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Beyond - Legends Secrets in Scarlet (Antilles and Horn Families) Valin/Syal, Myri/Thaymes, post-FOTJ

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Darkwriter, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. Darkwriter

    Darkwriter Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2006
    Title: Secrets in Scarlet
    Genre: Action/Mystery/Romance
    Timeframe: post FOTJ. Takes place soon after Mercy-Kill.
    Disclaimer: George Lucas owns Star Wars and I do not. RIP Aaron Allston, who helped creat so many of these wonderful characters.

    Author's Note: A long time ago, I read a fan-fic about Syal Antilles and Valin Horn as a couple and immediately fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately, I've never stumbled across this pairing since. (If anyone knows of any, please let me know!) So I decided to make my own.

    Also, if anyone is interested in being a beta reader for this story, please feel free to PM me! And I'm finding that I struggle slightly with Wedge's and Corran's characterizations (ie, their sense of humor) so suggestions will be welcome.

    Dramatis Personae
    Booster Terrik; smuggler and captain of the Errant Venture; human male
    Corran Horn; Jedi Master; human male
    Iella Wessiri Antilles; retired Intelligence agent; human female
    Jysella Horn; Jedi Knight; human female
    Mace Kenner; GAS agent; human male
    Mirax Terrik Horn; smuggler; human female
    Myri Antilles; Wraith; human female
    Syal Antilles; Rogue Two; human female
    Thaymes Fodrick; Wraith; human male
    Valin Horn; Jedi Knight; human male

    *subject to change


    “XJ7, you are clear to board,” said the voice through Syal’s comm system. Grinning, she pushed her throttle, and her XJ7 dipped forward, drifting under the scarlet shadow of the Star Destroyer, Errant Venture. The dark blanket of space disappeared as she neared the Venture, the open hanger filling her vision.

    She maneuvered smoothly, swiftly into the silvery docking bay and set down between two cargo haulers. Almost immediately, she yanked her helmet off and shook out her short blond hair. Her leg had started to shake again. She tried to stop it, but her heart pulsed with anticipation and nervousness.

    It’s been a while, she thought, squeezing her helmet between her palms. Not since she had been to the Errant Venture, but since everyone had been together—

    Her cockpit snapped open, hissing by her ears and startling her. Pushing her helmet and her misgivings aside, she clambered out of the pilots seat and swung onto the ladder. A man waited for her nearby—he stood only a head taller than her, short for most men his age, and gray streaked his brownish hair. He wore a light dust jacket over his slim shoulders.

    Despite herself, Syal abandoned all pretense of formality that she tried so hard to maintain among Starfighter Command. She ran, her feet quickly closing the gap between the two of them, and hurled herself into her father’s arms.

    He squeezed her tight, rubbing his cheek against her hair. “Missed you, little girl.”

    “Missed you, too,” Syal murmured into his jacket, then drew away to look up at him. “Am I late?”

    “The Horns just got here, actually,” Wedge said. “Valin, Jysella, and Myri all went to the casino—for drinks, they said. But knowing Myri…”

    “She’s probably gotten herself wrapped up in a high-stakes game.” Syal made a face. “And in front of two Jedi.”

    “Well,” Wedge said, shrugging. “These are Booster’s grandchildren we’re talking about.”

    A tech came forward with Syal’s duffel, which she stored in her XJ7’s cargo compartment.

    Wedge snatched it up before Syal could and swung it over his shoulder. He looked over her shoulder with a not-so-subtle glint in his eye.

    “So you’ve finally caved,” he said.

    “That’s not the word I would use,” Syal said, frowning. “What sane person turns down a position in Rogue Squadron, in any case?”

    “You almost did.”

    It was too true. From the time she had begun her flight school training, Syal had been determined to make her career on her own, and without her father’s fame to help her—so much so that she had actually changed her name to Lysa Dunter, until her cover had been blown. Even after that, she had strayed away from flying X-Wings, flying instead Eta-5 interceptors. But a lot of things had changed after Jacen Solo’s war.

    Almost as if he sensed the rolling turmoil within her, Wedge looped his other arm around her shoulders and steered her through the hangar bay. Docking stations were littered with everything from junky cargo haulers to glittering space yachts. Syal’s stomach seized up as soon as she caught sight of the three StealthXs. But since she was already walking, her leg—luckily—didn’t start shaking.

    “Do you want to join your sister in the casino?” Wedge asked.

    “I’d rather settle in,” Syal said. “It was a long flight, and Myri can be…a lot to handle.”

    Wedge laughed. “Years ago, you would have called her a rotten vent crawler.”

    He led her onto the residential deck, to an expansive suite. Her mother sat in a comfy leather chair and leaned across a glass table with an intense look on her face. If Syal didn’t know any better, she would have thought that Iella was in the middle of an interrogation, grilling a couple of suspects.

    But since the couple on the other side of the table were Corran Horn and his wife Mirax, Syal knew that her mother was only complaining.

    “I’m just saying,” Iella said sternly. “I don’t see how I’m supposed to go from keeping galactic secrets and looking over my shoulder everywhere I go, to spending my days listlessly in a penthouse. What does the Galactic Alliance take me for?”

    Corran, grinning at Iella, was the first one to notice Syal’s appearance. He set down his glass—Corellian brandy, Syal assumed—and winked at her. “Watch what you say. There are government employees around. How’s it going, Rogue Two?”

    Syal gave her father an exhausted look. “Do you have to tell everyone you know?”

    “Only every ex-Rogue I know,” her father answered.

    “And some he doesn’t,” Mirax quipped.

    Syal looked back at her mother, but Iella was already on her feet, moving to embrace her. “Things worked out pretty well,” she said with a satisfied look. “That you and Myri happened to be on leave while the Horns were heading to the Errant Venture for a small family reunion.”

    Syal got that uncanny feeling at the back of her neck. She wasn’t a Jedi like Valin and Jysella, but being an Antilles meant developing a killer intuition. “Mom,” she said carefully. “Please tell me you didn’t hack into the military database.”

    Wedge grinned at her. “She didn’t hack into the military database.”

    “Oh,” Syal huffed. She took her duffel from her father and moved down the hall. “Why don’t I believe you?”

    “Valin and Jysella went with Myri to the casino,” Mirax called after her. “You should join them.”

    “I just want to take a shower first,” Syal said. She pointed to her head. “Helmet hair, you know?”

    Myri had apparently already settled into the first room. Her datapad lay on the desk—locked and coded, Syal quickly discovered when she tried to swipe the screen, but that was no surprise. Myri had long ago figured out how to keep her sensitive information, including her diary, away from Syal. The bigger indication of her sister’s presence, however, was the closet itself, bursting with dazzling outfits, gleaming sequence dresses, and piles of colorful shoes. Grimacing, Syal shut the closet door and went to the empty room across the hall.

    She threw her duffel onto the bed, stomach churning. Then she grabbed a pair of black leggings, a long gray smock, and a belt, and went to the shower. After scrubbing herself clean and snuggling into her new outfit, she presented her to her parents and the Horns.

    “Lovely,” Corran said. “Much more sensible than those other two girls that Wedge and I sometimes call our daughters.”

    “Those weren’t our daughters,” Wedge informed him. “Those were two highly classified field agents for the Galactic Alliance, trained from birth to root out evil and expose corruption. And they were undercover as cantina dancers.”

    Mirax stared at Wedge in mock disbelief. “What are they doing on the Venture? Do we think we should warn Booster?”

    “Speaking of Booster,” Iella said smoothly. “Why exactly did he call us all here?”

    Mirax shrugged. “In typical Booster fashion, he’s been vague and secretive. You can’t help but be curious.”


    The casino was bursting with all types, from greasy smugglers and gamblers to dazzling nobles and business men. The patrons bustled around the sabaac tables, eager to get a good look. Syal was usually fairly adept at picking her sister out in the crowd, but the casino floor swam with so many bright colors that she found herself blinking in confusion, and, besides, she didn’t even know what color Myri’s hair was right now.

    Her attention magnetized toward the bar on the left deck, under a panel of flashing vidscreens. A man with the slim, compact build of a space jockey caught her eye, raised his hand. Instead of his Jedi robes, he wore, like her father, a light dust jacket over civilian attire.

    Valin Horn.

    Taking a deep breath, Syal closed the gap between them. A girl seated at the bar next to Valin leaned forward smiled. A few purple and blue highlights streaked her silky dark hair, and she wore a pair of black pants with a neon green top which left her arms bare. For a few seconds, Syal thought that Valin had already chatted up some pirate’s daughter, or possible a dancer from the cantina.

    Then she remembered what her father had said, and she realized that the girl was Valin’s sister, Jysella.

    She hadn’t seen them in a really long time.

    No, that wasn’t exactly true. She had seen them just a couple months back. But they’d been frozen in carbonite.

    Jysella gave a cry of delight, hopped down from her bar stool, and threw her arms around
    Syal’s neck. “Rogue Two! How’s life in the fast lane?”

    “Fast,” Syal said cautiously, pulling away.

    Valin had slid down from his bar stool and drew near her, offering a sheepish grin. With his easy grace, he pulled her against him. She had just enough time to inhale his familiar, sharp musk before suddenly the smoky air pushed between them again.

    So awkward. And Syal had promised herself that she would act like a grown up.

    For a distraction, she gazed around the casino, squinting and searching.

    “She’s at the center table,” Valin said. “Raking in the credits as usual.”

    Syal looked but the faces were still unfamiliar.

    “With the pink hair,” Valin added.

    Now as Syal’s gaze landed on her sister’s serious expression, her cheeks warmed from embarrassment. What kind of person couldn’t spot her own sister in a crowd?
    Jysella and Valin returned to their barstools. Syal pulled herself up between them, and a gray skinned Quarren appeared before her.

    “Do you want a drink?” Valin asked, then narrowed his eyes at her. “How old are you anyway? Are you legal?”

    Out of habit, she slugged his arm. “Stop it, you. I’m twenty-five! I’m a whole year older than your sister!”

    “But I’m a Jedi,” Jysella said brightly. “Which means I’m wise beyond my years.”

    Valin snorted, but Syal was happy for the distraction. Her grin covered her embarrassed flush—it seemed that Valin would always think of her as a little girl.

    Which was fine. Who cared what Valin Horn thought? She had joined Starfigher Command, had earned the rank of Captain, had been given a slot in Rogue Squadron. She was Syal Antilles, Starfighter Ace—as Uncle Tycho liked to call her—and she certainly didn’t need Valin’s approval.

    “I’ll have a Flogblaster,” Syal told the bartender.

    “Nice,” Jysella said.

    “That’s some tough stuff,” Valin said gravely.

    Syal glared at him. When you were a girl in Starfighter Command, you did what you had to keep up with the big boys. And just to show Valin that she wasn’t going to be intimidated by him, she took a long swig from the foggy glass the Quarren set down. Burned her throat raw, just for her pride.

    “So,” she said, feeling braver with some alcohol in her system. “How are you two? Hunt down any Sith lately?”

    Jysella rolled her eyes. “As if Jaina Solo would leave any of them for the rest of us. Speaking of, did you know she got married? To Jagged Fel?”

    “Yes,” Syal said. “I was there. Because he’s my cousin.”

    Jysella slapped her forehead. “That makes total sense now. Because you are both so straight-laced and uptight and boring. You must get along great.”

    “He’s actually pretty cool if you give him a chance,” Syal said.

    Even Valin looked dubious about that. “Dad says that Fel thinks he’s this big shot because he used to be this a starfighter ace, and now because he used to be the Empire’s Chief-of-State.”

    "Coming from a man who used to be a starfighter ace," Jysella said.

    Syal took another gulp from her fogblaster and bolstered herself to defend her cousin. Someone had to. “Maybe that’s because Jag is a big shot. Being a Chief-of-State is kind of a major deal. While he was on Coruscant, he would invite me for dinner whenever Jaina wasn’t available and let me use his simulator. He even showed me a couple of moves that would out you to shame.”

    Valin put his hand over his heart, affecting a hurt expression. “Come on, now, you know very well—Sella, what are you doing?”

    Syal turned to see Jysella waving at someone across the room.

    “Those GAS agents keep looking this way,” Jysella said. “Do you think they’re watching us?”

    “Sella, we’re Booster’s grandkids. Everyone here is watching us.”

    “Either they were sent by Dorvan,” Jysella said. “Or they’re checking me out.”

    Valin clicked his teeth. “Dad isn’t going to like either of those options.”

    Syal spun around on her stool to get a look at the agents. Dressed in black uniforms, tagged by white Alliance crests, they weren’t hard to spot. Syal hoped Chief-of-State Dorvan hadn’t sent them, considering how poor their recon skills seemed to be. Bright-eyed, they seemed to be about her age, maybe a couple years younger.

    Or maybe they were trying to be obvious.

    “Well,” Jysella said, setting her drink aside. “I’m going to say hello.”

    And in one smooth motion, she disappeared into the crowd. Leaving Syal alone with Valin.


    She felt Valin’s eyes on her, assessing her. Surely he felt her apprehension in the Force.

    At last he said in a careful tone, “I heard about your fiancé. I’m sorry.”

    Surprise brought her eyes up to meet his. The comment seemed to come out of nowhere, blinding her like a grenade flash.

    “Tion,” she said with a lump in her throat, “died three years ago. During the last war we fought.”

    Valin winced. “I know the condolences are late. But when was the last time you and I actually had the chance to speak to one another?”

    “The last time we spoke?” Syal said. “I think it was aboard the Errant Venture. Tion came with me, actually. That was the first time we…”

    She couldn’t finish that sentence. Her leg started to shake.

    Valin glanced down, then back up. “We haven’t done a very good job of keeping up.”

    “You’ve been busy,” Syal said. “I’ve been busy.”

    She didn’t bother to mention that his parents had gone out of their way to speak to her after Tion’s death, after Tycho had ordered her to join the Jedi resistance. And yet Valin had remained aloof, had barely noticed her presence during that period. He’d been part of one the major groups dedicated to hunting down Jacen Solo. She understood that. She’d wanted more than anything to see Jacen go down.

    And yet, it was Corran who’d found her and consoled her in her time of need. Not Valin, the boy she’d grown up with in the Maw, the boy she’d followed everywhere. The boy who used to be her best friend.

    But of course she’d been deluding herself.

    “Well,” Valin said. “We’re here now, aren’t we? We’re still friends.”

    He said it with such confidence that Syal didn’t dare contradict him.

    “What’s Booster want us all here for, anyway?” she asked instead.

    Valin grinned, flicking some dark hair away from his verdant eyes. “Who can tell, where Booster’s concerned? You know how he likes to keep us on our toes. But you can be sure of one thing—it’ll be highly illegal. Possibly treasonous.”

    “Astral,” Syal said, deadpan. “Good thing my mom can just blot out anything dubious from my service record.”

    “Or Myri could, for that matter,” Valin said. “Since she’s a Wraith now.”

    “Don’t remind me. She was insufferable when she was just a gambler.”

    Valin started to smile, but the expression froze on his face. In the next instant, he leaped from his barstool, his hand snapped toward his lightsaber. Only then did Syal hear the cry that rose up on the casino floor. She turned, searching for her sister, but patrons rose up all around the center table, like geysers shoot up out of the ground. They covered Myri, shrouded her.

    Syal’s heart beat painfully in her chest. Please, be okay, Myri…

    After everything that had happened in the last few years, how could she deal with losing her sister?

    What I wouldn’t give for the Force right now.

    But at least she had Valin. He vaulted toward the center table, swerving around tables and pushing patrons out of his way. His green lightsaber blade ignited with a snap-hiss, thrumming loudly as he swung it and patrons scurried out of his way.

    Syal hurried to join him, followed at his heels—like always. He cleared a path, and she caught sight of Myri’s flaming pink hair, her sister’s startled expression.

    Valin stopped suddenly. Syal bumped into his back, clutched his jacket sleeve to keep herself upright. She noticed him staring at the floor and followed his gaze. A man lay at his feet, unmoving.

    The man’s face had turned ashen, nearly gray, and scarlet blood coated his lips and stained the floor. Syal’s stomach churned at the sight of it. It seemed the blood was everywhere, on Booster’s expensive carpet, trailing all the way up to the sabaac table.

    Myri put her arms around her winning chips, shielding them. The crowd moved once more as the two GAS agents and Jysella pushed forward from the opposite direction. The agents looked accusingly at Myri, then at the dead man. Then at Valin’s glowing green lightsaber blade.

    “Well,” said the one with curling ebony locks. His face was smooth and handsome and lacked menace, but his sharp eyes sized Myri up with a little bit of triumph. “What have we here? Looks like you poisoned your competitor, but you won’t be getting away with the credits that easily.”

    Valin deactivated his lightsaber.

    Myri glowered up at the agent. “I won them fair and square.”

    The other agent, a wiry man with yellow hair, laughed without mirth. “Booster Terrik’s poster girl wins fair and square? Are you kidding me?”

    Syal started forward, but Valin thrust out his arm and held her back. “My sister is no criminal.”

    “I’ve got some records that beg to differ.”

    Myri’s opaque contact lenses widened fractionally. She looked up at the agent. “I thought I recognized you.”

    “You tried to lose me,” he said, bending down to her eye level. “But you’re hard to forget.”

    Myri grinned and shot Syal a secretive look. Why wasn't she worried? Syal wondered. Did she know this person?

    His partner scoffed behind him. “Quit flirting. There’s a dead man on the floor.”

    “And you think I killed him?” Myri asked.

    “You said it, sweetheart,” said the blond man. “Not me.”

    The dark-haired man looked sourly at his partner.

    “Myri didn’t kill anyone,” Jysella said from behind the agents.

    Valin said, raising his voice, “In any case, you have no jurisdiction here.”

    “We have a very special jurisdiction.” The dark-haired agent, leaning over Myri, smiled. “You Jedi aren’t the only ones with elastic authority anymore.”

    Syal was sure of that, at least. After Daala had taken pains to reign in the Jedi, she seemed to set off a chain reaction. Luke Skywalker had seceded the Jedi Order from the Galactic Alliance, and Syal had heard from both reputable and non-reputable new programs that Chief-of-State Wynn Dorvan was creating a specialized task force that would hold Jedi-like jurisdiction over Alliance territory.

    Valin appeared stunned for a moment. His arm loosened around Syal and his face went slack. But after a second or two, a grin sprung back to his face. “Forget about me being a Jedi. Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?”

    The agents nodded. “Valin Horn,” said the dark-haired one.

    “Not exactly,” boomed a voice.

    They all turned and looked up. On the deck overhead, Booster Terrik leaned over the railing. His scarred face and silvery beard complimented a metallic ring over his prosthetic eye.

    Only then did Syal let herself relax.

    Valin smiled and raised his hand to give Booster a lazy salute.

    “That,” Booster informed the GAS agents, “is my grandson.”
    Kahara likes this.
  2. Kahara

    Kahara Chosen One star 4

    Mar 3, 2001

    So many possible answers to that question... ;)

    This looks like great fun. Haven't read any of the books with Syal, but she comes through vividly here with her anxiety and the relationships to her friends and family. And I like the banter between the various characters. Anyway, hope you continue this! :) (I won't be around to comment for a few weeks, but I'll keep this in the list for when I have time/computer access again.)
  3. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 3, 2013
    I like this! The Horns and Antilles have been criminally underused in the EU, IMO. Valin and Jysella had decent roles in FOTJ but they were insane most of the time, unfortunately.
    Force Smuggler and Kahara like this.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent air of mystery and undercurrents of all things that have passed between Syal/valin. =D= The banter is just-right. @};-

    There was an excellent Syal diary called "Downward Spiral" before the move ... it showed the aftereffects of all that Syal went through, including the loss of her fiancee. :( You've captured that same resilient strength here. =D=
    Kahara likes this.
  5. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    I like this, being a fan of the Horn family
  6. Darkwriter

    Darkwriter Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2006
    Thanks everyone for the replies! My plan as of now is to post once a week, on Fridays. That could change, depending on my schedule, however.

    Kahara: Thanks! I'm glad you like Syal. She appears in the books more as a cameo than anything else. While Allston gave her some history, she never really had her own arc. She really opened up as I wrote her, so I'm excited about where this is heading. Hope you continue to like her!

    Revanfan1: I agree. You would have thought we would have seen more of them, considering how popular their dads are, as fan favorite characters. Even though Valin and Jysella played a huge part on FOTJ, we really only got to see the true Valin for about three paragraphs before he went crazy.

    Nyota's Heart: Thanks for the praise (and the tip)! I'll have to see if I can track down that story via Google.

    earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks! Corran and Mirax are one of my favorites, and I love the strange dynamic between Corran and Booster. I'm still fleshing out Valin as a character though, so we'll see where this goes.

    Chapter Two

    “Hold it,” Jysella said, following Myri into Booster’s office. She picked something from Myri’s filmy minidress. “You’ve got some…”

    Syal and Valin stopped under Booster’s doorway, and looked back at Myri with identical expressions of concern. Oh, it must be so burdensome being the oldest.

    “Some bloke sprayed some glitterdust on you,” Jysella said, but she held up something between her fingers, a device as small as a bug, blinking.

    A bug indeed. Myri could see her parents and Jysella’s parents already crowded into Booster’s office. Corran and Mirax lounged at the couch on the wall. Booster sat behind his desk, across from the seats Wedge and Iella occupied.

    Most people considered it strange that Booster had his own desk, much less his own office—it contradicted the image of a gritty crime boss, the man with the red prosthetic eye. After all, Jabba the Hutt hadn’t had an office. On the other hand, it was seriously doubtful that Jabba would have fit into an office.

    Still, Myri could attest to the fact that Booster Terrik was nowhere near the same as Jabba the Hutt…though she couldn't blame others for making the comparison. She’d once listened to Lando Calrissian describe his one-time adventure at Jabba’s palace, a filthy hive full of dancers and musicians for Jabba’s entertainment, a lounge to amuse all the smugglers who operated under Jabba’s leadership, as well as the plethora of droids that serviced food and drinks to Jabba’s patrons. And if you made a deal in Jabba’s palace, even something as minute as a handshake, it was as good as a written contract.

    Booster’s Star Destroyer, the Errant Venture, functioned much the same, though it was far cleaner—and bigger. Booster had never fed anyone to a Rancor or sentenced his enemies to a sarlacc pit, but he had been rumored to have thrown an irritant or two into the airlock.

    Jysella placed the flashing bug on Booster’s desk. Everyone gathered around it, and even without the Force Myri sensed the unspoken question. Was it listening?

    “No,” Iella, Myri’s mother, said at last. “It’s a tracker, not a listening device.”

    Everyone breathed in relief. The adults sank back into their seats. Valin and Jysella squeezed onto the couch with their parents, while Myri and Syal linked arms and stood behind Wedge and Iella.

    “Then let me speak plainly,” Booster said. He put his hands on his hips. “Just what happened out there?”

    He asked the question to his grandchildren and Syal as well, but his red eye clicked and focused on Myri. She had been sitting directly across from the Duros who had collapsed and died at the sabacc table. Not to mention, she was his protégé. Anything that reflected badly on her, reflected badly on him.

    Myri looked back at Booster, unwilling to be intimidated, and braced herself for her answer.

    But Valin—peacekeeper that he was—spoke up first. “None of us are really sure what happened, Grandpa. I only sensed something wrong in the Force a few seconds before the Duros collapsed. If his death had been calculated, I should have felt a warning long before then.”

    “It stands to reason.” Corran stroked his goatee thoughtfully, scratching at gray hairs. “Of course, things are not always as they appear.”

    Booster gave his son-in-law an exasperated look. “What is that supposed to mean? One of my officers dropped dead, because someone is someone is after me.”

    “Typical Booster,” Corran said. “An inflated idea of his own self-importance. What makes you think you’re the real victim here?”

    “Or more accurately put,” Mirax added, “what did you do this time?”

    “That’s not important right now,” Booster said, earning a sharp look from Corran. “What we need to focus on is Gam Zhee’s demise. Myri, are you sure you didn't notice anything?”

    “It happened as suddenly as Valin says it did,” Myri said. “One minute he was bluffing me, then next he was on the floor.”

    “That’s not what I asked,” Booster growled. “Maybe you noticed something before.”

    Wedge raised his hands in a calming gesture. “Take it easy, Booster. Myri isn't your spy. At least, not anymore.”

    “Dad, it’s okay,” Myri said. “If Booster’s in trouble, I want to help.”

    Not to be deterred, Wedge leaned forward. Myri traded amused looks with her sister. When Wedge caught the whiff of a mystery, he never could just let it rest. Which was why the word retirement was rather slippery, as far as their family was concerned.

    “Are you in trouble, Booster?” Wedge asked.

    Corran shook his head, catching on. “That’s part of the problem, isn't it, Booster? You need help. You brought us all here to help you, because you've finally dug yourself a hole you can’t get out of.”

    Booster looked affronted. “Maybe I just wanted to see my whole family, together again. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve all seen each other? It’s been years. And just for the record, Horn, I can get out of any hole I choose to dig.”

    “Then why not tell us, Dad?” Mirax asked.

    “Because he’s afraid we won’t help him,” Myri said. “Whatever you’re doing is so illegal that the Galactic Alliance has sent Wraith Squadron to investigate you.”

    Myri allowed herself a gloating grin as everyone turned and stared at her. Booster’s good eye narrowed, but the coolly intimidating expression didn’t work on her. He wouldn’t dare throw her into an airlock.

    “Are you investigating me, Myri?” Booster said in his gravelly voice. “Were you planning on turning me in?”

    “Please,” Myri said. “I didn’t even know Wraith Squadron was here until about an hour ago. They probably didn’t tell me about the mission because they’re afraid I won’t turn you in, Booster.”

    Which could be said of any of the party members present. Booster had had a profound effect on them all at one time or another, and there wasn’t anything any one of them wouldn’t do for him. Well, except for Corran.

    Wedge craned his neck to look up at her. “How did you figure it out, then?”

    Myri’s grin widened. “Those two supposed GAS agents Booster chased away from us were Wraiths. Thaymes Fodrick and—”

    “Thaymes?” Syal said, speaking up for the first time. “Isn’t he the guy you’re dating?”

    Booster’s office grew so quiet that Myri could hear the ticking of the tracker on Booster’s desk. It ticked on, as if counting down the seconds to a thermal detonator explosion.

    Sure enough, Wedge twisted in his seat so that he could look at her more fully. “WHAT?”

    Myri disentangled herself from Syal and glared at her sister. “Thanks a lot, Syal.”

    This was so not the way she had wanted her family to find out about the man in her life. She had carefully avoided such altercations, and normally benefited from the fact that Syal spoke to the other members of the family only when absolutely necessary.

    “Myri,” Iella said. “You know better than to tell your sister a secret of that magnitude. She doesn’t have your…special training in espionage.”

    Myri knew, but it had been so long since they were all together that Myri had nearly forgotten that in addition to having zero fashion sense, Syal was a complete blabbermouth.

    “Hold on, hold on,” Wedge said. “You’re dating a Wraith?”

    “Yes, Daddy,” Myri said patiently. “And I’m a Wraith too, in case you’ve forgotten. It’s not serious, so just calm—”

    “Don’t you dare tell me to calm down,” Wedge said. He snatched the tracker from Booster’s desk and tossed it to Iella. “Honey, you know what to do?”

    Grinning, Iella pulled out her datapad.

    “So Grandpa,” Jysella said sweetly. “Are you going to tell us what’s going on or not? You know Valin and I wouldn’t rat you out.”

    Booster’s red eye focused on Corran. “What about you, Horn?”

    Corran raised his hands in surrender. “You think Mirax would ever forgive me if I sent you back to the spice mines of Kessel?”

    “We’re with you, too,” Iella said. “This sounds like fun. And I've been so bored in retirement.”

    Wedge added, “Do I get to knock around some wraiths in the meantime?”

    “By all means,” Booster said. “And Syal—”

    Myri turned and looked at her sister with some trepidation. Although they communicated regularly, Syal had grown distant from everyone else in the past few years, especially from Valin. During Jacen Solo’s war she had, for a time, chosen duty over family. Now she wore an expression of caution, of mute anxiety, which Myri was accustomed to seeing on her sister's face. Out of everyone, she was potentially the weak link in their little coalition.

    “As long as this stays off my record.” Syal looked down at Iella. “Can you do that?”

    “Child’s play,” Iella told her.

    “Are you sure you won’t go blabbing it to the major news networks?” Myri asked.

    Her comment earned her a dirty look.

    “Great,” Booster said. “So, the truth is, I’ve been—some would say—antagonizing Daala.”

    A slap sounded from across the room. Myri looked over and saw Corran with his hand over his face. “You did not just say that, Booster.”

    Booster prickled. “And why shouldn’t I? She’s no longer part of the Galactic Alliance, and she’s on the run from all the major authorities, even Imperial ones. And she deserves the full force of my wrath for what she did to my grandchildren.”

    The declaration, so simple, had a profound, sobering effect on the Horn family. Corran and Mirax reached to comfort each other instinctively, while Valin and Jysella grew pale as Force ghosts. Though he had been staring at Syal for most of the meeting, Valin’s eyes suddenly looked everywhere except her.

    Which Myri found very interesting.

    Wedge interrupted the awkward silence. “Don’t tell us Daala got the drop on you."

    Booster scoffed. “That’s unthinkable. What I think she’s managed to do is infiltrate my organization. She's planted spies all around the Errant Venture.”

    Valin and Corran nodded slowly, in tandem.

    “You think she’s responsible for Gam Zhee’s death,” Corran said.

    “Right,” Booster said. “When I called you here, I obviously had not idea that she was going to kill Gam Zhee, but there have been other unfortunate incidents with my officers.”

    “Other deaths?” Jysella asked.

    “A couple,” Booster admitted. “I can’t afford to take more hits like this. So I need you to investigate. It should be a piece of cake for a family of Jedi Knights.”

    “It should be,” Wedge said. “Which begs the question, why do you need the Antilles here?”

    “Myri and Iella have experience in espionage,” Booster said quickly. “And no one would second-guess seeing my protégé aboard.”

    “But Valin and Jysella could work undercover as well,” Wedge said. “So I ask again, what do you need the Antilles for?”

    Booster shrugged—another attempt to appear un-rattled. Myri recognized his bluff, and was pretty sure her father did too. Booster had something else up his sleeve, she knew.

    “I might need you to make a couple orbits around the Venture,” Booster said. “Maybe even chase down a freighter that tries to escape if you get to close.”

    “Corran and Valin could do that, too,” Wedge insisted. “They’re decent pilots—”

    “Not as great as we are,” Syal interrupted.

    “—but decent,” Wedge finished. He and Syal high-fived. “They could get the job done.”

    Corran and Valin glared darkly at Wedge and Syal.

    “Fine!” Booster threw his hands in the air. “I’m worried that Daala might send a small attack force. I figure, Antilles and Horn pilots count as a full squadron, right? I of course, do have my own pilots. But this case calls for some, special operations.”

    “What about Wraith Squadron?” Syal asked. “Do you know why they’re here, investigating you? The GA can’t hold anything against you for being a thorn in Daala’s side.”

    Booster sank behind his desk—shrugging again. “Who knows?”

    Covering again. Myri was a little disappointed that he was being so obvious about it.

    “Well,” Iella said, handing Wedge her datapad. “I say it’s time you found out.”

    “Right,” Wedge agreed. “Myri, Jysella—with me.”

    He spun out of his chair and sped out into the hall, with Myri and Jysella at his flanks. Myri adjusted her pink wig and grinned over at Jysella, keeping pace with her.

    “You can always count on Booster for some excitement,” Myri said.

    “Sometimes a little too much excitement,” Jysella retorted. “I’m supposed to be on vacation.”

    “Come on—how can you pass up a chance to make Daala look like a fool?”

    To her credit, Jysella didn’t skip a beat. Myri waited for her friend’s eyes to darken, for her to vow to make Daala pay once and for all for what she’d tried to do to the Jedi. At the very least, she expected to see a flash of fear as Jysella remembered the carbon freezing. But Jysella was either too well trained as a Jedi and had been able to completely detach herself from the event, or she had inherited her father’s penchant for extreme rationalization.

    Because Jysella just winked and said, “Tom foolery is not the Jedi way.”

    Myri laughed.

    “Besides,” Jysella added. “Daala makes herself look like a fool. She doesn’t need any help from me.”

    Wedge led them around looping rings of corridor, then skidded to a stop suddenly. He looked down at his datapad screen, blinking red, then up at the door in front of him.

    “Got your blaster, Myri?” he asked.

    Myri pulled her blaster out of the belt that slung around her slinky minidress. Jysella hefted her lightsaber.

    “Oh, wait to ignite that,” Wedge whispered. “Punch in Booster’s override command first.”

    Jysella tapped at the panel beside the door. It swung open almost immediately to reveal a cramped storage space, crowded with boxes and equipment. Two men leaned over a makeshift desk, ripped their eyes away from the glowing computer screen and gazed at Wedge and the others in surprise.

    Thaymes’s razor-sharp expression turned sheepish in an instant, while black curls flopped over his eyes. The other man drew himself up, reached for his blaster—

    Wedge stepped forward, his eyes bulging with astonishment. “Sharr?”

    Sharr’s face lit up. “Wedge!”

    Thaymes remained sitting and grinning. He waved lamely past Sharr. “Hey, Gamble Girl.”

    “Gamble Girl?” Wedge said. “What is that, some sort of pet name?”

    Myri glowered at her father. He wasn’t usually so embarrassing. “It’s my code name, Dad. Like how Syal is Rogue Two?”

    “A likely story.”

    “Oh,” Jysella said, angling for a better view. “He’s cute. Good choice.”

    “STOP!” Wedge said. “I’ll deal with you impertinent younglings later. Sharr—you’re a Wraith.”

    “That shouldn’t surprise you, Wedge,” Sharr said. “You recruited me.”

    “Years ago,” Wedge said. He shot Myri a sour look. “I had no idea you’d been re-recruited.”

    “Well, I know how to keep a secret,” Myri said. “Unlike your other daughter.”

    “Yes—my sensible daughter.” He turned back to Sharr. “What are you doing investigating Booster Terrik?”

    For a long moment it seemed that Sharr didn't intend to answer. But few people, Myri knew, found the bravado and resolve within themselves to say no to Wedge Antilles. Especially those who had worked for him in the past.

    Sharr sighed, drooping his shoulders. “Down to business then?”

    “I don’t see you inviting me in for caf,” Wedge said, gesturing to the cramped storage space.

    “You know about the problems in the Imperial Remnant?” Sharr asked.

    Jysella asked, “You mean how Daala and Lecersen have been gathering small forces and carrying out hit-and-run attacks on the Empire’s borders?”

    Wedge and Myri looked at her.

    “What?” Jysella said. “I have props, too.”

    “Well,” Sharr said, “yes.”

    Wedge shrugged. “I may have heard something about that. And that’s our problem because…”

    “Because they’ve actually managed to acquire a couple worlds,” Sharr said. “And one of them was from GA space. They’re acting like warlords, Wedge.”

    Myri’s father actually brightened. “Really?”

    Sharr looked confused. “Why does that make you happy?”

    “Because I told Booster I’d get Daala off his back,” Wedge said. “And being able to fight against the evil Empire, like in the good old days, well, it’s holds a certain amount of attraction for me.”

    “Daddy!” Myri said. She threw Sharr and Thaymes a panicked look. “You promised Booster—”

    “I’m not telling Sharr anything he doesn’t already know,” Wedge said quickly.

    “Wedge,” Sharr said. “Booster’s been trading with Vitor Reige—which is perfectly legal—and also Lecersen—which is more shady. My boy Thaymes—he’s our slicer among other things—has intercepted the records.”

    Wedge gave Thaymes a long, cold look. “A slicer—nevermind. Booster hasn’t been trading with Daala, has he?”


    “Nice,” Jysella said. “Nothing hurts more than being cut out of the supply loop. No wonder she has it out for him.”

    “We’re using Booster’s trading to track down Lecersen’s movements,” Thaymes said. “We want to see how much of a stake Booster has in Lecersen’s rise to power, and more importantly if we can spring a trap for Lecersen himself.”

    “Booster thinks Daala may have spies on board,” Myri said. “Have you come across anything that’s indicated that?”

    Thaymes grinned at her—that liquid, delightful smile that made her blush every time. “Maybe. I’d have to cross-check it.”

    He started to turn back to the glowing computer screen, but Wedge must have noticed Myri’s reddening cheeks. Blast Thaymes and his propensity to sneak past her sabacc face.

    “Sharr and Jysella can check,” Wedge said. “You—Slicer Boy. Out in the hall.”

    “He’s actually Comm Boy,” Sharr said helpfully.

    “Did I ask for clarification?”

    Myri followed her father out into the corridor, a strange sensation rising in her chest. Anxiety—she hated that feeling. Anxiety was Syal’s thing. Myri’s thing was shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later. The mantra of gambler’s everywhere.

    Thaymes stepped out into the corridor, the door whooshing shut behind him. He took in Wedge’s menacing expression—not that it held a glowstick to Booster Terrik’s—and gave Myri a puzzle look.

    “Syal spilled the beans,” Myri said.

    To his credit, Thaymes didn’t appear ruffled by this news at all. He simply grinned and offered Wedge his hand. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir. Myri speaks very highly about you.”

    Her father skipped a beat. He instinctively shook hands with Thaymes and then arranged his expression back into place. “As she should. Not only am I her father, I’m Wedge Antilles. I lead Rogue Squadron from years and created Wraith Squadron, did you know that?”

    “Someone might have mentioned it.”

    “Myri doesn’t talk about you at all,” Wedge said.

    “Daddy!” Myri said. She stepped between them and gave her father a reproving look. “It’s really not that serious. We’re just—”

    “Ouch,” Thaymes said rubbing his chest as though she’d hit him. “That really hurts. Not serious? At all?”

    “Oh, settle down, vacuum-brain,” Myri said.

    “Now,” Thaymes said. “There’s a pet name if I ever heard one.”

    Wedge cracked a smile—and Myri suddenly knew that she was in serious trouble.

    “Well, why don’t we rectify the situation?” Wedge suggested with a deceptive air of innocence.“We’d love to have you over for dinner.Tonight.Say, eighteen hundred hours?”

    “No,” Myri said. Possible scenarios ran through her mind, none of them good. “No, no, no. Thaymes, you really shouldn’t feel obligated—”

    “I’d love to,” Thaymes said in that annoyingly bright tone of his, and shook Wedge’s hand again.

    “Great!” Wedge said with equal cheer. “Myri will give you our suite number.”

    The door whooshed open, and Jysella strode through with a datachip in her hand. “Not much,” she said. “But something to start on, anyway.”

    “We’re good to go, then,” Wedge said. He turned on his heel, and Jysella followed.

    Myri lingered and drew near Thaymes. When her father was out of earshot, she said, “If you weren’t so pretty, I’d shoot you.”

    “Now, now,” Thaymes said in a placating voice. He grabbed her arms and drew her in close. “You know you’d miss me.”

    “Would I?” Myri said. “What’s there to miss?”

    She was only joking, baiting him. She knew, of course.

    “Well, this, for starters.” He pulled her against him, covered her lips with his, and Myri practically melted in his arms. By the time their lips parted, she was braced against him and seriously doubted her knees would support her if she stepped away.

    “Um,” she said. “Okay.”

    “So what does one bring when meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time?”

    Myri nearly choked. “Don’t come armed. Daddy won’t like that.”

    Then she grabbed his shirt, pulled him closer, and kissed him again. Her father wouldn’t have liked that very much, either.
    GrimdarkRose, Kahara and Revanfan1 like this.
  7. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 3, 2013
    I loved Syal and Wedge high-fiving! Antilles FTW! [face_laugh]
    Kahara likes this.
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fun fun post - full of planning, unintended revelations and snark. =D= Thaymes and Myri are growing on me. Loving mush as I do - it was only a matter of time LOL
    Kahara likes this.
  9. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Love the intrigue and the growing love between Thaymes and Myri.
    And Daala in the mix[face_devil] leading to adventure?
    Kahara likes this.
  10. Darkwriter

    Darkwriter Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2006
    Revanfan1: Thanks! That was my favorite part, too.
    Nyota's Heart: I pretty much became a Myri/Thaymes shipper after the first scene I read with them in Mercy Kill. I just love how he's the first person who makes her lose her cool.
    @Glad you're liking Myri and Thaymes. And yep, I've got a great adventure planned for these characters!

    Chapter Three

    “We should probably question the other sabacc players first,” Valin said almost as soon as Wedge left with Myri and Jysella. “While their memories are still warm.”

    Iella twisted in her seat and grinned not at Valin, but at Corran. “Isn’t that cute? You turned your Jedi son into a CorSec agent.”

    Corran scowled. “Any good Jedi is a good investigator.”

    Valin rose lazily from the couch and stretched his arms toward the ceiling, working out all his knots. He looked at the remaining occupants in the room—his mother and father, Booster, Iella, and Syal. For just the briefest moment, he felt a line of doubt grow taut in the Force, dividing his friends and family from himself. Then it relaxed, as though it hadn’t been there at all.

    But Valin knew it had. And he knew what it was. He hadn’t failed to notice the looks his parents sometimes gave him and his sister now, since their escape from carbonite. And he hadn’t missed the whispered concerns that rustled through the Jedi Academy on Ossus. Abeloth had been dispelled, and yet Master Skywalker cautioned vigilance. Abeloth was gone, but probably not for good…

    Which lead many to wonder, would the young Jedi she’d corrupted always be susceptible? Would they always be a threat?

    Valin felt keenly that his parents worried over that very question. He mostly tried to ignore it.

    “Who’s coming with me?” he asked, instead of accusing them. An accusation at any rate, might sound dangerously close to madness.

    “I will,” Corran said, with a quick look at Mirax. A message—I’ll make sure he doesn’t crack up.

    Mirax nodded slowly. “Then I’ll stay and work out some…business details with Booster.”

    Booster leaned back in his chair giving her a grumpy look. “My business is fine, Mirax.”

    “And your office is a mess,” Mirax chided. “I honestly don’t know how you keep the Errant Venture running smoothly—oh, wait. It must be because I come by twice a year to put things in order.”

    Valin started to grin, relaxed by the familiar banter between his mother and grandfather. At least Booster never changed. Valin had heard stories of how Booster had tried to bombard Coruscant just to get his grandkids out of Daala’s hands.

    “I’m going,” Iella added. “I can’t very well let the Horns show me up in the detective department, can I?”

    Corran grinned, reaching for his muck green jacket. “It’ll be just like old times. Daala’s spy doesn’t stand a chance.”

    “Syal will come too,” Iella said. “Won’t you, Syal?”

    Tension spiked through the Force again, but this time Syal was the only culprit. Her blue eyes found Valin’s for just an instant before she stared hard at the floor. Second dragged on while everyone waited for Syal’s answer. She kept her face perfectly still, her lips a thin line—her expression a fragile image, as though it would break with a twitch of her lips.

    What happened to you, Syal?

    Where was that brave little girl who never let Valin go adventuring without her? He wanted her back, desperately.

    Finally she looked at her mother and shrugged. “Okay.”

    Corran and Iella moved past Valin, out into the hallway, but now he stood frozen in place. Syal brushed past him as well, wouldn’t meet his gaze.

    She had said that he hadn’t done a good job of keeping up, and she was right. After the end of the war, he had become his father’s apprentice and gradually his life as a Jedi led him and Syal farther and farther apart. In the beginning, he had sent her messages, but those grew few and far between as assignments came more rapidly.

    By the time she had met Tion, they hadn’t been speaking at all.

    Of course, at that time, the Jedi had become fugitives.

    Corran, Iella, Syal, and Valin crammed into the turbolift. Valin watched Syal’s neutral expression in the shiny plating of the lift and searched for something to say to break the ice between them. He thought that she had relaxed back at the casino, but then the death of the Duros, Gam Zhee, had seized her up again—though not so much that she could resist making jokes about his piloting skills.

    Clearly the unexpectedness of the death had affected her in some way, and Valin couldn’t help but call to mind the quickness in which he turned against his own family once the madness had set in. Was she thinking of that too? Was she afraid of him now?

    The turbolift chimed, and the four of them filed out and headed toward the casino. They found the Twi’lek and the Sullustan that Valin remembered from the initial incident, who had been sitting at Myri’s table.

    “Look at that,” Iella said. “Their tablemate dies and they just go on playing.”

    Corran shrugged. “Does that surprise you? This is Booster’s clientele we’re talking about.”

    “You should really stop making snide remarks about your father-in-law, Corran. It’s not healthy.”

    “Hey, if I haven’t stopped now, I’m not going to.”

    “The human isn’t here,” Syal said. “There was a human male.”

    “Maybe he’s grieving,” Iella suggested.

    “Let’s split up,” Corran said. “Two of us can question the Twi’lek, and two of us can question the Sullustan.”

    “Great,” Valin said. “I get Syal.”

    He snagged her elbow and pulled her close to him. Teetering, she nearly lost her balance and was forced to grab onto his jacket to keep herself upright. Her embarrassment flushed through the force, but she covered herself by glaring up at him.

    Corran just stared at them through narrowed eyes. There it was again, that worried look, as though he expected Valin to snap at any moment.

    “What?” Valin asked. “I thought you two wanted to relive your glory days. Besides, we’re adults, not padawans.”

    “Um,” Syal said, “I was never a padawan.”

    “The point is,” Valin said, “we’re fully capable of interrogating one Twi’lek.”

    “He’ll probably even get her frequency by the end of it,” Syal added dryly.

    Valin looked down at her with a wounded expression. “I’m beginning to see what Myri complains about you all the time.”

    She narrowed her eyes at him with a look that could cut through durasteel. Now there was the Syal he knew and loved.

    “Syal seems to have this handled,” Corran said finally. “If he gives you any lip—”

    “Don’t worry,” Syal said, patting her hip. “I have my blaster set on stun.”

    “Good luck,” Iella said.

    Corran and Iella turned toward the sabacc table, but Valin grabbed Syal’s arm and headed in the opposite direction. He dragged her through the crowd, meandering left and right, until he had the casino bar in his sights.

    “Uh, Master of Interrogation?” Syal said. “I may not have your training in the basics of being an upstanding Jedi Investigator, but even I know you’re not supposed to walk away from the suspect.”

    “She’s going to come to us,” Valin said.

    He pushed her up on a barstool and motioned to the Quarren bartender. While Syal gave him an incredulous look, he said to the bartender, “I’d like to buy a drink for that Twi’lek at the center table.”

    The quarren flapped his gills. “You and every other guy in here. She only accepts drinks from a select few. What makes you think you’ve got a chance?”

    “Because I’m Booster’s grandson,” Valin said. That excuse got him everywhere. It even got him into a club on Tattooine, once.

    “Fine, what’ll it be?”

    Valin looked to Syal, smiled.

    She leaned back. “How should I know? I’m not a Twi’lek.”

    “But you’re a girl.”

    “What does that have to do with anything?”

    “You were drinking a Fogblaster earlier,” Valin said. “Should I get her a Fogblaster?”

    “Oh, stars, no.” Syal’s cheeks reddened even as she scowled at him. “I thought you were supposed to be good at this. Get her something fancy, like the Desert Bloom.”

    Valin grinned. “Desert Bloom it is.”

    About ten minutes later, the blue-skinned Twi’lek left her game and sauntered over to the bar. Her eyes sparkled as she looked Valin up and down, but a frown soon smothered her excitement when she noticed Syal leaning on the barstool next to him.

    “What’s this?” she hissed.

    Valin smiled. “We have a few questions for you.”

    “Forget it. I’m going back—”

    “I wouldn’t,” Valin said. “My friend Syal has her blaster trained on you.”

    The Twi’lek tensed, but her frown blossomed back into a smile. “Your friend?”

    Valin paused, then smiled. He knew exactly what the Twi’lek meant to imply—her clarification didn’t confuse him. “Sure, my friend.”

    “You’re Valin Horn, right?” the Twilek asked. Though she relaxed, her lekkus continued to rattle. “I thought Jedi weren’t supposed to threaten people.”

    Valin shrugged, non-chalant. “I’m half-Terrik. I don’t always play by the rules.”

    “And I’m an Antilles,” Syal said. “I never play by the rules.”

    That-a-girl, Valin thought. Now she was warming up. He hopped down from the bar stool so that the Twi’lek could sit there, and then took a seat on her other side so that she was between him and Syal.

    “First, manners,” Valin said. “What’s your name?”

    The girl’s lekkus twitched. “Zena.”

    “We want to talk about Gam Zhee,” Syal said.

    “You were there. You know he’s dead.”

    “What was your relationship with him?” Syal asked.

    Zena’s lekkus twitched more quickly. “We played sabacc together. You don’t think I killed him.”

    Valin held his hands up and gave her an affable smile. “Hey, we’re just trying to paint a picture here. We want to make sure we have our facts straight.”

    Zena remained silent for a moment, then smiled back at him. The expression on her face nearly matched her sense in the Force—hopeful, flirtatious, coy. Sensations Valin was not unfamiliar with.

    “He was nice to me,” Zena said, drawing one lekku over her shoulder. “He respected me, as a player. He never cheated me, never made remarks about me that some men do. You know the kind.”

    Valin nodded, understanding, but he noticed Syal’s look of bafflement.

    “What kind?” she asked.

    Zena rolled her eyes. “Some men ask me why I don’t go dance at the nightclub. Because of course, all Twi’leks have to dance at the nightclub.”

    “Oh,” Syal said. “So you liked him.”

    “I didn’t say that,” Zena said quickly. Too quickly, Valin thought. Suddenly her mind felt frantic, like static blocking out a clear picture.

    Then she reached for his leg, gave it a squeeze. With an enigmatic smile, she said, “I just like men who are like Gam. You know what I mean.”

    Valin swallowed a lump in his throat. “Right.”

    His voice still came out haggard, which earned him a reproachful look from Syal. Not unfamiliar with that sentiment either, he tried to look appropriately apologetic.

    “Why would I want to kill Gam, when he was so nice to me?” Zena asked.

    Valin’s mind was a haze. He slowly let his breath out, using a calming technique to retain his focus. Focus. She was probably only coming onto him because she wanted him distracted. Jedi weren’t supposed to get distracted.

    He cleared his throat. “Do you know anyone who would hold a grudge against him?”

    “Well,” Zena said. “He was in debt…to Keev Kaal.”

    “Who?” Valin asked, confused.

    “The Sullustan we were playing sabacc with.”

    Valin shook his head. “Dead men don’t pay their bills. Do you know anyone else?”

    “I’m sorry,” Zena said. “No.”

    But the Force said differently. She was keeping something back, concealing it behind the static in her mind. Valin just didn’t know what.

    Syal waved her blaster. “Then you can go.”

    Zena smiled and gave Valin’s leg one last squeeze before she disappeared into the crowd. Valin watched her go, which was why he didn’t notice right away Syal looking at him through narrowed eyes. She set her elbow on the table and gestured her blaster toward him, thoughtful.

    “What?” Valin asked.

    In the Force, her emotions swirled in conflict. She was such a whirlwind that Valin couldn’t identify her primary worry, couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It had been different when they had been kids. He used to be so finely attuned to her emotions, to Myri’s emotions, to Jysella’s emotions, that he knew when she needed him even when they were in different rooms.

    But despite whatever inner turmoil she was going through now, Syal wasn’t calling out to him. And if she needed him, she wouldn’t admit it.

    Valin probably wouldn’t trust himself, either.

    “What’s that in your hand?” Syal asked.

    To his surprise, he found some flimsiplast had been stuck into his fist. He unfolded it and read the digits scrawled there. Then he grinned.

    “Oh no,” Syal said. “Tell me she didn’t—”

    “Leave me her frequency?” Valin said. He flapped the flimsiplast in front of Syal’s eyes. “I can’t, because she did.”

    “Predictable,” Syal muttered. She snatched the flimsi from his hand.


    “Mom can probably use this to tap into her room camera,” Syal said. “We can spy on her to see if her story matches up.”

    “She didn’t give us much of a story,” Valin said.

    “Well then, we can figure out what her story is.”

    “I could figure out what her story is,” Valin said, “if you give me her frequency.”

    Again, the cold, slanted stare. If Valin didn’t know any better, he would have thought that Syal was jealous. But that was impossible. By the time that Syal had finally turned old enough for Valin to think of her as a romantic prospect—without being a complete creep—she had found Tion Rordan. She had planned to marry Tion Rordan.

    And she still, as far as Valin could tell, wasn’t over him.

    Not to mention the fact that she thought Valin was too dangerous to stick around. At least, everyone else did.

    “Fine,” he said. “We’ll do it your way. You really haven’t changed, you know.”

    Her narrowed eyes narrowed even further—to slits. “What are you talking about? In the Maw, you were always the one in charge.”

    “I remember it differently.” Valin gestured for the Quarren bartender again. “If we didn’t do things your way from the start, you would figure out a way to control us by the end.”

    “Look, the only reason I got stuck in that hole was because you went off exploring without me in the first place,” Syal said. “It was your own fault for trying to exclude me.”

    “I wasn’t trying—can we drop this already? That was fourteen years ago!”

    The Quarren appeared before them. “What can I get you?”

    Valin looked to Syal. “What do you want?”

    “I’m a grown woman, with my own life, and my own commission,” Syal said crossly. “I can buy my own drink.”

    The Quarren whistled. “You’re striking out left and right.”

    Valin knocked his elbows over the bar and ran his hands over his face. “I didn’t strike out. This is good old Antilles charm. And that Twi’lek gave me her frequency.”

    “Oh, really?” the Quarren asked. “Then where is it?”

    Syal made no move to procure the flimsiplast. She said, “I’ll have a Red Corellian.”

    “That sounds good,” Valin said. “I’ll have that too.”

    The Quarren disappeared, grinning.

    Syal holstered her weapon and swung toward the bar, mirroring Valin’s posture. It must have been an unconscious act. As a girl, especially in the Maw, she had done her best to copy him in everything. She had learned how to meditate like him, how to fight like him, and how to peacekeep like him. She even learned how to fly like him, at first. He hadn’t minded. Syal and Myri had been the only children sent to the Maw who weren’t Jedi, and it had been Valin’s duty to look after them.

    But back then, the age gap between them had been huge. Four years apart in age, Syal had been like a kid sister, a twelve-year-old joined at the hip to a sixteen-year-old. After the war ended, Valin had been eighteen and became his father’s apprentice. Syal had been fourteen, but just a few years later she went to the Starfighter Academy on Coruscant. They went their separate ways.

    Now, at thirty and twenty-six, the age gap didn’t seem like such a big deal. Syal certainly wasn’t a little girl anymore.

    The Quarren came back with their drinks.

    She caught Valin watching her and scowled. “What?”

    He swallowed, then smiled. “I have missed you, you know.”

    She tensed up again. Just when Valin thought things were back to normal, he said something to make her retreat. He was great with girls like Zena, girls who didn’t matter. But when it came to the one girl who did, he messed everything up.

    In typical Syal fashion, she addressed the exact thing that was on his mind.

    “I’m not the same girl anymore,” she said.

    A flash of something appeared to him through the Force. A vision of heavy darkness, of desperation. Terrible cries.

    He smiled sadly and sipped at his Red Corellian. “I’m not the same boy.”

    Syal curled her fingers around her glass. While they sipped their drinks, Corran and Iella joined them.

    “He works for Booster,” Corran said with some disappointment.

    “Keev Kaal?” Valin asked.

    Iella looked surprised. “How did you know the Sullustan’s name?”

    “Zena—the Twi’lek—told us about him. She tried to direct our suspicions toward Kaal, said Gam Zhee was in debt to him.”

    “Dead men don’t pay their bills,” Corran said.

    “That’s what I said.”

    “You’re both so clever,” Syal said. “So what does Kaal do for Booster?”

    “That’s the real kicker,” Iella said. “He’s Booster’s trader with the Galactic Alliance.”

    “That’s quite a coincidence,” Syal said.

    Corran grinned. “The Jedi don’t believe in coincidences. Or something like that. In any case, I sensed that he wasn’t telling us the whole truth.”
    Valin nodded. “I sensed that from Zena, too.”

    “Look,” Iella said. “I’m not a Jedi, but even I sensed that Kaal was hiding something. Don’t forget, Corran, that before you were a Jedi, you relied on your investigative skills to save the day.”

    Corran rolled his eyes. “So we keep an eye on these two. Jysella commed me and said that they got some surveillance tapes from that boy of Myri’s—Thaymes? She said that she approves—because, you know, I really care about that—and also that the Antilles family is going to be having him for dinner.”

    Iella raised her brows. “Is that so?”

    “It is,” Corran said. “Of course, I couldn’t tell if she meant you would be eating him for dinner, or serving him dinner. With Wedge, I feel it could go either way.”

    “Oh, fierfek,” Syal said.

    Valin looked over at her. “What’s wrong?”

    “If we’re hosting Myri’s boyfriend—”

    “Or eating him,” Corran interrupted. “Semantics, you know.”

    “Either way,” Syal said. “Myri’s going to tell me I have to look presentable.”

    Valin snorted. “Like she’s one to talk. You look great.”

    A deep red blush spread across Syal’s cheeks, but Valin couldn’t tell if that was because she enjoyed the remark or because she couldn’t take a compliment. Syal had been blushing around him for as long as he could remember. As a rule, she was easily embarrassed.

    “No,” she said, soldiering on. “You don’t understand. She’s going to make me go shopping.”

    Despite himself, Valin smiled. It was good to know that there were some things that never changed.


    Next week: we're back to Myri, and we'll get to see some family drama as Thaymes is "welcomed" into the Antilles family...
    Draconarius, Revanfan1 and Kahara like this.
  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Great chapter with the banter between Valin and Syal. I love these two together
    Kahara likes this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb post. I enjoyed reading Valin's thoughts/emotions surrounding Syal and he in the past and currently. Definitely true that at 12 and 16, the gap in age is humongus but at 26 versus 30, not nearly. But :eek: he's probably thinking the chasm between is too wide. [face_thinking] Looking forward to the family dinner and the gathering of more evidence.
    Kahara likes this.
  13. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 3, 2013
    Love the interactions between Valin and Syal! :D
    Kahara likes this.
  14. Darkwriter

    Darkwriter Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2006
    earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks. She may be hopelessly crushing on him, but that doesn't mean she can't knock him down a few pegs. ;)
    Nyota's Heart: I was nervous about writing Valin's POV, so I'm glad to hear it worked out. Yeah, that's only a bullet point on his list of worries, unfortunately.
    @Revabfan1: Awesome! They were super fun to write. I'm a little bit sad they won't be together in this post. :(

    Chapter Four

    With mynocks in her stomach, Myri went across the hall to check on her sister’s progress. Thaymes was due to show up in just ten minutes—or, knowing him, earlier than that—and while she knew she couldn’t control her parents tonight, at least she held some sway over Syal. Some.

    She burst into her sister’s room and discovered Syal in front of the long mirror attached to the closet door, fluffing her dark blond hair. Thankfully, she was wearing the dress that Myri had picked out for her: a long, tailored smock that cinched at the waist and stopped at the knees, sparking with square gold embroidery. But then Myri noticed what Syal had donned to compliment the dress: a pair of black leggings.

    The very same black leggings that Syal had brought with her in her travel pack. The very same black leggings that Syal had worn to the point of extinction, that Myri wanted to throw into a furnace. She had nothing against leggings in general, and in fact owned several colorful pairs herself. But her sister wore this particular pair like she wore her flightsuit, for functional purposes only. Myri had been trying to get her to spice up her wardrobe for ages, to no avail.

    She put her hands on her hips. “Really, Syal? You couldn’t forgo the leggings for one night?”

    Syal shrugged without looking away from the mirror. “They’re comfortable.”

    “They’re worn out,” Myri said. “Besides, you don’t even need them with that dress—”

    Myri cut herself off because her sister had turned around and now stared at her in a state of shock. Myri knew Syal’s astonishment had nothing to do with the skin-tight velvet top she wore, or the glittery sequence skirt and matching shoes, or the silver bracelets on her wrists. She resisted the urge to touch the real culprit of Syal’s amazement, her hair. For years she had been surprising people with her hair color and that wasn’t a trend she was about to stop now.

    “Is that your natural hair color?” Syal asked.


    Myri caught a glimpse of herself in Syal’s mirror. It had taken some time and effort to wash all the chemicals from her hair, but she had managed to shade to the light brown color that she had been born with. Or something resembling it.

    “But…you hate your natural hair color,” Syal said, bemused.

    “Maybe I do,” Myri said stiffly. It took all her willpower to affect a dignified air. “But Thaymes likes it.”

    “Are you blushing?” Syal asked. “You never blush.”

    “I don’t have to explain myself to you.”

    Syal started to smirk, and Myri seriously considered running back to her room and grabbing one of her wigs. Something bright and ostentatious, like that curly neon-green one.

    The door chimed.

    Myri looked at her chrono and swore. “He’s early! Curse him and his devotion to punctuality!” She tore out of Syal’s room and raced down the hall.

    Syal followed at her heels and said, “Actually, punctuality means he would be on time. Being early is called—”

    “Oh, bother!” Myri said. “Who asked you, anyway?”

    Thankfully, Wedge and Iella had barricaded themselves in the kitchen and didn’t make their dreaded appearance quite yet. Myri punched the button to open the door, swept her hair aside—

    And the door whooshed open to reveal Thaymes Fodrick’s charming face. He wore ebony dress pants, tucked into shiny black boots, a men’s white dress smock and a vest—the Corellian’s classic ensemble. If nothing else, Myri hoped that would endear him to her father. He had brushed back his wavy black locks, but still some stray curls fell forward and capped over his thick brows, making him look like a pre-rebellion holostar.

    He grinned wide and unabashed. “Hey, you. Like the hair.”

    Myri chewed her lip, rocking on her heels. “Oh, this?”

    Syal nudged Myri aside and pulled Thaymes across the doorway. “Well come in, already!”

    As the door snapped shut behind Thaymes, Syal offered her hand. “I’m Syal, Myri’s sister.”

    Thaymes grinned. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

    “Don’t believe everything you hear. Myri has a tendency to skew things in her favor.”

    “Oh really? She told me you were…what was the word, a mastermind?”

    Myri’s face grew warm, but she sent Thaymes a chilly look. Still, at least he had charmed Syal already. That would work in Myri’s favor, when her father finally made his appearance.

    “Well,” Syal said. “I’m the only person in this family who’s heard anything about you. From Myri, anyway. So whose idea was it to keep the relationship a secret?”

    Myri glared at her sister next. Trust Syal to cut right through the bantha fodder.

    “Oh, not mine,” Thaymes said with a wink. “I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, you know, but that involved a lot of climbing. A might be a wraith, but I’m the computer guy. I like to sit behind a screen and coordinate efforts while everyone else does the running.”

    Myri blew out her breath. “And it really wasn’t that big of a deal. No need to alert the commander until there’s a real crisis—”

    Thaymes frowned at her. “I would hardly qualify our relationship as a crisis.”

    “Then you’re deluding yourself,” Myri said. “Dad will treat it like a full-scale invasion. He has access to pretty much any ship or weapon he wants. Remember how he and Tycho rescued us before? Child’s play. You’re so lucky he didn’t know about you then. He would have blown you to bits.”

    “That’s not helping. Why couldn’t I fall for a normal girl?”

    “You’re not likely to meet many of those in Wraith Squadron,” Myri said. “Jesmin’s dad is even crazier than mine, if you can believe it.”

    “I can’t.”

    “Don’t worry,” Syal said. “Dad may have legendary heroes on his side, but we’ve got Doran Tainer on speed dial. He’s crazier than Kell, and he’s a Jedi.” She shared a look with Myri. “I’ll go tell Dad you’re here.”

    After Syal disappeared behind the kitchen door, Myri pulled Thaymes to sit with her on the couch. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, but not in the good way it did when she was about to win a sabacc game.

    Thaymes folded her hand in his. “Relax, Gamble Girl,” he said in that easy way of his. “You’ve got nothing to worry about. Parents love me.”

    That’s not what I’m worried about, Myri thought. But all she said was, “Oh? And how many parents have you met exactly?”

    His unperturbed grin settled her stomach. “Well, I tutored this girl on Corellia when I was in high school. Her dad found us kissing in her room and he…”

    The grin slid of Thaymes face, replaced by a puzzled look.

    “What?” Myri asked.

    “He chased me out of the house with a hydrospanner.”

    “Well, that’s comforting.”

    “No, no.” Thaymes waved his free hand and sat up a little straighter. “I dated a girl in college. Her mom was the dean, actually, and I was invited for dinner a few times with her parents. The third time, I hacked into the school account through the main computer, and—” He pointed to his shoulder. “The blaster bolt just nicked me.”

    “Oh, stars,” Myri whispered, then doubled over laughing. “I’m dating a psychopath!”

    Thaymes scowled at her. “A manic, maybe. Not a psychopath.”

    Myri wished it could be like this all the time. Fun, without the added stress of a serious attachment. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Thaymes—he was the only person capable of making her blush—but a relationship invariably came with a lot of baggage. Myri only had to think of Syal.

    She swore that no one in the known galaxy, certainly not Thaymes Fodrick, was going to turn her into that.

    The kitchen door slid open, and Wedge strode through, followed by Syal and Iella. Thaymes quickly stood, dragging Myri up with him, and offered Wedge his free hand.

    “Nice to see you again, sir,” Thaymes said.

    “I’ll be the judge of that,” Wedge said. “This is my wife, Iella, and I understand you’ve already met my other daughter, Syal. Dinner’s ready in the kitchen.”


    “A classic Corellian banquet.” Wedge gestured across the table, filled with smoked nerf, endwa, and five cups of Corellian brandy.

    Myri’s mouth watered just looking at it.

    Thaymes, seated between Myri and her sister, rubbed his hands together. “Smells just like home.”

    “Yes.” Wedge leaned with one elbow on the table. “It hasn’t escaped my notice that you’re from Corellia, Fodrick. I don’t trust Corellians.”

    “Dad,” Myri said, passing Syal the potato sticks, “you’re Corellian.”


    Iella nudged him. “Dear, manners.”


    “Take your elbow off the table.”

    “Oh.” Wedge looked sheepish. “Fodrick, Fodrick…why does that name sound familiar?”

    “It’ll come to you,” Syal said. “I’m sure you read something about it no more than an hour ago.”

    “Not even,” Myri said. “Isn’t that right, Mom?”

    Iella’s sabacc face was nearly as good as Myri’s. She looked at Myri with wide eyes and shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, now that you mention it, you really gave us the bare minimum information on your beau—”

    “He’s not my beau—”

    “Nice word,” Thaymes said. “My mother would like that word. I think I’ll use it next time I call home.”

    “—so I really had no choice but to do some digging,” Iella finished. “You know your parents can’t leave well enough alone, and we still have contacts in Galactic Alliance Intelligence, so we called some favors—”

    “By which she means,” Wedge said with nerf steak in his mouth, “we commed Face and demanded an explanation.”

    Iella shot Wedge a sour look. “It’s your fault our daughters are always interrupting me.”

    Despite the light-hearted banter, Myri felt a tight knot growing large in her stomach. Iella only resorted to calling Face when she really wanted the messy details. And Myri didn’t want to know what her father planned to do with that kind of information.

    She was about to find out, however.

    Thaymes froze with his fork and knife over his nerf steak. “You commed whose face?”

    “Sorry,” Iella said quickly. “We commed the Face. You might know him as your fearless leader, Garik Loran.” She shook her head. “You know you’re getting old when kids don’t remember The Face anymore.”

    “You’re not old, Mom,” Syal said soothingly. “You’re just mature.”

    “Well, I’ve always been mature compared to your father.”

    Now who’s interrupting?” Wedge grumbled. “The point is, I know all about you, Fodrick.”

    Thaymes leaned back, plastered that easy smile across his face, and raised his hands. “Anyone familiar with Corellia’s capital knows about my family. My mom, Dara, is a tenured professor at Corellia University. She created software used on Confederation ships during the Second Galactic War. My father, Sedd Fodrick, also a university professor, trained the last people to work at the Centerpoint Station, though he never stepped a foot inside the place. Even my siblings works at the university now—if your last name is Fodrick, it’s practically destiny.”

    Wedge put his elbows back on the table. “That’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about you. I know how you hacked into the university system your junior year, hacked into a project so volatile that it brought the full might of the Galactic Alliance Security down on you. Face Loran himself showed up to weed out the culprit. When they found you at your dormitory, it was quite an embarrassment.”

    I wasn’t embarrassed,” Thaymes said.

    Myri looked at her whatever-he-was with a mixture of warning and exasperation. She had never seen him embarrassed or apologetic about anything, but she wished he would tone it down for her father—especially since her father seemed to be in interrogation mode.

    “Dad,” she hissed. “Lay off.”

    He waved her concern aside, didn’t even look at her. “I’m just getting warmed up. So who was embarrassed? The GA certainly, for being foiled by a twenty-year old kid.”

    “Nineteen,” Thaymes corrected with a grin.

    “And your parents,” Wedge went on. “They must have been embarrassed. Years of hard work, respect, and admiration evaporated for them the second your story hit the holonet. Their reputations dried up like water vapor on Tattooine. For generations your family had been idolized at the university. Must have been hard to face the faculty and admit that their son was a delinquent—”

    Myri pushed her plate away. “Enough!”

    All eyes snapped to her. She registered her mother’s look of caution, Syal’s visible wince, Thaymes’s neutral expression, and yet those reactions paled and faded in comparison to her father’s grim countenance. His dark eyes were flat, serious. He wasn’t joking around.

    Well, neither was she. Though he had clearly meant to shame Thaymes, his lecture echoed true in Myri’s ears. Was that how he thought of her? A delinquent? A stain on the Antilles family reputation?

    Thaymes touched her elbow, and the easy look reappeared on his face. “Look, it’s okay. I don’t mind.”

    “Well, I mind.”

    “You shouldn’t.” Thaymes looked across the table at Wedge. “My parents still work at the university, still publish papers, still participate in classified projects. It was my choice to leave Corellia. I think they are a little bit ashamed of me. But it doesn’t really matter. They’ve got my brother and sister to be proud of, and at least they still talk to me. I know they love me, the best they can.”

    Myri still simmered, but said nothing. When she peered up at her father, she noticed him staring at Thaymes with a calculated expression, his mind obviously on other matters. Does he even know how much he hurts me sometimes?

    She couldn’t be as calm as Thaymes about it. She knew her father loved her, but she wished he could be proud of her too.

    Syal coughed and broke the silence. “So what do your parents think about the fact that you helped bring a member of the Lecersen Conspiracy to justice? Aren’t they happy about that?”

    Myri breathed in relief. She could always count on Syal to cut through the bantha fodder.

    “I don’t know if happy is the word I would use,” Thaymes said, squinting. “When I told my mother, she was…shocked. Disbelieving. Suspicious. To be honest, I think she’s just relieved to hear I get a paycheck now.”

    Iella frowned. “I didn’t think the Wraiths got paychecks. Didn’t Face say they were strictly unofficial?”

    “That’s right,” Myri said.

    Thaymes rolled his eyes. “Well, do tell my mother that.”

    “Your parents are one thing,” Wedge said doggedly. “But I’m not sure I like the idea of a criminal dating my youngest daughter.”

    “Would you have a problem with your oldest daughter dating a criminal?” Iella asked dryly.

    “He’s not a criminal,” Myri said. “He’s a Wraith.”

    “Same thing, basically,” Wedge said.

    The knot in Myri’s stomach grew again, her blood boiled. “And I’m a Wraith. Does that make me a criminal too?”

    Finally—finally—her father seemed to clue in to her distress. He turned toward her, astonishment written on his face, and raised his hands in defense. “That’s not what I said.”

    “But it’s what you meant.”

    She was dismayed to hear her own voice choke off. Thaymes reached for her hand, but this time she was so worked up that even that didn’t comfort her.

    “You were a Wraith once,” Myri went on. “So why not me? Why does Syal get to be the only one that’s allowed to follow in your footsteps?”

    Iella began, “Myri, it’s more complicated—”

    Syal looked up from her plate. “Don’t bring me into this.”

    “I started Wraith Squadron so that kids like you wouldn’t have to follow me,” her father said, his tone razor sharp. He didn’t raise his voice, but he had a severe look in his eyes that made Myri want to edge away. It was what Syal called the Commander’s face. “I did it so that when I had a family, you could be safe. All I’ve ever wanted is the best for you.”

    Despite his sudden, harsh manner, Myri refused to back down. He could recite all the noble speeches he wanted, it didn’t change things between them.

    “Only what you think is the best for me,” Myri said. “I’m happy in Wraith Squadron. But I guess you don’t care about that.”

    Wedge scowled. “Don’t—”

    “I don’t need your permission to date Thaymes,” she announced. “And I certainly don’t need your permission to be in Wraith Squadron. Thaymes, let’s go.”

    “But I’m not done eating—”

    Myri stood up and headed for the door. “Now, Comm Boy.”

    Thaymes hurriedly scooped up the rest of the food on his plate. He said something else, but his mouth was so full that she couldn’t understand him. Then she heard him swallow.

    “Thanks for dinner, uh, sir,” Thaymes said. “It was very enlightening.”

    Myri whirled around under the doorway. “You did not just thank him.”

    “I may be many things,” Thaymes said. “But impolite isn’t one of them. My mother raised me to be a perfect gentleman.”

    Myri turned around and stalked through the suite’s living area. She snatched her gold jacket from the hook by the door, burst out into the hallway. Thaymes joined her just moments later.

    “I’m really not offended,” Thaymes assured her. He brightened. “Actually, that went rather well. No one tried to shoot me this time. You might be a keeper.”

    Myri leaned with her back to the wall and put her hands over her face. Suddenly she felt warm everywhere, and something raw and strangled made its way past her throat. A sob? Was she sobbing?

    “Hey.” Thaymes voice softened. His hands settled gently on her shoulders. “This isn’t like you. Look, I’m sorry if I—”

    With a sharp breath she drew herself up. Thaymes leaned over her, his blue eyes studying her carefully, worryingly. Myri looked hastily toward the door, grabbed his arm, and pulled him down the corridor.


    “I don’t want him to come after us.”

    After the next two corners, Thaymes twisted his arm and grabbed her elbow, pulled her to a stop. He brushed one hand across her face, wiping away the tears that had accumulated there. Shaken by emotion—ashamed by her reaction—Myri reached for the folds of his vest and pulled him close.

    She swallowed. “You must think I’m a mess.”

    He shook his head, smiled. “I didn’t realize you and your dad had such a rocky relationship.”

    “We don’t, usually.”

    “I bring out the best in people. Sorry about that.”

    “Don’t be,” Myri said. He was so close that she could smell his musky scent—was that new cologne? “I’m sorry you had to see us that way.”

    “Listen, Gamble Girl.” Thaymes voice grew deep, rough. “I happen to like that you’re a criminal. I might even like you because you’re a criminal.”

    Her stomach finally began to settle, but she tightened her hold on his vest. “Just shut up. And kiss me.”

    He complied, closing the space between them and dragging his mouth over hers. Then the knot in Myri’s stomach unraveled completely, replaced by something hot and fiery. Thaymes wound his arms around her waist, their legs entangled. Soon he had her pressed up against the wall. Myri bounced and giggled, pushed him away just slightly.

    “If we’re going to do this,” she said. “We should find somewhere more private.”

    His eyes widened. “Like a room?”

    “Like a room.”

    “Well, we can’t use my room. It could get awkward, with Sharr in there.”

    “No worries,” Myri assured him. “I’ve got Boosters codes. We can pick any room we want.”

    Thaymes grinned. “That’s criminal.”


    Next week we'll be back to Syal...and we'll learn more about the history between her and Valin.
    Kahara, Revanfan1 and mulberry like this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Darkwriter - I enjoyed the complexity and "that's what you meant!" between Myri and Wedge. Thaymes is a keeper. He really is. His manner throughout with everyone was poised between candid, courteous, and offhand in the way of Correllians LOL Thaymes with Myri afterwards merits a yum and a SQUEE.
  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    very nice update Myri and Thaymes are great together
  17. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 3, 2013
    Yikes, a rocky dinner! But I like Thaymes–he seems like a good guy. :cool:
  18. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Love the story.
    Also love Corran in Chapter 3 saying that they might eat Thaymes for dinner or serve him dinner.
  19. Darkwriter

    Darkwriter Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2006
    Nyota's Heart: I'm sooo glad you liked Thaymes. Obviously, there wasn't a lot of extra material to refer to for his characterization, but I figured his strongest feature would be his straight-forwardness. And the fact that the Antilles can't understand someone who isn't intimidated by them. Glad you liked the drama with Wedge and Myri too. Clearly, I adore Wedge, but he is a dad, and dad's don't always "get" their daughters.
    earlybird-obi-wan: I'm liking them a lot, too. I think Myri needs someone you sees through her bravado.
    Revanfan1: As almost all family dinners are... Glad you like Thaymes.
    Force Smuggler: Thanks! Hopefully we'll see more from Corran. I have a special surprise in store regarding him, but a little ways down the road...

    Chapter Five

    When Myri finally returned, her hurricane of emotions had tempered to a dull storm. She burst into the apartment and glared at Wedge sitting on the couch, then punched the button as hard as she could to close the door. Wedge lifted his head and started to get up with hope in his eyes—and Syal didn’t have the heart to tell him not to waste his breath.

    She stayed with her legs crossed on the opposite couch, sipping her cup of tea.

    Wedge reached for his youngest daughter. “Honey—”

    Myri ripped her arm away from him, stepping out of his reach. “Don’t coddle me, Daddy. I’m not in the mood.”

    “I didn’t mean—”

    “I don’t want to talk about what you did or didn’t mean,” Myri said. “I don’t want to talk to you at all.”

    And with that, Myri stomped down the hall. Her door hissed shut, and a second later music pounded the adjacent walls.

    Syal was impressed. Her sister’s philosophy usually fell along the lines of get mad and get even. Either Myri had resorted to the silent treatment as a placeholder while she worked on some more devious plan, or Thaymes had succeeded in mellowing her out.

    She wasn’t sure which idea was more comforting. The idea of someone being able to control Myri, or at the least influence her, was a frightening prospect indeed.

    Wedge sighed and sank back into the couch. “What are we going to do?”

    “What are we going to do about what, exactly?” Syal asked. “Thaymes dating Myri or the fact that you basically called her a criminal?”

    “Not you, too,” Wedge said. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”

    “This isn’t a war, Dad. There aren’t any sides. And even if there were, I’d be on Myri’s and you’d know we’d win through craftiness, deviousness, and sheer stubbornness.”

    “All traits you inherited from me,” Wedge said.

    “Along with that Antilles’ attitude!” Iella’s voice called from down the hall.

    Wedge’s face twisted like he’d tasted something sour. “Yesterday you called it CHARM!”

    Syal smiled at her parents banter, though inwardly she cringed. She adored her father, but sometimes it felt like she and Myri were a family themselves, and Wedge and Iella were extraneous matter. Syal had spent so much time with—too much time. On the other hand, there was no accounting for the series of gaps of time that she had spent missing Wedge and Iella.

    “I’m still not happy about this Thaymes character,” Wedge said darkly.

    “You’re not required to be happy about it,” Syal said. “But Myri is happy, and that’s what counts, right?”

    “I don’t like in when you’re so rational. Are you sure you’re my daughter?”

    “Unless you know someone else who can execute a quantum-eight flip,” Syal said.

    “Well,” Wedge said slowly. “There’s Tycho…and you’re both blond…”

    “Don’t worry,” Syal said. “I get my rationality from Mom. And Tycho might be crazy, but he’s not crazy enough to be my dad.”

    Wedge threw his hands up. “This is insane. I’m the one who recommended Myri for Wraith Squadron in the first place.”

    “Further reinforcing her belief that you view her as a criminal.”

    “I thought it was going to be a one-time thing. That she was going to get her feet wet and go into intelligence work like your mom.”

    “You can’t control everything, Dad,” Syal said. “Especially not Myri’s love life.”

    Syal stopped short of mentioning the slew of guys that Myri had played with—for lack of a better word—over the years. Some things her dad was better off not knowing.

    “Fine,” Wedge said. “Let’s talk about you.”

    Syal fought panic. She had been dreading this moment since she had received the invitation to come to the Errant Venture. One bonus of her busy flight schedule was that it never gave her parents enough time to ask too many questions about…her state of mind. Syal didn’t want to talk about it—she just wanted to move on.

    “Nothing’s going on with me,” she said.

    Her father gave her a pitying look. “Maybe that’s the problem. When you call home, I never hear you talk about friends. Or boys, or anything but flying. Syal—are you happy?”

    “I’m happy flying,” Syal said, bristling. “My life is…too busy for anything else.”

    Wedge scowled at her, making her instantly wince. That line might have worked on Iella, but Wedge had been a pilot—a commander—and he knew that even in the most chaotic situation there was always time to build friendships. That was how he had mad such strong ties with Tycho, Corran, even Janson and Hobbie.

    “You can’t lie to me, ace,” Wedge said. “I’ve been where you are. I know what you’re feeling. I know what you’re thinking.”

    Syal set her cup on the table and pressed herself into the chair’s soft cushions. Her leg jiggled and her breath came shallow.

    “You never lost your entire squadron in one battle.”

    “Maybe not. But I lost dozens of friends fighting the Empire, and there was a time that if I thought if I just kept pushing on, if I just kept people at arm’s length, then I could keep fighting and avoid any more grief. That feeling isn’t limited to you. I’ve felt it, Myn Donos felt it, Jaina Solo felt it, just to name a few. And do you know what we all figured out, eventually?”

    Syal drew her knees up and hid her face, drawing a ragged breath. She did not want to be having this conversation. “I guess you’re going to tell me?”

    “That no matter how much it hurts, worlds still turn, and you keep on living. You can’t stop yourself from caring, Syal.”

    “I don’t want to talk about this,” Syal said through a strained voice. “I can’t only take this one step at a time.”

    “You aren’t fighting in a war anymore,” Wedge said. He moved toward her, reached for her shoulder. “The galaxy is at peace. You can relax. Enjoy your life.”

    That’s what we thought when Valin and Jysella lost it.

    Syal shrugged out from under her father’s hands and slid to her feet.

    “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said again.

    Wedge ran his hands through his hair. “When did I become so terrible and being a dad?”

    Guilt punctured, but Syal continued to step away. She didn’t want to hurt him, but this conversation was hurting her. “I just need some space and time,” she said, then rushed into her room.

    Thankfully, Wedge didn’t come after her. Syal slipped into a hot bath, desperate for something to calm her nerves. The water warmed her skin. She breathed in the steam that rose from the blistering water.

    Life hadn’t been this hard, before. Though she and her family had been on opposite sides during the Second Galactic War, things had been so much simpler even then. She’d found love with Tion, which had brought on flood of elation daily. They’d had a plan, and Syal had been convinced that once the war was over her father would welcome Tion with open arms.

    But those plans had died unexpectedly. Now the idea of Tion was wrapped up in the horror of losing everyone else on that dreadful day. Tion had become another number, another one of Jacen Solo’s atrocities, and every day Syal wished he would just leave her alone.

    If she had lost him any other way, would his memory have clung to her this way? Or was it the tragedy, rather than the man, that haunted her? Sometimes his face blurred in her mind, mixed with all the others she had lost that day. What was it that she really missed?

    She wished she knew.

    Syal crawled out of the bath, put on her pajamas, and slipped under her covers. Though her nerves had finally loosened, she stared at the ceiling for hours without any sleep. Images assaulted her over and over, like video clip on a loop. There was the blackness of space, Centerpoint Station’s great shadow. A flash of light preceded abysmal screams, then silence. In her memory, Syal drifted through wreckage and wished that death would take her at last.

    It hadn’t come, of course. Though she had been rescued and recovered quickly, she often felt that she had never left the floating debris.

    Three hours past midnight, Syal finally gave up and flung off her covers. She changed into leggings and a long blue sweater, slipped on her flats, and quickly fastened her hair back with a tie. She tiptoed quietly out of the apartment and accessed the nearby turbolift, which took her down to Trader’s Alley.

    When the turbolift opened with a melodic ding, Syal was not the least surprised to find the level bustling with activity and lights. Much like Coruscant, Trader’s Alley never slept. After all, the late hours were the best hours of service for Booster’s particular clientele.

    Syal wasn’t interested in gambling or betting, though. She found her favorite tapcaf, named the Bantha Brew, and drifted into the shadow atmosphere. Then her eyes fell on a familiar figure by the counter: the lanky figure of a man, with unkempt hair and a sporty racer’s jacket. He leaned toward a blue-skinned twilek. Though Syal couldn’t see his face, she could just picture his teasing expression.

    Involuntarily, her eye twitched.

    She was such a mess.

    She sidled up to the counter beside the man—without catching his attention—and ordered a steamer from the Rodian barista.

    Valin whirled around, staring at her with bulging eyes. “What are you doing here?”

    “I’m here to meet my dealer,” Syal said dryly. “I’d ask what you’re doing here, but it’s obvious you’re carrying on some type of illicit affair.”

    The Twilek, who Syal now recognized as Zena, leaned over Valin’s shoulder and glared at Syal. “Shouldn’t you be in bed, kiddo?”

    “Shouldn’t you be counting your chips?”

    Valin rolled his eyes. “We were just talking—”

    “I bet you were.”

    Zena huffed. “I don’t have to stay here and listen to her.” She touched Valin’s shoulder. “Sweetheart, give me a ring when you’ve escaped the kiddies. You know where to find me.”

    Valin nodded, grinning. “Sure thing.”

    Syal waited while Zena sauntered out of the tapcaf. Then she elbowed Valin in the ribs.

    “Ow! What was that for?”

    “In Corran’s absence, it’s my duty to scold you for your bad behavior,” Syal said.

    Valin rubbed his ribs, giving her a wounded look. “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Sometimes I think you’re better friends with my father than you are with me.”

    “Well,” Syal said.

    Valin huffed. “I said I was sorry. I don’t know what else you want from me.”

    “You were flirting with a possible suspect, Valin.”

    “Don’t be ridiculous.” Valin brushed his hair aside, as if that would fix anything. “Zena’s not a suspect.”

    “Oh, that would explain that rule of investigation you were always quoting to me in the maw. Everybody’s a suspect.”

    Valin winced. “Whatever. I didn’t come here to meet her, anyway. I just…I couldn’t sleep.”

    The barista came back with Syal’s steamer. She curled her hands around the paper cup, avoiding Valin’s gaze. She couldn’t afford to look at him when he took on that familiar, candid tone.

    “Neither could I,” she said finally.

    He touched her shoulder. “Let’s sit down.”

    She nodded mutely, following him to a two person couch. Valin stretched his arms over the back of the couch while Syal sipped from her steamer.

    “I figured,” Valin said, “I might as well get up and do some work if I wasn’t going to sleep anyway.”

    “Great minds think alike,” Syal said.

    “Oh, so now you’re willing to admit my intelligence, when it suits you.”

    “Did you learn anything more from Zena?” Syal asked.

    She wanted desperately to believe that he wouldn’t lie to her, that he really had just been investigating, or maybe that he had run into Zena by mistake. Then she remembered that it wasn’t supposed to matter.

    Valin shook his head. “She kept asking me questions.”

    Syal chewed her lip. “Which might mean she’s fishing for information. You are Booster’s grandson, after all.”

    “I sensed some deceit from her, but it was really watery.”

    “We should try to plant a bug on her,” Syal said. “Just in case. If I get the tech from my mom, could you handle that?”

    Valin grinned at her. “You and I always were a great team.”

    It was hard not to let the nostalgia of his statement overcome her. She wanted things to go back to the way they had been. She wanted to pick up with Valin where they had left off. But even that was complicated.

    His easy-going smile disarmed her.

    Before her brain had a chance to catch up with her mouth, she said, “I went to see you when Daala froze you and Jysella in carbonite.”

    Valin’s grin froze on his face, but Syal recognized the sudden panic on his eyes—and instantly she wanted to stuff the words back into his mouth. It wasn’t important for him to know what she’d witnessed. He was better off not knowing, or forgetting.

    Slowly, his grin faded. When he spoke, he voice was rough. “When I was…you saw that?”

    Syal tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Involuntarily, her leg shook. “I just wanted to be there for Corran and Mirax. I didn’t think that you would—”

    She broke off, wincing.

    “What?” Valin leaned forward, his eyes searching her face. “You didn’t think that I would what?”

    “That you would attack me.”

    “I—” Guilt etched his face. His eyes widened in horror. “I attacked you?”

    “You don’t remember?”

    “I…hoped it was a dream.”

    “You were so enraged,” Syal said. Brazenly, she went on, “They were leading you to the carbon freezing chamber, but then you saw me and said my name and just lost it.”

    She remembered the way his eyes had settled on her, the strangled way he had cried her name, and the look of pure frenzy that had come over him. Somehow, he had shaken off his guard and leaped toward her, furious and murderous.

    “Did I hurt you?” Valin asked. His voice cracked with pressure. He pulled away from her, dragging his fingers through his hair. He put his elbow on his knees.

    She shouldn’t have said anything. The tortured note in his voice made her want to put her arms around him.

    She settled for bravado instead. “Please. Myri and I were forced to practice all those defense techniques with all the other padawans in the Maw. You think I couldn’t handle one loony Jedi Knight? I may be small, but I’m also fast and fierce.”

    Valin dropped his hands away from his head and gave her a sharp, desperate look. “Syal—”

    “Fine.” With more force than she meant to, she slapped her cup down on the table in front of them. “Corran stepped in and knocked you out. Now you know. Are you happy?”

    Valin stared at her, his gaze strained and unnerving. “Of course not. I forced my dad to hurt me—no wonder he looks at me the way he does.” He stared at her shaking leg, then his gaze snapped up to hers. “You’re afraid of me.”

    Syal clapped her hand over her knee, forcing it to be still. “No.”

    “Don’t lie to me, ace. It’s not becoming.”

    “I’m not afraid of you, Valin.” She took a deep breath. He really didn’t understand how complicated it was. “You really put Corran and Mirax through a wringer.”

    “I know that,” Valin said. “But I don’t know how to fix things. I wasn’t myself then.”

    “So Abeloth was controlling you?” Syal asked. “You’re telling me you weren’t in control of your own actions?”

    “I—” He stopped, leaned away from her, and looked at her in surprise. “Well, I guess I was. But—it’s hard to explain. It was like, I was drowning in fear. I really believed that you were dead.”

    Syal knew how that felt, better than anyone, losing so many people at once. But it was no excuse.

    “Aren’t Jedi supposed to put attachment and emotion aside?” she asked. “If you had done that even for a minute, and tried to think rationally, then maybe you wouldn’t have made such a mess of things.”

    Valin grabbed her hand, squeezed it. “Syal, I don’t know how to fix this.”

    Syal swallowed and looked at the floor, unable to meet his gaze. He was asking, begging her for help, but she didn’t know how to fix the situation either. She was struggling, just the same as him, to become part of the galaxy again.

    “You might never fix it,” she murmured. “Things might never go back to the way they used to be. But maybe you can move forward, one step at a time.”

    Valin blew out his breath. “What’s the first step, then?”

    “I don’t have all the answers.”

    “You’re the bossiest girl I’ve ever met,” Valin said. “You used to love telling me what to do. Surely that can’t have changed.”

    “I’m not the same girl I was back then,” Syal said. Couldn’t he see that?

    Valin sank back into the couch, nodded thoughtfully—though he didn’t release her hand. As Syal reached for her steamer with her other hand, Valin watched her movement. She wiggled her foot in an effort to ward off her building anxiety. What was he looking at?

    Suddenly his head snapped toward the tapcaf door, where a Sullustan male appeared. Syal pushed down her disappointment at Valin’s distraction and took a gulp of her steamer, thinking there was no possible way she would get to sleep anytime soon.

    “What is it?” she asked.

    “The Force,” Valin said in a distracted tone.

    “No, really?”

    He gave her hand another squeeze and threw her an exasperated look. “I think that Sullustan is our missing sabacc player.”

    Syal watched the Sullustan amble nervously to the tapcaf counter. He kept looking over his shoulder, as if he expected someone to appear behind him. Valin was probably right. At the very least, the Sullustan was acting paranoid, and people who were paranoid usually had something to hide.

    Stang. She really had to stop listening to Valin and Corran when they started talking cop. She was just a pilot, for starssake.

    The Sullustan grabbed his drink from the barista and shuffled quickly out of the tapcaf. He looked at everything at yet nothing at once. He didn’t appear to notice Valin and Syal.

    They looked at each other, and for a moment it felt like they had gone back to the way things used to be. In a single glance, they shared a thought, an agreement. She recognized the determination in Valin’s expression, and she was sure he noticed the mischief in her own.

    “Let’s go.” Valin rose to his feet and dragged her after him.

    Syal swept her steamer up from the table, letting him lead her by the hand, and didn’t need to ask where they were going. She knew. They were going to follow the Sullustan—and solve a mystery. Just like in the old days.

    Maybe some things didn’t change, after all.
    Kahara likes this.
  20. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Very good chapter. Love the interaction between Valin and Syal.
    Kahara likes this.
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wedge and Syal - I really liked the tone he was attempting to have with her ... He must really be frustrated - alienating each of his daughters no matter what he says or doesn't. :eek:

    Valin and Syal really are at the same place emotionally/psychologically for vastly different reasons. Perhaps they can work their way back to, if not where they were, a place of strength and mutual peace of mind with themselves and one another. This mystery solving should help. [face_thinking]
    Kahara likes this.
  22. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Wish we could have gotten more of Syal and Myri in canon.
  23. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 3, 2013
    Poor Wedge–and Syal–and Valin!

    It must be really hard for Valin, coming back to himself after all that. It really wasn't his fault, but how could he even begin to believe that?
    Kahara likes this.
  24. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Nice chapter with the interactions between Myri and Wedge and Valin and Syal. They have gone through a lot
    Kahara likes this.
  25. Kahara

    Kahara Chosen One star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Chapter 2

    As a big fan of the X-wing/Wraith series (though I haven't re-read them in forever), I really enjoyed the Horn/Terrik/Antilles family meeting. Great insight on many of them and on how they act with each other.

    [face_laugh] Wonderful. See, I haven't properly read about them in years but that is them. Booster's evasiveness is both believable and interesting -- there's something going on there, but what? His anger at Daala is genuine and understandable, but he's still up to something. Love the variety of responses. Nobody really believes him 100 percent, but they all have ties and (with one notable exception, sort of) a strong affection.

    Wedge has turned into an ornery old goat in his "retirement" -- though I'm pretty sure some would argue that he was born that way. :p I get the feeling that he'd better get used to Thaymes because this is one war he'd not going to win. Had to giggle at Iella's response, though -- of course she'll just search all his records like that! :rolleyes: No wonder neither of their children are comfortable with bringing anyone to, say, dinner with the parents... ;)

    I like how Myri and Syal are developing their own, seemingly central plotlines here and very distinctive personalities that make for interesting reading. Myri and Thaymes seem like a good pair and hopefully they won't let the terrifying Antilles parents discourage them. ;) And I'm hoping that Syal will find some sense of confidence and connection if she sees this mess through -- it sounds like she's been miserable for a long time.

    Also, I liked this:

    Sounds very Horn-ish. Hope we see more of her and Valin. :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.