Obviously, this owes a great deal (understatement of the century candidate) to George Lucas, to Donald F. Glut's novelization of "The Empire Strikes Back", and to Michael Stackpole's "X-Wings" series of novels. All of the Rogues (except Wedge, Tycho, and Wes) are mine.
No copyright infringement is intended.
Wedge waited in Admiral Ackbar's outer office. Admiral... still doesn't seem real. He had his captain's pips (borrowed from Blue Leader) on the collar of the tan uniform, and his cap tucked into his belt, and he knew he looked the part, but he was starting to feel uneasy. Not for the reasons Williard, also in the room, probably thought, or would have thought had he been aware of it, Wedge corrected himself; there was no need to turn Williard into a mind-reader on top of an annoyance. He didn't doubt his ability to lead the squadron, whether or not he'd had the Imperially-requisite etiquette and history classes to be an officer. What he found himself disliking was the assumption that he had to make to take the job, the assumption that Luke was dead.
He laced his fingers together, turned his hands inside out and stretched. Then he wandered over and looked out the window. It seemed very busy outside, people everywhere. He was aware he was trying to distract himself; he just wished he was doing a better job. After an eternity, the admiral's aide beckoned them into the inner office.
Ackbar was the first Mon Cal Wedge had ever seen in person. He was tall, slightly stooped, and had a large head compared to humans; his mouth was wide and yet small-jawed, fringed with barbels that reminded Wedge slightly of A Besseids, but his skin was salmon, and his eyes were calm and amber and, Wedge hoped not merely apparently, wise. He wore white, like old Republican Navy; perhaps Rieekan had suggested it, on Dodonna's example, perhaps it was Ackbar's own idea. He was standing when they came in, and inclined his head at them.
"Commander, Captain," he said in his throaty voice. "Welcome. I am pleased especially, Captain, to meet you; I am told you were despaired of." Wedge had no idea what to say to that, so he replied only, "I'm certainly glad to meet you, sir."
Ackbar breathed in with a sonorous sound. "You are taking command of Red Squadron, then?"
"Well, sir" Wedge hesitated only a moment, and then decided to go for it. "I'm not entirely sure of that."
"You don't feel confident?" asked Ackbar, leaning forward slightly and turning his head as if to get Wedge better focused.
Before Wedge could answer, Williard did. "Captain Antilles is not, after all"
Ackbar cut him off. "Aah, I am aware of what he is not. I am also aware of what he is. Imperial training is not a prerequisite for success. I myself, for instance, have none. At least," he laughed, a series of throaty noises, "none that was formal."
"That's not the issue, sir," said Wedge, restraining himself from snapping at Williard. "I feel perfectly competent to run the squadron; I have been for months."
"Since Yavin, yes," nodded Ackbar, and Williard closed his mouth. "So I have been told." Wedge blinked but didn't say anything. Who's been talking to you? he wondered. And what have they been saying? The admiral continued, "What is the issue, then, Captain?"
"The issue, sir, is that I don't feel that," Wedge paused and regrouped, "that is, I do feel that we're being hasty in presuming Captain Skywalker's dead. He is a Jedi"
"He says he's a Jedi," interpolated Williard. "Vader is the last of them, that's well enough known."
"has been dead for decades."
"saw someone she was told was Kenobi"
"She doesn't make that kind of mistake," said Wedge sharply, and then swallowed. "Didn't."
"Gentlemen," said Ackbar. Wedge had almost forgotten him. "This sea is rough, but only because you will not go with it. Captain, you fight the current, because you think it bears you elsewhere than it does. I would have promoted you were Captain Skywalker still here, and if he returns, we will have a place for him more suited to his abilities. They were wasted in a fighter squadron. Yours are wasted anywhere else. Do you accept the command, under this condition?"
There wasn't anything else to say but, "Yes, sir. Of course I do."
That sonorous breath was again drawn, and Ackbar nodded benevolently and impartially at them both. "Excellent. Now, that trifle disposed of, we may turn our attention to the true turning of the tides."
"Sir?" asked Williard.
"We must now look at the war, gentleman. The Alliance cannot win if it continues as it has been, hiding in the coral reefs and nipping at the Empire as it swims by, fleeing when it draws Imperial notice. The Battle of Yavin was a great triumph, but it was a battle of self-defense. No plans were made to strike at the Death Star until it was at your door. Yavin may not be the last battle we fight in self-defense, and Hoth may not be the last position we abandon under fire, but they will be the last time we choose to wait. We must carry the war to the Empire, if we are to win. We must engage them, engage them and defeat them, on their own ground, if we are to bring down the Empire and replace it with a new Republic. That goal will never be achieved by lurking in the shallows."
He breathed in and out, looking at them. They had nothing to say, not yet at any rate. He continued, "We will need capital ships to carry the war to them. Incom and Koensayer build our fighters, and small frigates, but capital ships we have not had until now. Mon Calamar will build them, and we will acquire other shipyards, either by alliance or by capture. All shipyards will need protection from the Imperials. We will need to run convoys to them, and to other worlds that will ally with us, because we will need worlds. Mon Mothma and the others of her kind must acquire those worlds for us, and we will then need to protect them and feed them, and supply them. No shipyard, even if safe from attacks, can build a single ship without materiel. And finally, we will need to attack. We will need to harry Imperial convoys, to destroy their fighter groups and provincial forces, and eventually to destroy their battle groups. We will need our fighter squadrons at full strength to do these tasks."
They were standing in stunned silence. He surveyed them, and then turned to Williard. "Commander, in four days" they were to discover that was Ackbar's favorite number "I wish to meet with all wing commanders. At that time I will look at each wing, its component squadrons and their abilities, and begin to decide our plan of action. Will you be ready?"
"Yes, Admiral, I will be," Williard nodded, and then added decisively. "You'll have my wing's readiness report before then."
"Very good." Ackbar nodded at them. "Gentlemen."
"Good morning, sir," said Williard, and left.
Wedge followed. He couldn't believe it. Somebody was actually talking about going after the Empire? He realized only just in time not to run into him that Williard had stopped. "Sir?" he asked, coming back to reality.
"Captain Antilles," said Williard, and for once Wedge didn't hear any quotes around the rank, "you will fill out your roster by close of business today, and you'll work with Green and Blue to help fill out theirs by COB tomorrow. I want no vacancies in the wing, none. And as soon as your rosters are full, you'll start training flights."
"Sir?" asked Wedge. Training flights? "We have fuel for training flights?"
"After what the admiral just said, I'd say, yes. We have fuel. Captain," Williard took a step closer to Wedge. "I want you to understand me. There are three things 1 Wing can end up doing: guarding a shipyard, shepherding convoys, or hunting Imperials. Now, none of them are likely to be peaceful, butwhich would you rather be doing?"
Wedge smiled. He had a feeling it was a fierce smile, because that's how he felt, fierce and joyful. "Hunting, sir. Hunting."
Their eyes met. In the older man's Wedge saw fire and desolation. He didn't know what Williard saw in his, but the commander nodded, slowly. "Captain Antilles, I think we understand one another. 1 Wing will not lurk in the shallows. 1 Wing will carry the battle to the Empire. 1 Wing will fight. Therefore, 1 Wing must be the best in four days. Are we agreed?"
"We are, Commander Williard. We are," said Wedge.
"Good. See to it."
"Yes, sir." Wedge saluted and left.
"Tycho!" Wedge hollered as he entered the squadron's ready room. "Tycho!"
"Wedge?" Tycho and Sainer appeared in the door. "What's up?" Tycho asked.
"Who have we got on roster?" Wedge was pulling files and data pads out of the desk. "Flight capable? You, me, Wesfour?"
"Ah, no. The medics cleared Rom yesterday."
"While I was sleeping... okay. What about Malina?"
"She was going to released today, flight-cleared for tomorrow," said Tycho.
"Wedge" Tycho started.
"Sainsy, go collect Rom and Malina. And find Wes. Now."
Tycho stared at Wedge, who tossed him a data pad. "Start looking, Tycho. We have till COB to find six pilots... actually, more. We need to help fill out Blue and Green, too. We take first pick, of course."
"Oh, of course." Tycho cocked an eye at him. "Why are we under the gun here, Wedge?"
"Because Ackbar is talking about 'carrying the war to the Empire' and Williard doesn't want to get stuck with convoy duty. Nor do I."
"You mean like... actually..." Tycho made the pilots' 'engage' hand signal.
"Yes. Like that. Actually. So start reading."
"Got any requirements?"
"Other than able to fly, you mean? I guess it'd be nice if they weren't homicidal maniacs or spice addicts..."
"Wedge?" Rom Hothagan stood in the door, one hand on the lintel. "Sainsy said we need pilots? That right?"
"That's right." Greeting Rom could wait. "As soon as."
"Malina says she met somebody in the medbay..."
"On her way over; she just got to the base."
Wedge stood up, smiling, and headed for the door. Malina had been in medbays for five weeks after her X-Wing had broken apart in a skirmish. Rom had been in for frostbite; it had turned out he couldn't master a tauntaun and after falling off one he had spent a couple of hours in Hoth's balmy breezes. He'd been gone only a half day before the evacuation began. It was good to see him, but it was going to be very good indeed to see Malina Afrit on her feet again.
He stood for a minute just watching her approach: outstriding Sainer with her customary no-nonsense briskness despite his foot-and-a-half height advantage; her black hair, cut very short, gleaming in Verbama's bright sun; five feet of compact efficient ruthlessness. It was very good to see her. She saw him, and her rare smile appeared, just for a moment.
"Malina!" he put an arm around her shoulders and hugged her.
She returned the pressure, saying with her characteristic growl, "Wedge Antilles. Captain's pips. It's about time."
"What's this?" he turned her face toward him and brushed his fingers over a scar on her cheek that ran down her neck and disappeared into the collar of her uniform. "Couldn't they get rid of this?"
"Sure they could," she shrugged. "With a couple more bacta treatments. No, thanks. I mean, big deal."
He let it go. It was how he felt about his own scar, though that wasn't on his face. "Good to have you back, Afrit. We are going to need you."
She snorted. "Sainer's been babbling again, as usual. What's up?"
"We need pilots, Malina; the admiralyou know about him?" At her nod, he continued, "He wants to take the war to the enemy. So we need to be ready."
"Good," she growled with a deep satisfaction that matched anything any Alderaanian was feeling.
"Rom said you met a pilot in medbay?"
"I met two."
Tycho stared at him over Malina's head and mouthed 'Two?' with disbelief written all over his face. Wedge ignored him. "Two? Good?"
"Good. They've been flying medshuttles, but they were home guard pilots before this. I," she looked up at him with a very poor imitation of melting eyes, and it grabbed him the way it always did on the admittedly rare occasions she tried it, "took the liberty of promising them we'd take them. I mean, I knew we got hit hard."
"What's the catch?" Tycho said that aloud.
Malina threw him a glare, and then looked back at Wedge with confidence. "They're women. And all these ex-Imperials around here are close-minded as, as, as rocks. Which you are not, Wedge."
"So where are they?"
She flashed him her smile again. "At quarters. Thanks, Wedge, you won't regret it."
"Two down," said Wedge. "Go get them, Malina."
She nodded and left. Sainer and Rom exchanged glances, and Rom leaned against the redhead's shoulder with a shrug. "I don't get it. I just don't get it."
"Me either," said Sainer.
"You or me, she'd take our hands off."
"Or our heads." That was Wes's contribution.
"And he doesn't even try," Rom finished plaintively.
Wedge ignored them with the ease of long practice.
"Children," said Tycho reprovingly. "There are more important things here that aren't being got."
"Such as?" said Wedge.
"There's a big difference between open minds and holes in our heads."
"Don't you trust Malina?" Wedge asked mildly.
"In your line of work you learned to buy sight unseen?"
"Tycho, if they're flying medshuttles, they've got to be good, because you know Malina's right about Imperial close-mindedness. And second, as far as buying sight unseen: no, I don't. But in my line of work," he grinned and slapped Tycho on the shoulder, "you learn whose eyes are as good as your own. Malina's not ready to die for solidarity."
"For what?" said Rom.
"Just to prove me close-minded," said Tycho.
"Okay, you're still unhappy. No problem," said Wedge. "Williard says we've got all the fuel we need. You two," he jerked his head at Sainer and Wes, "can go up against them this afternoon. You'll accept what they say?"
"At risk of being called Imperial, sure," Tycho said, and then grinned. "Sure. Anything's better than getting Malina Afrit after me. Are we watching?"
"We are not," said Wedge, spinning Tycho around and pointing him at the office. "We are finding four more pilots."
"Four. I trust Malina."
"Hey, Wedge," Sainer had followed them in. "What's the hurry? What's going on?"
"Commander Williard wants our roster filled by COB, and Green and Blue, too. The admiral is talking really going to war, and we want to be the best, so we don't end up on convoy runs."
"Or guarding shipyards," said Tycho with disgust in his voice.
"Oh, man," said Rom from the doorway. "Hey, Wedge; I know a guy."
"Not Ferris," said Sainer.
"Hey, Harl's a good pilot."
"He's trouble," said Sainer.
"He doesn't have to be," protested Rom.
"What's the problem?" said Wedge mildly. "I mean, this is Harl Ferris from Gray?"
Tycho nodded. "Gray's attitude problem," he clarified.
Wedge grinned and hiked an eyebrow at him and Sainer. "The one that put a walker down on Hoth?"
"Yeah," said Rom eagerly. "He's just got a little trouble working for idiots, that's all."
"Wedge," said Tycho questioningly.
"Tycho, he can fly. And I think we can keep him busy. Besides, Malina was another squadron's trouble, too, remember?"
"You won't regret it, Wedge. He and Captain Hark don't get along, but Harl's a good guy." Rom was usually an open book, and right now he was certain. "I'll keep him in line."
"That's three," Tycho was resigned. He began reading a data pad.
"We grew up together," said Rom. "I'm telling you, he can hotwire a speeder twice as fast as me."
"Oh, there's a recommendation," said Sainer.
And Wes said, with a sort of fascinated horror, "You steal speeders?"
"Not any more," said Rom, impatiently. "I'll go get him."
Wedge was trying to figure out how Rom had ever fooled a cop, but that caught his attention. "Rom, hold it. Ferris belongs to Gray at the moment; true, they won't mind getting rid of him, but it needs to go through channels."
"Here's a name to add," said Tycho, looking up. "Keevan Rhyst."
"Another close-minded Imperial," Tycho grinned. "Came over at Hoth, apparently."
"Okay, we'll ... what do you say, put our mark on him? That's four."
"Hey," Sainer said, sounding as if he'd just remembered something. "Hey. Hobbie."
"Hobbie?" Wedge asked, puzzled. If Hobbie had survived Hoth and no one had thought to tell himbut it couldn't be. He'd seen that fireball himself.
"Klivan," said Sainer. "You don't know him... but he was with us before we came over to the Rebellion. There were ten of us, but the kid here" he jerked his thumb at Rom, who snorted, "was taking up one spot and Dutch wouldn't let him go, so Hobbie ended up flying with Makwerra's squadron. Then they got pounded, and he ended in permanent repple, like Wes. I bet we could get him, if you asked."
"Probably," said Wedge. "We got Wes... you should have mentioned him before."
Sainer shrugged. "Never been around when it was being discussed before. I don't seem to move in the right circles."
"You're joking," Tycho sounded astonished but his eyes were laughing.
"You couldn't pay me enough for that," said Sainer.
"All right," said Wedge, before it could get out of hand; the Alderaanian and the service brat had a fiendish effect on each other and their exchanges could go on for hours. "That's five. Don't forget, we need to come up with extra names, for the rest of the wing."
"Captain? Excuse me, sir." All five of them turned to stare at the door. Malina was overly formal for anybody in the squadron, and especially for her.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" Wedge didn't know who was outside, but it didn't hurt to be careful.
"There's a person out here asking to see you," said Malina, "if you have the time."
A 'person'? Malina was generally a lot less circumspect than that. For a moment, Wedge thought of Boosterhe'd certainly been the type to beggar description before Kessel.
Malina continued before he could answer. "He's apparently tried before, but he missed you on Ord Mandell, luckily didn't try Hoth, and yesterday you, uh, weren't available."
Well, that catalog eliminated Booster. Wedge exchanged puzzled glances with Tycho, and then walked to the door. Outside stood Kirlir, his hands curled on his chest and his ears back. Behind him stood another Mrown, his banded auburn fur displaying no trace of the grey showing in Kirlir's face and neck, and his posture definitely submissive. Wedge stared for one thunderstruck moment; of all the people he might have guessed, Kirlir would have been the last one. He had the urge to run to him, hug him, ask about Kiplir, but restrained himself. The first rule of good business is to treat people like they want to be treated, that's what Booster had told him. Mrendy had said 'good behavior' but the principle was sound whatever the motive. So instead, Wedge fisted his hands on his hips and said,
"Kirlir da N'haoth! What have you done with my ship?"
"Honored Antilles! I have done much business with it, and succored your people. My most honored grandfather would have it no other way." Kirlir's voice was still raspy, but his Standard had improved much in the last couple of years.
"Your honored grandfather is, as I have always found him to be, wise." Wedge, in one swift motion, slapped his right palm against his left fist directly in front of his chest, pleased that he hadn't lost the knack of getting a really sharp sound.
Kirlir flicked his ears forward and silently put his own hands together, just touching his chin. "I have been searching for you, honored Antilles. I have a favor to ask."
"Ah? What is that, Kirlir?"
"This is my sister's son," said Kirlir, flicking one ear back at the youth but not looking that way. "He is the last of his father's bloodline, and he desires to slay Imperials. My most honored grandfather said that you could tell us where he might find a house in need of a young warrior."
Wedge looked at the young Mrown. "What sort of warrior is he?"
"He is a pilot: his reflexes are swift, his senses sharp, and his heart thirsts for blood."
"He desires to slay Imperials; that is good. But will he refrain from slaying them, if that is the order?"
"Perhaps," said Kirlir tentatively, his ears flicking, "my sister's son might answer that himself?"
The younger Mrown said, quietly and in excellent Standard, "I desire to slay Imperials, most honored Antilles. In this my mother's honored brother speaks the truth. But the heart of my desire is to bring the Empire down, to drown in its own heartblood, and to that end I shall do whatever I must do. The orders of my houseleader shall rule my actions."
Wedge glanced around him, at his squadron, including the two women in noncombatant's uniforms standing next to Malina. He personally had no problem with Kirlir's nephew, but ... "A moment, Kirlir. I must confer with my house."
"As is your way, honored Antilles, we understand." Kirlir drew his nephew back a short distance.
"Well? You're the one who knows him," said Tycho. "Is he any good?"
"I don't know the boy, but I know his uncle and great-grandfather. If they think he's good, he's good. But we can watch him fly, too. That's not the question."
"I'm not close-minded," said Tycho to the open sky.
"Not much," muttered Malina. "Take him, Wedge, if Williard'll let us; anybody who desires to slay Imperials can't be all bad."
"He might not have a couple of months ago; just now, he agrees with you," said Wedge. "Next month, who knows, but it'll be too late then. Sainer?"
"I am close-minded," the redhead admitted. "I don't mind flying with him, if he pulls his own weight, but I don't want to room with him."
"I'll room with him," said Rom. "You can have Rhyst."
"No way," said Janson firmly. "You are rooming with your criminal childhood pal. I'll room with him, Wedge. Rogue needs a nonhuman pilot. It's right."
"What about Ferris?" Wedge asked Rom.
The youngster shrugged. "Harl won't care; half the guys we ran with as kids had fur."
"And Rhyst?" That was directed to Tycho.
Who laughed. "We've got three women in the squadron, and you're asking about this guy? Rhyst will put up with it, I remember him as level-headed enough."
"So'll Hobbie," said Sainer.
"Okay, then." He could have wished for more enthusiasm, but he'd learned to put up with people who put up with things. And at least they didn't get disillusioned.
"Just one thing," said Tycho, sounding very serious. Wedge looked at him in concern, but he was looking at Wes Janson. "You've got to make him understand, 'most honored Antilles' is not the correct form of address."
"You think you're safe because there are strangers here," said Wedge while Sainer and Rom laughed. "You are. For the moment, Celchu. For the moment." He turned toward the Mrown.
"Kirlir da N'haoth! Has the son of your sister a name?"
"He has, honored Antilles; he is called Kapalvan."
"Kapalvan is accepted into my clan, and the warriors of my house agree to accept him if his skills are high enough. We measure the skills of others this very afternoon, we shall measure his as well. Some house of my clan will take him, have no fear on that account, but my house is first among us; it answers to our clanleader, and his standards are high."
"They would have to be, honored Antilles. The house of N'haoth and my most honored grandfather Kiplir are grateful to you."
Wedge spread his hands, keeping the palms toward himself. "You have given my clan a warrior of your blood, Kirlir. Surely we are now peers."
The Mrown echoed the gesture, his ears fully erect. "I am pleased that you would have it so, Antilles. I must now meet with your field master and discuss the cargo I will carry next. I will return later this day to see what housename my sister's son will carry forward into his life."
Wedge curled his hands against his chest and bowed his head. Kirlir did the same, and then turned and left. Wedge watched him go, and then turned to Kapalvan, who bowed his head deeply over gently clasped fists. "Well, Kapalvan, welcome to the Rebellion," said Wedge.
"I am most pleased to be here, most honored Antilles," said the Mrown.
"'Captain'," said Wedge. "That's the form you'll use as a member of this clan, no matter what house you end up in."
"I will use the customs of my house, Captain, as soon as I may learn them."
"Good. Wes, take him and find a field-grade officer and get him sworn in, then find him a uniform and meet us at the field."
"Us?" said Tycho, as Wes and Kapalvan walked away.
"Someone's got to fly against him," said Wedge. "Do you want to? Or would you rather watch?"
Tycho glanced at Malina. "Which way gets me absolved of imperialness?"
"Oh, you're just about acceptable, Tycho Celchu," she growled at him.
"Thank you," he said. "Seriously, if we're supposed to fill out Green and Blue, too, let Malina fly against him while you and I finish going over rosters and then we can" he paused, and then shrugged. "Or we can just skip that altogether. I mean, you're taking my word on Rhyst."
Wedge shook his head. "He's a combat pilot, like Ferris and Klivan. It's not the same. And Kirlir's a good pilot, but I've never seen him fly anything smaller than a Baudie so I don't know how good his eye is for snubs, not really." He sighed. "You're right, Tycho. We can't get rushed into filling roster slots just so they're filled. The goal of this exercise is to be the best squadron in the best wing come four days from now. So, we'd better know how good they are. All of them."
"Including me," said Malina. "It's been more than a month, and I could use a check flight."
Wedge grinned at her. "Like a krayt dragon needs hunting lessons. Take the boys and check the others out, okay?"
"Sure thing, Wedge. You going to watch?"
"You going to show off?"
"If they want to be Rogues, they need to know what they're in for," she answered.
"We'll watch, Afrit," said Wedge. "I wouldn't want them to be turned down just because they couldn't outfly you."
She snorted, but he could tell she was pleased.
"It'll take Wes an hour or so to get Kapalvan set. Why don't you take these three to the field and pick out T-65s for them." He had a brief twinge of pain. "There should be plenty to choose from. We'll meet you there."
She nodded and they left.
"That's not like you," said Tycho once the office was empty of all but the two of them.
"What's not?" asked Wedge, sitting down and reaching for a roster.
Wedge gave him a jaundiced look. "Oh, thanks."
"Well, it's not. Something rub off from Dacoin's pips? Or is just going to war?"
Wedge looked at him incredulously. "Going? I've been at war longer'n I can remember."
"Not like this," said Tycho. "And not in charge."
"Well, maybe there's something to that," conceded Wedge. "It makes you think."
"Good," said Tycho, almost purring. "I like a squadron leader with a little bit of prudence. Listening to Wes the other day, it sort of sounded like you'd lost whatever common sense you were born with, not that it's ever struck me that you Corellians are born with much, mind you."
Wedge leaned back in his chair, looking at the wall, reflecting on the fight over Hoth. "There was some of that, but mostly it was anger," he said finally, knowing it was true. "Tell him and I'll kill you, but... they were chasing Wes and nobody was going to kill him in my presence. Not that day."
Tycho whistled. "So you took on, what? Five? Six?"
"Eight," Wedge admitted.
"I left before I wanted to," said Wedge. "I only got five." Even to himself it sounded plaintive.
Tycho was silent for a moment; then Wedge heard an odd, muffled noise. He glanced at his friend; the Alderaanian had buried his face in his arms on the desktop and his shoulders were shaking. After a moment he raised his head; those vivid eyes were wet with tears, but clearly tears of laughter. "Only five," Tycho choked out. "I only got five."
"Oh, shut up," said Wedge, at least partially regretting his candor.
"Outnumbered eight to one, and you're upset 'cause you let three get away. Oh, Wedge, Wedge," Tycho shook his head. "It's an honor and a privilege to know you, it really is."
"Oh, shut up," repeated Wedge, adding for good measure, "you ex-Imperial twit."
"Twit? Twit?" he collapsed entirely.
Wedge regarded him severely but to no avail. "Okay. Laugh it up, nerf-brains. It's all going on the tab, and you'll pay before this is over. You will pay."
Tycho made no coherent reply. Wedge returned his attention to the rosters. After a few minutes Tycho pulled himself together and started reading rosters himself. By the time they were ready to leave for the field they had nine other names to add to the Wing's requisition.
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