Added on May 08, 1999
Category: Science Fiction/Star Wars
Author: R. John Burke

Fallen Heroes

STAR WARS: By FREEDOM'S Light Episode Ten

DESRIPTION: 8 months after the battle of Yavin, the Empire goes on a little rampage, hoping to draw in the scattered forces of the Rebellion.

NOTICE: I hereby go on record as saying that I do not own Star Wars. Furthermore, I think anyone who sells a story like this or anything like it without the express written permission of Lucasfilm, Ltd. (or Major League Baseball) should be dipped in battery acid, like in Level Three of the game Jedi Knight (another Lucas copyright...)


"All troops, the Empire is about to arrive at Skor. Drop what you are doing and board the evac transports in an orderly fashion."

All around the Rebel outpost on Skor II, men and women simultaneously lost interest in their activities. The Alliance lived in fear of Imperial raids, and every Rebel soldier was ready to desert any base at a moment's notice.

So it was that a stream of Rebels, some carrying equipment or accompanied by droids, others carrying nothing but their blasters and the clothes on their back, filed into transport after transport. Each ship took to the sky within minutes, knowing it would only have a planet-based LNR cannon and a few snubfighters for protection. In the end, they realized only two escapes were possible: Into hyperspace, or into death.

Fortunately, in this case they had enough of a warning that most of their ships managed to get clear long before a Star Destroyer even sniffed the system. Only three transports were left when the EXECUTOR and its fleet made an appearance.

Those three transport pilots were prepared to die. Perhaps if they had met their fighter escort beforehand, they would have realized there was no cause for concern.

"Okay, so it's settled?" Rik Evverd, a dark-skinned, wiry Corellian with a mustache, grinned through his flight helmet's visor. "Whichever squadron scores the most TIEs gets dinner bought for it by the other two."

"At the fanciest restaurant we can find," said Commander Narra of Renegade flight. Narra was a grizzled vet, and a fellow Death Star survivor. Evverd liked him. "On whatever planet we end up on."

The third and final squadron commander, Luke Skywalker of Rogue Flight, laughed. "I think we'd better aim a bit higher than that. Our next base won't have much in the way of luxury accommodations."

Skywalker was the youth of the bunch, not even twenty. Evverd saw in the kid something of what he himself had been once.

Evverd, the commander of Maverick Flight, said, "All right, how about this? The dinner is payable at the fanciest restaurant in the galaxy - on the day we liberate Coruscant."

"Assuming we're all still alive," said Narra with a snort.

"Force willing," said Luke.

On Evverd's scopes, the oncoming Star Destroyers were beginning to release TIE fighters. "All right, boys, enough chatter. Let's do this."

"Renegade flight, S-foils into attack position..."

"Rogue squadron, accelerate to attack speed..."

"Maverick squadron, get ready to break and attack..."

In the empty space outside Skor II, thirty-six X-Wing fighters snapped their wings into the familiar spread-out shape that had given rise to the ship's name. They moved forward towards the Imperial fleet, seemingly unconcerned by the giant wedge-shapes of the Star Destroyers or the sheer numbers of the TIE fighters.

And then the fighters engaged each other, and courage gave way to reflex and skill.

"Narra to all ships: Concentrate on the TIE bombers. They'll be after the transports."

"If we do that, these TIEs'll eat us alive!" said Luke.

"Hit the bombers with torpedoes," said Evverd, "They can't dodge 'em like a fighter. THEN hit the TIEs."

Narra hissed softly. "If we waste torpedoes on the bombers, we'll have nothing left for the capitol ships."

Evverd spun his fighter into the loop, avoiding two TIE fighters that had been gunning for his tail. He locked onto a bomber, and had the pleasure of seeing it shatter into dust before returning to the fight. "How long do you think we'd last against those Star Destroyers, anyway?"

"Point," conceded Narra, "The SANCTUARY is away. Two more."

"I've got one on me!" said the voice of Wedge Antilles, one of Luke's Rogue Squadron pilots.

"I've got him, Wedge," said Luke, "Hang on..."

Evverd locked his scopes to follow Antilles, designated Rogue Two, then rolled his X-Wing on its side and spun back down, skinning another TIE fighter.

He checked his scopes. Antilles was shaking and dodging with considerable skill, but that was a TIE Advanced on him, and it stuck close. Luke was angling in, but wouldn't get there on time.

Suddenly one of Evverd's own Mav Squadron pilots soared into the mix, picking off a TIE Advanced, then spinning around to tag two more TIE fighters before returning to the main fight.

"Thanks, Mav Three," said Wedge.

"No problem," said Jev Parrak, "TIE pilots are very simpleminded."

Evverd cursed in four languages and slammed his fist on the comm button. "Jev, this is Mav Leader. I thought I told you to cut out that Force stuff!"

Jev Parrak was an excellent pilot in his own right, but had become even better thanks to his fledgling Force skills, which enabled him to confuse other pilots. Unfortunately, Jev didn't seem to differentiate between light side and dark, which just had to be bad news.

"This is life and death, Rik!" protested the young man from Alderaan, "You'd rather Wedge was dead right now?"

"Just cut it out!" Evverd hissed, and returned his attention to the fight in time to light up another bomber.

"Did somebody say something about the Force?" Luke asked.

"Just fly!" Evverd hissed, and returned to the developing dogfight.

Suddenly his fighter shook. Evverd searched around for a new opponent, but found no fighters on his tail. But he was getting rather close to that one Star Destroyer...

Turbolaser bolts lanced out to spatter against his diminishing shields. Evverd pulled his X-Wing into a long loop.

"Mav Flight, watch out for those turbolasers!" He frowned. "Mavs Two and Five, form up."

On his scopes, Lieutenants Brynn Avers and Davin Serlin eased into formation. Avers said, "What's the plan, boss?"

"Just follow."

With that, Evverd brought his X-Wing low over the superstructure of the Star Destroyer, soaring past the repeat blasts of the turbolaser towers at top speed. They skimmed just over the uneven surface, centimeters away from smashing into the huge ship.

"REFUGE is away," said Narra's voice on the comm, "Only the ASYLUM still to go."

"This party can't end soon enough," hissed the Corellian.

"Some of the fighters are following us in," said Avers.

"You worry about the lasers! I'll worry about the fighters!"

Avers and Serlin streaked along at his sides, following its structure towards the command deck where it jutted outwards from the dagger-shaped hull.

Evverd watched his scopes instead of the scenery. He waited until each of his fighters had picked up a tail.

"Okay," he said, "Head for the shield generator. Evasive pattern 128."

"Got it."

"Copy."

Evverd urged his X-Wing along, trying to reach the knobby shield generator on the upper hull before the TIE behind him got in a lucky shot.

NOW, he thought. Evverd jerked his fighter upwards, leading the TIE behind him right into the generator.

Which it successfully dodged, remaining on his tail.

"Huh," he said, "That usually works. Pilot must be pretty good..."

He swerved the X-Wing ninety degrees, and the TIE smashed into the side of the generator it had just avoided.

"Not THAT good..." he amended. "All ships, we've got a Destroyer with no forward shields. Kill it!"

"I'm on it," said Jev, and Evverd winced. He'd hoped to keep the kid out of this particular scuffle. Not because he didn't think Jev could do it; he just knew he wasn't going to like the way Jev did it.

Indeed, as Jev's fighter soared in towards the command tower, turbolaser gunners assigned to protect the bridge fell silent. They started up again the moment after Jev was past them, but by that time it was too late.

Their hesitation allowed him to get in close enough to launch a full spread of proton torpedoes at the command tower.

"Clear out!" Evverd called, spinning his fighter away from the Star Destroyer at top speed.

In the soundless void of space, the only clue that the giant ship had exploded behind him was a flickering of light playing at the edges of his viewport.

"Great job, Mav team!" said Narra, "Guess we owe you dinner. The ASYLUM is away."

The Corellian nodded. "All ships, get to lightspeed now. MOVE it, people!"

Thirty-one remaining X-Wings flickered with pseudo-motion and were gone, leaving Skor to the Empire.

Evverd tossed his helmet down to one of the FREEDOM's docking attendants and hopped out of his X-Wing, directly to the ground. He looked up at the fighter's droid socket.

"Sit tight, Bo," he said to his purple-and-gray R2 unit, "They'll have you out in a minute."

"Commander! Hey, Rik!"

Evverd turned to see Jev Parrak coming at him with a full head of steam. Evverd raised his hands, in case the kid decided to express his displeasure violently, but was still not prepared for what happened. He was just - pushed back, nearly hitting the metal of his fighter's landing gear.

"Hey!"

Jev looked alarmed, like he hadn't meant to do that. "Sorry. Why'd you leave me out of the Star Destroyer run?"

Rik Evverd grunted. "Frankly, kid, I don't trust you anymore."

"That's ridiculous!"

"Is it?" he demanded, "Then what was that you just did? Have you forgotten we're on the same team!"

"That was an accident," Jev said, frustrated, "I'm sorry! It's no reason to keep me from hitting the Empire!"

"Hitting? It seems to me like you'd rather screw around with their heads!"

"That's not..." Jev started.

Evverd didn't give him a chance. "Aside from everything else, if the Empire realizes there's a Jedi here, they're gonna start thinking maybe Kerri isn't dead. If Kerri gets hurt because of you, Junior, you're not gonna have to worry about the war any more. You got that?"

"Yes, but--"

"Knock it off!" said Evverd with a sweeping gesture. "The whole Force thing, immediately! Or get your butt out of my squadron!"

He was speaking in an angry whisper, low enough that only Jev could hear, but the other pilots in the bay could read body language. Most of them were staring now, and Jev's face turned red.

He said quietly, "You should let me fly, Rik. I can help you."

Evverd felt the thin tendril of Force energy in his mind, trying to manipulate him. In all the years he'd been with Kerri, she'd never intruded on him like that. It was the most unpleasant, disgusting feeling in the world - he wasn't alone inside his own head.

The Corellian lost it, grabbing Jev by the flight suit and physically slamming him into the X-Wing.

"Don't you EVER do that to me again! You got it?"

"Get your hands off me," Jev said quietly, eyes burning.

Evverd complied, tossing Jev back to the ground hard enough that the younger man had to steady himself against the X-Wing.

He forced himself to calm down a bit. "You have lost control, Jev, and you're gonna hurt somebody. When it comes, it's not gonna be one of my pilots. You're grounded."

Jev exploded, and Evverd felt the Force slam into him again. "WHAT?"

The Corellian didn't give an inch. "I'm taking you off the flight roster."

Jev didn't react violently this time. He was a couple of centimeters taller than Evverd, and his downcast eyes skewered his commande's'. "You're about to cross a very dangerous line, Rik."

"Are you THREATENING me?"

"The Force," said Jev slowly, "Can be a very dangerous enemy. I don't think you want to anger me."

Evverd felt the youth trying to burrow into his mind again, this time trying to inject some fear.

"That's it," said Evverd, and hit him. Jev had apparently honed his Alter abilities more than his sensing skills, because the blow took him totally unprepared, and he tumbled to the ground in a heap.

Evverd bent over to grab another fistful of material. "Do you really want a fight, kid? You'll lose."

He felt a strong hand on his wrist, and released his grip. He looked up to see Commander Narra, on board the FREEDOM for a strategic conference with Captain Garreth, stepping between them.

"Is there a problem here?" said Narra.

"No problems," said Evverd, "Just explaining a few things to the kid."

Jev glared up at him, looking like he'd disagree. Then he averted his eyes, scrambled up and ran from the room.

"It's a very poor commander," said Narra slowly, watching the Corellian, "Who needs to physically intimidate his people."

"He's not my people anymore," Evverd said.

"You grounded him?" The older man looked surprised. "He was one of your best out there."

The Corellian grunted. "He's got a lot to learn."

Narra looked from Rik Evverd to the door Jev had exited, and said, "I suppose you'd know best. Still, I wonder if it was necessary to embarrass the boy."

"I think it was." Evverd joined Narra in watching the door. "Something's got to get through to him..."

Garreth's expression was grave as he addressed the assembled personnel in the wardroom. With him were his executive officer, Commander Kerri Lynden, and his four squadron leaders. Going around the table, they were Skywalker, Evverd, Narra, and Alyssa Quaid of Rascal Squadron, who had drawn the short straw and ended up protecting Garreth's main task force during the action at Skor.

"In conclusion," Garreth said, "The Empire is taking a stronger approach to searching for our main base, as well as eliminating our outposts and sympathetic enclaves. They're going through this sector like General Korvin burning Selonia, hammering anything that looks Rebel. In addition to Skor, we will have to evacuating Fwillsving, Jerjiador, and Ithor. We will be facing Darth Vader and his Star Destroyer fleet the whole way - though fortunately there's one less to deal with. Excellent work, Commander, as always."

The Corellian nodded, and Kerri Lynden picked up the narrative. "You'll have to be ready at a moment's notice. Our next stop is Jerjiador, but we'll also have to respond to any new distress calls that come in. Lord Vader will stop at nothing to uncover our base of operations."

"Joke's on him, then," said Evverd, no doubt referring to the fact that they did not, technically, HAVE a base of operations. Eight months since Yavin, and they still had not located a suitable sight for the new Rebel base. Their fleet was roaming the starlanes like some kind of vagabond convoy, broken into task forces to keep the Empire from locating and destroying the entire Rebellion.

Despite captaining a lowly NEBULON-class frigate, Mykel Garreth had been named leader of one of the forces, approximately an eighth of the Allied fleet. He had spent thirty years as one of the finest captains in the Empire, and though he had been in the Alliance for less than two years, Garreth knew he finally had the full trust of his new comrades.

"You'll be on call for the entire daily cycle," said Garreth, "Be ready. If there's nothing else--"

"There is," said Evverd, "In addition to replacing Woren, who was lost at Skor, I'll need another new pilot."

"What happened?"

The other man leaned forward, blowing out a long sigh. "Jev Parrak is on report, and off my squadron."

"For what reason?" asked Garreth.

"Let's start with insubordination," said Evverd, "I really should talk to you privately for the rest."

Narra glanced at the captain. "I should probably mention that I broke up a fistfight between the two." He squirmed. Though uncomfortable with 'informing' on another officer, Narra obviously felt Garreth should know all the facts. "Commander Evverd appeared to be the instigator."

"Is that true, Commander?"

Evverd glared at Narra, annoyed but unrepentant. "Yes, sir. I belted him, and he deserved it, and I'd like to discuss it with you privately."

"Understood," said Garreth. Though he knew Evverd to be something of a hothead, he also knew the Corellian was unerringly fair as a squadron leader. There would be a good explanation.

Luke Skywalker said, "Does it have something to do with the Force?"

"Excuse me?" asked Evverd.

The young officer grinned sheepishly. "I heard someone mention the Force during the dogfight, and I thought I heard it again during your argument."

"It's not about the Force." This came from Kerri Lynden, who Garreth knew as a secret Jedi. "I don't see how it could be. General Kenobi was the last of the Jedi, and I hardly think they got into an argument about Darth Vader."

"I don't know," said Luke, "Ben was teaching me about the Force - he seemed to think I had a talent for it. Sometimes I... feel things. I have a weird feeling about Jev Parrak. Whenever he's around, I want to shiver. But I can't lock down what it is."

"This is all very informative," said Quaid, "But I have a squadron to run."

"Yes, of course," said Garreth.

"Next time," she told the room at large as she got up, "I'm getting in on the action. I don't care HOW the drawing goes."

"We'll save a Star Destroyer for you, Quaid," said Evverd. She grunted and left the room.

"Well, that's all," said Garreth. "Dismissed. Except you, Commander Evverd."

Narra and Skywalker made their way out, and Evverd put his head in his hands.

"Yes, I know it was stupid to hit him," he said quietly, "But the little twerp was messing with my mind."

"What do you mean..."

Kerri explained before Garreth could even finish the question. "Jev has shown an innate talent for the Force ability known as Alter Mind - an ability I myself have a talent for. He's been using it to confuse other pilots, in the simulators and now in real dogfights. It gives him an edge that he shouldn't have."

"Well, as long as he's using it against the Empire..." said Garreth. But in truth, he knew it was a serious matter. He frowned. "Why wasn't I told about this?"

"Frankly, sir, we didn't know what you could do," said Evverd, "It was my problem as squadron leader, and Kerri's as our resident Jedi. How exactly would you have helped?"

Kerri said, "We were going to tell you after the incident with Taryn Clancee..."

"What incident?"

Kerri cleared her throat. "Um, two months ago, after the Tattooine assignment, I got a complaint from Lieutenant Clancee. She said...she said she suspected Jev of tampering with her mind in some way. Since she doesn't know about this ship's," (And here Kerri's tone became very dry) "Er, relatively high Jedi population, she didn't know what to chalk it up to. I had planned to brief you at the time, but then this situation in Calaron sector flared up, and the whole thing sort of got shifted to the back burner."

"I see," Garreth muttered, forehead creased with thought lines.

"Jev just keeps getting closer to the dark side. It started when I refused to train him. What he doesn't seem to grasp is that this behavior only makes it harder."

Garreth stared at her. "Why can Luke Skywalker sense him?"

"Well, for one thing," the tanned, dark-haired Jedi said, "Jev's uncontrolled, intensive Force use may be overpowering the crystal I gave him."

Garreth knew that Kerri had given the young pilot a piece of the alien crystal she wore, to protect him from the Emperor's wrath. But that only explained part of the puzzle. "But why can Skywalker sense him at all?"

"Because..." Kerri said, "Luke Skywalker is very strong in the Force."

A stray memory clicked. Though it was a source of shame now, Garreth had spent years in the Imperial Navy hunting Jedi. When those dark days had begun... "Skywalker. Yes, that was the name of a Jedi Knight, just after the Clone Wars."

"To be more specific," Kerri told them, "That was Vader's name."

"You're joking!" he said, "Then Skywalker is..."

"Lord Vader's son," said Kerri, her eyes downcast. Garreth knew that the Sith Lord known as Darth Vader had murdered Kerri's mother, the Jedi Knight Kaelin Joth. The whole subject had to be uncomfortable for her.

She continued, "It goes without saying that neither of you ever heard that. If it were anyone else but my two most trusted friends, I'd never have said it. In fact, I may have gone too far anyway."

"We'll keep quiet," Evverd promised, "But I've heard Luke talk - he thinks Vader killed his father."

"He does," Kerri agreed.

Garreth was confused. "And you haven't told him..."

"General Kenobi thought it best that he didn't know," Kerri said slowly, "And I'm not about to contradict Obi-Wan Kenobi, not even posthumously."

"But shouldn't you train him?" said Evverd, "He'll need guidance. If Vader finds him..."

Kerri hissed softly. "My own power is only moderate. Jev's ability is like mine - he could grow into a great Jedi, but only with a great deal of effort. Luke Skywalker, on the other hand... his power is beyond anything I have ever felt. I feel it through my crystal's blinding effect, which is saying something." She took a deep breath. "I am not qualified to teach him. Someone of his potential would require a full Jedi Master. He'll either be one of the greatest Jedi in history, or our worst nightmare."

Kerri smiled weakly. "This may sound rather weak, but the simple fact is, I'm not willing to take responsibility for his destiny. As far as I'm concerned, it's better if Luke never learns to use the Force than to learn it incorrectly."

Garreth had been contemplating recent events while she spoke. "That's why Vader's after us - that's why he's searching for our base, and why he's concentrating on OUR sector. He's looking for his son..."

"I think so," said Kerri, "Pray that he never finds him."

"Perhaps I should shunt Luke off the front lines."

"No," said Kerri, "Luke's destiny is decided. I can feel it. We do not need to interfere with his path."

"You'd know," said Garreth, "Not I. As for Jev Parrak - would you say he's safe for bridge duty?"

Evverd snorted. "Just don't give an order he doesn't like."

Garreth nodded. "We're still looking for a good helmsman. I'll try him there." He nodded at Kerri. "Where you can keep an eye on him."

"Understood," she said.

"If that's all..."

The red alert klaxon blared. Lieutenant Commander Covell's voice said, "Captain Garreth to the bridge! We have a red alert."

Garreth hit the intercom. "What is it, Commander?"

"Imps have found our outpost on Cetheron," Covell's voice said, "They've hit it hard. We're getting a distress signal from whoever left - Imperial troops are still going after survivors."

"Set course for the Cetheron system, maximum speed." Garreth stood. "I'll be there momentarily."

"Yes, sir."

He turned to Kerri. "How long?"

"Less than two hours, sir. Cetheron is just next door in galactic terms."

"I'll scramble Mav Squadron," said Evverd, and hit the ground at a run.

"Isn't that premature?" Garreth asked him, "Don't you have to draw straws?"

"No problem," said the Corellian, "I have the draw rigged."

"I wondered why you never got the boring assignments anymore..."

"If you want somebody fair," said Evverd, "Hire a droid. If you want the best... you've already got that."

"Yes," said Garreth, "Narra is quite capable, isn't he?"

"Ouch," said Evverd on the way out.

"I'm glad you're aboard," Kerri told her captain as she followed him to the door, "Our last captain wasn't nearly so good at puncturing his ego..."

Evverd scanned the horizon, looking for the mountain valley that marked the Rebel outpost on Cetheron. He found it, but not because of the mountains. An entire valley was on fire, and still being scourged periodically by TIE bombers.

"Do you believe that?" said Brynn Avers in an outraged tone, "There can't be anybody much left to kill down there!"

"It's not a military victory they want, it's an example." Evverd paused. "Kill 'em."

"Yes, sir."

He and Avers led the formation as they neared the valley. Three bombers peeled off to meet them. Two ran into proton torpedoes and had their ashes scattered among those of their victims below. With the last one, Evverd took great pleasure in surgically separating the pilot's half of the twin-pod fighter from the bomber's half. The two sections fell separately, and it took all of Evverd's self-control not to shoot the ejecting pilot.

"You get anything?" he asked Avers as they did a flyby of the base.

"Negative, I - wait a minute. Two life readings, faint. In that auxiliary shed, below."

"I'm on them," said Evverd, and brought his fighter in for a landing.

"Commander, don't!" his second in command said, "It's burning down there. If the flames hit the generator."

"They won't," he said, "If my old Corellian luck holds out..."

His X-Wing set down with a thud. Evverd searched for the storage shed, a small structure a few hundred meters distant.

"They're in there?" he asked Bo, "It's on fire!"

The astromech R2-B0 twittered in reply, that one, the two life forms were in the shed. Two, they would not survive in there for long. And three, Evverd himself would be very foolish to go in there. The air quality registered as extremely bad.

Evverd grinned. "The suit seals up."

Bo explained that there was a possibility that the readings were just smoke, but that they might be Imperial biological toxins, which a mere flight suit would not protect him from.

"Hey, listen, I've breathed the smog on Nar Shaddaa. How bad can it be?"

The droid's readings were inconclusive, but he gave an estimate.

"That bad?" Evverd said with a soft whistle. "I'll be quick."

He popped the hatch, vaulted out of his fighter, and ran to the shed. The seals on his suit were tight, or so he hoped, and anyway how long could it take to locate survivors?

He began to feel dizzy even before he reached the shed. The whole area must be saturated, he thought, but kept running to distract himself.

Evverd reached the shed, and found that it's metal door was jammed. With no time to spare, he ratcheted his blaster to full and shot the door off its hinges. He kicked it open, and it gave way from its newly unattached side, falling off the side against a pile of debris.

Evverd found the first target among all the smoke, a young Rodian female maybe Jev's age. His knees felt weak as he pulled her out, and his head was spinning, but he decided it was best not to deal with that yet.

He hefted the woman into his X-Wing's cockpit, instructing Bo to seal the hatch and start the air filters. Then he went back after the other life sign.

He found him, a human male, stocky and much older than Evverd. Though the old man was heavy, Evverd strained to get him out of the building. He did so, and just in time. He hadn't gotten more than a few meters away from the shed when it exploded, throwing metal and debris for meters.

Evverd looked around, searching for someplace where the air would be clear. He could find nothing, at least not that he could reach in time. The only area where it would be possible to seal in was the main building, which was already in flames.

A piercing whine split his ears, and the Corellian wondered if he was hallucinating already. But after a moment, he saw that it was a supply shuttle from the FREEDOM, landing alongside his X-Wing.

Evverd managed to drag the man as far as its base, and collapsed.

He awoke on a medical slab, still dripping with foul-smelling bacta. A Onebee droid was tending to him, and it immediately shot him with a tranquilizer.

When things were clear again, he was dry, clothed, and on a bed in the non-critical ward. Can't be too bad, then, he thought wryly.

Kerri was there, and when she saw him awake, she kissed him. "Don't ever do that to me again."

He chuckled, and forced his eyes open. The two people he'd saved were on other beds in the Med facility, and the Onebee was checking their status.

Evverd chuckled, and reached out to take Kerri's hand. "Hey... I'm fine. Come on, I'm tougher than a Gundark. It'll take more than a little gas to put me out of commission.

But Kerri wasn't looking at him. She was looking at his hand, which was covered with synthskin. And shaking.

Evverd frowned. He started to snap his fingers at the Onebee, realized that wasn't a good idea, and merely called out it out. "Hey! Hey, Doc. What's the prognosis over here?"

"You are most fortunate," said the Onebee droid in its programmed, soothing voice. Exposure to Imperial tray'lan corrosive gas is usually fatal. You have experienced only minor damage."

"How minor?"

The Onebee considered. "You may experience headaches, weakness, shaking hands. All should heal. The only lingering effect is likely to be loss of fine motor control."

Evverd looked from Kerri to the droid and back. "Loss of fine motor... but I'm a pilot!"

The droid blinked down at him, and said softly, "That is no longer possible."

Continued in Episode 11

R. John Burke



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