View Full Version : At Least Resistance

General Luka
Dec 23rd, 2015, 08:58:23 AM

The word stopped mid-way, a sodden cough puncturing the attempt to speak. The palm-sized projection shimmered, the weary old man portrayed within doubled over as his lungs struggled to function. For a brief moment his arm shifted, a hand reaching out of frame as if tempted to grab hold of some nearby object for support. Force of will held it at bay, and with considerable effort the figure straightened, a single keen eye struggling but succeeding to focus directly on the lens of the holorecorder, peering directly from the recording into the very soul of the man who watched.

"Congratulations on your promotion, General. Please forgive me for not attending the ceremony in person; these damned cats -" A quick sidelong scowl was cast off to one side, presumably at some sort of overattentive nurse hovering just out of view. "- won't let me travel any more."

There was a pause, a faint accompaniment of wheezing, laboured breaths filling the otherwise silence. It was not the rattle of ancient lungs struggling to function however, or at least, not entirely: beneath it all were the efforts of an ancient heart, straining beneath the emotions that weighed down on it. Something shifted and changed, plain to see even at this scale. Inside of a moment the man transformed, no longer trying to appear as the man he had been, and instead embracing the man he had become.

A soft sigh escaped, a faint ghost of a smile settling onto the holographic features of Vansen Tyree. "I'm supposed to say that from the moment I first met you all those years ago, I knew you were destined for greatness. I'd be lying if I did. I certainly didn't know, but I hoped. I saw myself in you, my life in microcosm. You grew disillusioned serving the Empire, just like I did. You made your bid for freedom; tried to make a life for yourself on the outside. Just like me, the Alliance lured you back in: gave you a cause to believe in; gave you a chance to put the rest of your life to better use than your years so far."

A contemplative frown creased Vansen's brow. "In those days, I saw myself as a lost cause. My life was behind me, and the difference I tried to make with the Alliance was just the death throws of a man with too much regret. Back then I wore solitude like armour, and blamed the life for inflicting it on me. I was alone in the blackness of space, and that was how I believed it had to be. I hoped that your path would be different, that you would be spared all that I endured. And yet -"

Another salvo of coughing interrupted the message. Jaden caught the faint sound of another voice; Vansen's hand ushered away whoever it was that sought to help. Jaden could see the glimmer of moisture in Vansen's eye that the strain had caused, the pain in his weary body that this message was subjecting him to; and yet he watched as the old Admiral refused to surrender, refused to let his sickness get the better of him.

"Yet here we are." Tyree's small smile won out against his discomfort, and managed to grow a little more. "I could not have been more wrong. When they tore you out of your cockpit and away from the Rogues, when circumstances pushed you into command, I saw you suffering the same wounds that I did. I saw you spiralling down into the same tired frustration that I felt at the time. You didn't let it be that way. You didn't let it change you. You showed a resilience of spirit and personality that I had never thought to have - and thank the Force that it allowed this twilight of my life to last so long, because it gave me the chance to learn from your example. You reminded me of what I had forgotten: that cockpit or no, we are pilots; and pilots are strongest when they are not alone."

A chuckle escaped from the old man; the older man, rather - Jaden's features showed the addles of the last thirty years just as much as Vansen's. "I still remember what you said to me, when Carré popped out her first. I was jealous, lamenting my lack of family - but you called me out on my crap, and opened my eye to the one standing in front of my face. 'Just because you call it a squadron, or a crew, that doesn't stop it being a family.' At the time you meant Adonis and Carré, but you were just as much a part of it. And now? Now I have more family than I know what to do with."

Vansen afforded himself a pause to catch his breath, and Jaden could see the subtle fidgets, the discomfort that this new incarnation of Admiral Tyree displayed every time he felt sentiment boiling up inside him. He was so unaccustomed, so unsure of how to deal with the impulse. The urge to say something that mattered was there, paired with hesitance about whether it would matter as much to the one hearing as to the one speaking.

"I am not your father." Those words hit like a hammer every time that Jaden heard them; not the words themselves, but the sheer weight of meaning, and the faint flicker of almost disappointment they carried with them. "But I will say what he would if he were here: I am proud of you, Jaden. Not for the extra brass they are hanging on your shoulders, but for what you have done all of these years to earn it. I am proud, and relieved, and reassured to know that this New Republic that we played our part to build has someone of your calibre to defend it."

Vansen could have said more - wanted to say more - but didn't. He didn't need to. The look said it all.

"Congratulations again, General. And if you find yourself in the Cluster any time soon, drop in with one of those newfangled T-70s the holoreels are so proud of. I could use a good laugh at what passes for a starfighter these days."

A split second more, and the hologram flickered into nothing, the faint hint of extra brightness that it had cast across the office fading with it. Jaden's hand reached instinctively for the data rod that held the message, plucking it from the input port, and toying with it idly in his fingers as he stared into the space where Vansen's miniature had stood. Those had been Admiral Tyree's final words; to him, at least. He hadn't lived long enough for Jaden to even manage a response, let alone comply with the Old Man's last request. The weight of the message had pressed down on Jaden's shoulders ever since, especially in recent months: Vansen had died believing that the Republic would be safe in Jaden's hands. The General had promised himself that he'd make sure that dying sentiment remained true, but now?

Jaden's eyes strayed to the small cabinet a few feet away across the office. To most the significance was lost; just a simple piece of furniture topped with a few model fighters. To Jaden it was far more. The cabinet itself was from the Admiral's homeworld of Rendili, and was just as simple, practical, and unassuming as he. The models meanwhile had belonged to Vansen himself, adorning his desk for as long as Jaden could remember, one to represent each fighter flown by the Alliance and the New Republic. Off the side were two additional ships that had been presented to Jaden as a gift when he'd been given his first command - an A-Wing painted in Valkyrie colours, and an X-Wing decorated as Rogue One. Never Forget, the note had said. Jaden had no intention of doing so: not his past, and not the Admiral.

"What would you do, in my position?"

Jaden already knew the answer. He'd already prepared for the answer. And now... now was the time.

General Luka
Dec 24th, 2015, 01:10:42 PM
* * *

General Luka offered a curt nod to the waiting Lieutenant as he stepped through the pressure doors and onto the flight deck of the Dauntless. She was far from the newest ship in the Republic Fleet, but she had teeth; and more importantly, she had meaning. When Jaden had inherited command from Captain Terius years before, he'd explained that it was a potent reminder: the previous Dauntless had been a harbinger of destruction from the inside for the Alliance; Terius embraced the name as a warning of dangers that the Alliance should never allow to happen again.

You could see her age in the sloping beams, trapezium doorways, and muted shades of grey on every service. One of the first Defender-class Star Destroyers to be built by the Alliance of Free Planets, she had been designed with nostalgia for the Republic in mind, trying to feel as if it was part of the great something that had come before, a callback to the Restoration of the Republic that the Alliance had - for a time, at least - seemed to abandon.

In stark contrast were the waiting starfighters that lined either edge of the flight deck. While the Defender bore the same red and grey that the Alliance had inherited from the Republic, the T-70 X-Wings bore a crisp blue, painted across wings and a fuselage that made their predecessors look bloated and unwieldy by comparison. They were impressive fighters, and there were times when Jaden envied the pilots who spent their days flying them; but it conflicted with the sense and sentiment that his surroundings filled him with. As much as he wanted to believe these were the good old days of the Alliance, they were not. Though it might seem impossible when compared to the mutually assured destruction of the Alliance-Imperial cold war, somehow the situation today was even more grave.

Between the waiting fighters stood the pilots who belonged to them, and the mechanics responsible for their upkeep. They had been instructed to assemble, joined by as much of the off-duty crew as could be rallied together. They had formed a cluster - an amorphous blob of curiosity, rather than a formal parade - waiting to discover what it was the General felt they needed to hear. In amongst them, a shin-high rotund shape trundled into view. Jaden acknowledged Fidget's silent query with a gesture, and a light on the droid flickered, indicating that Jaden's words were being broadcast to the rest of the crew, and were being recorded for later transmission.

"Beyond this bulkhead, there is a threat."

Jaden didn't delay the point, locking his target on the crux of the matter. His hands clasped behind his back as he stood, his gaze taking in the crewmen who watched him with rapt attention.

"We all know it. Command knows it. The Senate knows it. They call themselves the First Order, but lets not kid ourselves: they are the Empire reborn, distilled down to it's absolute worst components. You've all heard the stories. Children snatched from their homes to be conscripted into their armies. Entire villages wiped out without cause. Brainwashing. Abductions. Executions. We all know what they are capable of."

Jaden paused, letting his gaze settle directly on Fidget's recorder, as if peering out through the holonet at those he hoped his words would somehow reach.

"Yet we do nothing. Our leaders are so afraid of another war that we tolerate everything the First Order has done."

A split second passed. "Tolerated," Jaden corrected. "As of now, I can no longer stomach continuing to do so."

A faint murmur began to spread amongst the cluster of crewmen. Jaden could pick out the different breeds: the faint disbelief from the mechanics, questioning if they were inferring the General's meaning correctly; the fighter pilots, already a few steps ahead, standing a little taller with about damn time painted across their faces.

"As of today, I hereby resign my commission as an officer of the New Republic Defense Force. This is my declaration of intent, to the New Republic, to the Senate, and to the First Order: I am Jaden Luka, and I will resist you. I helped bring an end to the tyranny of the Empire, and now I am coming to end you."

Something tightened in his chest, Jaden's eyes falling from the recorder to regard his crew once again.

"We are pilots," he quoted, the significance lost on all but him, "And pilots are strongest when they are not alone."

Jain Terius
Dec 24th, 2015, 04:53:08 PM
Jain lingered towards the back of the cluster of pilots and mechanics as they swarmed around the General, his address to the holonet now ended. He could hear the questions being fired at him. Pilots eager for combat wanting to throw in with him immediately. Pledges that the whole crew was behind him; lets just take the ship and hit the First Order where it hurts. It was probably all true: there weren't many who wouldn't follow General Luka into whatever jaws of danger were the flavour of the week. Jain couldn't help a flicker of a smile at the General's response, though. Rebels and defections went out of fashion decades ago. We do this by the book. Complete the proper paperwork, and I'll be glad to see you all on the other side.

The General extracted himself from the fray, ushering the crowd to disperse back to their duties as he broke free. He made it only a few paces before Jain became a barrier, arms folded across his flight suited chest.


An eyebrow arched, a disapproving look that was apparently standard issue for the surname.

"You went with, this is my declaration of intent?"

The expression shifted a little. The smile that took it's place on Jain's features was modest and restrained; but it was there, and it was genuine. His head fell to the side slightly, taking advantage of his few extra inches of height to peer down at the General and emphasise the quizzical nature of his expression.

"You really need to bite the bullet and start letting ADAR write your speeches for you."

General Luka
Dec 24th, 2015, 04:56:13 PM
Jaden felt his spine straighten in reflex, ensuring that as much of the lesser height he had was put to the best use. He felt a curl at the back of his throat, words that belonged in Vansen Tyree's mouth more than his marching their way towards the tip of his tongue. His jaw fell slack, lips about to speak -

Then he stopped, his posture retreating a little. A faint whiff of a sigh tumbled from him as his shoulders slightly sagged.

"I suppose that's what I get for publicly resigning," Jaden mused. "Can't rely on the uniform to force people to respect me any more."

Jain Terius
Dec 24th, 2015, 05:12:26 PM
"I suppose not."

Jain was a man of few words. He said what needed to be said, and little more, conserving his voice the way a diligent pilot conserves their proton torpedoes. In many ways, the two were similar: just as much potential to cause damage, just as much potential to secure victory, and just as much potential expense if you didn't deploy them carefully enough.

Even so, there was something about now that demanded at least a few words. Jain had served with the General since before he'd held the rank; Jain had earned his trust and received his respect, and he returned the two in kind. Maybe the pageantry was a little much for Jain's tastes: roles reversed, he would probably have just skipped off into the night. But then Jain was just a pilot; his utility was limited to what could be done within the confines of a cockpit, and little else. The General had a reputation, and he had reach. There were officers who had served with him scattered across the Republic: people who would take notice of a gesture like this, whose ambivalence or uncertainty might be swayed by the General's example. He was a Y-Wing, using it's ion cannons to soften the shields before unleashing it's salvo. Maybe it'd help.

When it came to the First Order, the galaxy needed all the help it could get.

Jain's expression shifted as he wrestled for something to say. "I suppose you'll just have to rely on your actions to do that then, sir."

Good enough.

General Luka
Dec 24th, 2015, 05:43:51 PM
Jaden let out a faint breath of laughter. Sentimentality, from Major Terius. My my, this really was a special occasion.

His mind strayed backwards, once again thinking of Captain Terius - the Major's uncle, and Jaden's predecessor in command. He wondered what the old Corellian would think of Jaden's choices, throwing away the ship he'd inherited on a gesture. No doubt Terius would have defected with his ship and crew, just like the good old days of the Galactic Civil War. Though not older than him by all that significant a margin, Soto Terius was from a previous generation of soldiers, the ones who threw law and protocol to the wind because the situation was too dire for anything else.

This wasn't that era though. This wasn't defecting from a heinous Empire to help tear it down. The Republic was, though flawed, a legitimate and mostly benevolent government that had the best interests of it's people in mind. Right now, the Senate determined that another war with another Imperial war machine was not in the best interests of those people. Jaden couldn't entirely disagree. But this abstinence and inaction wasn't in the best interests of the galaxy either. They were letting an infection fester for fear of losing the entire leg.

That's what this was about: Jaden taking hold of the knife, to help carve out the infected flesh so the leg could be saved. The Republic could not do it for itself. That was understandable. The pain and the fear was too great to overcome. But in the hands of another, there was hope. But it had to be another. Jaden's divorce from the Republic had to be public, and had to be official. It had to be a clear transition from one to the other, so that the Republic could never be blamed for his actions.

And of course, the Republic would realise that. Right now at Fleet Command, people would be getting woken, trying to determine whether or not they had a protocol in place for this. They'd want to intervene. They'd want to keep him in place. They'd want some degree of control over this situation. Jaden didn't plan to let them have it.

"If you don't mind, Major, I really need to leave this ship before Command decides to order the XO to have me detained."

Jain Terius
Dec 24th, 2015, 06:11:59 PM

The quizzical look returned, Major Terius exploring the lines and wrinkles on the General's face. While he didn't doubt that Luka had some sort of escape plan already devised, the Major hadn't been able to work out how the General planned to do it without incurring any infractions or complications from having commandeered a Republic ship to get away.

Then realisation dawned, Jain's expression quickly transitioning into disapproving concern.

"Please tell me you're not thinking about taking her." There was no question of what craft was being referred to. "She's thirty-five if she's a day. That antique will probably fly itself apart the second you jump to hyperspace."

General Luka
Dec 24th, 2015, 07:58:48 PM
"Oh, she'll fly."

The words escaped a little more defensively than Jaden might have intended. He didn't care. Terius was a pilot: he should know better than to badmouth a man's ship while he was standing within punching distance. Luka kept his firsts under control though, instead tilting his chin and squaring off against the Major. A faint glimmer of an infrequently used but vaguely familiar lopsided smile tugged at the corner of Jaden's mouth.

"I'd bet my life on it."

A beat of silence followed, broken by the rumble across the deck plates as Fidget realised his owner had moved, and trundled over to his side again. Jaden's eyes lingered on Jain, a silent conversation happening entirely through eye contact. There was an argument, a dispute. Insistence from Jaden. Protest from Jain. All uttered without words. A hand reached out, and settled on the Major's shoulder.

"When you're ready," Jaden said quietly, with a strange sombre resonance that belied some mysterious hidden meaning, "Come look for me, in all the wrong places."

Jaden had to fight his smile as he stepped to the side and skirted around the Major, forced to only imagine the confusion that must have been sweeping the man's features. He was an easy mark for those kind of frustrations, and Jaden took perhaps a little too much pleasure in aggravating Soto's nephew. It would be worth it in the end though, if only for the frustration the Major would feel when he sussed it out.

The General's paces became quicker as he strode across the bay, an eagerness awoken in his steps as he approached it: his beloved A-Wing, the first starfighter he had ever flown, lovingly maintained and cared for, respectfully tweaked here and there to process the latest fuels and software, narry a scratch on her. She still bore the same colours that she had in the old days: the band of blue with it's flashes of white. Valkyrie Squadron colours. He ran his fingers across the lettering that branded the ship as his, the stencilled outlines of Imperial fighters that had fallen to his guns. Idly he tugged at his sleeve, his gaze shifting to the metallic band wrapped around his wrist: a gift from the Deck Chief, a piece of the Dauntless hull marked for every vessel defeated under Luka's command. The warm, nostalgic smile faded a little from his lips. These were good men; a good crew. Loyal. Capable. Was it wrong to abandon them like this? Was this all some product of hubris, some quest for glory that his mind had disguised as morality and principle?

He shook the second guessing aside. Too late now.

Carefully, and with much less ease than there should have been, General Luka clambered onto the A-Wing's fuselage, and into the cockpit. He felt a rumble through the hull as Fidget trundled alongside, nuzzling his way into the cargo compartment that had been modified to contain him. For a moment he thought about everything that wasn't stowed in the fighter, all the personal effects and belongings that still littered his cabin. Perhaps there were arrangements he could have made to transport them, somewhere. Perhaps he could have been a little more prepared. Caution had stayed his hand, not wanting any sort of trail that the Republic - or the First Order for that matter - could use to follow him. Besides, he thought, his fingertips ghosting across the data rod of Vansen's message, tucked into the pocket of his uniform, I have everything that matters.

Reaching for the controls, he flipped his way through the power up sequence, pausing for a moment to settle the flight helmet onto his head before activating the comm. "Dauntless Control," he began. "This is -"

He stopped, the hesitation wrapping around his voice to silence it. Space Monkey was the callsign painted on the hull outside, an affectation given to him by Vansen Tyree. Aboard the Novgorod they'd taken to abbreviating it to the slightly less embarrassing Spacer, but that described the kind of man he used to be; the kind of man he no longer was. It was a relic of a time long past, and while the Dauntless was the kind of reminder that was sorely needed, his callsign was something that no longer felt apt. Everything was being left behind, even that.

"This is Valkyrie. Requesting launch clearance for a single fighter through the port doors."

Jaden could feel the hesitation through the silence that followed, the distant static as the LSO chewed over his options. Everyone knew on some level the orders that would be coming. Don't let the General leave. But they hadn't come yet. There was a window, a sliver of opportunity for a little consequence-free defiance.

"Terribly sorry, sir," a voice crackled back, the vocal distortion coming through the Alliance era comm unit partially distorting the speaker's identity. "It seems we're having a little trouble with our launch control systems. We'll have to log in your flight plan manually when you get back."

That earned a full grin of response.

"Copy that, Control," Jaden replied, easing power to the repulsorlifts, letting the A-Wing coast it's way across the deck towards the magnetic field that held the vacuum of space at bay. "I'll get right on it the second I step aboard again."

The A-Wing loitered for a moment, the exit looming ahead, tiny lights embedded in the floor chasing away down the path that would guide him away from the Dauntless forever.

"May the Force be with you," he offered quietly, his hand wrapping itself around the throttle control. "All of you."

And with a pump of his wrist, the fighter shot forward, hurtling out into space.

General Luka
Dec 24th, 2015, 08:12:59 PM
* * *

Hours passed before the swirling kaleidoscope of hyperspace collapsed in on itself, the twirling corridor of blue shattering into the stars and constellations of the Alderaan system. Almost immediately, a few chirps and bloops escaped from the pint-sized astromech behind him.

"Asteroids?" Jaden repeated, a faint forged aghast tone marring his words. "In the Alderaan system?"

A silent chuckle escaped, a hint of a smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. It didn't last though; leaning forward he peered out from under the cockpit canopy, his eyes sweeping across the the starfield above. His voice tumbled out much more vague and distracted this time. "I certainly wasn't expecting that."

It was one thing to hear about the Alderaan system. One thing to fly through it in simulators. It was something else to witness it in person, and this was Jaden's first time. The holographics of Alliance flight simulators had been pretty sophisticated, but no matter how many times Jaden had flown computer generated sorties here, on some level he'd always known they were fake. Now though, surrounded by chunks of a dead world swirling precariously in all directions, the danger was all too real.

A mournful string of chirps escaped from Fidget. "Yeah," Jaden agreed, reaching forward towards the cockpit controls. "Raising shields would definitely be a good idea."

Carefully the A-Wing eased forward, weaving between the dispersed fragments of Alderaan. Though counter-intuitive, Jaden steered closer to the larger fragments, relying on the whispers of gravity to drag smaller debris out of the air above them, providing a hint of clear sky to meander through. Fidget warbled every time a fragment glanced off their shields, but Jaden's eyes didn't deviate from the course ahead, not even to glance down at the deflector readouts. Far more important things needed to be paid attention to.

A faint bleep sounded from the active sensors, reporting a metallic object that matched the designated parameters within an acceptable margin. Looking for something metallic in the remains of a metallic-rich terrestrial world was something of a needle in a haystack scenario, but a quick gentle pulse from the A-Wing's comm array triggered a matching counterpart from the targeted device. Gently, Jaden goosed a little more power to the engines, closing to within communications range.

"This is Jaden Luka, hailing the Resistance," Jaden called into the comm. "Is anyone out there, or did I just spend eight hours in a cockpit letting my butt fall asleep for nothing?"

Siloo Jaska
Jan 2nd, 2016, 01:02:54 AM
The silence that followed lasted a good five seconds, but was punctuated by a tinny response through the vox.

"Negative copy, inbound. Sounded like you said your name was Jaden Luka."

General Luka
Jan 2nd, 2016, 01:59:43 AM
Jaden's brow crinkled as he studied his scope, trying to peer through the static and interference for a read on the ship signalling him. That was the point of the beacon he supposed - it was a lot harder to get a bead on your Resistance liaison if you weren't in direct comm range.

A strange sense of familiarity tugged from the back of his mind as he tried to process the distorted voice into something recognisable. Was the Resistance pilot's query just a reaction to his name, or was he dealing with someone he'd actually met before? It wouldn't surprise him: a lot of the Alliance old guard were part of the foundation for the new Resistance, and Jaden wasn't exactly estranged from that group, or their families. Plus, there was the whole Rogue Squadron thing; that was a nice list to have your name on if you planned on being recognised by the next generation of pilots.

"That's because it is my name, pilot."

Maybe his contact was a fan.

"Has been my whole life."

Siloo Jaska
Jan 2nd, 2016, 02:33:32 AM
A much longer strand of silence passed, but once more it was broken with new communication.

"Set your tightbeam comm set to six-seven-four, Luka. I'm sending you hyperspace coordinates. Follow them."

General Luka
Jan 2nd, 2016, 05:54:35 AM
"Chatty," Jaden mused to himself, briefly muting his comm as he glanced over his shoulder. He couldn't see his trusty BB droid in the modified cargo compartment behind him; but then pilots couldn't really see their R-series units in the external droid mounts on their X-Wings, either. It was all cockpit microphones and relays. Technological witchcraft. But it was a force of habit that no pilot ever truly managed to break themselves of; you couldn't stop yourself twisting a little as if a few degrees of aim would somehow ensure your astromech heard you.

"You get those coordinates, Fidget?" the General asked, as he punched the instructed digits into the comm panel. Six Seven Four. Confirm. Static crunched a little in his helmet speakers as the communications software cycled, a few whistles and chirps from the astromech thrown into the mix. A small curl of a smile tugged at Jaden's lips. "No, buddy. I don't think she'll take too kindly to us spoofing her comm array for a position fix." He leaned forward, studying the debris field again, as if his eyes would somehow detect something that his sensors could not. "Even if it would be nice to know where she is."

A quiet sigh escaped, before Jaden resumed communications on the newly set frequency.

"Coordinates received. Moving to clear the debris field and find my jump vector. You following me in, or am I jumping solo?"

Siloo Jaska
Jan 2nd, 2016, 07:14:50 PM
"That's for me to know, and you to find out, General."

Jaden could almost hear the smirk through the comm noise. Whoever it was, they certainly knew the significance of his name.

"Make the jump. I'll see you on the other side."

General Luka
Jan 3rd, 2016, 12:41:33 AM
Jaden racked up a proton torpedo grade scowl, and loaded it ready for use as soon as he discovered who was inside the cockpit of his elusive chaperone. A certain amount of playfulness was to be expected among fighter pilots; Jaden had been guilty of plenty of it in his own time. But there was playful, and there was unprofessional. There was an appropriate amount of tongue-in-cheek mystery, and then there was acting like a gorram clown when you were charged with maintaining security for a Resistance movement that, the way some told it, was basically the galaxy's last hope for salvation from the worst threat in fifty years.

"I take it back, Fidget," Jaden muttered under his breath. "Spoof her damned comms."

As Jaden carefully began to navigate his A-Wing out of the Alderaan debris field, making a break towards a clear path for the jump to hyperspace, the BB unit buried behind durasteel and circuitry behind him remodulated the fighter's comm array. A few rapid bursts of static pulsed out at specific intervals of a second or so, triggering feedback through the tightbeam comm signal that linked the two craft together. A tried and tested algorithm compiled the lag times together, mapping the delays over the trajectory of the A-Wing's flight, tetrahedroning the other fighter's position in 3D space.

Fidget blooped out his success; Jaden responded with a small flicker of a satisfied smile. With a solid fix on the ship, he was able to angle his active sensors in her direction; for added effect and maximum annoying cockpit alerts potential, he flicked on his targeting computer too, brushing a quick moment of an attempted target lock across her T-70.

"Peek-a-boo," he called over the comm, purposefully banking to the left to cut across the X-Wing's path, before flipping his A-Wing into a casual corkscrew back onto the calculated escape trajectory, and punching the hyperdrive up to lightspeed.

Siloo Jaska
Jan 3rd, 2016, 01:00:58 AM
Siloo glowered at Luka's craft as he found her out, watching him show his ass a little before he made the jump. She followed a second later, and in a snap of starscape, they were gone.

* * *

It was a series of jumps between Alderaan and D'Qar, which gave Siloo plenty of time to herself to think about her precious cargo. At last, the final jump terminated, and the pair of fighters ended their journey at the ice and debris belts of planet D'Qar. True to form, she could already see the two pinpricks of light from Luka's sublights as he cruised on ahead of her.

"Nice flying, hotshot. Now, let's see how well you follow an approach vector. Sending it now."

Captain Jaska toggled a transmit button on her terminal as she cruised ahead to line up in parallel. The two fighters moved along the determined entry point, and Jaska called ahead to announce her find.

"Base, this is Gold Leader. Picked up a stray sheep for the flock."

"Copy that, Gold Leader. You're clear to land on pad AV-4."

The two ships pierced the clouds, exposing the verdant green landscape below. Nestled in a wide valley, a series of prefab structures mixed with older earth-covered buildings could be seen, as well as a wide array of landing facilities. Siloo cut power to approach, sliding down gracefully to put all points on the turf. She didn't waste any time powering down and popping her canopy, pulling her lithe frame out of her cockpit as she dug behind the seat for a vital piece of after-action equipment.

General Luka
Jan 3rd, 2016, 01:26:07 AM
So. The Resistance was on D'Qar.

A whole host of worlds had been scouted and surveyed as potential secret bases during the old Alliance days. After Bothawui though, the Alliance had planted it's boots in the ground. It had safeworlds. Fortified territories. They weren't hiding any more - at least, not entirely - and so worlds like this had fallen by the wayside, left uninhabited and unused for decades. The New Republic had half-heartedly suspected that the Resistance might be making use of old Alliance bases, but there was enough sympathy within the Senate and the military that no one had tried particularly hard to find them: a lot of heel-dragging, a lot of reconnaissance patrols that suddenly had more important things to do than check every single remote planet in the galaxy. Jaden was relieved to know that D'Qar wasn't even on the Republic's list of potential locations, last time he'd checked. The Resistance's secret was safe for now, at least.

Jaden was a little slower at disembarking from his fighter than his escort; though it was more a matter of wariness than age at this point. While he'd broadcast his intentions loud and clear with his resignation, he didn't doubt there would be suspicions. Hell, he'd be suspicious, not just of himself but of every single New Republic fighter, technician, and soldier who found their way to the Resistance. If he were the Republic, genuinely trying to find and expose the Resistance, he'd find a notorious and prominent - but not too prominent - veteran from the old days, and send them in undercover. The kind of new recruit that the Resistance couldn't possibly pass up.

And if he were the New Order? If the stories were true, they had the power to rewrite people's minds. Start believing in things like that, and you'd never trust a living soul again.

Jaden waited long enough for Fidget to disembark from his compartment, taking the time to carefully affix a stun-set blaster to his hip, just in case. With a sigh, and no small degree of stiffness - okay, so that was an age thing - he clambered from the cockpit, and planted his boots on the D'Qar soil. In his peripheral vision, he saw ground crew technicians tentatively advancing towards him and his plane. He aimed a warning finger in their direction. "If I find so much as a smudge on the paint, I will skin you all and boil you down for engine lubricant. Suvarir?"

Struck dumb with surprise, the technicians merely nodded. Jaden offered a curt nod of satisfaction, before turning his sights on the X-Wing that had brought him here.

Siloo Jaska
Jan 3rd, 2016, 01:54:07 AM
Siloo still had her back to the General, and she apparently wasn't in the mind to turn around any time soon. Jaden heard the sound of a threaded metal cap opening on a flask, and Captain Jaska promptly tilted it back, all still while wearing her helmet.

General Luka
Jan 3rd, 2016, 02:01:22 AM
I have a bad feeling about this.

It was a ubiquitous phrase that everyone in the galaxy found themselves using from time to time, and yet it fit the sinking feeling in Jaden's stomach so well. He had always wondered if the instincts and hunches he felt in his gut were the same as the kind of perceptions and insights the Jedi felt. Was he somehow attuned to the Force in some small way, or was it merely an illusion of his subconscious, a false sense of certainty where none had any right to exist? Regardless, he felt it now; innards knotting, skin prickling a little as adrenaline prepared him to react to whatever had triggered his wariness.

"Hope you weren't up to that in the Alderaan field," he found himself saying; not the kind of overt reprimand he would have delivered were it one of his pilots, more the kind of quiet warning you offered to someone else's kids when you caught them misbehaving before their parents did. "I doubt the Baroness would be all that pleased if you wound up smashing that ship of yours into pieces against a space rock. X-Wings ain't exactly cheap."

Siloo Jaska
Jan 3rd, 2016, 02:13:12 AM
The flask tilted back down, emptied of it's contents, and the cap threaded back on. Captain Jaska pocketed the empty container in a pocket, and in one fluid motion, she drilled a gloved fist dead-center into Jaden's face.

"You son of a bitch!"

General Luka
Jan 3rd, 2016, 02:35:23 AM
The surprise and recognition hit him harder than the punch did. It was that familiarity - Siloo motherkriffing Jaska - that left him reeling. For a moment, the various aspects of his inner psyche warred with each other. Part of him understood, completely. Part of him was utterly enraged; how dare she be here? Part of him wanted to muster up every last scrap of Vansen Tyree that he had in him, and unleash a tirade of scowling and shouting that would regress the insubordinate piece of space trash in front of him to the quivering equivalent of a chastised three-year-old.

The part of him that won out curled his hand into a fist, and clubbed her right back across the jaw.

Jaden's hand snatched the blaster from his holster, a visual discouragement to stop Siloo from escalating her level of stupid. The glower on Jaden's features was pure Tyree though, and he'd been on the receiving end of it's inspiration often enough to know just how withering it was.

"Feel better?" he challenged, the usual drawl of his voice drained until nothing but a growl remained.

Siloo Jaska
Jan 3rd, 2016, 02:53:35 AM
Siloo tore off her flight helmet, letting it clatter to the ground as her rage-filled eyes locked on to Jaden's own eyes, then to the barrel of his gun, then back to the man himself. She took in deep breaths as the adrenaline burned in her veins. At the same time, a few dozen thundering boots could be heard as flight crews, ordnance techs, other pilots, and an assortment of other rubberneckers couldn't resist the outbreak of a fight.

And he drew a gun to end it before it began. That nunashit.

"It's a start!"

General Luka
Jan 3rd, 2016, 12:41:07 PM
"No, Jaska, it's finished."

Luka's voice wasn't aggressive, but rather firm. Definite. There was a little tiredness to his tone too, the same battle being fought all over again. Some said that was the definition of madness - repeating the same actions, but somehow expecting a different outcome. Maybe they were all mad, then; whether it called itself the Sith, the Empire, the First Order, or something else entirely, the Republic had been fighting the same tyranny over and over. But at least that fight had some moral incentive. This one? This brattish insolence thrown in his face?

"I gave you every opportunity I could, Jaska. I gave you more chances than you deserved, and a hell of a lot more chances than you were ever thankful for. You're one heck of a pilot, there's no doubt of that, but back then you were a lousy soldier. And this hostility? This pinning the blame on me? It's the same immature dren all over again. You didn't leave me an option, kid. You broke too many rules and crossed too many lines for me to cover for your insolent ass any more. Any other commander wouldn't have had a fraction of the patience I wasted on you."

Siloo Jaska
Jan 3rd, 2016, 02:17:02 PM
"Bullshit!" she spat back in his face.

"That stick up your ass has been there so long you don't even feel it anymore! Actually, maybe that's not true. It must have hurt like hell for you to bend yourself out of shape and waddle over here to where the fight is. Leaving behind all those good little boys and girls with their cuffs and creases in that glorified floating Holiday Hotel. All that comfort. That's all it was good for, wasn't it? So everyone back home could feel good about the state of things."

Siloo rubbed at her swollen jaw, and turned to scoop up her helmet on the ground.

"Maybe I am a lousy soldier. I hate being comfortable, because up there...you get comfortable and you die."

The Captain stormed past Luka, brushing her shoulder hard against his in passing.

"Welcome to the real war, General. Good luck getting that stick out."

Jan 4th, 2016, 01:58:23 AM
Affixed to his spherical chassis by a powerful array of electromagnets, Fidget's headpiece shifted a little as his ocular sensor realigned, a low warble escaping as he focused first on the retreating back of Siloo Jaska, and then on the General. He trundled a few feet, slowly circling around behind Luka, a tiny sensor array emerging from a hidden compartment behind one of his accessory panels. A triangular beam of translucent blue light swept up and down Luka's lower body.

Scan complete, the sensor retracted, disappearing into his chassis with a gentle click. Fidget rolled backwards a few radians, a confused womp of 26th generation droidspeak warbled out through his vocabulator.

Fidget = detecting no stick. Luka = should consult doctor?

General Luka
Jan 4th, 2016, 02:05:52 AM
Jaden let out a small sigh. "It's a figure of speech, Fidget."

He stood there for a few moments, allowing enough time for Jaska to escape a reasonable distance, and for some of the gathered audience to grow tired and disperse. As per usual, Jaska's words were just shouting and noise, an infantile tantrum from a childish woman so incapable of adult interaction that she couldn't understand a damn thing that was going on. Yet, also as usual, she accidentally stumbled across something relevant, knocking it off the shelf unknowingly as she blundered and blustered past. Comfort wasn't the word for it; and if Jaska was so morally opposed to the idea of it, she sure as hell hadn't been before the New Republic military had kicked her out on her insubordinate ass. But in a neighbouring orbit there was complacency, and that was a little closer to the truth. Jaden didn't believe for a second that Jaska had evolved some sense of morality in the last few years - she was just a ball of anger, latching on to the most convenient fight. But she was right about one thing - Jaden had finally shown up where the war was; and it was about damn time.

"Come on, little buddy," Jaden said quietly, casting his eyes around the various prefabs and earth-covered structures, trying to ascertain which one of them might be some sort of command post. "Lets go see if we can find someone who actually knows what the hell they're talking about."

Taataani Meorrrei
Jan 5th, 2016, 11:42:42 PM
"Alrreadjy makjing frrjiendss, jI ssee."

The words came from a thinning wall of rubberneckers, who upon hearing them, quickly began to melt away back to their posts. General Meorrrei stood on the tarmac, a knowing smile on her face as she watched an old friend return home, so to speak. Out of her place in the sun, the former Chancellor of the Republic looked so different without her raiments and finery. In their place, she wore a simple officer's uniform and jacket, but without any pips or insignia. She seemed older. Vulnerable. But there was still the same sharpness to her eyes to make those who knew her question how diminished she truly was.

"Welcome home."

General Luka
Jan 6th, 2016, 06:48:51 AM
<em>Home.</em><br><br>It was an interesting word for it. In some ways it held true. The structure and formality of the New Republic had never quite fit right; it was like wearing a brand new shirt, the creases from the packaging still crumpling the sleeves, constantly self-conscious over whether it looked right. By contrast, the Rebellion had been that comfortable old sweater; the one that felt <em>right</em>, the one you didn't give a damn how you looked when you were wearing it. But the Alliance of Free Planets and the New Republic far dwarfed the amount of time that he'd spent as a honest-to-Force rebel. Blazes; he'd probably been a Republic officer longer than he'd been an Alliance one, if you crunched the numbers on it.<br><br>Then again, since when had <em>home</em> ever really been a place? Jaden had lived in so many places, and through so many phases of his life, that home for him had become a synonym for a sense of belonging. Home was as a scout trooper back on Naboo. Home was with Amos aboard the <em>Astral Queen</em>. Home was Rogue Squadron, or the <em>Novgorod</em>. Until now, home had been among the men and women aboard the <em>Dauntless</em>. Welcome home? Perhaps. But welcome to a new home; welcome to the new normal.<br><br>"So that's what you look like underneath all those loose-fitting silks and dresses," Jaden deadpanned, nodding towards Taataani's attire. It seemed <em>wrong</em> somehow, to see her like this, all her airs and graces stripped away and replaced with something so plain, so practical, so martial. "I thought you'd be fatter."<br><br>Yet it wasn't just the clothing that had changed. There was something about her eyes, and her poise that had changed. Taataani Meorrrei had always been dangerous, but she was a danger you never saw coming. She was a predator, and yet she always hid her fangs behind a smile, hid her claws beneath an open hand. Now though, she looked as determined and formidable out in the open as Jaden had always assumed she was behind closed doors. He saw, for the first time, the woman that Vansen Tyree must have come to know - in ways that were perhaps best left unimagined.<br><br>"He'd be proud of you for this," Jaden admitted, his expression softening slightly. She'd pretend such things didn't matter to her; but life an emotions were a game of sabacc to her, always played close to the chest. A faint flicker of a smile tugged at the corner of Jaden's mouth. "And then he'd yell at the both of us for not doing this sooner, while he was still around to help."

Taataani Meorrrei
Jan 6th, 2016, 11:38:02 PM
A smile that began in Taataani's eyes slowly revealed itself. There were few people in the galaxy that Vansen Tyree had let get close to him. She had occupied the pole position for the twilight years of her late husband's life. In that rare proximity, she'd come to know Jaden Luka, a man who had nearly as much access to her loveable curmudgeon. A woman of intuition with few peers, Taataani recognized instantly those pieces of Vansen within General Luka. Some still lay dormant. Others had begun to unfold like a beautiful flower.

"Vanssen djid alwajyss prreferr a sstrrajight fjight. And asss old asss jI am now, jI grrow tjirred of the rroundabout."

An age-creased hand reached up to tenderly caress Jaden's face, the thumb lingering to trace down his cheek as she withdrew it.

"jI turrned a legjion of frrjiendss jinto enemjiess, comjing herre. jI hope jyourr jourrnejy wass ssmootherr."

General Luka
Jan 7th, 2016, 05:19:49 AM
Jaden's eyebrow climbed as he tried to offer an indignant look, but too much familiarity and too much relief at where he found himself dulled the sharp edge that the expression should have had.

"I lit the afterburners and torched the metaphorical flight deck on the way out," he countered, trying not to smile as he shrugged it off like it was nothing. "Smooth for the ladies," he added as an afterthought, "But not for lack of turbulence."

The thought lingered for a moment as Taataani's words tumbled over in his mind. A legion of friends. He supposed that was the advantage of his military career, when compared to her political one. Friends were not a commodity that an old soldier like Jaden had in abundance. Everyone close was a subordinate, mandated by duty and responsibility to be kept at a distance. Serve in one place long enough, and maybe they leapfrogged all the way into family. The chain of command didn't leave room for friendship the way it had done back in his fighter jock days, though. There was no squadron of comrades to drink with and toast victory; no one to trust with your life unreservedly. Jaden had become the old man that made the pilots stop talking as soon as he entered the room. He'd become the commanding officer you invited to drink out of politeness, but that everyone knew was just going to head back to his cabin to drink alone.

"I may not be a legion," Jaden offered quietly, an uncharacteristic softness and sincerity in his words, "But you've got one more friend on D'Qar today."

Taataani Meorrrei
Jan 8th, 2016, 12:29:27 AM
"Well, jI don't count them ljightljy." Taataani returned in gratitude, bowing her head slightly in a gracious nod. She reached her right hand under Jaden's left arm with an assertive embrace as she escorted him away from the tarmac.

"jI don't envjy the decjissjion jyou made. The prrevajiljing thoughtss jin the Rrepubljic thjink of the Rressjisstance and the Fjirrsst Orrderr asss the ssame prroblem. Two bjickerrjing chjildrren underr the ssame rroof. Morre than a few ssee me asss a thrreat. An oussterred Chancellorr who abssconded jinto the Outerr Rrjim to bujild an arrmjy to one dajy turrn back on the Ssenate."

Taataani added nothing further, keeping her eyes on her path for a few moments to allow Jaden to ruminate on that possibility.

General Luka
Jan 10th, 2016, 12:51:24 PM
"Clearly they don't know you very well, Taa."

It was a somber situation, but Jaden couldn't help the sprinkling of humour that found it's way to his lips. Maybe it was a defense mechanism, his deflectors set double-front as he barrelled forward at full throttle into the face of grim reality. Or perhaps underneath all the trappings, the frown lines, and the grey hair, he was still just the same jackass he'd always been, constantly struggling to find the fortitude to take anything seriously.

Though muted a little by his weary features, a lopsided grin crept onto his lips as he cast Taataani a sidelong glance. "The Galactic Senate is last season's fashion. Paramilitary brown is the new chique, and Taataani Meorrrei is not the sort of woman who delves back into a wardrobe that is painfully behind the times."

His eyes strayed, skimming across the figures running back and forth between the landed fighters and the earth-covered hangars, drinking in the details of everything he saw. He'd expected it to feel like the Rebellion, to look like the Rebellion. Perhaps it did. Perhaps his old eyes saw things differently now. The veterans looked older and more weary than they ever had in the Alliance days, as aged as the Clone Wars relics had been back in the day, but somehow more tired, more addled by the repeated futility of sixty years of forlorn hope. The rest however, the vital and enthusiastic lifeblood that Jaden had once been part of during the glory days, all looked so young; so naive; so out of their depth.

Part of it was an old man's perspective, Jaden was sure; but there was more to it than that. Behind the eyes of Rebel pilots and soldiers there was a steely determination. Imperial careers to make amends for. Bitter, personal Imperial atrocities to seek revenge for. Here, among many, the weariness accompanied wariness and fear. They were an army in hiding, uncertain of themselves, fighting an obvious evil and yet doing so at odds with the supposed protagonists of the galaxy. The Rebel Alliance had fought to restore the Republic, to bring back light and hope. Senators. Jedi. All fighting as one. But the Jedi were gone, and the Senate declined to endorse their cause. The Resistance were not the heroic underdogs that the Rebellion had been: they were outlaws, vigilantes, taking the law into their own hands to act because those who should act had chosen not to.

Jaden couldn't help wondering how many of these Resistance rebels were here to channel their moral certainty, and how many were would-be heroes completely out of their depth; or even just thugs and washouts spoiling for a fight, but lacking the decency to do so on behalf of polite society.

The smile subsided, a narrow line reshaping the arrangements of Jaden's lips. "What's the story with Jaska?" The question was presented cautiously, careful not to risk showing his hand or betraying his thoughts to Taataani. "Does she make a habit of clocking new recruits across the jaw, or was that a special welcome just for me?"

Taataani Meorrrei
Jan 13th, 2016, 12:06:20 AM
The General's gait slowed, and only now did she note the bit of swelling on Jaden's face from his introduction. Her eyebrows rose in time with her ears, a cryptic little smile on her matriarchal face.

"jYou'd have to assk herr. Perrhapss morre carrefulljy the next tjime. Sshe'ss morre ssujited to ansswerrjing thosse quesstjionss wjith herr fjisstss than herr worrdss. jI majy be new to underrsstandjing the ssubtletjiess of that language, but jit sseemss that jyou two have a...hjisstorrjy?"

Coming to a brief stop, the General craned her neck slightly to catch another glimpse of Captain Jaska as she continued walking away. That teasing little smile didn't leave her expression.

"jI ljike herr. jI'm sso rrarreljy afforrded the companjy of an honesst crreaturre ljike that."

General Luka
Jan 13th, 2016, 01:53:16 AM
An awkward situation presented itself, and hung in the air between them. Taataani's fondness was not something easily come by, and in a situation like this - this war, this Resistance - she needed to feel that her soldiers could be depended on. She needed to feel she had a force that could win, a force that was the best it could be; and anything that Jaden said that might undermine her trust in Captain Jaska would be bad, no matter how shrewd or prudent it might be.

And yet, this was Taataani. She had her ways of learning things. If you allowed her to get a whiff of anything, it was already as good as exposed. The last time he'd tried to hold something back from Taataani, particularly something that involved being clocked across the face by a woman, he'd woken the next morning to find a holomail from Taataani with a list of the best divorce attorneys in the Republic. She'd know, one way or another. Best for her to know on his terms.

"I'm the reason she wasted out of the Republic military."

He stated it as a matter of fact, but that didn't stop it from somehow sounding ominous to his ears.

"She's a hell of a pilot, but she made for a lousy link in the chain of command. Very little tolerance for authority figures, especially the ones telling her she shouldn't do something."

Jaden tossed a sidelong glance in Taataani's direction. "She doesn't like following rules that she doesn't agree with. Kinda reminds me of a certain disgraced former Chancellor I know - no wonder you like her."

Taataani Meorrrei
Jan 14th, 2016, 12:06:52 AM
The ribbing at her expense caused the General's ears to bob up slightly.

"Sshe takess rrjisskss, and herr ssquadrron love herr, but jI've sseen the ssjignss jyou mentjion too. Sshe'ss a bjit of a Fjirraxan Ssharrk, jI thjink. A naturral at sswjimmjing and takjing a bjite out of ssomethjing. jIt'ss the sstajyjing jin one place parrt sshe hass trrouble on."

At that, Taataani's smile ebbed.

"jI won't have herr peculjiarrjitjy and herr hjisstorrjy wjith jyou to become an jimpedjiment. jI need the both of jyou. jIf jI have to sstep jin and ssettle the matterr, jI wjill."

General Luka
Jan 14th, 2016, 01:13:39 AM
Jaden had spent so much of the last thirty years or so around Cizerack - many of them related to Taataani, for that matter - that often it became difficult not to commandeer certain hints and flourishes from their accents. Jaden took a moment to remind himself of how he was supposed to sound before he offered a reply.

"Any animosity is entirely one-sided," Jaden assured, as convincingly as he could manage. "I may be turning into the Admiral in my old age, but I'm not Jaden Tyree just yet. I had the patience of a saint with that girl; but in the end she broke too many rules and crossed too many lines for even someone like me to justify looking the other way. As long as those shark jaws are aimed at the enemy, she'll be a valuable asset to your cause, but -"

He let out the faintest breath of laughter at the comparison that his mind had instinctively settled upon.

"She's a struggling business. If the costs start outweighing the profits, don't let sentiment get in the way of cutting your losses. You're a war effort, not a charity."

Taataani Meorrrei
Jan 24th, 2016, 01:29:39 AM
"jYou catch on prrettjy qujick." the old lady offered with a weathered smirk, "and jit took jyou lesss than a dajy asss a parramjiljitarrjy man to ssee we do thjingss a...ljittle djifferrentljy than jyou'rre ussed to."

The breeze picked up in the open, and General Meorrrei's back stiffened against it. Age-marked hands reached to quickly turn up her jacket's collar, shielding her neck against the chill.

"Come jin, Generral. Eat, have caf wjith me. Tell me ssomethjing sscandalouss. We'll prretend we'rre ssomewherre ssunnjy."

He'd likely have an inkling as to what she meant by that. Home. Her home, but one that had become Vansen's as well. A place that, in turn, Jaden Luka had been welcome at for years. The villa on the hill at Hai'raathee was one of so many of her mansions, but it was always the one with the most meaning. The one that felt like belonging, rather than an opulent species of perpetual holiday.

He must have known what she'd paid to make this stand. She'd ruined political friendships and alliances, and alienated many people in the Republic on her way out. But now she organized a war effort on a far-flung world, and she did so with the full understanding that she put her life at risk to do it.

The guards at the base's entrance saluted, which Taataani mimed poorly in return. She walked with Jaden through the wide corridors, taking her time to arrive at their destination.

"Have jyou everr sseen me sso old beforre?"

General Luka
Jan 24th, 2016, 06:09:30 AM
Jaden took his time contemplating the answer to that, his mind still entangled in Taataani's earlier proclamation. Perhaps it had taken him a day to wrap his head around how General Meorrrei would run her war; but it was a day spent in hyperspace with nothing else to contemplate, and a day that followed weeks of deliberation and consideration within himself. He had considered what his place might be; what void the Resistance might have within it's leadership that he would be capable of filling.

It all circled around to a simple, familiar realisation: there was nothing special about Jaden Luka; nothing especially remarkable. He had been a scout trooper, once, but not a particularly good one. He had been a fighter pilot for a time, and while skilled he had still only been one of a multitude among the Rogues and the Valkyries. By the time he had become a Captain, and a General, he had become an old relic; his rank was earned by longevity as much as anything else, an old Commander aboard an old ship out on the Republic frontier. He was no Jan Dodonna. He was no Gial Ackbar. He was no Reshmar, no Starborn, no Vansen Tyree. He was no war hero; just a soldier, trapped in a perpetual loop of doing his utmost to adapt to whatever situation he found himself in.

A day to see that things were done differently? Absolutely. But how long would it take him to adapt into what the Resistance needed him to be? Was there even enough youth left in him for such a transformation to be possible any more?

Taataani's question wrenched Jaden from his thoughts with all the force of an Interdictor's gravity wells. "Old?" he echoed, offering a subtle shake of his head. "Not the adjective I would use. But I have seen you this burdened before."

His shoulders sagged a little as he allowed himself to delve into those memories. "At the funeral. The point when you stood and faced the prospect of a future without him. You looked as if the weight of the galaxy was on your shoulders, and yet there was so much determination in your eyes. You have made sorrow and loss into an enemy, and I think that's a war you have been waging for a lot longer than I realise."

"Now, though?" A small hint of a smile graced his lips; more an expression of support than anything positive. "You're only carrying the weight of the Republic, and the First Order is a far less fearsome enemy. This is a blue milk run of a war by comparison. I'm only here so I can absorb some of the glory second-hand from your inevitable victory."

That was a lie, of course. Jaden would have taken on a Death Star in an escape pod, if that was what it took to stand beside family.