New Jedi Order: Reunited I - Hello Old Friend
By Gabe Z.
Disclaimer-Yeah, yeah, George Lucas owns Star Wars and everything.
Description - This takes place during the events of the Agents of Chaos duology in the New Jedi Order story arc. While the novels focus on Han, this story (the first of perhaps two or three) follows some of the other young Jedi Knights and what they did after graduation.
Jaina walked out of Colonel Darklighter's office, trying not to look half as awful as she felt. Not two days ago she had been shot down over some backwater moon by a coralskipper, and had barely survived long enough to be rescued. She had been badly injured when she ejected, but she felt capable of piloting. Colonel Darklighter, however, seemed to have other ideas. He removed her from the active duty roster for a month, and it was final; there was nothing she could do to persuade him otherwise. First, her wingmate Anni Capstan had been killed because Jaina had failed to protect her, and now she was inactive. Jaina hung her head and stuffed her hands in the pockets of her grey jumpsuit. She headed down the corridor towards her quarters, brooding.
- - - -
Jaina sat down at the desk in her now-empty quarters. No chatter or gossip from Anni. Just the grim holomessage from her parents. Jaina slumped back in her chair and felt a tear run down her cheek. She had barely known Anni; hell, she barely joined Rogue Squadron. The fight against the Yuuzhan Vong was beginning to look more and more hopeless by the day. Sithspit, Jaina. Stop pitying yourself like this. Get up, do something. Jaina looked up from the cold silver of the desk and reached to turn on the computer terminal in the far corner of her desk. If I'm not going to be active, I guess it won't hurt to see who is.
Rogue Squadron had been taking severe losses in skirmishes and dogfights with the Vong, and new pilots came in daily. She skimmed the personnel files, stopping at a few that interested her. The one that caught her attention outright, however, was the new XO of the squadron. "Hek Tukl. . ." She wondered aloud. The name seemed to have a familiar ring to it; but she couldn't quite place it. The identification photo also confirmed that she had seen the man somewhere before. It was a picture of a man with short, black hair that stood straight up in thick spikes. He had a thick goatee with a large tuft of hair hanging from his chin. He had cool green eyes and handsome features. She shook her head and rubbed her eyes. It was getting late; she should get to bed. Jaina deactivated the console and turned off the desk lamp. She laid on the sleeping pallet, but she was kept awake by the picture of the new XO. He looked so familiar, and yet so distant. . . She drifted off to sleep, but it was a fitful one, permeated by visions of the man.
- - - -
Raynar Thul rose from the command chair of the Attack Cruiser Spearhead, the newest acquisition of the Bornaryn fleet. Ahead, four squadrons of retrofitted Z-95 Headhunters were doing battle with as many coralskippers. In the distance, a Yuuzhan Vong cruiser augmented the strength of the skips, and Raynar was not too damn happy about it. "Lieutenant, order the Nova and the Patriot to attack the Vong cruiser, maximum firepower."
"Yes, Captain Thul." came the officer's level reply.
Raynar sank back into the chair. Being the heir to the Bornaryn fleet wasn't all it was cracked up to be. His mother, Aryn Dro Thul had resigned her command of the fleet just over a year ago, shortly after Raynar had graduated from the Jedi academy. It was hard to use his Jedi senses to do anything of consequence in a naval battle between titanic battleships, but sometimes. . . "Captain, order squadrons Alpha and Gamma to protect grid A23 on my mark. . ." he trailed off. "Mark."
The remains of Alpha and Gamma squadrons, thirteen Headhunters, streaked away from their battles into the designated sector, just as a dozen coralskippers blasted out of space and opened fire. A barrage of molten plasma was unleashed and three Headhunters were crippled and destroyed as the fighters rushed to meet each other. A flurry of concussion missiles and tri-laser blasts greeted the squadron of skips. About half of the barrage was dissipated into nothingness by dovin basals, but enough got through to incinerate five of the skips. "Good call, captain."
"Thank you, lieutenant."
Raynar nodded, satisfied. He had just protected the flank of his own flagship by distracting the coralskippers with a squad of fighters. He may only have been eighteen, but he was getting the hang of this command thing.
In the distance, a flash caught his attention as the Nova and the Patriot opened fire on the Vong cruiser. Wave after wave of orange turbolaser fire poured into the rocklike ship. The Vong ship was definitely taking damage, but so were his two ships. A panicked voice blared over the intercom. "Fxxxsstt. . . shields... ffssssst.. . failing. . .Ahhhhh!" The scream cut off as the Nova melted into molten slag under the barrage of plasma rocks. Raynar winced, but as the Nova went down, the Patriot proceeded to get enough fire through to fragment the Vong cruiser. Raynar breathed a heavy sigh of relief as the remaining Headhunters were able to finish off the now-confused coralskippers. Well, it had been a victory. But at heavy cost. "Damage report." he said, his voice heavy with sadness.
"Patriot reports minor hull damage. Hyperdrive is damaged, but can make a jump. They report about 15% casualties." he paused to pore over some more reports. "We have sustained damage to sublight engines and life support systems. Shields are at fifty-one percent."
"Right, what about the fighters?"
"Alpha reports five losses, three damaged. Beta reports eight lost, one damaged. . . Gamma was completely destroyed and Delta lost seven."
Raynar sunk further into the chair. Some of those pilots had been his close friends. And now he would have to send letters to all their families. He hated the task. And there were always at least a dozen letters to be written, and the task was becoming mundane. "Set course for the rendezvous point and engage hyperdrive as soon as all fighters are on board."
"Yes, sir." replied the helmsman.
The rendezvous was Rogue Squadron's damaged headquarters, of course. The mobile base had suffered major damage in a Vong attack and were in need of relocation. And Raynar had volunteered to provide just that. He had heard that his old friend Jaina Solo had joined Rogue Squadron recently; he looked forward to seeing her again. It had been a while. Raynar issued a final order as he walked to his quarters. "Commander, you have the bridge. Just keep us on course. Buzz me if anything happens. "Will do, captain."
Raynar walked through corridor after corridor until finally he came to his own quarters. He punched in his keycode and the door hissed open. He walked through and closed the door, and then plopped down heavily into the sole chair in the room. To the rear of the room was a large metal desk, facing out to a large viewport. On the wall beside the desk was a large holopicture of Lusa, his fiancee. His sad demeanor melted as he looked at the portrait of his beautiful bride to be. He remembered how he had met her, on Yavin, after she had escaped the Diversity Alliance's vile clutches. He had been in love with her since the first moment he saw her, and just before they graduated, he had done something about it. He proposed. She said yes, and they were to be married in little over two weeks. He smiled and reached for his portable holocomm unit. He keyed it on and punched in Lusa's personal frequency. As far as he knew, she was still on Yavin 4, helping train Jedi students to fight the Vong. He was rewarded when her beautiful face and cinnamon colored mane appeared on the screen. "Hello, Lusa."
"Oh, Raynar! So good to hear from you."
"Same here. How's everything at the academy?"
"Hectic. . . but that's how everything's been lately."
"Yeah. We're en route to Rogue Squadron headquarters now. We should be at Yavin within the week."
"Oh, good! Oh, if you see Jaina, give her my best, would you?"
"Of course, dear."
"I love you, Raynar."
"And I love you, Lusa."
He cut off the transmission and her face disappeared from the screen. He smiled. He would get to be with her soon enough.
- - - -
Jaina hopped out of the simulator's cockpit and removed her helmet. She walked over to her locker and placed the battered white and blue checked helmet. She began to strip off her orange flight suit. She reached into her flight locker and removed one of the comfortable grey jumpsuits that she often favored when she was not on duty. And, as of late, there was no duty to be had. She had spent the last hour vaporizing coralskippers in a simulated A-Wing. She had been growing fond of the agile craft in simulators. She admired their speed, but hardly felt safe between two blaster cannons and light shields. Oh well, just a sim, she though to herself.
As she closed her locker and walked out of the locker room in the staging room of the training area, a man approached. "Lieutenant Solo?"
It was that new XO, Hek Tukl. "I'm the new executive officer for the squadron, Hek Tukl. I'm just going around introducing myself to all the pilots and staff." he extended his hand and she took it tentatively. Then it hit her. "Oh my Gods. . . Zekk?"
Then it all came pouring back to her. Shortly after graduation, they had had a falling out and had gone their different ways: Jaina to Rogue Squadron, Zekk to New Republic Military. "Jaina, I can't pretend anymore. I really missed you while we were apart. I thought you'd hate me for the rest of my life. . ."
Jaina felt tears in her eyes. After a year and half, the man she knew she had always known she had loved was back. And she hadn't seen it when she looked at his file. But now. . . she knew. He embraced her, and they stood in the sim room, holding each other, for what seemed to be an eternity. "I love you, Zekk."
"I love you, Jaina."
Sorry that was so short. . . it was just a prologue though. Be on the lookout for part one soon!