasers and proton torpedoes. I don't have anymore questions." He gazed at his senior officers, "Tycho, Wes, Hobbie? Anything? No? We're good to go here Luke - nothing on our part," he told the Jedi.
Luke smiled and extended his hand to his friend Wedge. "Great, we will see you all in a couple of days." He looked at everyone in the room. "I will send you all the nav coordinates as soon as possible."
Wedge shook Luke's hand, "We'll be looking for them Luke," Wedge then took Han's hand to shake. He was surprised and slightly taken aback when Han pulled him into a brotherly embrace, "I've always told you that you were a natural for the Generaling business." Han released Wedge, "See you in two days, General," he said with a grin as a way of saying good-bye.
"Yeah, Han into days. And if I ever find out that you had anything to do with me being forced to take the promotion, I'll have Chewie rip your arms out for me."
"Mistress Lorelei, I don't know how you got yourself mixed up with the three of them but watch your back," Wedge told her with a smile, "They can be worse than Wes here sometimes."
Lorelei smiled shyly, not knowing the inside joke, "Thank you sir, I will."
She joined Luke out side the office as the rest of the group left Wedge and his crew. "Do you think we can make this peace talk work? Both worlds seem rather stubborn," she asked as the two walked down the hall.
"But so are we. All we can do is make them listen to us, they need to decide whether the fighting is worth it before too many die." Lorelei nodded her head in agreement.
General Batch Tesseli walked down the hall made completely of rock. Miles and miles of tunnels built throughout the years inside the mountains of the planet. The general followed the tunnels to a secret room, unknown to many of the civilian people of the world. Inside the room, workers were building odd-looking devices and objects. The sounds of hammering, drilling and chiseling were echoing through out the room.
Tesseli walked over to a creature that was over looking some of the finishing touches on one of the constructions. He was a small, reddish, pear-shaped creature. He noticed the General coming across the room and smiled a devilish grin. "Everything is going as planned General. The weapons are almost finished," the creature informed him.
&uqot;Good Nac." Tesseli looked at the enormous weapon. "Are you positive we will need such...brutal weapons?"
"My lord," Nac said obediently, "Would you rather have no defense against those barbaric water-ians?"
"We have never had the need of such weapons."
"But now you do. There is a lot at stake, they want your recourses. You need to fight for them, or you will have nothing."
"They have yet to try any attack," General Tesseli argued.
"Oh, no? At this moment, General Maharba is calling on the New Republic to invade our system for 'Peace talks,' but what peace talks need an entire New Republic Fleet to come here. They are going to over run this world, and if you are not ready to fight...you will loose." Nac said convincingly.
"Then what should we do?"
"Remember those ships we have been building? Use them. You will need to defend your property when they get here. Show them you will not back down."
Tesseli nodded his head in agreement. "I will send the word to have the battle ships ready for when the New Republic fleet gets here." At that, he left Nac's side and left the room.
Nac grinned devilishly; everything was going to plan.
Continued in Part Three